Mar 312011
 

The Harrisburg Senators and Washington Nationals have released the preliminary 25-man roster for the 2011 season, which features 16 returnees and 20 players that played for the organization in 2010.

Derek Norris, Tyler Moore, Patrick McCoy, Bill Rhinehart and Jimmy Barthmaier join the team from the 2010 Carolina League Champions in Potomac while offseason acquisitions Matt Antonelli, Erik Davis, Buck Coats, Jon Turner and Archie Gilbert help round out the roster.

Breaking it down by position (watchlist players are in bold)…

PITCHERS
Luis Atilano
Erik Arnesen
Jimmy Barthmaier
Erik Davis
Jeff Mandel
Ryan Mattheus
Brad Meyers
Pat McCoy
Brad Peacock
Hassan Pena
Ryan Tatusko
Cory VanAllen

CATCHERS
Devin Ivany
Derek Norris

INFIELDERS
Matt Antonelli
Adam Fox
Josh Johnson
Steve Lombardozzi
Tyler Moore
Tim Pahuta

OUTFIELDERS
Buck Coats
Archie Gilbert
Bill Rhinehart
Jon Tucker
Jesus Valdez

As previously reported, Harrisburg opens the season a week from today against Bowie, with an exhibition on Tuesday against the Hagerstown Suns in Hagerstown. As the press release states, the roster is subject to change. Folks interested in learning the numbers associated with the players shold check back with the Harrisburg website on Monday.

Mar 312011
 

News of some releases are starting to trickle out. Before folks pile on in the comments, just remember that for some of these young men, it’s the end of the road. Others will hope to hook on with another organization in the minors. A few will try to make a go of it in the indys. And all will be trying to figure out what’s the next chapter in the lives, baseball or otherwise.

I expect some more to show up as MiLB.com and Baseball America releases its weekly transaction post. And I’ll append accordingly.

RELEASED

  • RHP Joe Bisenius
  • RHP Tim Wood
  • OF Jonathan Van Every
  • RHP Michael Allen (Rule 5 pickup)
  • RHP Shane Erb (Hagerstown)
  • RHP Robinson Fabian (Potomac)
  • RHP Justin Phillabaum (Potomac)
  • LHP Clayton Dill (Potomac)
  • LHP Austin Garrett (Vermont)
  • LHP Nick Serino (GCL)
  • LHP Jack Spradlin (Harrisburg/Syracuse)
  • 1B Ronnie Labrie (Vermont)
  • 3B Jack Walker (Vermont)
Mar 292011
 

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, our Spring Training coverage has ended and now we’re watching the wires, hoping for some transaction news to help us divine who’s going and where. I’ve reached out to each of the full-season affiliates and again to the folks in DC and have had some feedback (and some success) already.

In the next couple of days, we should start getting some information. As we saw yesterday, the parent club’s 25-man roster has been set and with only Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos and Brian Broderick making the cut, the Syracuse roster is going to be laden with “veterans,” creating a ripple effect — we may only see a handful of guys from Harrisburg getting the bump, for example, and (as usual) the Potomac roster is likely to have more carryover than we’d prefer.

Of course, as we mentioned last week with Oliver Perez, that means that some guys are going to get cut that might not have otherwise. I can understand the “no tears for these guys that have had their chances,” but lost on the folks that espouse that view is that some younger guys are going to have to wait longer for theirs.

As always, keep an eye on the site, put us in your RSS feed, or follow us on Twitter. It’s now a waiting game for the minors to start up.

Mar 282011
 

For the third straight day, the Nationals have traded away a player on the bubble for a minor-leaguer, picking up RHP Erik Davis from the San Diego Padres.

Davis was drafted in the 13th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft from Stanford and fits the description of the overachiever, similar to Josh Wilkie. John Sickels described him:

Davis has average and average breaking stuff, but mixes in a very good changeup. He mixes his pitches, throws strikes, and so far has pitched well at every level, including eight outings in AA and AAA in 2010.

The 24-year-old (turns 25 in October) Davis also started 19 games at High-A Lake Elsinore, posting a 3.82 ERA, which is quite good in a league (California) where the average ERA was 4.57 in 2010. Overall, he threw 143⅓ innings with a WHIP of 1.270, a BB/9 rate of 3.0 and an 8.4 K rate.

