Nov 092010
 

In the upper minors, there is no half system, which makes the 2010 Harrisburg Senators playoff run even more impressive. At the halfway mark, their record stood at 34-37, more than a dozen games back and in fourth place. Down the stretch, they would go 43-28 and shave that lead to five games to earn the Eastern League’s Western Division wild card, beating out Bowie and Akron by a game and two games respectively.

The Senators would lose to the eventual Eastern League champions, the Altoona Curve — a team that featured several players with playoff experience in winning the 2009 Carolina League championship with the Lynchburg Hillcats. Like Potomac, this team gelled at just the right time, and got some significant help with the addition of two starters — Ryan Tatusko and Tanner — that would become known as “The Guz Two” because they were acquired from Texas in the Christian Guzman trade.

You know the drill: Let’s look at how the Senators compared to the Eastern League…

HITTING

TEAM AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA SB
Harrisburg 4726 598 1188 121 398 948 .251 .314 .390 .239 86
Lg. Avg. 4755 656 1232 113 470 1008 .259 .332 .397 .249 97

Italics = League Trailer

PITCHING

TEAM IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
Harrisburg 1252.0 3.51 3.94 1.255 102 400 1108 8.4 2.9 8.0 2.77
Lg. Avg. 1244.0 4.21 4.63 1.370 113 470 1008 8.9 3.4 7.3 2.14

Bold = League Leader

As we just saw from our most recent World Champions, great pitching can carry mediocre-to-poor hitting and the Senators were no different. Offensively, the Sens were in the bottom third of the league for runs scored, hits, doubles, RBI, SBs, walks, OBP, and SLG percentage. They were middle of the pack for HRs and triples, and surprisingly for a team that was dead-last in BBs, they stuck out the third-fewest.

What this team could do well, however, was pitch. They managed to lead the league in ERA despite their #2 pitcher (in terms of IP, of course) sporting a 5.80 ERA. Seven of the Top 16 pitchers had ERAs below 3.00. As you can see from the bolded categories, they led the league in some of the most important ones: runs allowed, earned runs allowed, and ratio, and were second in baserunners allowed (WHIP) and walks, and third in strikeouts. In fact, we almost had a microcosm of Harrisburg vs. the Eastern League on the same staff, with Jeff Mandel as the former and Jason Jones as the latter.

In terms of batters, the stalwarts of the 2009 Potomac Nationals — Chris Marrero, Danny Espinosa and Jesus Valdez — were the top three batters in terms of plate appearances, runs, and RBIs. But beyond that it was the usual mix of formers, might-haves, were-it-nots (whatever euphemism you’d prefer for the “other guys” on the team) that were complementary parts, of which the best can be said is that they played league-average defense, with the exception of the catchers, who led the league in baserunners caught and worked with the pitchers to tie for the fewest stolen bases allowed.

As in previous season reviews, let’s look at the Top 16 (in terms of Plate Appearances or Innings Pitched) which puts the cutoff at 100PA and 32⅓ IP. The full team statistics can be found here.

Name Age Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err PA GPA
Chris Marrero 21 1B 129 .984 18 577 .270
Jesus Valdez 25 RF/LF 67/58 .990 2 569 .242
Danny Espinosa 23 SS 98 .964 15 434 .266
Brad Coon 27 CF 107 .996 1 413 .232
Michael Martinez 27 2B/OF/SS 83/17/3 .969 14 387 .234
Marvin Lowrance 25 LF 61 .978 2 357 .283
Jhontan Solano 24 C 89 .993 5 345 .225
Tim Pahuta 27 3B/1B 50/12 .956 9 303 .208
Edgardo Baez 24 RF/CF/LF 52/22/7 .983 3 300 .235
Josh Johnson 24 SS/2B/3B 35/19/17 .977 6 258 .280
Ofilio Castro 26 3B/2B 57/10 .981 3 225 .197
Adam Fox 28 3B/2B/LF 36/5/1 .875 13 171 .175
Leonard Davis 26 OF/IF 27/8 .952 4 123 .243
Steve Lombardozzi 21 2B 27 .971 3 118 .299
Sean Rooney 24 C 30 .982 14 109 .165
Devin Ivany 27 C/1B 24/1 .988 3 100 .297

