May 312013
 

Our weekly look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 23-30, 6th place I.L. North, 8½ games behind

Good Ross Ohlendorf 39K in 38⅔ IP in May
Bad Will Rhymes .135/.238/.289 in last 10G
Interesting Brian Jeroloman 14BB in 19G



HARRISBURG SENATORS 27-27, 3rd place E.L. West, 5 games behind

Good Matt Swynenberg 1.93 ERA/3.29 FIP/1.16 in 15 appearances
Bad Justin Bloxom .195/.320/.207 in May
Interesting Steve Souza, Jr .414/.485/.724 in 7 games since return from D.L.



POTOMAC NATIONALS 28-24, T2nd place C.L. North, 1½ games behind

Good Michael Taylor .368/.455/.500, 7R, 7RBI, 5SB in last 10G
Bad Bullpen 12 saves in 28 opportunities
Interesting Team 81 SBs leads Carolina League


HAGERSTOWN SUNS 30-20, 1st place Sally North, 2 games ahead

Good Khayyan Norfork .301/.352/.458 in 21G
Bad Ronald Pena 21BB, 19K in 38⅔ IP
Interesting 384 team batting SOs – 3rd fewest in Sally League
May 312013
 

Potomac’s two-out knack for offense continued in the series finale, a 7-3 win over Salem.

After scoring six times with two down on Wednesday (in one inning no less), the P-Nats scored four times with two outs. Unlike the night before, both rallies came with two out and nobody on.

Cole Leonida scored the first one with his third home run of the season, a blast to the woods beyond left field that reclaimed the lead for Potomac at 2-1 in the second inning.

In the 7th, ahead again by just a run for the second time at 4-3, Potomac did it again, ruining the High-A debut of Salem’s Madison Younginer. The 22-year-old struck out the first two batters he faced, but couldn’t put away either Randolph Oduber or Billy Burns and walking both the Nos. 9 and 1 batters.

The steal has been a favorite weapon for manager Brian Daubach. It helps, of course, to have the horses (greyhounds?) to run it. Three times in the 7th, Daubach took off the reins (leash?) to put the pressure on, running the P-Nats league-leading stolen base total to 81.

Veteran UT Francisco Soriano singled in Oduber while Michael Taylor doubled in Burns and Soriano to cap the three-run rally and send Younginer to showers.

Also like the night before, the Potomac ‘pen got the job done when the starting pitching faltered.

Well, maybe not faltered, but fell short of the high standard that had been set. Coming into the game, Blake Schwartz had won four of six starts with each start seemingly better than the last, culminating in a two-hit, one-run, eight-inning gem versus first-place Lynchburg last Saturday.

Instead, Schwartz gave up more hits (7) than innings pitched (5⅔) for the first time this year, including just the second HR allowed in 56 innings. Thanks to Matt Grace, the damage would be limited to just three runs (also a season “worst”).

Grace retired seven of eight batters faced, issuing just a one-out walk in the 7th and striking out three to pick up the win, his third against no losses (though he has four blown saves).

Cameron Selik rebounded from his poor showing on Tuesday to set ‘em down in order in the 9th, fanning the first and last batters to nail it down for Potomac.

The win keeps pace with first-place Lynchburg, which won its fourth straight. The Hillcats come to Woodbridge this weekend for the final series between the two teams in the first half. Robbie Ray (3-2, 2.58) takes the hill in Game One against Lynchburg’s A.J. Holland (3-3, 3.47).

May 312013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 5-0 @ Pawtucket,
7:05 p.m.

Maya (1-4, 5.07) vs.
C. Hernandez (3-2, 3.58)
Harrisburg Lost, 3-2 (15 inn.) vs. Trenton,
7:00 p.m.
Demny (4-4, 4.17) vs.
Tracy (4-3, 5.66)
Potomac Won, 7-3 vs. Lynchburg,
7:05 p.m.
Ray (3-2, 2.58) vs.
Holland (3-3, 3.47)
Hagerstown Lost, 5-2 @ Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Pena (2-2, 4.66) vs.
Brickhouse (3-3, 2.13)



Syracuse 5 Gwinnett 0
• Ohlendorf (W, 4-5) 7IP, 4H, 0R, 3BB, 11K
• Roark 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Owings 3-4, R, 2-2B, RBI
• Perez 2-4, R, HR, RBI
• Marrero 1-4, R (20-game on-base streak)

Ross Ohlendorf and Tanner Roark combined on a four-hit shutout as Syracuse won a rare home game versus Gwinnett, 5-0. Ohlendorf struck out 11 batter for the second straight start, allowing the Braves’ four hits and three walks. Roark’s streak without an earned run charged is now up to 18⅔ with two more scoreless innings. Micah Owings led the Chiefs attack with a single and a pair of doubles while Eury Perez and Corey Brown both homered.

