Jul 122013
 

Second Thoughts For NPP
This is probably overdue, but after a long stretch of baseball (14 games in 17 days from June 21 to July 7), it’s been “catch up” time at the home office of NationalsProspects.com.

A little more than two months ago, I predicted that the Potomac Nationals were on the verge of breaking out. Turns out I was right, but by no means did I foresee a team that’s been winning roughly two out of three ballgames since then (38-19). What’s been perhaps more interesting is that it’s been done despite a suspect bullpen (though it’s been better of late) and some significant turnover via promotions.

A year ago, there was considerable bitc…er, complaining about the lack of promotions, particularly with Matt Skole, Brian Goodwin, and Alex Meyer. While injuries have played a part in a lot of guys “movin’ on up,” this year has seen a lot more movement than in previous years. I’m not entirely backing off my mantra of a level per year, but it’s enough for me to not scoff (now, just sniff) at the suggestion of any more promotions this summer.

Enough vamping… let’s revisit the P-Nats position-by-position:

FIRST BASE
Defensively, Kevin Keyes doesn’t get enough credit for the strides he’s made. I suspect a lot of that has to do with the stagnation on offense and the drop in power from last summer. Still an all-or-nothing hitter, and the K rate has actually crept up.

SECOND BASE
Adrian Sanchez has recently reversed what to my eyes has been steady decline in defense, particularly in his throwing. He’s put in time at 3B and SS, too, but 2B is where he belongs. Offensively, he also seems to be stuck in gear. He’s become more of a singles hitter, quite good actually at placing the ball to the gaps, but it’s clearly cost him what little power he had shown previously.

SHORTSTOP
Since the departure of Jason Martinson, this has become something of a revolving door — veteran IF Francisco Soriano, Cutter Dykstra, Sanchez have all played there. Soriano is the best choice if your focus is on winning vs. development, but I suspect it’ll continue to be a rotation of sorts until/unless an infielder is brought up from Hagerstown.

THIRD BASE
Cutter Dykstra has played here the most, but has been played at 2B and SS more frequently since his return from the DL. He continues to be a streaky hitter and his defense at third has had some hiccups lately. Like Sanchez, the power has dropped while the average has risen and has shown a “knack” for hitting into double plays.

LEFT FIELD
It seems that Billy Burns has been trying some to get away from the small ball, and he’s had mixed results. For every gap line drive there’s been a weak flyball to the opposite field. I suspect this will be an ongoing process as the team prepares him to play for the next level where the fielders and pitchers will be much more difficult to bunt on and slap-hit against.

CENTERFIELD
Michael Taylor had a tremendous stretch from mid-May to mid-June, but has cooled off in July. He’s gotten a lot better at taking outside pitches the other way versus waving and missing. The defense remains strong and steady, perhaps not quite up to the standard of his predecessor (Eury Perez) but above most of his peers in the Carolina League.

RIGHT FIELD
This remains a split with Caleb Ramsey and Randolph Oduber, though “the Groovin’ Aruban” seems to be losing time to Ramsey, and in part to Adrian Nieto, as he’s spending less time at DH when he’s not starting in right field. Defensively, it’s no contest — Oduber is capable of playing anywhere in the outfield with decent range and strong, albeit sometimes erratic arm. Ramsey is merely adequate and best suited to LF. Offensively, Ramsey seems to be passing Oduber in terms of consistency and power. He seems to never give less than 100 percent, which explains in part why he’s gotten so many mentions the past couple of seasons. One gets the sense that Ramsey has to compensate for his shortcomings with that kind of doggedness. Likewise, Oduber hasn’t been able to stay on the field long enough for his skills to catch up to his potential. Time, however, is not either one’s side.

CATCHER
Barring an injury (and that’s a huge qualification for the position) Nieto will set a career high for a single season in games caught, played, and just about every offensive category (well, maybe not nose hairs). He’s really turned a corner on offense, though it’s been nearly all as a left-handed batter (.315/.397/.493, 8HRs vs. .217/.245/.326, 0HRs). Defensively, he does everything well but keep the ball in front of him.