Like Alex Caldera, Davis could be slotted in either Potomac or Harrisburg, and is perhaps indicative that several older farmhands are likely to be released.

Mar 282011
 

Perhaps by now the beat writers have converged on a nearby chain restaurant after learning they won’t have to make the trek to Orlando to cover the penultimate spring training game of 2011.

For us, it’s a little sadness at missing a chance to see Tom Milone, as the game was going to be broadcast via MLB.tv. But there’s some good news, too.

At 15-13 and with one game left (tomorrow’s finale vs. the Mets), the rainout clinched the first winning Spring Training since the franchise relocated to D.C. in the 2004-05 offseason. And multiple sources are reporting that Brian Broderick has made the 25-man roster.

The last set of cuts are in and Collin Balester, Roger Bernadina, Brian Bixler, and Ross Detwiler were all optioned to Syracuse. Laynce Nix and Matt Stairs will make the team, leaving the final decision of Alex Cora vs. Alberto Gonzalez.

And with that, NationalsProspects.com turns its attention away from spring training and back to the minors, waiting for the four long-season affiliates to start up, which will be…

Syracuse @ Buffalo, 3:05 p.m. on Thursday, April 7
Bowie @ Harrisburg, 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 7
Hagerstown @ Rome, 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 7
Lynchburg @ Potomac, 7:00 p.m. on Friday, April 8

Roster information is likely to be embargoed until next week, but I’ll try my best to secure something as soon as possible.

Mar 272011
 

Brian Broderick pitched to five batters in the seventh and all five came in to score as the Marlins took advantage of an error to down the Nats 6-4 and stop Washington’s five-game win streak.

While only three of the runs were earned, the Rule 5 pick’s ERA ballooned from 0.61 to 2.45 after surrendering four hits in five batters, including a bases-clearing triple. Ryan Zimmerman committed the error on a muffed sacrifice bunt, denying a ST win to Ross Detwiler (5IP 5H 1ER 0BB 2K).

Danny Espinosa‘s snapped his two-game hitless streak by going 1-for-2 with two walks and a strikeout. He also stole two bases and scored on a wild pitch.

Wilson Ramos got the start behind the plate and went 1-for-4 and was unsuccessful in throwing out the lone basestealing attempt against the DC battery.

Jesus Valdez was the only other prospect to play, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout and played the last four innings on defense as the right fielder, catching three flyballs.

The loss drops Washington to 15-13 for the spring, with two chances left to clinch a first-ever winning Spring Training record since moving to DC six years ago. With the regular season starting on Thursday, LHP Tom Milone draws the starting assignment tomorrow against the Braves tomorrow night at 6:05 p.m.

Mar 272011
 

For the second straight day, the Nats have made a trade to pick up a minor-leaguer, with the Milwaukee Brewers dealing Cutter Dykstra for CF Nyjer Morgan.

Unlike yesterday, Dykstra is a younger and more promising player. As a 21-year-old, he posted a .312/.416/.411 line with 27 SBs in 35 attempts at Low-A Wisconsin in 2010. Here’s what the estimable John Sickels had to say about the Grade-C prospect:

After a poor 2009, Cutter Dykstra needed a good year in ’10 to prove that he wasn’t just a bloodline draft pick… [and] got that [by] posting a +15 percent OPS. He didn’t show much power, but he made contact, drew walks and annoyed people on the bases. I expect this to continue at higher levels, but at what position?

Sickels goes on to note that he’s likely to shift away from the infield to the outfield, citing his 20+ errors at his last two positions (2B in ’09, 3B in ’10) as well as his lack of power. Outfield, however, is where he played in 2008, making four errors in 33 games for a .933 fielding percentage and a range factor of just 1.7 (all three CFs in Vermont, for example, were 2+ in 2010, as were Eury Perez and Chris Curran).

At 5′ 11″ and 180 lbs, Dykstra is slightly bigger than his famous father, who played for the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies for 12 seasons from 1985 to 1996, but has been (to put it gently) controversial in his post-baseball career.

