Oct 292010
 

Scottsdale snapped its three-game losing streak with a 9-5 win over the Surprise Rafters. Sammy Solis got the start, Adam Carr relieved and three Nats appeared in the lineup. Here are the highlights…

  • Solis went five innings (70 pitches) and allowed five runs (two earned) on eight hits and a walk while striking out three. He gave up a HR and committed a throwing error.
  • Steve Lombardozzi’s struggles continued with an 0-for-5 night in the leadoff spot, though he did help turn two DP’s.
  • Offensively, Derek Norris drove in five, three by an eighth-inning HR, while catching and batting sixth. He also doubled and scored two runs. Defensively, his streak of throwing out runners ended as St. Louis farmhand Adron Chambers swiped three bags and Detroit’s Francisco stole one. Norris also allowed a passed ball, his third of the fall.
  • Michael Burgess went 1-for-4 with an RBI while playing R, but struck out three times.
  • Adam Carr pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and stuck out a batter.

The win puts Scottsdale at 9-6, tied again with the Mesa Solar Sox for first place. Tonight they host Mesa, and tomorrow afternoon they face Peoria. Look for the weekend wrapup and updated AFL stats on Monday.

Oct 282010
 

Yesterday, Adam Kilgore confirmed what some folks suspected: The Nationals are experimenting with Brad Peacock as a reliever. As I tweeted to him yesterday, the changeup is what got Peacock from Potomac to Harrisburg.

I think it would be a shame if Peacock were converted to a reliever before he had the full chance to see what he can do as a starter. I totally get that this may be something that the organization needs, but if you’ve seen what that changeup — which may be his third-best pitch, but it’s his most important pitch to get over for strikes — does to hitters, you’d understand.

Peacock was a favorite of mine from this past season because of that changeup. Okay, maybe because it was also a thrill to see him throw a complete-game shutout. But guys that can deal 94-95mph are relatively common. Guys that can also throw a change that’s easily 10-15mph slower? Not so common.

Most of my “LNIW” posts involving Peacock were prior to the site changeover in hosting. As it so happens, he was the feature in the lone “LNIW” from our “mobile home days“, which gave me a chance to talk about what it means to go seven innings in the minors; a spiel I’d had “in the can” for years without a place to express.

Hopefully, that’s all this is: An experiment. But if it’s not? Please, let Brad continue to work on his change in some long outings.

Oct 282010
 

A six-run second inning wasn’t enough as the Scottsdale Scorpions fell for the third straight time 7-6.
Highlights from the Nationals that played…

  • Derek Norris drew three walks as the DH, stole his 2nd base, and scored a run.
  • Bryce Harper went o-for-4 with two strikeouts, but gunned down a runner at home plate as part of a double play.
  • Cole Kimball pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth, striking out one batter.

Sammy Solis is scheduled to start this afternoon’s game versus the Surprise Rafters.

Oct 272010
 

The Scottsdale Scorpions dropped their second straight decision, 7-4, while three Nationals saw game action…

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off, played 2B, but went 0-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base
  • Michael Burgess batted seventh, played RF, and had a 3-for-5 night with a double, triple, two runs scored and two RBI
  • Brad Peacock pitched a scoreless inning of middle relief (4th) and allowed just a walk

The loss drops Scottsdale to 8-5, tied for first place with the Mesa Solar Sox. The former visits the latter this afternoon with Bryce Harper eligible to play.

Oct 262010
 

Like the ’10 G-Nats, the 2010 Hagerstown Suns were a team that could mash the ball, leading the South Atlantic League in hits, runs scored, batting average and OPS. Unfortunately, they also led the league in runs allowed, hits allowed, and WHIP. Like adding insult to injury, salt to the wound, or a baby to a family sitcom, the defense did not help matters; it was second-worst in the league. That they even came close to the playoffs in the first half (36-34, 6GB) is a minor miracle.

Injuries, suspensions, and losing three-fifths of the starting rotation doomed the team to its sixth-place finish in the second half. Overall, the team went 65-75, three games behind its pythagorean projection. But there were some bright spots, too, most notably the possible resurrection of hope for a ’07 high-school pick that appeared to be on the path towards doing what a ’06 h.s. pick did in May: retire in ignominy (Colton Willems).

