May 112013
 

No, I Said The White PhoneWith OF Jayson Werth being placed on the 15-Day DL (retroactive to May 3) with a hamstring injury, the Washington Nationals have indeed made the move to recall Syracuse OF Eury Perez, as noted in this morning’s news & notes.

Like Corey Brown last May, Perez is on a hot streak, batting safely in the last nine games with a batting average and a on-base percentage of .381 (walks and Perez go together like News and Fox) with three doubles, a home run, and three steals. For the season, Perez is hanging a .346/.352/.439 line with six RBI and seven steals over 23 games this season.

Perez batted .200 (1-for-5) in 13 games last September, as the majority of his time spent in DC was on defense or pinch-running. Perez was originally signed by Washington as an International Free Agent in 2007 and was placed on the 40-man roster in November 2011.

While Perez is likely to be sent back down as soon as Werth is eligible, corresponding moves to the affiliates’ rosters have not yet been announced. Most likely: Jimmy Van Ostrand or Jerad Head up from Harrisburg, Randolph Oduber moved to Potomac, J.R. Higley or Will Piwinica-Worms up from Hagerstown and either Matt Foat or Higley activated from XST or the DL respectively.

UPDATE
The Potomac Nationals have announced that UT Francisco Soriano has been assigned to Syracuse with SS Wilmer Difo (click to read player summary from 2013 Watchlist) assigned from the GCL Nationals.

May 112013
 

For the third straight game, Potomac won in its final at-bat. This time, however, it was the reclamation of a lead lost and a swift finish as Jason Martinson led off the bottom of the 9th with a solo HR for a 5-4 win over the Winston-Salem Dash.

The blast, which was the Texan’s seventh, took Richie Mirowski off the hook and “earned” the reliever the dreaded blown-save-win as he gave up the lead with two-out, two-run shot to dead center off the bat of Chris Curley. It was the fourth home run Mirowski has surrendered in just 14⅓ innings.

Early on, this was an exercise in frustration for the opposing offenses. It’s tempting to call a 1-1 game a pitcher’s duel, but the combined 15 baserunners left on through the first five innings beg to differ.

Both A.J. Cole and the Dash’s Chris Bassitt got themselves into and out of jams. Cole walked three, hit a batter, and balked a baserunner but got the final batter out with the strikeout four innings out of five. The lone run he allowed was by no means “cheap,” as Kevan “Don’t Call Me Silent Bob” Smith led off the 4th with triple to the right-center gap and scored on a sacrifice fly.

Twice Bassitt let up back-to-back singles with two outs, but twice the P-Nats were unable to hound him for a third hit as Adrian Nieto tapped out to short in the 1st and Cutter Dykstra popped out with the bases loaded in the 4th.

Potomac needed a couple of miscues to score against Bassitt as Kevin Keyes stole third as part of a double steal with two out and chugged home with the run when toss to first on the dropped third strike was botched for an error.

Both starters were done after five, with Cole finishing his night with one run on five hits and striking out seven. Bassitt gave up seven hits, but just one unearned run with five K’s.

After leaving on nine runners through five, Michael Taylor ended that streak with a two-run home run off the left field foul pole to give Potomac a 3-1 lead. Colin Bates, who set ‘em down in order in the 6th, was touched for a run in the 7th as he was unable to strand a one-out triple, giving up a two-out double to plate the second Winston-Salem run.

Potomac got it back in the 8th as Francisco Soriano led off with a triple and came around to score after Billy Burns walked and stole second (no, I don’t have that on autofill, but I maybe I ought to). The double play taken away, Michael Taylor got the RBI on a fielder’s choice as Soriano sacmpered home with the fourth Potomac run.

Christian Meza, who had pitched a scoreless 8th following Bates to earn the hold, gave way to Mirowski in the 9th. The 24-year-old got the first two on a whiff and a grounder to first but issued a two-out walk that set up Curley for the game-tying blast.