This is not new, unfortunately. His 12 passed balls in 56 games as a catcher is similar to the 15 in 70 last year, and 15 in 50 in 2010 (in 2011 he had eight in 41). This is significant because minor-league scorekeepers are often blase about differentiating between passed balls and wild pitches. Given that this is the first year he’s seen significant time as a DH, I suspect the Nats care more about getting his bat ready now and will worry about plugging this hole in his game later.

Cole Leonida remains a decent backup and continues to show good pop, but while playing more often, the gap between him and Nieto has begun to show itself. Still, I’ll take a backup who’s reliable on defense and can hit .250-.270 and slug .500-.550 versus the .210-.240, .300-.350 that’s more typical.

BENCH
Soriano, Justin Miller, and Mike Gilmartin rarely sit more than two games in a row. There doesn’t appear to be a system of platooning, so absent knowing the precise directives being handed down from the powers that be, manager Brian Daubach gets the credit for shuffling guys in and out and keeping the engine running smoothly.

STARTING PITCHERS
Three of the team’s April starting five are gone — Taylor Jordan, Taylor Hill, and Robbie Ray. Yet the organization has replaced them with relative ease, which is very reminiscent of 2008, when a slew of pitchers came and went before Memorial Day, most notably Jordan Zimmermann, Adrian Alaniz, and Craig Stammen. Only Ross Detwiler stayed the whole year.

A.J. Cole seems to be the Detwiler for this year’s club, though not quite as inconsistent or maddening (Cole, for example, has yet to get lifted for hitting the pitch limit for a single inning). Two months ago I cautioned folks that he’s liable to be streaky, and indeed he has been: five quality starts out of the last ten, but also five-inning starts where he’s given up five, six, and seven runs.

Blake Schwartz has followed a common pattern… early on, the league was baffled by his ability to change speeds. After getting a look, they’ve done better the second time around. Still, this is dropping down from 7-8IP, 1-2R outings to 5-6IP, 2-3R efforts. Still more than good enough to win in this league. He’s given up some longballs of late, but the walk rate remains steady, which is critical for a pitcher that doesn’t have blow-you-away stuff.

Beyond these two is a bit of mystery right now — Brian Rauh has started four games after spending most of his time in Hagerstown as a reliever. Ivan Pineyro, went three times before getting traded. Matt Purke has gone twice. Sammy Solis has begun throwing in the GCL, and may return, but quite frankly, it’s entirely possible that Brad Meyers could make an appearance as well.

THE BULLPEN
Roughly 15 guys have appeared primarily as relievers. Only three have managed to stay here the whole time — Richie Mirowski, Greg Holt, and Colin Bates. As good as the P-Nats have been, it’s frightening to think how much better they’d have been if the ‘pen had blown half as many saves as it did in the first half.
Considering that the starting pitching is probably not going to be as strong, they’re going to have to be if the team is to take both halves and/or do some damage in the playoffs.

So far, so good. Holt and Mirowski have done better in the second half. Bates hasn’t been quite as good, but gets a pass since he was on the DL for three weeks in June, not to mention how one bad outing takes a long time to even out. Robert Benincasa, who essentially swapped places with Derek Self, has converted every save chance he’s gotten thus far, though it’s been marked with some Cordero-esque flair (luck).

Veterans such as Rob Wort, Marcos Frias, and Rafael Martin have been added more recently. How long they’ll stay is another matter. In years past, it’s been a starter that’s been dropped down to fill the void (e.g. Erik Davis in 2011, Rob Gilliam in 2012), but with Harrisburg not in need of relievers, it’s possible that they’ll be the ones to act in that capacity.