Akron 3 Harrisburg 2 (15 inn.)
• Treinen 7IP, 7H, R, ER, BB, 3K
• Barrett (BS, 2) 1IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, 2K, HR
• Swynenberg 5IP, 4H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Hague 2-6, R, 4K
• Lozada 2-6, 2K
• Souza 2-6, R, HR, 2RBI, 3K

A blown save on a home run in the ninth forced this one into extras as the Aeros outlasted the Senators, 3-2 in 15 innings. Starter Blake Treinen got the hard-luck no-decision with a run on seven hits and one walk, the win snatched away by Jesus Aguilar’s one-out homer off Aaron Barrett, who suffered his second blown save. Harrisburg hitters whiffed 19 times and stranded 11 runners, unable to capitalize on the five scoreless innings of relief by Matt Swynenberg.

Potomac 7 Salem 3
• Schwartz 5⅔ IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 2K, HR
• Grace (W, 3-0) 2⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 3K, 1-0 IR-S
• Martinson 2-4, 2-2B, RBI
• Taylor 1-3, 2B, 3RBI, SAC
• Burns 1-2, 3R, 3B, 2SB, BB

The two-out magic on offense continued for another game Last Night In Woodbridge.

Lexington 5 Hagerstown 2
• Anderson 6⅔ IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 8K, HR
• McKenzie (L, 0-1) 1IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 0K, HR
• Norfork 2-4, R, HR, 2RBI, SB
• Martinez 2-4, 2B

The home run did in the Suns as two Legends longballs accounted for four runs in a 5-2 loss. Dixon Anderson flirted with a no-hitter for four and 1/3rd innings, but finished with two runs on five hits and a walk over six and 2/3rds with eight strikeouts. Khayyan Norfork (2-for-4) tied it in the top of the 8th with a two-run shot, but Lexington got the sportswriter’s win with three runs in the last of the 8th against Chris McKenzie.

May 302013
 

The big Nats may have trouble coming back from deficits of more than two runs, but seven runs? No problem for the P-Nats.

Potomac rallied for six runs with two outs in the 5th, then took the lead with two runs in the 6th to turn a 7-0 deficit into a 8-7 lead. Three relievers combined for four and 2/3rds innings of relief to stave off Salem as Potomac held on for a 9-8 win.

Caleb Ramsey’s grand slam was the big bang in the fifth, a frame that began slowly. With one out, Billy Burns lined one into center and stole second while Randolph Oduber struck out, a gamble of sorts when you’re down seven runs (perhaps not with the Carolina League’s stolen-base leader). Michael Taylor ended the shutout with an RBI double to left and scored when Jason Martinson followed with a safety to center.

It looked like that would be it as Adrian Nieto ripped one to first that Salem’s David Renfroe got a glove on, but booted for his fifth error. Kevin Keyes followed with a high chopper that went for an infield single and loaded the bases. Given those two breaks, Caleb Ramsey made the most out of a 3-1 fastball, launching it over three levels of sponsorship signage into the parking lot behind right field for four runs on one swing.

In the 6th, Justin Miller, who made the first out of the 5th, redeemed himself with a leadoff double. After a Burns sacrifice, Oduber got his shot at redemption for making the second out of the 5th, a rising line drive that went into the woods behind left field for a two runs and an 8-7 lead.

Taylor and Martinson kept it going with a pair of walks, then executed a double steal that paid off as Adrian Nieto’s bid for a third Potomac homer fell 15 feet short, but deep enought for the reigning Carolina League Batter of the Week to stride home with the ninth P-Nat run.

The offensive onslaught was great, but what made it necessary shouldn’t be overlooked. For the second straight start, Taylor Hill gave up seven runs on 10 hits and didn’t make it out of the fifth inning. Against an offensive powerhouse like Lynchburg, that’s forgivable. Versus the league’s worst lineup? Not so much. As the P-Nats make their second turn through the Carolina League, this is something to watch for: players who dominated early but are now struggling as the proverbial word has gotten out.

