Offseason Update: Sept. 24, 2016

Well, it’s been a week. I know some of you are still smarting from another late-inning collapse by the big club, complete with the requisite angst of “the guy we traded away did better than the guy we traded for,” as well as another managerial blunder (pro tip: when you have a true CF available in the late innings, you might want to use him on defense), but this is a site devoted to the minor leagues, so let’s follow my digital 13’s from last year and see what’s what…


THE STATE OF THE FARM

Two of the seven affiliates made the playoffs (Hagerstown, Potomac) and two narrowly missed (Harrisburg, GCL). Unfortunately, the other three were not believers in corporal punishment (that’s no hitting, kids) and had league-average pitching (Syracuse, DSL) or worse (Auburn), which resulted in finishes at or near the bottom of the standings.

Naturally, this is not the best bellwether. The system generated another starter for the big club (Trea Turner) and was able to call on a trio of upper-level starters (A.J. Cole, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito) to fill in 16 times (as of this writing) for Joe Ross and Stephen Strasburg with subpar-but-not-bad-considering results (4-6, 5.11/5.04/1.51) as well as a hard-throwing reliever (Koda Glover). Even F.P. Santangelo can tell you that most of these guys were probably rushed a little, but it’s in line with the shift league-wide towards going younger.

As written in this space a year ago, the hopes for an influx of positional talent from the D.R. was fulfilled with the strong seasons from Juan Soto, Kelvin Gutierrez, and Jose “Orange” Marmolejos, with half-a-dozen or more guys behind them, though defense is a big “yeah, but” with the latter (e.g. Raudy Read, Osvaldo Abreu). And that’s not to overlook the ascendance of the age-appropriate Americans like Andrew Stevenson and Drew Ward.

In short, the system is still developing talent on both sides of the ball that can be used for both short-term and long-term needs.

BA TOP 20 LISTS
These are just starting up, so it looks like it’ll be another few days before we see our first Nationals, though I think most of us can probably guess it’ll be only a handful total and usually one or two (tops), for any given league. In other words, SSDY.

THE WATCHLIST AND THE GBI
A year ago, I was worried that this may have to be scrapped. I’m less worried about that than I am in keeping the GBI. I scaled it back this year and it still felt like a struggle to produce. I know it’s a popular feature, but if it stays, I think it’ll be monthly in 2017. My apologies in advance.

A SHOUTOUT TO DISTRICT ON DECK
My season reviews are much, much shorter than they used to be (like below). But one of the writers at District on Deck has taken on that task, and I’m passing along links to his work on the Potomac Nationals and, with my sympathies (for him, not you), the Syracuse Chiefs.

THE DSL NATIONALS
In a word, disappointing. While I don’t follow this level as closely as I used to, it just seems to me that a team with a lot of guys repeating the level should have done better. After being the youngest set of batters in the DSL in 2015, the pendulum swung back to just slight older than the league average (18.4 vs. 18.2) while the pitching staff was still younger (18.7 vs. 19.1).

As alluded to above, the offense was horrible: 35th in the 42-team league and more than a half-a-run worse than the league average (3.80 vs. 4.46). The pitching improved from near-the-worst (33rd out of 38) to middle-of-the pack (4.43 R/G vs. 4.46). The defense was, like 2015, slightly below average (.953FA vs. .957FA — remember, all we have to go on are the stats).

Without further comment, here are the obligatory Top 5’s, excluding the old-for-the-level players…

TOP 5 BATS TOP 5 ARMS
1. Jose Cabello, C/1B
.259 GPA, 28 BB
1. Yelmery Sisneros, LHSP
0.43/2.39/0.91, 4.56 K:BB ratio
2. Santo Falcon, CF
.234 GPA, 12 SB
2. Angel Guillen, RHSP
1.67/2.61/0.94, 4.17 K:BB ratio
3. Brailin Mesa, RF/LF
.225 GPA, 16 2B
3. Gilbert Chu, LHSP
3.18/2.68/0.96, 1.6 BB/9
4. Jesus Morales, 2B/3B
.215 GPA, 10E
4. Warner Duran, RHRP
1.65/2.59/1.22, 6BB in 32⅔ IP
5. Juan Pascal, SS
.209 GPA, 55 of 56G at SS
5. Jairon Peguero, LHRP
4.91/2.91/1.46, 0HR in 33IP

As you might imagine, there are no honorable mentions this year, especially since there were just two (2) batters above the league average and under the age of 20. Folks interested in seeing the entire team’s stats can find them here.