Jul 122013
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 39-55, 6th place I.L. North, 13 games behind

Good Caleb Clay 3-2, 1.62/3.29/0.99 in five appearances
Bad Mike Costanzo .185/.241/.333 in final 10 games before release
Interesting Danny Espinosa .417/.475/.750 over last 10 games



HARRISBURG SENATORS 51-41, 1st place E.L. West, 3frac12; games ahead

Good Robbie Ray (duh) 2-0, 0.64/1.34/1.00 after first two starts in AA
Bad Sandy Leon .172/.226/.172 over last 10 games
Interesting #1 E.L. pitching team in ERA (3.43), fewest runs allowed (3.79), CGs (11) and shutouts (7)



POTOMAC NATIONALS 11-7, T1st place C.L. North, .011 W% ahead (53-34 overall)

Good Billy Burns .375/.419/.450, 6RBI, 6SB in July
Bad 15 relievers used thus far in less than 90 games
Interesting Cole Leonida active team leader with nine HR in 36 games


HAGERSTOWN SUNS 13-8, 2nd place Sally North, ½ game behind (51-37 overall)

Good Shawn Pleffner .343/.415/.514 since All-Star break (currently on DL)
Bad Brett Mooneyham 32BB in 46⅔ IP
Interesting Brett Mooneyham 2.31 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 5.2 H/9IP


AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 8-15, 5th place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 7½games behind

Good Jake Johansen 0.71 ERA, 0.95 WHIP in 1st four starts (12⅔ IP)
Bad David Masters .179/.220/.232 in 14 games
Interesting 151 batting strikeouts 3rd fewest in NYPL


GCL NATIONALS 14-4, 1st place East Division, Gulf Coast League, 4½ games ahead

Good Bryan Mejia .385/.396/.596 in 15G
Bad David Ramos 7.56 ERA, 1.44 WHIP in 4 appearances
Interesting Drew Ward 12BB in 17G


DSL NATIONALS 17-15, 4th place Boca Chica South, 5 games behind

Good 18-y.o. Deibi Yrizarri 2-1, 1.99/3.07/1.26 in seven appearances (six starts)
Bad 19-y.o. Brayan Serrata .194/.254/.194 in 22 games
Interesting Luis Reyes 2-1, 2.28ERA, 18H, 8HBP, 12BB in 27⅔ IP
Jul 122013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 7-1 @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
7:05 p.m.
Maya (4-6, 4.52) vs.
Huff (4-4, 3.18)
Harrisburg Won, 7-0 @ Erie,
7:05 p.m.
Hill (1-1, 1.71) vs.
Larez (6-6, 5.11)
Potomac Tied, 4-4 (Susp.) @ Salem,
7:05 p.m
Rauh (1-0, 3.15) vs.
Stroup (4-7, 5.06)
Hagerstown Won, 5-3 vs. Rome,
7:05 p.m.
Lee (3-2, 4.36) vs.
Sims (4-3, 2.60)
Auburn Won, 7-0; Lost, 4-3 vs. Brooklyn,
7:05 p.m.
Orlan (0-1, 6.14) vs.
Gsellman (0-1, 1.23)
GCL Nationals Won, 8-1; Won, 7-0 @ GCL Mets,
12:00 p.m.
Silvestre (3-0, 2.95) vs.
Almonte (0-1, 2.84)
DSL Nationals Lost, 5-3 vs. DSL Yankees1,
10:30 a.m.
Torres (0-2, 4.05) vs.
Polanco (2-1, 2.94)



Syracuse 7 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 1
• Clay (W, 3-2) 6IP, 8H, R, ER, 0BB, 4K, HR,
• Cedeno 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Moore 2-4, R, HR, BB, 4RBI
• Espinosa 2-5, 2R, 2B, HR, RBI, K

Tyler Moore’s grand slam was the highlight of the Chiefs’ five-run 5th as Syracuse ran the RailRiders off the tracks, 7-1. Caleb Clay scattered eight hits over six innings, though one made it over the wall for the lone S/W-B run. He walked none and struck out four. Xavier Cedeno, Cole Kimblal, and Mike Crotta combined to set down the last nine batters in a row. Danny Espinosa doubled and homered and scored twice, pushing his AAA batting average over .200 for the first time since June 15.

Harrisburg 7 Erie 0
• Ray (W, 2-0) 9IP, 3H, 0R, 2BB, 11K
• Bloxom 3-4, 3R, 2-2B, BB, RBI
• Head 3-5, 2B
• Martinson 2-4, BB, 2RBI

Robbie Ray became the latest Senator to toss a complete game shutout as Harrisburg blanked Erie, 7-0. The 21-y.o. needed just 107 pitches (77 for strikes) to dispatch the SeaWolves on three hits and two walks while fanning 11 in his second AA start. Justin Bloxom doubled three times and scored three times to lead the Harrisburg hit parade. Jerad Head and Jose Lozada filled in for Brian Goodwin and Steve Souza in CF and RF respectively, as the All-Stars arrived ahead of their luggage while traveling from New Britain yesterday.