The Potomac ‘pen has taken its fair share of abuse in this space, but last night they got the job done.

Greg Holt let in the two runs he inherited from Hill, but was otherwise quite effective: striking out four over two and 2/3rds with two hits and a walk allowed as he earned his second win of the season.

Rob Wort let in the final Salem run in the 8th with an adventurous inning as he walked a man with one out, picked him off, hit a batter, walked another, and gave up an RBI single before Keyes snared a sharp grounder for the inning’s third out, the tying run just 90 feet short.

The defense also helped the pitcher out in the 9th as Derek Self gave up a pair of singles that were erased by Nieto (caught stealing) and Martinson on a 6B-3 DP to end the game. It was Self’s fourth save in eight chances.

The win keeps pace with both Frederick and Lynchburg as the three teams remain just a game and a half apart in the Carolina League North. Blake Schwartz (4-1, 1.00) gets the ball for Potomac with Mike Augliera (4-1, 3.44) as his counterpart on the mound for Salem.

May 302013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 10-1 vs. Gwinnett,
7:00 p.m.

Ohlendorf (3-5, 4.83) vs.
Gilmartin (3-3, 4.06)
Harrisburg Lost, 6-3 @ Akron,
7:05 p.m.
Treinen (4-5, 4.76) vs.
Packer (2-5, 3.33)
Potomac Won, 9-8 vs. Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Schwartz (4-1, 1.00) vs.
Aguilera (4-1, 3.44)
Hagerstown Won, 12-5 @ Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Anderson (4-2, 2.47) vs.
Nina (1-3, 5.24)



Gwinnett 10 Syracuse 1
• Rosenbaum (L, 5-3) 1⅔ IP, 6H, 5R, 3ER, 2BB, 1K, HR, BK
• Mandel 4⅓ IP, 5H, 0R, 0BB, 4K, 3-0 IR-S
• Marrero 1-4, 2B, RBI
• Walters 1-3

Twice the Braves rallied for five runs while the Chiefs bats were limited to just two hits in a 10-1 smackdown. Danny Rosenbaum was knocked for the first five runs on six hits and two walks over one and 2/3rds innings for his third loss. Jeff Mandel was stellar in relief, stranding three runners by getting the last out of the 4th, then tossing four scoreless frames. Chris Marrero’s RBI double in the 1st, driving in Will Rhymes who had reached on a walk, and Zach Walters single in the 5th was the extent of the Syracuse offense, which left on three runners total.

Akron 6 Harrisburg 3
• Gilliam (L, 1-1) 5IP, 9H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 4K, HR
• McCoy 2IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Souza 2-4, R, 2B, HR, 3RBI, SB
• Goodwin 2-4, 2R, 2SB

Akron got hits up and down the lineup to offset the efforts of the Harrisburg top two as the Aeros doubled up the Senators, 6-3. Brian Goodwin and Steve Souza combined for four of the team’s seven hits and scored/drove in all three runs and stole three bases, too. Starter Rob Gilliam took the loss, giving up four runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out four. Ian Krol saw a seven-game scoreless streak snapped with two (unearned) runs given up in the 8th as a dropped pickoff throw and a sacrifice fly plated the final Aeros runs.

Potomac 9 Salem 8
• Hill 4⅓ IP, 10H, 7R, 7ER, 0BB, 1K, HR
• Holt (W, 2-0) 2⅔ IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 4K, 2-2 IR-S
• Ramsey 2-3, R, HR, 4RBI
• Oduber 1-3, R, HR, 2RBI
• Martinson 2-4, BB, 2K

Potomac capitalized on Salem’s mistakes to erase a 7-0 deficit Last Night In Woodbridge.

Hagerstown 12 Asheville 5
• Purke 4IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 6K, HR
• Rauh 5IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, BB, K, HR
• Schill 4-5, 2-2B, 3B, 2RBI
• Renda 3-4, 3R, 3-2B, BB, RBI, SAC

Matt Purke recovered from a, um, Rockie first inning in which he gave up a two-out, two-run home run to pitch three scoreless innings while the Suns offense scorched the Tourists for a 12-5 win. Purke gave up seven hits total, but walked none and struck out six, throwing 46 of 62 pitches for strikes. Brian Rauh got the win by finishing the game with three runs allowed over five innings on three hits and a walk. Tony Renda reached base four times with a walk and three doubles while Wes Schill led the Hagerstown 18-hit assault with a 4-for-5 effort, finishing a homer short of the cycle.