With the win, Potomac improves to 18-16 but remains a game behind Frederick and percentage points behind Lynchburg in the Carolina League North. Weather permitting, game two of the four-game series will feature a matchup RHP Taylor Hill (3-1, 2.21) for the P-Nats and RHP Chris Beck (2-4, 1.50) for the Dash.

May 112013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 7-3 vs. Norfolk,
2:00 p.m.
Maya (1-3, 5.89) vs.
Pettit (AAA debut)
Harrisburg Lost, 8-4 @ Binghamton,
1:05 p.m.
Jordan (AA debut) vs.
Mazzoni (0-1, 2.25)
Potomac Won, 5-4 vs. Winston-Salem,
6:35 p.m.
Hill (3-1, 2.21) vs.
Beck (2-4, 1.50)
Hagerstown Postponed vs. Delmarva,
5:05 p.m.
Turnbull (2-0, 4.09) and
Pena (2-2, 4.24) vs.
Kline (1-2, 5.68) and
Hader (1-1, 1.40)

Syracuse 7 Norfolk 3 (7 inn.)
• Young (W, 1-1) 6IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 3K, 2HR
• Tatusko 1IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Walters 2-4, R, 2B, HR, RBI
• Marrero 2-4, R, HR, 2RBI
• Rahl 2-3, 2R, BB

Rain shortened this one to seven innings, as the Chiefs rolled the Tide for seven runs in the first three innings en route to a 7-3 win. Chris Young gave up three runs — all on two home runs — on six hits and no walks and three strikeouts to earn the win. Zach Walters and Chris Marrero both went 2-for-4 with a home run as Syracuse pounded out 13 hits total. By all accounts, OF Eury Perez will be called up to Washington to take the place of Jayson Werth, which will likely set a chain reaction of transactions. Stay tuned for a post later on today.

Binghamton 8 Harrisburg 4 (6½ inn.)
• Clay (L, 3-2) 1⅔ IP, 6H, 7R, 7ER, BB, K, HR
• Swynenberg 4IP, 2H, R, ER, 3BB, 2K, HR, 1-1 IR-S; 1-1, 2B, 2RBI
• Rendon 3-4, 2-2B, RBI
• Hague 1-3, R, 2B, RBI

Some 76 miles down I-81 in Binghamton, rain also cut this one short as the Mets doubled up the Senators, 8-4. Caleb Clay was knocked from the box in the second inning, charged with seven runs on six hits and a walk with just one strikeout. Matt Swynenberg was greeted with a two-run shot to the first batter he faced but got them back with his bat with a two-run double in the 4th. Anthony Rendon continues to blister the ball, singling once and doubling twice for his fourth straight multihit game.
Roster moves: C Kris Watts was activated from the 7-Day DL and assigned to Syracuse while Sam Palace went back on the 7-Day DL with strained chance of getting into a ballgame.

Potomac 5 Winston-Salem 4
• Cole 5IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 7K
• Mirowski (BS, 3; W, 3-2) 1IP, 1H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 1K, 1HR
• Martinson 2-5, R, HR, RBI
• Keyes 2-3, R, BB, 2SB
• Miller 2-3, R, BB, SB

Another wild finish Last Night In Woodbridge.
Roster move: RHP Rob Gilliam activated from the 7-Day DL, returning the P-Nats contingent to the full 25.

Hagerstown vs. Delmarva — PPD
The rain that shortened the games in New York wiped out this one in Western Maryland. It will be made up tonight, weather permitting.