Checking In…

Uninspired for NPPFor those of you not celebrating National Apple Dumpling day, today’s just another Saturday. For us, it’s that weird limbo with the big club steaming towards the playoffs, which nowadays means that “our guys” are mostly sitting the bench until the division is clinched.

Believe me, I prefer this to the earlier days of this site’s existence when WAY TOO MUCH attention, hopes, and pent-up desire for a contender was projected onto players who could only have gotten a shot on a losing team with a farm system that had been stripped for parts by the team’s first GM, then run into the ground without changing the oil, filter, or tires by the team’s second GM.

I don’t miss those days… or the pseudofans who would reflexively (repeatedly) wail about the team’s spending (“The Lerners Are Cheap!”) who I now refer to as the Lieutenant Dans (because they don’t have any legs to stand on), though I believe they’re now lurking in the comments section of MASN and WaPo, where there’s so much stupid, I wouldn’t advise visiting without a dumbrella.

I rather like the folks who’ve stayed here past the meteoric rises of Strasburg and Harper and enjoy following the development of guys who might replace today’s Washington Nationals in a few seasons, but also understand they might be traded away, too. (If we’re honest, it may be more of the latter than the former ☹)

About the only thing I can add to what our diligent commenters have beaten me to the punch in the previous post is the almost fait accompli of the Nationals renewing its PDCs with Auburn and Potomac this month, joining Hagerstown last month. This ensures that all five affiliates that the team doesn’t own will remain in place through the 2018 season.

I know this doesn’t sit well with some folks, who’d like the AAA and AA teams to be closer, but Bowie isn’t going to open up without an apocalypse (Richmond is both farther away in miles and drive time, not to mention its stadium is AA’s analog to the Pfitz) and Norfolk might only be a shorter drive if you’re willing to go there in the middle of the day and the middle of the week.

In my opinion, the substandard facilities in Hagerstown and Potomac notwithstanding, the current arrangement is about as good as we can reasonably hope for. It’s better than it was 10 years ago, when Washington’s AAA affiliate was in Louisiana, Low-A was in Georgia, and SS-A was in Vermont. Maybe you could ask for a switch in the NYPL to State College from Auburn or for Washington to make an arrangement with an Appy League team, I suppose.

That’s about it for now as we shift from daily posts to weekly posts before the AFL starts up. Enjoy your dumplings! 😉

Juan Soto Named GCL MVP

16-y.o. Juan Soto in 2015 at the Dominican Prospect LeagueDon’t look back, Victor Robles – but someone may be gaining on you.

At least as the Nationals’ top young OF prospect, that is, as 17-y.o. Juan Soto was named the 2016 Gulf Coast League Most Valuable Player as well as one of its postseason all-stars after leading the Rookie circuit with a .361 batting average and a .550 slugging percentage and finishing second in on-base percentage at .410.

Last summer, Soto was signed by the Nationals for $1.5 million, the most ever and nearly double the $900K shelled out in 2013 for Anderson Franco.

OK, now that we’ve dispensed with the obligatory (knee-jerk) comp and fawning over (other people’s) money spent, what lies ahead for Soto in ’17? He turns 18 next month but spent less than a week in Auburn, where he hit .429 (9-for-21) with three doubles in six games.

Could the Nationals start him in Hagerstown? Ten years ago, the Nationals started 18-y.o. Chris Marrero at Hagerstown after just 22 games in the GCL the previous summer, but the conventional wisdom is Dominican-born players need more time to acclimate to the American culture.

Unlike the windmill of a non-existent “scoreless game” (game always has a score, it begins with 0-0), I’ve given up tilting against the idea of fast-tracking position prospects, even if I can easily cite some mistakes (*cough* Brian Goodwin *cough*). The Nats have been successful enough often enough, period. Not to mention, they’re working with information that we don’t have.

So go ahead and think about taking a trip to Hagerstown next spring, or Woodbridge next summer; Juan Soto could very well play in one or both places in 2017.