May 292013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 5-4 vs. Gwinnett,
6:30 p.m.

Rosenbaum (5-2, 3.15) vs.
Flande (2-4, 4.70)
Harrisburg Won, 9-1 @ Akron,
7:05 p.m.
Gilliam (1 0, 1.80) vs.
Roberts (3 2, 4.08)
Potomac Lost, 5-4 vs. Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Hill (4-2, 3.33) vs.
McCarthy (3-2, 4.04)
Hagerstown Lost, 9-4 @ Asheville,
11:05 a.m.
Purke (1st start of ’13) vs.
TBD



Gwinnett 5 Syracuse 4
• Torra (L, 0-1) 7IP, 10H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 2K, HR
• Broadway 2IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 0K
• Marrero 1-2, R, 2B, BB, 2RBI
• Brown 1-3, BB

A pair of crooked innings early proved to be too much for Syracuse to overcome as they lost their second straight at home, 5-4 to Gwinnett. Matt Torra went seven innings (important with a short ‘pen) and gave up those first four runs on 10 hits, including a two-run HR. Michael Broadway gave up a run in the 8th in his first AAA appearance since 2010. The Chiefs made the most of their limited offensive chances, scoring four times on six hits and five walks. Chris Marrero led the attack with a walk and a two-run double.
Roster moves: LHP Xavier Cedeno optioned from Washington, RHP Yunesky Maya outrighted from Washington; RHPs Chris Young and Cole Kimball, IF Brian Bocock placed on 7-Day DL.

Harrisburg 9 Akron 1
• Jordan (W, 2-0) 7IP, 8H, R, ER, BB, 5K
• Holland 2IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 3K
• Van Ostrand 3-4, 2-2B, R, BB
• Souza 1-3, 2R, 2B, 2BB, SB
• Leon 1-3, 2R, 3B, 2BB, 2RBI

Taylor Jordan saw his ERA soar from 0.82 to 1.00 as he won for the second time in four AA starts as the Senators strafed the Aeros, 9-1. The 24-y.o. scattered eight hits and walked one while striking out five over seven innings. Neil Holland rebounded his worst outing (4R in ⅓ inn. on 5/23) with two scoreless frames. Akron handed out 10 free passes, eight by starter Robert Whitenack, with Steve Souza Jr., Sandy Leon, and Brian Goodwin each reaching twice on BB’s. Jimmy Van Ostrand singled and doubled twice to lead the Senators offense and drove in two, as did Leon on a triple — his tenth in 443 games.

Salem 5 Potomac 4
• Cole 6IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 4K, HR
• Selik (BS, 2; L, 0-1) 1IP, 1H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 0K, HBP, WP
• Sanchez 1-3, R, 2B, 2RBI
• Ramsey 1-3, BB

Potomac somehow managed to dodge the rain (*ahem*) but couldn’t dodge the bullet, show down in the 9th by Salem, 5-4. Cameron Selik took the loss on the lone hit he gave up, unable to escape the mistakes of a hit batsmen, a wild pitch, and a walk. It was also the 16th blown save in 26 opportunities for the P-Nats ‘pen. Starter A.J. Cole recovered from a first-inning HR to post his third quality start, allowing two runs on seven hits with no walks and four K’s. Adrian Sanchez went 1-for-3 with 2-run double to lead the seven-hit Potomac attack.

Asheville 9 Hagerstown 4
• Pineyro (L, 4-3) 5IP, 6H, 4R, 2ER, 2BB, 6K, 0HR
• Smith 3IP, 8H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 3K, HR
• B. Miller 2-3, R, 2-2B, BB
• Renda 2-4, R, 2B, RBI

Just one ball left the yard, but the Tourists still peppered the field with 14 hits en route to a 9-4 win over the Suns. Ivan Pineyro went five innings and gave up four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks in the loss. Jason Smith finished the game but was charged with five runs on eight hits over the final three frames. Brandon Miller doubled twice and Tony Renda doubled once to lead the Hagerstown offense, which broke into double digits with 10 hits. Roster moves: LHP Matt Purke activated from 7-Day DL; RHP Leonard Hollins reassigned to XST.

May 282013
 

Michael TaylorPotomac CF Michael Taylor has become the fourth P-Nat to win the Carolina League’s weekly honors, named as the Batter of the Week for the period of May 20-26.