May 102013
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 13-20, 6th place I.L. North, 7½ games behind

Good Eury Perez .381/.381/.524 during 9G hit streak
Bad 214 pitching strikeouts, 14th in I.L.
Interesting Home: 3-12, Road: 10-8

HARRISBURG SENATORS 16-18, 4th place E.L. West, 5 games behind

Good Anthony Rendon .364/.500/.682 since return from DC
Bad Marcos Frias 7.50ERA, 1.58WHIP, 38.1% LOB
Interesting Three of four Harrisburg Senator no-hitters have happened in the past four seasons (2010, James/Kimball/Zinicola; 2011, Martis 7inn.; 2013, Demny/Krol)

POTOMAC NATIONALS 17-16, T2nd place C.L. North, 1½ games behind

Good Robbie Ray 3-1, 2.08ERA, 2.94FIP, 1.08WHIP
Bad Kevin Keyes .162/.197/.270, 37K in 28G
Interesting Adrian Nieto .228BA, 9 of 21 hits for extra bases

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 19-12, 1st place Sally North, ½ game ahead

Good Team pitching 3.16 R/G #1 in Sally League
Bad 12HR tied for 10th in 14-team Sally League
Interesting Travis Henke 93.8% LOB rate
May 102013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-2 vs. Norfolk,
7:00 p.m.
Young (0-1, 7.04) vs.
Stinson (1-0, 2.59)
Harrisburg Won, 6-1 @ Binghamton,
7:05 p.m.
Clay (3-1, 2.75) vs.
Goeddel (2-2, 5.16)
Potomac Won, 3-2 vs. Winston-Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Cole (1-1, 3.94) vs.
Bassitt (4-0, 1.95)
Hagerstown Won, 3-1 vs. Delmarva,
7:05 p.m.
Turnbull (2-0, 4.09) vs.
Kline (1-2, 5.68)

Durham 4 Syracuse 2
• Ohlendorf (L, 3-4) 8IP, 7H, 4R, 4ER, 4BB, 4K
• Perez 3-4, SB
• Owings 1-3, R, HR, RBI
• Walters 1-3, R, 3B

The Chiefs could not complete the four-game sweep, losing the finale to the Bulls, 4-2. Starter Ross Ohlendorf went the distance, giving up all four runs on seven hits and four walks while striking out four. Eury Perez led the the hit column with three singles, but was thrown out trying for a double with one out in the 9th. The mistake proved costly as Jeff Kobernus followed with a triple but was stranded there for the lone runner left on base for Syracuse, which had just four at-bats with runners in scoring position. Roster move: C Jhonatan Solano placed on the 7-Day DL, C Sam Palace activated from the 7-Day DL

Harrisburg 6 Binghamton 1
• Demny (W, 2-4) 8IP, 0H, 1R, 0ER, 3BB, 5K
• Krol 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Hague 2-4, 2R, 2-2B, 2RBI
• Rendon 2-4, R, 2B, BB, RBI

Paul Demny and Ian Krol combined for a no-hitter as Harrisburg pummeled Binghamton, 6-1. Demny walked three and gave up an unearned run in the 7th on his own error, a comebacker to the mound that he misfired to first following a leadoff walk, pushing the man on first to third. The run would score on a double play ball to the next batter. Ricky Hague and Anthony Rendon combined to go 4-for-8 with three runs scored, three doubles, and three RBI to pace the Senators offense.

Potomac 3 Wilmington 2 (10 inn.)
• Dupra 6IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 1K
• Grace 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Self (W, 2-1) 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Miller 1-3, 2B
• Martinson 1-4, R, HR, RBI

For the second night in a row Potomac was outhit (9-4), but prevailed by a 3-2 score. Instead of a rain-shortened affair, this one went into extras. Caleb Ramsey doubled with two outs in top of the 10th, went to third on a wild pitch, then scored on another wild pitch. Derek Self gave up a leadoff walk in bottom of the inning, then set down the next three by a pair of K’s and a popup to earn the win. Jason Martinson homered for the first P-Nat run in the 2nd, while Cole Leonida singled, took third on a Justin Miller double, and scored on a Billy Burns groundout in the 3rd.