As we’ve done before, let’s take a look at Hagerstown’s hitters as a group compared to the rest of the Sally League…

HITTING

TEAM AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA SB
Hagerstown 4764 710 1289 72 398 1052 .271 .333 .389 .247 161
Lg. Avg. 4702 632 1204 81 412 1074 .256 .323 .377 .240 146

Bold = League Leader

PITCHING

TEAM IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
Hagerstown 1227.1 4.50 5.23 1.418 98 424 998 .7 3.1 7.3 2.35
Lg. Avg. 1229.1 3.82 4.54 1.315 81 412 1074 8.8 3.0 7.9 2.61

Three Suns (Bloxom, Ramirez, Perez) placed in the Top 10 of the Sally League for batting average, offsetting below-average on-base and slugging rates. While it’s tempting to say that this is a team of plodders when you subtract Eury Perez’s league-leading 64 steals, but this was also a team that led the league in triples (Perez had 5). The big inning was this team’s calling card, frequently scoring 3, 4, or 5 runs in single frame.

On the other side of the ledger scorebook, the lead was just as thick. Early on, the starting pitching was good — the aforementioned top three starters of Mitchell Clegg, Danny Rosenbaum, and Trevor Holder combined for a 13-6 record and an ERA of 2.63 in the first half — but in the second half, those marks would be 7-18 and 4.82 for the second-half triumvirate of Paul Applebee, Paul Demny and Graham Hicks.

But the relief pitching was horrid all year long, with just three full-time relievers (Rob Wort, Dean Weaver, Luis Garcia) posting sub-4.00 ERAs and only two falling below the league average for WHIP. Middle relievers Shane Erb, Wanel Vasquez, and Kyle Morrison appeared in 114 games and were 7-12 combined with six saves, an ERA of 6.06, and a WHIP of 1.69 over 175 innings.

I’m expanding to the Top 16 hitters and pitchers in terms of plate appearances and innings pitched because there are notables outside the Top 12. The full statistics for the team can be found here.

Name Age Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err PA GPA
J.P. Ramirez 20 LF 73 .922 10 551 .275
Destin Hood 20 RF/LF 69/60 .960 9 537 .247
Eury Perez 20 CF/RF/LF 113/16/3 .962 9 491 .251
Justin Bloxom 22 1B/3B/RF/LF 81/13/11/7 .983 14 454 .279
Francisco Soriano 23 SS/2B 68/24 .925 32 414 .252
Sandy Leon 21 C 91 .975 19 385 .239
Brett Newsome 23 1B 64 .994 3 366 .264
Steven Souza 21 3B/SS/RF 75/2/1 .890 27 344 .246
Jeff Kobernus 22 2B 71 .959 12 343 .229
Justino Cuevas 21 IF/OF 60/2 .931 14 216 .227
Adrian Nieto 20 C/1B 50/1 .967 13 203 .194
Marcus Jones 23 RF/CF/LF 36/7/2 .948 4 197 .196
Rick Hague 21 SS 29 .879 16 176 .304
J.R. Higley 22 CF/RF 22/13 1.000 0 133 .225
Stephen King 22 3B 29 .878 9 119 .219
Adrian Sanchez 19 2B/3B 24/1 .940 8 107 .238