Good, Bad, Interesting… 2016 Season Final


Our final look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues. Repeats from 2015 are in italics.

PLEASE NOTE: This format discriminates against multi-level players (hence: no Koda Glover and Lucas Giolito) and age relative to the level is a key factor, especially in the short-season leagues. I’ve also excluded players who were traded away (Max Schrock), though I think that may have only cost him an “Interesting” mention for Potomac; the “Orange” had a longer period of sustained excellence and were it not for my disdain of BA-style double-dipping, I may have named him “Interesting” for Harrisburg because he continued to excel at AA.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS
61-82, 6th place International League North, 30 games behind

Good Bat: Trea Turner.302/.370/.471, 25SB in 83G
Arm: Austin Voth 7-9, 3.15/3.53/1.24 in 157IP (25GS)
Bad Bat: Jose Lozada .381 OPS in 53G
Arm: Taylor Hill 6-13, 4.60/4.56/1.33, 19HR, 5.64 K/9IP
Interesting Bat: Brian Goodwin .280/.349/.438, 14HR in 119G
Arm: Paolo Espino 8-11, 3.30/3.22/1.15 in 152⅔ IP (24GS)


HARRISBURG SENATORS
76-66, 3rd place Eastern League Western Division, 1½ games behind

Good Bat: Christopher Bostick .290/.356/.462 in 62G
Arm: Reynaldo Lopez 3-5, 3.18/3.03/1.23, 100K in 76⅓ IP)
Bad Bat: Khayyan Norfork .476OPS in 36G
Arm: Mark Blackmar 4-5, 5.37/5.34/1.33, 3.95 K/9IP in 57IP
Interesting Bat: Rafael Bautista .282/.344/.341, 56SB in 136G
Arm: Phillips Valdez – first six AA starts: 2-2, 7.67 ERA, 2.30 WHIP in 27IP (4.5 IP/GS)
last 10 AA starts 4-2, 3.26 ERA, 1.39 WHIP in 60⅔ IP (6.1 IP/GS)


POTOMAC NATIONALS
39-31 in 2nd half, T1st place Carolina League Northern Division, 7 games ahead – Lost, 2-1 in CLDS
34-34 in 1st half, 3rd place, 10 games behind
73-65 overall

Good Bat: Jose “Orange” Marmolejos .286/.381/.495, 11HR, 59 RBI in 103G
Arm: Erick Fedde 6-4, 2.85/3.22/1.13, 95K, 19BB in 91⅔ IP
Bad Bat: David Masters .539 OPS in 76G
Arm: Luis Reyes 4-8, 5.60/5.74/1.63, 5.86 BB/9IP in 70⅔
Interesting Bat: Austin Davidson .800 OPS in 47G
Arm: Ryan Brinley 4-1, 16SV, 1.37/2.68/0.89 in 39⅓ IP (32G)


HAGERSTOWN SUNS
40-30 in 2nd half, 2nd place South Atlantic League Northern Division, 5 games behind – Lost, 2-0 SALDS
43-27 in 1st half, 1st place, ½ game ahead
83-57 overall (best in Sally Lg.)

Good Bat: Victor Robles .305/.405/.459, 19SB in 64G
Arm: Grant Borne 5-2, 3.34/3.15/1.20 in 59⅓ IP (21 appearances, 2GS)
Bad Bat: Ryan Ripken .451OPS in 43G
Arm: Luis Torres 2-2, 4.62/5.27/1.43 in 37IP
Interesting Bat: Ian Sagdal, .303/.362/.474, 10 HR in 103G
Arm: Jorge Pantoja 9-1, 3SV, 2.63/2.67/1.15 in 54⅔ IP (28 appearances)


AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS
28-47, 5th Place Pinckney Division of New York-Penn League, 21½ games behind

Good Bat: Tres Barrera .703 OPS in 48G
Arm: Tyler Watson 1-2, 1.88/2.05/0.91 in 43IP (9GS)
Bad Bat: 23-y.o. David Kerian .144/.186/.226 in 44G
Arm: A.J. Bogucki 0-6, 8.20/4.53/1.97 in 26⅓ IP (10 appearances, 6GS)
Interesting Bat: (none)
Arm: 19-y.o. Steven Fuentes 3.65/2.16/1.28, 4.70 K:BB ratio


