Washington Nationals: Retaining All Minor League Coaches for 2017

Jul 20, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Koda Glover (32) throws to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 20, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Koda Glover (32) throws to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Nationals have decided to keep all of their minor league coaches for 2017 and this is a good sign for the development of prospects.

The Washington Nationals announced that there would be no changes to the minor-league coaching staffs for the 2017 season. This is important even if fans only follow the major-league team.

The first reason:

With the recent trade for Adam Eaton and the number of prospects that Mike Rizzo had to give up to complete that trade many fans were afraid. They were afraid that the Washington Nationals now entered a phase of desperation and would begin to run their organization differently. The Nationals silenced some of these worries by issuing a vote of confidence in their minor-league coaches.

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The second reason:

Most of the prospects that Rizzo traded to the Chicago White Sox were AAA locks and possible MLB-ready talent. This trade weakened the farm system but did not deplete it completely and there is exciting talent left in the lower levels of the organization. Some of the highlights are Victor Robles, Erick Fedde, Carter Kieboom, and Sheldon Neuse. These prospects will develop more steadily with coaches who are familiar with their strengths and weaknesses.

The third reason:

There is a lot of talented coaches in the minor leagues who are beneficial to have around during the spring and September. We have already seen Matt LeCroy as a big-league bullpen coach for the Nationals. LeCroy will continue to manage the Harrisburg Senators.

Also, Billy Gardner has been a staple in the Syracuse’s managerial position. Both will have extended roles in helping Dusty Baker’s use of prospects in 2017.

The fourth reason:

One manager to keep an eye on during the 2017 season is Tripp Keister.

Keister in currently at the helm of the Potomac Nationals and has been there for the past three seasons. It is impressive the number of prospects who have thrived under his leadership. He has been successful in moving players to the next level since he joined the Nationals coaching staff in 2012.

Keister has a yearly impact found on the big-league club.

He managed over Tony Renda and turned him into a .300 hitter that increased his trade value. Which allowed the Nationals to trade an unproven second base prospect for a proven veteran reliever in David Carpenter in 2012.

It is worth noting that it was with the Keister’s Potomac Nationals that Reynaldo Lopez jumped onto the Washington Nationals radar. Also, Lucas Giolito thrived under Keister’s tutelage.

Two players who have played for Keister are in competition for starting positions in 2017.

Pedro Severino has been thriving in the minor leagues and it all starts with his time under Keister. He kept that momentum into the higher levels of the Washington Nationals system. Severino will go into Spring Training with a legitimate chance to be the opening day starting catcher.

The second is Koda Glover. Glover went from an eighth-round draft pick in 2015 to the big leagues in 2016. He hit each level of the minor leagues during his ascent into the Washington Nationals roster this past year.

His most impressive run was, of course, under Keister’s supervision. Glover pitched 9.2 innings and only gave up three hits, no runs, in Potomac. He pushed his way onto the roster for the end of the season and, with a good spring, will force the Washington Nationals hands again.

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It will be interesting to see what other stars will eventually rise out of the lower minor leagues. With good coaches around fans hope to see more surprise names in 2017. The Washington Nationals should be excited about keep their coaching team together and the fans should be too.