Hagerstown 3 Delmarva 1
• Anderson (W, 3-1) 6IP, 7H, R, ER, 0BB, 5K, 3HBP
• McKenzie (H, 2) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Norfork 2-3, R, SH
• Severino 2-3, 2RBI, SF

Dixon Anderson is making his case to be the next Sun to “move on up,” tossing six innings of one-run ball in a 3-1 Hagerstown win over Delmarva. The 23-y.o. scattered seven hits and plunked three Shorebirds, but walked none and struck out five. Four relievers combined for three scoreless innings of relief, with Robert Benincasa earning his seventh save (fourth in seven days). Khayyan Norfork went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a sacrifice in his return from Potomac while Pedro Severino drove in two while going 2-for-3 to lead the Hagerstown attack.

May 092013
 

Moving On Up for NPPThe Potomac Nationals have announced that RHP Taylor Jordan has been promoted to Harrisburg.

Jordan was 2-1 with a line of 1.24/2.46/1.02 (ERA/FIP/WHIP – It’s not a thing… yet) in six starts, including eight scoreless innings last Friday night. In 36⅓ innings, he allowed nine runs (five earned) on 31 hits with 29 strikeouts and six (6) walks.

As mentioned in “First Impressions,” Jordan has picked up where he left off in 2011, when he was 9-4, 2.48/2.92/1.20 in 17 starts for Hagerstown before undergoing Tommy John surgery (making him one of the M*A*S*H players on the 2013 Watchlist). He features a FB/SL/CH arsenal, but appears to have shelved (as predicted) the curveball spotted when I first saw him in 2010.

A corresponding move to backfill his spot on the Potomac roster has not yet been announced. Brian Dupra, promoted last week from Hagerstown, will take his scheduled start tonight in Wilmington, as the official release terms the move as a “spot start.”

As of this writing, Taylor is not scheduled to start tonight, however, as beat writer Geoff Morrow noted earlier today, tonight’s scheduled pitcher for the Senators — Paul Demny — has been struggling mightily and is a candidate to get moved to the ‘pen or demoted.

UPDATE: The Harrisburg Senators have sent RHP Brian Broderick to the DL to make room for Jordan, who will take Broderick’s spot in the rotation and make his AA debut on Saturday

May 092013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 5-3 @ Durham,
7:05 p.m.
Ohlendorf (3-3, 4.58) vs.
J.D. Martin (3-1, 3.94)
Harrisburg Lost, 7-6
(10 inn.)
@ Binghamton,
6:35 p.m.
Demny (1-4, 5.90) vs.
deGrom (0-3, 4.81)
Potomac Won, 3-2 @ Wilmington,
6:35 p.m.
Jordan (2-1, 1.24)
Dupra (0-1, 10.80) vs.
Brooks (0-3, 5.70)
Hagerstown OFF DAY vs. Delmarva,
7:05 p.m.
Anderson (2-1, 1.85) vs.
Taylor (1-2, 1.19)

Syracuse 5 Durham 3
• Rosenbaum (W, 3-2) 7IP, 4H, 2R, 1ER, BB, 7K, HBP
• Davis (SV, 4) 1IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Costanzo 2-4, R, 2B, HR, 3RBI
• Walters 2-4, R, 2-2B
• Rhymes 3-4, RBI, CS, SB

Mike Costanzo homered and drove in three runs to power the Syracuse offense as the Chiefs won their third straight over the Bulls, 5-3. Danny Rosenbaum continued his dominance over Durham with another seven strong innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits and a walk while piling up a season-high seven strikeouts. J.C. Romero, Jeff Mandel, and Fernando Abad split the eighth, each earning a hold while Erik Davis came on again the 9th for the save, his fourth of the season.

