New Nats addition: Dakota Bacus

 

It's not a huge surprise that the Nats dealt Kurt Suzuki this morning, as he was a pending free agent backup catcher with over $1 million left on his contract (plus a $650,000 buyout on his option). I was a bit surprised that the Nats got a solid prospect in return for him - 22 year old RHP Dakota Bacus.

Bacus is the type of pitcher who can move up the organization quickly after being converted from being a starter to a reliever (similar to another guy the Nats got from the A's, Ian Krol, in that respect). He's seen a huge uptick in his ability to strike out batters out of the bullpen (between 10.5-11 K/9 as a reliever, under 5 K/9 as a starter) and strikes me as a Craig Stammen type who gets a bunch of ground balls with decent control and the ability to strike out guys when needed.

Bacus was a fan favorite for the Beloit Snappers this year, posing as the "Whitewall Ninja," trolling around the outfield during games with a white jersey and ski mask, blending into white walls. He does not claim that he's truly the Whitewall Ninja; calling him "he" in interviews, but it is apparent that the Ninja is truly Bacus' alter ego. In an interview with Benjamin Hill of MiLB.com, Bacus said that when it first started, "the goal was to see how far he could get out there before being caught by any of the umpires". The USA Today blog FTW has more photos here.

He's seen by Matt Eddy of Baseball America as “a fairly standard-issue righty...who's maxed-out physically" that profiles as a middle relief type. Eddy mentions that he's got an average fastball (various sources put him at 90-93 MPH) and solid control of his slider and also notes that he's had success in his conversion to the bullpen this season (3.25 ERA, 11.0 K/9, 3 BB/9 and only 1 HR allowed in 36 innings as opposed to 3.69 ERA, 4.85 K/9, 2.74 BB/9 and 5 HR allowed in 85 and 1/3 innings as a starter).

The 2012 9th round pick out of Indiana State University wasn't rated as a top 20 A's prospect by John Sickels of Minor League Ball, but made his Honorable Mention list (meaning he was likely in the top 30) and was rated as a C prospect in December. A year ago, Sickels wrote that Bacus was too old for the competition he was dominating in his first sting of minor league baseball, but was still one to keep an eye on.

Jim Callis of Baseball America considered Bacus a "personal cheeseball" going into last year's draft and mentioned that he has a solid 3 pitch mix between his fastball, slider and changeup. Callis profiled Bacus as a #4 starter or middle reliever who could reach a ceiling as a set-up man with his plus (at times) slider.

In November, Jim Shonerd of Baseball America mentioned in a chat that his changeup has a nice sinking element to it, but that he also needed to work on his mechanics. He was rated the #220 overall prospect in the Baseball America top 500 before last year's draft.

Bacus joins Ryan Tatusko as the only two Indiana State University pitchers in the Nationals organization.

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