Believe it or not, the average age of the batters (24.7) wasn’t that far off from the league average (24.3) nor were they the oldest in the league. With three 22-year-olds (Norris, Lombardozzi, and Burgess) expected to begin the season in 2011, that number may trend downward unless more than one of them gets the bump to Syracuse. Just six of these sixteen were above the league-average for GPA, as you’d expect for team as a whole being in the bottom third of the league. But the good news was the pitching…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HBP WP
Tom Milone 23 27/27 12-5 2.85 158 161 23 155 1.165 4 7
Aaron Thompson 23 26/26 4-13, 0 5.80 136⅔ 164 53 95 1.588 5 5
Andrew Kown 27 15/15 6-4, 0 3.83 84⅔ 83 19 47 1.205 3 1
Hassan Pena 25 48/0 2-2, 1 4.29 71⅓ 73 30 64 1.444 6 8
Rafael Martin 26 21/14 5-4, 0 3.61 67⅓ 55 26 58 1.203 1 6
Cole Kimball 24 38/10 5-1, 12 2.33 54 33 31 75 1.185 5 13
Jack Spradlin 25 39/1 1-1, 1 4.09 50⅔ 51 18 49 1.362 4 2
Adam Carr 26 36/0 6-1, 5 3.04 50⅓ 43 14 48 1.132 1 3
Chuck James 28 21/2 8-0, 2 1.59 45⅓ 28 7 50 0.772 6 3
Erik Arnesen 26 13/5 2-2, 2 2.81 41⅔ 36 7 35 1.032 1 1
John Lannan 25 7/7 1-4, 0 4.20 40⅔ 49 10 28 1.451 4 0
Jeff Mandel 25 7/7 1-4, 0 3.82 40 37 13 27 1.250 2 1
Brad Peacock 22 7/7 2-2, 0 4.66 38⅔ 33 22 30 1.422 0 0
Ryan Tatusko 25 6/6 3-1, 0 1.72 36⅔ 30 13 36 1.173 1 1
Tanner Roark 23 6/6 1-1, 0 2.50 36 35 9 33 1.222 0 0
Ross Detwiler 24 7/7 2-2, 0 2.48 32⅔ 38 7 31 1.378 2 1

There’s not much that I haven’t said already about the top dog on the pitching staff, Tom Milone. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how Sickels, BA, and the scouts at MLBA rate him this time around, now that he’s put up the numbers at the level that commands attention outside the prospect universe. Aaron Thompson was his counterweight in terms of affecting the team’s numbers as a group, and is likely to repeat this level in ’11, along with Brad Peacock and Tanner Roark.

Ryan Tatusko is the best candidate to join Milone at Syracuse next season, but beyond that is guessing game. Given the modern usage of AAA as a taxi squad, much will depend on the FAs that get signed between now and this spring. As mentioned in the comments, we’re still not at the point where the AA team has more prospects than organizational guys. While that will improve next year with the influx from Potomac, I expect to look over the ’11 Opening Day Roster and see a fair number of ’84s and ’85s in the DOB column.

Obviously, there’s some overlap with Potomac and some AFL bias in these lists. And like last week, naming a fifth bat is perfunctory. Johnson gets the nod because he’s versatile and handles the bat well. It’s no secret that next week will be even more of a, um, crapshoot when it comes to this part of the review.

OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS

Batters
1. Danny Espinosa
2. Chris Marrero
3. Steve Lombardozzi
4. Michael Burgess
5. Josh Johnson

Pitchers
1. Tom Milone
2. Cole Kimball
3. Brad Peacock
4. Adam Carr
5. Tanner Roark

  9 Responses to “Season Review: 2010 Harrisburg Senators”

  1. Sue, I’ve been wondering about pitchers such as Karns, Atwood, Myers, Jamie. What is their health status, and how would they be considered as prospects by BA? I realize you don’t work for BA, but perhaps you know how they evaluate potential prospects who have been injured most of the season.