Altoona 7 Harrisburg 6 (10 inn.)
• Treinen 3⅓ IP, 8H, 6R, 6ER, 2BB, 3K, HR
• Broadway 2⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• Rendon 2-3, R, 2B, HR, 4RBI, 2BB
• Goodwin 2-4, 3R, BB, SB

Anthony Rendon’s two-out, two-run HR tied it in the 9th for Harrisburg, but Altoona answered with a solo shot in the top of the 10th and held off the Senators for a 7-6 win. Rendon also doubled and drew two walks, driving in four runs altogether to pace the Harrisburg attack, followed closely by Brian Goodwin’s 2-for-4 effort with three runs scored, a walk, and a stolen base. Michael Broadway and Pat McCoy combined for four and 2/3rds scoreless innings of relief, enabling the comeback from a 6-3 deficit.

Potomac 3 Wilmington 2 (6 inn.)
• Ray (W, 3-1) 5IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 7K, HR
• Martinson 1-2, BB, RBI
• Burns 0-1, BB, SB(15)

Rain shortened this one to five-plus innings as Potomac beat Wilmington, 3-2. Robbie Ray got the win, technically a complete game, with two runs allowed on two hits and two walks. His seven strikeouts pushes his Carolina League-leading total to 48. The P-Nats managed just one hit, an RBI single by Jason Martinson in the first. The Blue Rocks battery had a rough night — six walks, two hit batsmen, two wild pitches, and a passed ball. Most of the miscues came in the 5th inning when Potomac scored twice with just one ball leaving the infield (a sacrifice fly by Michael Taylor).

Hagerstown Suns — OFF DAY
After a 5-1 swing through Georgia, Hagerstown comes home for four against Delmarva, leading the Sally League North by a ½ game over Hickory. Roster moves: With the return of Khayyan Norfork from Potomac, IF Matt Foat has been transferred to XST.

May 082013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 3-2 @ Durham,
11:05 a.m.
Rosenbaum (2-2, 2.51) vs.
Colome (1-4, 2.84)
Harrisburg Won, 13-2 vs. Altoona,
10:30 a.m.
Treinen (3-3, 3.82) vs.
Sanz (1-1, 3.29)
Potomac Lost, 4-1 @ Wilmington,
6:35 p.m.
Ray (2-1, 1.85) vs.
Selman (1-1, 5.57)
Hagerstown Won, 1-0;
Lost, 1-0
OFF DAY N/A

Syracuse 3 Durham 2
• Perry (W, 1-3) 6IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 2K, HR
• Davis (SV, 3) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Solano 3-4, 2B
• Walters 1-3, R, HR, BB, 2RBI

Chris Rahl’s two-run shot tied it while Eury Perez doubled and scored on a Jeff Kobernus bunt single that was tossed away to cap a three-run rally as Syracuse edged Durham, 3-2. It was the first time the Chiefs had won consecutive games since April 8th and 9th in Buffalo. Ryan Perry coughed up a two-out, two-run shot in the 1st, his fourth big fly surrendered in six starts, but settled down to go six innings, with just five hits total, no walks and two strikeouts. Fernando Abad and Mike Crotta each pitched a scoreless inning with a strikeout to set up Erik Davis for his third save in the 9th.

Harrisburg 13 Altoona 2
• Karns (W, 3-1) 5IP, 2H, 2R, 1ER, 3BB, 8K, HR
• Bray 2IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K
• Van Ostrand 4-5, 2R, 2B, HR, 5RBI
• Bloxom 2-3, R, BB, 2RBI, SF
• Rendon 2-4, 2-2B, BB

The Harrisburg Senators had season highs in hits and runs scored as they pummeled the Altoona Curve, 13-2. Every position player had a hit, five had multiple knocks. Jimmy Van Ostrand’s led the onslaught by going 4-for-5 with a double, homer, and five RBI. Nathan Karns labored through five innings (85 pitches) to get his third win, walking three and striking out eight with two runs allowed on two hits, including a home run. Southpaw Bill Bray made his 2013 debut with two scoreless innings, walking one and striking out one.