GCL NATIONALS
30-23, 2nd place Gulf Coast League East Division, 2½ games behind

Good Bat: 17-y.o. Juan Soto .368/.420/.553, 5HR, 32RBI in 45G
Arm: 21-y.o. Sterling Sharp 3-0, 3.28/2.85/1.26 in 41⅓ IP (11G, 7GS)
Bad Bat: 21-y.o. Chance Shepard .188/.289/325 in 28G
Arm: 23-y.o. Diomedes Eusebio 0-0, 5.01/4.53/1.84 in 23⅓ IP (14 appearances)
Interesting Bat: 21-y.o. Conner Simonetti .280 /.333/.446, 6HR in 42G
Arm: 20-y.o. Francys Peguero 2.20/2.59/1.10, 34K, 5BB, in 32⅔ IP


DSL NATIONALS
29-41, 6th place, Boca Chica San Pedro Division, 21½ games behind

Good Bat: 19-y.o. Jose Cabello .277/.391/.333 in 53G (last year’s “Bad”)
Arm: 18-y.o. Yelmy Sisnero, 4-1, 0.43/2.08/0.91, 41K, 9BB in 41⅔ IP (9GS)
Bad Bat: 18-y.o. Joel Andular .514 OPS in 47G
Arm: 20-y.o. Felix Taveras 4-2, 4.61/3.70/1.37 in 41IP (10GS)
Interesting Bat: 18-y.o. Brian Bencosme 33BB in 64G
Arm: 18-y.o. Warner Duran 1.65/2.28/0.73 in 32⅔ IP (19 appearances)

Hagerstown, Potomac Eliminated From the Playoffs

So LongBoth Potomac and Hagerstown lost last night and were eliminated from the playoffs to close the books on the 2016 Washington Nationals minor league season.

Lynchburg 3 Potomac 1
• Crownover (L, 0-1) 6+ IP, 3H, 2R, 1ER, 2BB, 4K
• Orlan 1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Abreu 2-4, R, 2B
• Page 1-3, BB

The P-Nats never led this one, falling behind 1-0 after four innings and 3-0 after seven. They got the tying runs to the plate in both the 8th and 9th innings, but plated just one run with Bryan Mejia’s two-out double in the 9th. For the game, Potomac was 1-for-9 with RISP and left on seven. Osvaldo Abreu was the sole batter not to whiff as the P-Nat batters fanned 12 times total, including three times swinging in the 1st.

Matthew Crownover did his part, pitching into the 7th and giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks while striking out four, but was saddled with the loss. Gilberto Mendez came on with a runner on first that reached on Raudy Read error and retired just one of three batters before Lynchburg sent him packing with a two-run homer that proved to be the difference. R.C. Orlan got the last five outs in as many batters faced, but the offense couldn’t match his effort.

The loss was the first time Potomac had failed to reach the Mills Cup finals since 2011, when the P-Nats fell to the Keys 3-2 in the then (much more fair) best-of-five Divisional series. Lynchburg will now face the defending Carolina League champs Myrtle Beach, which upset (well, see previous parenthetical) Salem to win both Game 3 and the C.L. South Division series, 2-1.

Lakewood 5 Hagerstown 2
• Watson (L, 0-1) 4⅔ IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, 4K
• Peterson 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Sagdal 2-4, R, HR, RBI
• Beckwith 2-3, RBI

Likewise, Hagerstown fell behind 2-0 before they even came to bat and were never able to catch Lakewood, which took the game, 5-2 and swept the series, 2-0. Tyler Watson, who was making just his fifth Low-A start, was predictably knocked around for three runs on six hits and two walks over four and 2/3rds innings to wear the “L.” Jake Johansen got the last out of the 5th and pitched into the 7th before he ran out of gas. He left with runners on first and second but Mariano Rivera could not strand them as he gave up a two-out, two-run triple that effectively put the game out of reach.