    • Someone asked a similar question on BA which gives some insight into their thought process. Granted it was in relation to the draft, but this might help get what you’re after (at least for the second half of your question):

      If an injury shouldn’t affect a player’s long-term prognosis, then scouts don’t get too concerned. Obviously, they prefer healthy players, but there’s not much stigma attached to Tommy John surgery because there have been so many successful comebacks from elbow reconstruction.

      As for the first half of your question, I’ve found that getting injury news is very difficult (even when I was sports reporter this was true). Often times you’ll get second-hand accounts that merely state whether or not he had surgery. My personal feeling is that surgery gets you a pass, but an injury like Myers’s will not. That said, I expect both Karns and Jaime to fall from Top 20 lists into “honorable mentions” (I’ve seen neither and thus will not rank either in any Top XX list until they play professionally again).

      Will Atwood, however, was not hurt this past season; he retired. He was placed on the restricted list this past April, which is a procedural move to protect the Nats’ interests should he change his mind.

      • Sue-D: Agreed – Extracting injury news on minor-league players can be really difficult through readily available (read: free) channels. While I knew of the injuries to Jaime (elbow), and Myers (foot) simply because I’m a Nationals geek, I still have not found anything related to Karns.

        Atwood’s announced retirement was an aside on one of the Nats-centric websites early this spring (most likely NFA), so that was gleaned from known sites as well. Heaven help the likes of me, should you & souldrummer ever shut down, now that Brian has a ‘real job’.

  2. This is not relevant to the good season the Senators had, but praise should be given to the beautiful balpark they have there. For anyone wanting to travel a little (2 hour drive), it’s truly as good of a place to watch baseball as any I’ve been to in the minors.
    I cringe every time I hear about how the Nats want to establish themselves in Richmond. What a dump of a stadium! And it’s not expected to get any better, and a more stressful drive, to boot.

    • You, preacher; me, choir. About the only thing I can add is that the $30 deal they had with the club seats, which include the ticket and an all-you-can-eat buffet is the most bang you’ll get for your buck… unless you know a pimp for the Elks Club (*thanks, I’m here all week – try the veal*)

  3. Wow, I had not taken the step back to see how really craptastic the offense was at Harrisburg last year; Having to surrender Espinosa, Davis & Martinez didn’t help matters much either. I’d hope they catch a few promotions from the 2010 Potomac squad (Norris, Moore, maybe Rooney, Nicol, & Rhinehart), and 3-4 Spring Training jumps (or slips), as well.

    The pitching staff could lose a lot before next year (MIlone, Peacock, Tatusko, Roark, Garate, Kimball), but should get help from the likes of Meyers, Leatherman, Bronson, Morris, McCoy & others coming up the line. They should be in decent shape to start the year, imho.

  4. Harrisburg’s offense actually improved the second half of the season when Johnson and Lombardozzi set the table at the top of the order (after Espinosa’s promotion to Syracuse). As far as Burgess goes he may be one of the more highly touted prospects, but other than his raw power and outfield arm in my opinion I don’t see it. He’s a free swinger that’s highly susceptible to the off-speed pitch in the dirt. By the end of the season, I would have much rather seen Valdez up to bat in a key situation.

    And Milone is everything and more. He may be a so-called soft tosser, but he’s a real bulldog on the mound.

  5. That blurb about Atwood had me do a little digging.
    Sue, you saw him a lot, but he looks like a case of overpromotion. After getting drafted in the 12th round, he’s very solid in Vermont. then gets bumped the next year and he struggled. Looks a bit like a Jim bowden special.

    • I always felt like his retirement was motivated by something off the field rather than on it, but you’re right. He would have been better served by starting ’09 in Hagerstown.

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