Wilmnington 4 Potomac 1
• Schwartz (L, 2-1) 4IP, 3H, 2R, ER, 4BB, 2K
• Herron 3IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 3K
• Sanchez 1-3
• Nieto 1-4, PB(5)

For better or worse, a lot of the “First Impressions” were validated in a 4-1 loss to Wilmington. Except maybe the part about the offense, though that discredits 20-y.o. Royals pitching prospect Kyle Smith’s six innings of two-hit ball. P-Nats starter Blake Schwartz suffered his first loss, allowing two runs on three hits and four walks with two strikeouts. The Adrians Nieto and Sanchez both singled, Cutter Dykstra and Billy Burns both walked twice while Caleb Ramsey’s sac fly in the 7th accounted for the single Potomac run. Roster moves: RHP Taylor Jordan was activated from the Temporary Inactive List, with IF-OF Khayyan Norfork reassigned to Hagerstown.

Hagerstown 1 Rome 0 — GAME ONE
• Pineyro (W, 2-2) 5IP, 4H, 0R, BB, 5K
• Pena (H, 1) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Benincasa (SV, 6) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Severino 1-2, 2B, RBI
• B. Miller 1-3, 2B

Three Suns pitchers combined on a five-hit shutout to take the matinee opener, 1-0 and win their seventh straight game. Ivan Pineyro got the win with four hits let up over five innings, with a walk and five strikeouts. Ronald Pena tossed a scoreless 6th to get the hold while Robert Benincasa set ‘em down in order in the 7th for his sixth save. Pedro Severino’s RBI double was one of just two Hagerstown hits, with Brandon Miller also doubling.

Rome 1 Hagerstown 0 — GAME TWO
• Encarnacion (L, 2-2) 5IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 3K
• Rauh 1IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Pleffner 1-3, 2B
• Foat 1-2

An unearned run in the last of the 5th dropped the Suns in the second game, 1-0. Pedro Encarnacion took the loss with just two hits and no walks allowed over five innings to go with three K’s. Brian Rauh held things down in the bottom of the 6th with a scoreless frame, but the offense was held again to just two hits — a double by Shawn Pleffner and a single by Matt Foat. The Norfork move (above) was announced minutes after this game completed and a corresponding move by the Suns is not likely to be made until today or tomorrow.

May 072013
 

After a dozen home games across three homestands, it’s time for the first assessment of this year’s edition of the Potomac Nationals.

This the eighth season I’ve been following the P-Nats, fourth for this site. Just twice in that time have they won the first half (2008) or break .500 (2009). That, of course, is the fan talking — the one who wants to see playoff baseball in September and saw the 40+ win second halves go for naught in 2007 and 2009.

There is, however, the sense that the .500 (15-15) team so far is on the verge of breaking out. The offense, which has already been good, can get better. Likewise for the defense, with the exception of the outfield, which may be the strongest ever seen, thanks to multiple players capable of playing CF. The starting pitching has been sensational, but the bullpen has been anything but. To steal from “Mayflies and Big Flies,” it’s a box of chocolates.

Here are my takes, position-by-position…

FIRST BASE
Kevin Keyes – The focus has been on the defense thus far, and yes, it’s steadily improving. Light years ahead of Chris Marrero at the same stage of conversion (though that’s not a high bar to clear). The offense, however, has lagged. This is not unusual, he started very slowly last year, too.

SECOND BASE
Adrian Sanchez – The nagging feeling is that this is not his position, watchlist notwithstanding. It’s not just the errors, but the range, which actually seems to be decreasing, even as he continues his habit of cheating towards the hole and playing unusually deep. Offensively, he’s become quite good at serving up singles to all fields, but at the cost of power, which is not good.

SHORTSTOP
Jason Martinson – Obviously, he’s cooled off. That was bound to happen after putting up Nintendo numbers in the first two weeks of the season. Now, the question is whether or not he can adjust back. A lot will be made of the K’s but he’s still drawing walks, and as long as that’s the case, I suspect the Nats brass will let it slide (see: Espinosa, Danny). Not as much has been made about how his defense has improved, which may actually be why he’s been DH lately (i.e. others need the defensive reps more than he does).