Before doing this review, it would have been easy to say that the suspensions of Souza and Higley hurt the team offensively, but it’s pretty clear that the additions of Hague and the second-half emergence Eury Perez more than made up for their loss from the lineup. Hitting was not this team’s problem. Defense, as you can see rather clearly with nine of 16 batters in double digits for errors committed, most assuredly was a weakness. As was pitching…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HBP WP
Paul Demny 20 27/27 6-10, 0 4.23 129⅔ 128 47 106 1.350 16 13
Paul Applebee 22 29/11 6-6, 1 4.10 107⅔ 119 27 67 1.356 5 5
Daniel Rosenbaum 22 18/18 2-5, 0 2.32 101 95 28 84 1.218 7 4
Mitchell Clegg 23 20/13 9-3, 2 3.48 93 95 22 55 1.258 2 1
Josh Smoker 21 30/19 3-10, 3 6.50 91⅓ 106 56 92 1.774 4 8
Kyle Morrison 22 37/0 3-6, 2 5.30 73 86 29 88 1.575 5 13
Graham Hicks 20 15/15 1-5, 0 5.26 66⅔ 84 25 58 1.635 4 4
Trevor Holder 23 12/12 4-3, 0 3.15 65⅔ 68 7 50 1.142 4 4
Wanel Vasquez 23 19/0 2-4, 3 7.00 54 66 25 32 1.685 4 8
Luis Garcia 23 26/0 4-4, 0 3.88 51 48 17 43 1.275 5 10
Dean Weaver 22 42/0 1-3, 16 3.04 50⅓ 49 18 36 1.331 4 4
Shane Erb 23 39/0 2-2, 1 6.19 48 53 37 30 1.875 4 9
Patrick Arnold 21 26/0 2-3, 1 4.28 46⅓ 56 16 33 1.554 2 4
Rob Wort 21 33/0 5-0, 8 2.08 43⅓ 28 16 33 0.854 2 3
Evan Bronson 23 8/8 4-2, 0 5.40 43⅓ 59 6 24 1.500 3 4
Jack McGeary 21 8/8 4-1, 0 4.62 39 38 15 32 1.359 5 4

The ’07 pick referred to earlier was Josh Smoker. As a starter, his ERA was 7.38, his OBA was .319, and his WHIP was 1.872; as a reliever those numbers dropped to 1.35, .174, and 1.200. His walk rate, unfortunately, remained fairly constant (5.54 vs. 5.40) but his strikeout rate went up dramatically (8.19 to 14.17). Granted, it’s a small sample size (13⅓ innings over 11 appearances) but it’s something to look forward to in ’11, when he’ll be just 22 years old and he’ll still be a left-handed.

Next year could be quite unpredictable when it comes to guessing who will be back and who will be going up to Potomac for the Hagerstown pitchers. Smoker and Demny are likely to move up, based on the past offseason pattern of Florida Instructional League invites. Just about every pitcher that deserved a bump up to Potomac got one in-season. In terms of the hitters, it’s probably fair to say that most of the top six or seven guys will be Woodbridge next year, but with strong offensive outings from guys in Vermont and the GCL, it’s not a given.

OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS
Without further ado, here are the watchlists, which may have some repeats next week. Feel free comment on how you think we ought to address that problem (a top 8 for full-season A?).

Batters
1. J.P. Ramirez
2. Rick Hague
3. Eury Perez
4. Destin Hood
5. Justin Bloxom

Pitchers
1. Daniel Rosenbaum
2. Rob Wort
3. Trevor Holder
4. Josh Smoker
5. Dean Weaver

Oct 262010
 

Just three Nationals saw action in the Scottsdale Scorpions’ 5-4 loss to the Peoria Saguaros on Monday…

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off and played 2B, going 1-for-3 with a walk, a strikeout, and a run scored
  • Derek Norris played catcher and batted fifth, driving in a run on a sacrifice fly and drawing a walk but o-for-2 otherwise; no baserunners attempted to steal against him
  • Adam Carr pitched the fifth and sixth innings and gave up 2 runs on three hits but issued no walks and struck out one

Scottsdale remains in first place in the AFL American division, leading second-place Mesa by one game.  They host the Peoria Javelinas tonight.

Oct 252010
 

Here’s a look at how the Nationals fared over the weekend in the Arizona Fall League…

FRIDAY
The Scottsdale Scorpions pounded the Peoria Javelinas 12-4

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off and played second base, helping to turn two double plays and going 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI (via sac fly).
  • Sammy Solis started and got torched for four runs (all earned) on four hits and three walks over three innings. He struck out three.
  • Brad Peacock got his second hold with a scoreless inning of relief, alowing one hit and striking out two.