Offensively, the Suns did little after Ian Sagdal led off the game with a HR to cut the deficit to 2-1. Blake Perkins followed with a single but a double play stopped the momentum, as did twin-killings in the 5th and 6th innings. Hagerstown managed just seven hits total and drew just one walk. The heart of the lineup – nos. three through seven – went 0-for-17 and accounted for four of the six batting strikeouts and both runners stranded in scoring position with two outs.

The first-round exit was the first for Hagerstown since 2012, when they were also swept by Greensboro. Lakewood gets an extra day off as they await the outcome of the Sally South series, which was tied up when Rome blew a 3-0 lead and lost 4-3 to Charleston to force a Game 3 tonight.

Friday’s News & Notes — Playoff Edition

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Potomac Lost, 6-5
(14 inn.)
@ Lynchburg,
6:30 p.m.
Crownover (4-4, 4.28) vs.
Brady (12-6, 4.95)
Hagerstown OFF DAY vs. Lakewood,
7:05 p.m.
Watson (1-1, 4.80) vs.
Taveras (8-8, 3.26)

Lynchburg 6 Potomac 5 (14 inn.)
• Silvestre 5IP, 8H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 5K, HR
• Brinley (BS, 1) 1IP, 2H, R, ER, 2BB, 0K
• Holland (L, 0-1) 1⅔ IP, 4H, E, ER, 2IBB, K
• Robles 3-6, 2B, RBI, wait for it, HBP
• Mejia 3-7, 2R, 2-2B
• Gutierrez 2-6, RBI

Lynchburg came back from the brink with a two-out run in the 12th and plated the game-winner with two down in the 14th to force a deciding Game 3 tonight with a 6-5 win over Potomac. Hector Silvestre got the start and gave up three over five innings on eight hits and a walk while striking out five. Ryan Brinley’s late-season struggles continued as he failed to keep any baserunners from reaching or scoring for the sixth straight appearance, as he blew a 5-4 lead with a run on two hits and two unintentional walks. Neil Holland took the loss as Lynchburg got the leadoff single in the 14th and pushed the runner to third on a sacrifice and an infield groundout. Tripp Keister ordered two intentional walks to two switch-hitters to get the RHP vs. RHB matchup (and an out at any base, natch) but Bobby Bradley, who’d been 1-for-7 before the 14th, got his second single to push across the deciding run. Roster move: RHP Austen Williams placed on the 7-Day DL.

Hagestown – OFF DAY
It’s do-or-die after just one playoff game, with the Suns giving the ball to 19-y.o. Tyler Watson, who’s making his fourth Low-A start versus 22-y.o. Jose Taveras in his 21st start for the Blue Claws.

Thursday’s News & Notes — Playoff Edition

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Potomac Won, 7-0
(7 inn.)
@ Lynchburg,
6:30 p.m.
Silvestre (0-0, 2.08) vs.
Lugo (8-5, 4.04)
Hagerstown Lost, 6-1 OFF DAY N/A

Potomac 7 Lynchburg 0 (7 inn.)
• Whiting (W, 1-0) 7IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Gutierrez 3-4, R, 2B, RBI
• Carey 2-3, R, 3B, RBI
• Page 2-4, 2R, 2B, 2RBI

Rain delayed the start and ended it early, but in between, Potomac dominated Lynchburg for a 7-0 shutout in seven innings. Staff ace Boone Whiting went the distance, allowing just two hits and a walk while fanning three to get the win. Kelvin Gutierrez led the 13-hit parade with two singles and a double, as eight of the starting nine batters hit safely while the beer man (Bryan Mejia) contributed with a pair of sacrifices.

The series now shifts to Lynchburg, where Potomac will have two chances to win one game to advance to the Carolina League Finals for the third time in four seasons. Roster move: C Jake Lowery activated from the TIL.

Lakewood 6 Hagerstown 1
• Rodriguez (L, 0-1) 4+ IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 4K, WP
• Guilbeau 2⅓ IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 1K, 2-2 IR-S
• Sagdal 1-3, BB
• Perkins 0-2, R, 2BB

The BlueClaws limited the Suns to just four hits and came up big in the middle innings for a 6-1 victory in the SLDS opener. Jefry Rodriguez pitched into the 5th, giving up a double and a walk then wild-pitching them over to 2nd and 3rd before giving way to the ‘pen. Taylor Guilbeau couldn’t get an out on his own until the third batter he faced, as he gave up a single and a sacrifice before getting a strikeout. He issued an intentional walk to load the bases then surrendered a two-run double to let in both of Rodriguez’s runs and the first of four charged to him. Hagerstown’s offense drew just four walks while striking out 12 times. Ian Sagdal (single, walk) and Blake Perkins (two walks) were the only two batters to reach base twice.