THIRD BASE
Cutter Dykstra – The biggest difference between the 2011 and 2013 is not the two years of age but the strike-zone judgment. And that’s not just drawing walks, but working the count. Two years ago, it seemed like he was three pitches and out. This year, every at-bat is a grind, and he’s getting better pitches to hit. The question about where he fits defensively still remains. About the only thing I’m sure of is that shortstop isn’t his position.

LEFT FIELD
Billy Burns – Sorry to repeat what’s been in the comments lately, but here it is. Burns is a CF playing LF because Michael Taylor is on the roster. Consequently, for a LF he has outstanding range which has been sorely missing in Woodbridge the past 2-3 seasons. Offensively, he’s a low-power, high-contact speedster with terrific small-ball skills. That’s fun to watch in the minors, but hasn’t been valued at the major-league level for quite some time.

CENTERFIELD
Michael Taylor – Folks that haven’t seen him in person are dismissive, but those of us who have can understand why he’s been touted. Good range, strong arm on defense, quick-twitch at the plate, runs like you’d expect a wiry kid (22 y.o. but looks 12) with long legs (he’s been listed anywhere from 190 to 205 lbs, which would be accurate only when wearing multiple layers of wet, woolen clothing). Still has a habit of waving at pitches on the outside corner rather than taking them.

RIGHT FIELD
Caleb Ramsey – There are times when he looks really good, driving the ball to the gaps and making the most out of his average speed. Then there are times when he looks like a backup giving someone a day off. Defensively, the weakest of the bunch in Potomac, playing right field for his arm but has the range of left fielder.

Randolph Oduber – The Groovin’ Aruban is still struggling with strike-zone judgment (27K, 2BB in 17G) and has had his moments of brilliance, but seems to have hit his ceiling. Using him at DH instead of the OF raises questions about his health, which are both fair and natural given that injuries have prevented him from playing much more than half a season in full-season ball.

CATCHER
Adrian Nieto – Once touted as glove-first backstop, often in the same sentence as Sandy Leon, but hasn’t shown it aside from throwing out baserunners. Has had four passed balls charged to him already, which is even worse when you consider that official scorers tend to dole them out sparingly in the minors, much like errors.

Cole Leonida – Perhaps it’s a backhanded compliment, but when it’s Leonida catching instead of Nieto, it’s not all that noticeable. He hits as well, fields as well, and makes the routine defensive plays. Obviously, there’s a reason why he hasn’t been given more playing time in the past, but it’s not immediately apparent in the limited time I’ve seen him thus far.

BENCH
The shuffling of players between Low-A and High-A and AA has severely limited the Potomac bench’s appearances. Khayyan Norfork had been 10th in games played until his return to Hagerstown today — with 11. Leonida is 11th with 10. The remaining four players (Miller, Soriano, Kelso, Piwinica-Worms) have as many ABs as Norfork and Leonida combined (65).

STARTING PITCHERS
Robbie Ray – After a dreadful 2012, Ray seems to have put it behind him. The most noticeable change is that he seems to be sacrificing speed for the sake of command. That may not please the velo-hungry folks, but instead of trying to throw 92-94 inaccurately, he’s having success with working 88-90 and hitting his spots.

A.J. Cole – Until last Friday, I wasn’t too impressed with Cole, but could always understand that the excitement is in part the projection based on the live arm on a tall, lean body that even now you can see isn’t done filling out. It’s easy to like a pitcher when he’s “on,” though. I’ve seen the good and bad on the same day, so my biggest caution to folks is that I have a feeling this streakiness will continue.

Taylor Jordan – This is the first full season after having had TJ surgery in 2011 and as such there are expectations that he should pick up where he left off. He has. The velocity seems as good as it ever was, likewise for command and control. Appears to have shelved the curve in favor of the change, but that’s an observation, not a criticism

Taylor Hill – Last year he finished 2012 with Potomac but wasn’t particularly impressive. This year, he’s shown some promise though ironically as a flyball pitcher, not a groundball artist, which is how he was touted. Obviously, that’s a byproduct of his approach, which seems to be more fastball-curve than sinker-slider.