SATURDAY
Scottsdale cruised to its eighth win in eleven games with a 6-1 decision over the Phoenix Desert Dogs

  • Derek Norris caught and batted cleanup, swatting his second home run of the fall campaign in a 1-for-3 night with a run scored, a walk, a strikeout, and two RBI. He threw out another baserunner.
  • Michael Burgess batted seventh and played RF, going 1-for-4 with two RBI and a strikeout.
  • Bryce Harper was the DH and went 2-for-4 with a strikeout.
  • Cole Kimball was touched for a run on two hits and a walk while pitching the ninth.

After 11 games, the stats…

BATTERS

PLAYER G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Lombardozzi 6 24 6 6 4 0 0 2 4 2 .250 .367 .417 0
Burgess 7 24 2 6 1 0 0 4 3 8 .250 .321 .292 1
Norris 6 19 4 6 1 1 2 6 5 7 .316 .480 .789 1
Harper 2 8 0 3 1 0 0 2 0 1 .375 .375 .500 0

PITCHERS

PLAYER W L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO WHIP HLD GF
Solis 0 0 0 6.75 2 6⅔ 6 5 5 4 4 1.500 0 0
Peacock 0 0 0 1.50 4 6 4 1 1 1 12 0.833 2 0
Kimball 0 0 1 1.80 4 5 3 1 1 1 5 0.800 0 4
Carr 1 0 0 2.25 3 4 2 1 1 2 2 1.000 0 1
Oct 222010
 

In the downtime between Bryce Harper appearances, we’ll still keep you updated on how that Nats did in AFL action. Last night, three players were in the game, which the Scottsdale Scorpions lost 4-2…

  • Derek Norris caught and batted cleanup but went o-for-3 and threw out a baserunner.
    He was also hit by a pitch.
  • Michael Burgess played RF and batted eighth, going 1-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and two strikeouts.
  • Adam Carr pitched a scoreless eighth inning and struck out one.

Scottsdale’s record stands at 6-3, tied for first place in the AFL American Division with the Mesa Solar Sox.
Sammy Solis is expected to get the start tonight against the Peoria Javelinas.

Oct 212010
 

By now, most of you have heard that Bryce Harper made his debut yesterday and went 1-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI, but for those that haven’t, here’s the story on MiLB.com. And if you haven’t seen Adam Kilgore’s story on Derek Norris, it’s worth a look.

Otherwise, it was a light night on the Nats front as the only player to see game action was Steve Lombardozzi. He batted leadoff, played second base, went 1-for-4 (double) with a walk and two runs scored in a 6-3 Scottsdale Scorpions win. He was also caught stealing.

Oct 212010
 

The hits keep coming for Tyler Moore.

Yesterday, the 23-year-old added another award to the 2010 shelf with the fan-voted MiLB.com Class A Advanced Hitter of the Year, just weeks after winning the Carolina League MVP with a torrid streak from July 14 on that saw him raise his batting average from .191 to .271 and hit 21 of his 31 HRs and drive in 64 of his 111 RBIs. During the streak, Moore was named Carolina League Batter of the Week four times in six weeks.

Moore’s season was a perfect case of how one minor adjustment can make all the difference. Simply put, Moore stopped from always falling behind 0-2 and 1-2 and started consistently getting ahead 2-0 and 2-1. His strikeout rates and walk rates were actually fairly consistent month-to-month all season long, but that small change made all the difference.

Going into 2011, Moore will have a bit of a target on his back. The Natmosphere has been awakened to his presence and the expectations have been raised — he placed second on the 2010 DC-Internet Baseball Writers Association’s “Minor League Player of the Year” award (full disclosure: he did not receive my vote because I took the descriptor of “Minor league player most destined for big league success” (italics added) literally and seriously; I voted for him in the MiLB.com poll) as well as the organization’s minor-league batter of the year award.

Moore will likely start the 2011 season as the Harrisburg Senators’ starting first baseman. As the 2010 season came to a close, pitchers were beginning to pitch him soft-and-inside to negate his power but one has to wonder if the AA pitchers will pitch him straight up until such an adjustment proves necessary (i.e. they will decide that they can get him out just as they can any other batter). I believe he’ll pound such an approach and what remains to be seen is how he’ll adjust to when they change their gameplan.

But congratulations to Tyler nevertheless. It was a hell of a season to watch.