Given the talented outfielders expected to be placed on the Potomac roster, as well as the infielders Steve, the 2008 draft pick is probably more likely to begin the 2011 campaign at Hagerstown, perhaps to learn left field.

UPDATE
During his in-game interview during today’s Nationals radio broadcast, Rizzo mentioned that he felt like Dykstra may be moved back to second base. This, of course, would most likely mean that Jeff Kobernus would be staying put at Hagerstown if he indeed does start the season at Potomac. Reminder: GMs often talk in generalities regarding the minors and there are multiple possibilities that can be inferred from such a statement.

Mar 262011
 

Five pitchers combined on a two-hit shutout as the Nats blanked the Astros 10-0 for their fifth straight win. With three games to go, and a 15-12 record, the Nats will finish at .500 or better in Grapefruit League play since 2005.

Livan Hernandez pitched the first four innings and allowed one hit while walking one and striking out one. Collin Balester followed with two innings with one hit given up, while Tyler Clippard, Todd Coffey and Sean Burnett each pitched a 1-2-3 inning to finish the game out.

Danny Espinosa went 0-for-4, lowering his ST average to .281 while Wilson Ramos got a pinch-hit to raise his to .349 for the spring.

Prospect Roundup…

Tyler Moore went 1-for-2 with a run scored and played the last five innings on defense at first base.

Josh Johnson went 0-for-1 and played the last three innings on defense at second base.

Jhonatan Solano went 0-for-1 and caught the last two innings.

The Nationals return to Viera tomorrow to host the Marlins for the final Sunday of Spring Training. Ross Detwiler is expected to get the start, as John Lannan will once again pitch versus the minor-leaguers rather than give Florida batters a “free look.”  The game will be broadcast on 106.7 WJFK.

Mar 262011
 

Multiple sources are reporting that the Nationals have acquired RHP Alex Caldera for cash from the Kansas City Royals.

Caldera split time between High-A Wilmington and AA Northwest Arkansas in 2010, compiling a records of 6-4, 3.25 and 3-2, 5.12 respectively. He was a 13th-round pick in the 2007 draft and helped lead the 2008 Burlington Bees to the Midwest League championship with a 12-6, 2.89 mark and 120Ks in 149.2 IP. He struggled in his first run at High-A, allowing more hits than innings pitched and walking a career-high 53 batters with a 4.77 ERA.

His scouting report from Royals minor-league blog The Pinetar Press reads very much like a taller, right-handed version of Tom Milone (numbers updated):

[A] finesse pitcher, tossing rather consistently in the upper 80s and hitting the low 90s occasionally. He compliments his fastball with an average changeup and a slightly above average curveball… Much like he was in college, he has proven [to be] a control artist over the years, allowing an average of 2.8 BB/9 over 442 1/3 innings of duty. Caldera owns a career 3.78 professional ERA over 78 starts and 85 appearances. At 6’3″, 200 lbs., he has a rather projectable frame.

The 25-year-old is currently assigned to the Potomac roster but could very well end up in Harrisburg at the beginning of the season.

Mar 262011
 

The drama is dwindling, but the Nats are now winning, edging the Cardinals 3-2 last night in Viera.

Tom Gorzelanny fell victim yet again to the longball with a two-run shot in the top of the fourth inning after a one-out walk, but turned in a quality start with six innings pitched, four hits allowed, and five strikeouts. His next start will be during the regular season.

Wilson Ramos got the start behind the plate and was instrumental in the Nats second run with a two-out double to left in the sixth. He went 3-for-4 while batting fifth behind Ryan Zimmerman.

Some quick hits, because the prospect angles are almost gone…

Yunesky Maya was optioned to Syracuse yesterday and Ross Detwiler is almost certain to follow.

…MLB.com’s Bill Ladson is reporting that Brian Broderick will make the 25-man roster.

Boomer Whiting laid down a perfect sacrifice (batting lefthanded) to set up the game-winning run in the seventh.

With the win, the Nats are 14-12 in Spring Training and return to Kissimmee to face the Astros, a game which will be broadcast on 106.7 WJFK.