Taylor went 10-for-20 with five straight two-hit games, posting a line of .500/.565/.650 with three doubles, three walks, three runs scored and two stolen bases. His 29 RBI is good for fourth-best in the Carolina League while his 14 steals is third-best.

Originally drafted as a shortstop, the Nationals’ 6th round pick in the 2009 Draft converted to the OF in 2011 and has become one of the organization’s best defensive prospects. He was ranked by Baseball America as Washington’s #11 prospect and has been an outfielder on this site’s watchlist for 2013 and 2012.

May 282013
 

For six and a third innings, the Potomac Nationals pitchers flirted with a no-hitter. Leading 3-0, the game seemed relatively secure. A single, walk, a fielder’s choice and a two-run double later, the focus rapidly shifted from the statistical anomaly to the more basic task of winning the game.

Matt Grace stranded the tying run at second in the 7th as the P-Nats rallied in the 8th to get some breathing room. Rob Wort mowed ‘em down 1-2-3 in the 9th to secure the 5-2 win that gave Potomac its third straight “W” and kept pace with the first-place duo of Lynchburg and Frederick in the Carolina League North.

It was the first start in Woodbridge for Sammy Solis since August 23, 2011 — a four-inning stint against Wilmington as Washington’s 2nd Round pick of the 2010 Draft was finishing up his first full professional season. Solis would pitch another four innings last night, this time while pitching his way back from Tommy John surgery in March 2012.

Like many “TJers,” Solis struggled with his command, racking up a lot of deep counts and walking three over his four innings. The velocity, however, was as advertised — consistently in the 91-93 range, occasionally touching 94 or 95. Unusually, his touch with the secondary stuff was quite good; the 11-5 curve breaking late and over and the changeup sneaking by batters with good separation from the heat.

Solis struck out four, including the the side in the 3rd, and left the game without a hit as the league-worst Salem offense onlt hit one ball solidly, which third baseman Cutter Dykstra snared in self-defense to end the first inning.

Potomac got on the board in the next half-inning with a sloppy first as Billy Burns, returning after a 12-day absence, “singled” and took second on the throw that hit him in the back prior to touching first base, then advanced third on Michael Taylor’s opposite-field single.

Following a Dykstra popup, Taylor was caught leaning towards second and Burns, who scampered home on a similar rundown in his previous game, couldn’t repeat the feat and was thrown out between third and home. Taylor, however, did move up to second and scored on Adrian Nieto’s two-out single.

Burns teamed up with No. 9 man Randolph Oduber in the 5th for the second and third P-Nats runs, with the Groovin’ Aruban walking and Burns dropping down an actual bunt single. The lineup bookends executed a double steal after a Taylor flyout and both scored on Dykstra’s two-run single to extend the Potomac lead to 3-0 after five.

David Fischer got the benefit of the offense, taking over for Solis in the 5th and turning in two hitless innings with two walks and an error before running into trouble in the 7th, letting up a single to end the no-hit bid, walking the next batter, and throwing a wild pitch to set up Salem’s Jose Garcia for a two-run double that sliced the margin from 3-0 to 3-2.

As aforementioned, Grace got the final out of the 7th and retired the side in 8th, getting an assist the hard way with a grounder up the middle that went off his leg and rolled on over to first baseman Kevin Keyes for the third and final out.

Potomac put it away in the bottom of the 8th as Keyes singled with one out, Adrian Sanchez walked with two outs, and Francisco Soriano tripled them home for the 5-2 edge that Wort secured with a pair of strikeouts for the save. The win went to Fischer while the hold went to Grace — the first of the season in each category for both relievers.

The series continues with A.J. Cole (1-2, 4.98) taking the hill tonight against Salem’s Kyle Stroup (2-3, 4.86).

May 282013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 9-5 vs. Gwinnett,
6:30 p.m.