Blake Schwartz – Just one start, which you can read about here.

RELIEVERS
“If we can just hang with these guys and get into their bullpen, we’ll have a chance.”

That’s the kind of thing Potomac fans have said for years about the opposing teams. This year that sentiment applies to the P-Nats ‘pen.

It’s been better of late, but it’s still a Maalox moment when manager Brian Daubach takes the ball and gives it to the man coming in. Unfortunately, a lot of that is a function of the starters being so good. On the nights when the ‘pen was needed for more than three innings, it hasn’t been pretty.

As is always the case, the sample sizes here are tiny. Matt Grace, for example, got knocked around on Saturday night but prior to that he had five straight scoreless outings with multiple innings pitched. Richie Mirowski has managed to appear in each of the games I’ve had to miss, thus I’ve only seen him once.

Like all of the above, let’s check back in a few weeks and revisit these first impressions.

May 072013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 5-0 @ Durham,
7:05 p.m.
Perry (0-2, 6.57) vs.
Torres (2-1, 2.08)
Harrisburg Lost, 3-1 vs. Altoona,
7:00 p.m.
Karns (2-1, 3.25) vs.
Taillon (2-3, 3.03)
Potomac OFF DAY @ Wilmington,
6:35 p.m.
Schwartz (2-0, 0.00) vs.
K. Smith (0-1, 2.49)
Hagerstown Canceled @ Rome,
10:30 a.m.
Pineyro (1-2, 4.58) and
Pena (2-2, 4.43) vs.
LaFreniere (2-0, 4.50) and
Scoggin (2-2, 4.98)

Syracuse 5 Durham 0
• Maya (W, 1-3) 7⅔ IP, 6H, 0R, BB, 9K, WP
• Roark 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Perez 2-4, R, 2B
• Walters 1-4, R, HR, 3RBI

Three Syracuse pitchers combined for a six-hit shutout as Syracuse blanked Durham, 5-0. Yunesky Maya notched his first win with seven and 2/3rds innings pitched, six hits and a walk allowed, and nine strikeouts. Xavier Cedeno struck out the lone batter he faced while Tanner Roark closed out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth. Zach Walters’s seventh HR (#2 in the I.L.) drove in three in the 2nd while Eury Perez’s 2-for-4 effort extended his hit streak to a modest six games and pushed his batting average to .333.

Altoona 3 Harrisburg 1
• Broderick (L, 1-3) 6IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 4K, HR
• Swynenberg 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Leon 2-3
• Goodwin 0-2, BB, CS

All that stood between Casey Sadler and a no-hitter was Sandy Leon. The Senators catcher went 2-for-3, the rest of the Harrisburg lineup was 0-for-26 in a 3-1 loss to the Altoona Curve. Brian Broderick gave up his seventh HR (solo shot in the 6th) in his seventh, but still pitched well enough to win; a quality start of three runs on three hits and two walks with four strikeouts. Matt Swynenberg and Ian Krol combined for three scoreless (and hitless) innings relief, walking one apiece. Brian Goodwin and Justin Bloxom both drew a walk in the loss. Roster moves: RHP Trevor Holder was released yesterday to make room for LHP Bill Bray, who was assigned from XST. Geoff Morrow of the Patriot News has the story.

Potomac — OFF DAY
It’s a brief jaunt up 95 to visit Wilmington for three before heading home this weekend for a seven-game homestand versus the Winston-Salem Dash for four, then another three-game set against the Blue Rocks.

Hagerstown vs. Augusta — Canceled
Officially, rain canceled the regularly scheduled game on Monday. They’ll try to get in two this morning to make up Saturday’s rainout, which was postponed yesterday.