After a mandated travel day, the series resumes on Friday in Hagerstown, with the Suns needing to win both Games 2 and 3 to return to the Sally League Finals, where they lost in five games to the Tourists in 2014. Roster move: C Adderling Ruiz reassigned from Potomac.

Wednesday’s News & Notes — Playoff Edition

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Potomac OFF DAY vs. Lynchburg,
7:05 p.m.
Whiting (11-3, 3.45) vs.
Esparza (2-4, 3.92)
Hagerstown OFF DAY @ Lakewood,
7:05 p.m.
Rodriguez (7-11, 4.96) vs.
Tirado (7-1, 3.90)

Potomac vs. Lynchburg – C.L. Division Series
For the third time in three seasons, the Hillcats and P-Nats will square off in the first round of the Carolina League Playoffs. In 2013 and 2014, Potomac prevailed 2-0 in the best-of-three series, but also had home-field advantage as double-half winners. This season, it’s just the opener in Woodbridge, then Game 2 and Game 3 (if necessary) in Lynchburg. The Hillcats took 12 of the 22 games between the two teams, but the P-Nats won five of nine in the second half. Pitching matchups have not yet been announced beyond tonight, but if the rotation is not altered, it’ll be Hector Silvestre in Game 2 and Matt Crownover in Game 3.

Hagerstown vs. Lakewood – S.A.L. Division Series
Like Potomac, Hagerstown makes its first playoff appearance since 2014. The Suns have been on the road since August 29, but like most 80+ game winners, have played well both home and away (44-26 vs. 39-31). Hagerstown dominated Lakewood early (11-0) but won just four of the last 11 games against the Phillies affiliate. According to MiLB.com, the playoff rotation will be Jefry Rodriguez, Tyler Watson, and (if necessary) Joan Baez. Roster moves: RHP Luis Reyes placed on the 7-Day DL.

Tuesday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-3
(10 inn.)
END OF SEASON N/A
Harrisburg Won, 5-4 END OF SEASON N/A
Potomac Won, 3-1 OFF DAY N/A
Hagerstown Won, 9-5 OFF DAY N/A
Auburn Lost, 4-3 END OF SEASON N/A

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 4 Syracuse 3 (10 inn.)
• Ross 3IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, 2K, HR
• Voth (L, 7-9) 6⅔ IP, 4H, 3R, 1ER, 5BB, 7K
• Solano 2-3, 3RBI
• N. Soto 3-5, R
• Martinson 2-5, 2R

Syracuse secured the worst record in the I.L. with a 4-3 loss in 10 innings to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the season finale. MLB Rehab Joe Ross went the first three frames, giving up a run on a home run and three hits total over the first three innings. Austin Voth followed and took the loss, pitching the final six and 2/3rds and charged with three runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks (two intentional) while striking out seven. Jhonatan Solano drove in all three Chiefs runs while Neftali Solo singled three times to lead the Syracuse offense. Roster moves: IF Wilmer Difo reassigned from Harrisburg.

Harrisburg 5 Hartford 4
• J. Martin 8IP, 7H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 3K; 0-1, 2SAC
• Ross (W, 5-1) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Bautista 4-5, 2B, 2RBI, SB
• A. Sanchez 3-4, 2R
• Marmolejos 3-5, RBI

The Sens rallied for three in the 9th for a 5-4 walkoff win against the Yard Goats. Alas, it was too little, too late as Altoona beat out Harrisburg by one game for the playoffs. J.D. Martin replaced Erick Fedde and went the first eight innings, giving up all four Hartford runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three. Greg Ross got the “W” with a scoreless 9th. The Sens singled six times in seven at-bats in the final frame with Jose “Orange” Marmolejos driving in the deciding run on his third single of the afternoon. Rafael Bautista led the hit parade with three singles and a double, finishing September with a 15-for-36 flourish. Roster Moves: RHP J.D. Martin reassigned from Potomac, IF Khayyan Norfork reassigned from Syracuse.