Torra (0-0, 6.75) vs.
D. Rodriguez (2-3, 6.14)
Harrisburg Won, 3-1 @ Akron,
7:05 p.m.
Jordan (1-0, 0.82) vs.
Whitenack (0-0, INF
Potomac Won, 5-2 vs. Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Cole (1-2, 4.98) vs.
Stroup (2-3, 4.86)
Hagerstown Lost, 12-4 @ Asheville,
7:05 p.m.
Pineyro (4-2, 3.32) vs.
TBD



Gwinnett 9 Syracuse 5
• Tatusko 7IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 5K, WP
• Davis (BS, 3; L, 1-2) ⅓ IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 0K, HR
• Costanzo 2-4, 2R, 3B
• Walters 1-4, R, HR, 4RBI

Gwinnett rallied for five in the 9th to turn a 5-4 deficit into a 9-5 win over Syracuse. Ernesto “Ole” Mejia delivered the big blow, a three-run, pinch-hit homer off Erik Davis, who suffered his third blown save and second loss. Cole Kimball served up another homer to the first batter he faced in his first outing of the season. Ryan Tatusko got the start and allowed four runs on five hits and two walks over seven innings. Mike Costanzo singled and tripled while Zach Walters connected for his 10th HR while driving in four to lead the Chiefs offense.

Harrisburg 8 Reading 2
• Clay 6⅓ IP, 5H, R, ER, 2BB, 9K
• Herron (W, 2-0) 1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Barrett (S, 8) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Howell 3-3, BB, HR, 2RBI
• Souza 2-3, 2B, BB, RBI, SB
• Lozada 2-3, 2B, BB, CS

Jeff Howell’s two-run shot in the bottom of the 8th snapped a 1-1 tie as the Senators took both the game and series, 3-1. Caleb Clay got the start at the last minute (*ahem*) and struck out a season-high of nine over six and a 1/3rd innings, but gave up the Reading run in the 7th for the no-decision. Tyler Herron got the win by finishing the 7th and pitching 8th, striking out two and walking two. Aaron Barrett got his 8th save with a 1-2-3 ninth. Steve Souza Jr. and Jose Lozada both went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk, with Souza driving in the 1st Senator run and stealing his 5th base.

Potomac 5 Salem 2
• Solis 4IP, 0H, 0R, 3BB, 4K
• Fischer (W, 1-0) 2⅔ IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 2K, WP
• Wort (SV, 1) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Sanchez 2-3, R, 2B, BB
• Soriano 1-3, 3B, 2RBI

Potomac won its third straight to keep pace in the race for the 1st half title Last Night In Woodbridge.

Asheville 12 Hagerstown 4
• Lee (L, 1-1) 3IP, 5H, 7R, 7ER, 3BB, 4K, 2HR
• Pleffner 3-5, RBI
• Renda 2-5, R

Asheville homered three times and scored in six innings out of eight in a 12-4 smackdown of Hagerstown. Nick Lee got hammered in his first start, giving up seven runs on three walks and five hits (a single, two doubles, and two home runs) over three innings. The barrage continued against three Suns relievers as each one was scored upon. Ten of the Tourists’ 13 hits went for extra bases. Shawn Pleffner singled three times and Tony Renda twice to combine for five of the ten Hagerstown hits.

May 272013
 

No, I Said The White PhoneIt may just be an up and back, but Nathan Karns got the call this afternoon to make his MLB debut tomorrow night against the Baltimore Orioles.

Earlier this afternoon, there was a clue when Nathan Karns was bumped from his scheduled start today vs. Reading to tomorrow with Caleb Clay taking his place at the last minute. Others felt like the short outing of Chris Young yesterday was a hint, however, that seemed unlikely given how ineffective the veteran had been in seven starts (9HR, 50H in 32IP).

Karns has been up and down all season long for Harrisburg, posting a 4-2, 4.60 ERA mark in nine starts but includes outings of five, six, and seven runs surrendered (two of those coming in his last three starts) as well as a 13K, two-hit, seven-inning complete game on April 20th. He’s also given up five HRs in nine starts, after having three career longballs surrendered in 171⅓ innings prior to this season.

Two years removed from labrum surgery, Washignton’s 2009 12th-round pick put together a career year in 2012, going from from the Hagerstown Suns bullpen in April to the Nationals’ Minors Pitcher of the Year in September to a spot on the 40-man roster in November.

He’s a two-time watchlist player and longtime subject of speculation in the comments — heard but not seen for nearly 18 months before he emerged in Auburn in the summer of 2011, when he blew away the GCL with 26K in 18⅔ innings and then posted a modest 3-2, 3.44 mark in eight starts for the Doubledays.

The Nats No. 5 prospect per Baseball America features a fastball that can touch the mid-90s, a hard (low-80s) curve and a changeup that most scouts say will make or break him as a starter. If he can’t harness it, the feeling is that he’ll still have great upside as a late-inning relief option, a la Christian Garcia.