Potomac 3 Myrtle Beach 1
• Mayberry (W, 4-4) 7IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 9K
• Mendez (H, 4) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Davidson 2-4, R, RBI
• Robles 3-4

Potomac won its third second-half title in four seasons behind a masterful outing by Whit Mayberry on a Monday Afternoon in Woodbridge.

Roster moves: RHPs Wirkin Estevez, Dakota Bacus activated from the 7-Day DL; C Adderling Ruiz reassigned from Hagerstown; C Jake Lowery placed on the 3-Day TIL.

Hagerstown 9 Asheville 5
• Borne (W, 5-2) 5IP, 5H, R, ER, 0BB, 5K
• Peterson 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Wiseman 4-5, R, 2RBI
• Noll 4-5, 2R, 2B, RBI
• Reetz 2-4, R, 2B, BB, 2RBI

The Suns battered Tourist pitchers for 19 hit as they took the season finale, 9-5. Grant Borne won his fifth game with five innings of one-run ball on five hits and no walks while striking out five. Beers were on Angelo La Bruna as the only Hagerstown batter to go hitless with Jake Noll and Rhett Wiseman leading the attack with eight hits, three runs, and three RBI combined.

Batavia 4 Auburn 3
• Sharp 5IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, 3K
• Ramirez (L, 4-3) 1⅔ IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 1K
• J. Soto 2-4, R, 2B, E(2)
• Ripken 2-4, 2B, RBI

Auburn completed its 0-for-September with its seventh straight loss, 4-3 to Batavia. ABC News 5 Anchorman Sterling Sharp got the callup from the GCL to make one more start and let in three runs on six hits and no walks over five innings for a no-decision. Yonathan Ramirez gave up the deciding run in the 7th to take the loss, his third. Juan Soto and Ryan Ripken both singled and doubled to lead the Doubledays offense, which managed nine hits but was 0-for-7 with RISP. Roster move: RHP Sterling Sharp reassigned from the GCL.

Monday Afternoon in Woodbridge

Potomac turned to Whit Mayberry on two days’ rest and the 26-y.o. veteran responded with seven monster innings as the P-Nats clinched a second-half title with a 3-1 victory.

The midseason pickup threw 79 pitches, 56 for strikes, and struck a career-high nine, getting Cuban cleanup man Yasiel Balaguert three times after the Prince Fielder doppelgänger had tortured Potomac pitchers for eight hits and four RBI over the past three games.

Early on, the P-Nats racked up the hits — three in the 1st, two in the 2nd, one in the 3rd — but the clutch hit was absent as they had just one run to show for it.

They finally broke through in the 5th with a little “help” from the Pelicans pitcher who threw past first base to allow Victor Robles to turn a bunt single into a Little League double, though he might have been able to make it a “triple” had he not done his best imitation of Deion Sanders by spinning around halfway past first base and backpedaling into second base.

Austin Davidson followed with a single to left to send in Robles. MLB rehab Stephen Drew did his best imitation of Robles with an HBP to push Davidson to second and Osvaldo Abreu completed the two-run rally with another single to left.

The two teams traded donuts in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, with Gilberto Mendez following Mayberry and working around a single before giving way to closer (and postseason All-Star) Ryan Brinley in the 9th.

Maybe it was nerves, but the defense was less than steady in the 9th for Brinley, with Bryan Mejia booting a grounder to second for his 26th miscue to open the innings and Austin Davidson bullfighting a two-out grounder to the 5/6 hole that was ruled a single. A subsequent safety to right plated the lone Myrtle Beach run and brought up the go-ahead run.

Light-hitting Jesse Hodges put a charge into the final out but a warning-track flyball is the same as a can of corn in the scorebook as the P-Nats celebrated their third second-half title in the past four seasons.

The win earned Woodbridge nine one less road game, as the Lynchburg Hillcats will have to come to the Pfitz on Wednesday to open best-of-three Carolina League North Divisional Series. Unofficially, it’ll be Matt Esparza (2-4, 3.92) facing off against Potomac’s Boone Whiting (11-3, 3.45).