Winston-Salem 4 Potomac 4 — SUSP.
• Schwartz 3⅔ IP, 6H, 4R, 1ER, BB, 3K, HR
• Burns 2-2, 2R, BB
• Nieto 1-2, 2B, RBI
• Taylor 1-2, 2B, RBI

A two-out error by the P-Nats in the 4th enabled the Dash to tie the game at 4-4 before the rains washed the game away. It will be resumed on August 28, when Potomac makes its final regular-season visit to Winston-Salem.

Hagerstown 5 Hickory 3
• Mooneyham 6IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 5BB, 3K
• Pena (W, 4-3) 2IP, 4H, R, ER, 0BB, K
• Miller 2-4
• Piwinica-Worms 2-4, R

Hagerstown drew three walks and scored four times in the 7th as they overcame a 3-1 deficit for a 5-3 win over Hickory. Ronald Pena got the win in relief, pitching a scoreless 8th after giving up a run in the 7th. Brett Mooneyham turned in a quality start despite walking five batters, allowing two runs on four hits over the first six innings. Brandon Miller and Will Piwinica-Worms both went 2-for-4 to lead the Suns offense. Roster moves: C Pedro Severino placed on the 7-Day DL; C Sam Palace activated from 7-Day DL, reassigned from Syracuse.

Auburn 7 Brooklyn 0 — COMP.
• Johansen 4IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 5K
• Hudgins (W, 1-1) 4IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• J.C. Valdez 2-5, R, 2-2B, 2RBI
• Allen 2-3, 2RBI, CS

The Doubledays picked up where they left off on Wednesday night and completed the 7-0 shutout. Jake Johansen pitched four no-hit innings, walking two and striking out five on Wedenesday. Will Hudgins “started” on Thursday and went four scoreless innings, allowing three hits, no walks, and striking out two to earn the win. Jean Carlos Valdez doubled twice and drove in two while Brenton Allen singled twice and plated two as Auburn took advantage of three Brooklyn errors to score seven times on just eight hits.

Brooklyn 4 Auburn 3 — GAME TWO
• Selsor (L, 0-2) 3⅓ IP, 10H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 2K
• Hollins 2⅔ IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 5K, WP, 2-1 IR-S
• J.C. Valdez 2-3, R, RBI
• Poole 1-2, 2B, RBI

The Cyclones built a 4-0 lead after four innings and held off the Doubledays for a 4-3 win to split the de facto doubleheader. Casey Selsor was peppered for ten hits over three and a 1/3rd innings, charged with all four Brooklyn runs while issuing a walks and striking out two. Jean Carlos Valdez went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI as the sole Auburn batter to have multiple hits.

GCL Nationals 8 GCL Marlins 1 — GAME ONE
• J. Rodriguez (W, 2-0) 5IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 5K
• Walsh 1⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 0K
• D. Eusebio 3-4, 2R, HR, 3RBI
• R. Encarnacion 3-4, R, 2B, RBI

The G-Nats put up a pair of three-spots in the final two innings to break away from the G-Marlins, 8-1. Jefry Rodriguez got the win with five innings of one-run ball, giving up three hits and two walks while striking out five. Diomedes Eusebio and Randy Encarnacion both went 3-for-4, combining for four RBI and three runs scored.

GCL Nationals 7 GCL Marlins 0 — GAME TWO
• Meyers 3IP, 2H, 0R, BB, K
• Silvestre (W, 3-0) 4IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Ward 3-4, 2RBI
• Bautista 2-4, 2R, RBI

Brade Meyers and Hector Silvestre combined on three-hit shutout as the G-Nats completed the doubleheader sweep with a 7-0 win in Game Two. Meyers gave up two hits and a walk over the first three frames, Silvestre just the one hit over the final four, earning him his third win without a loss. Drew Ward paced the nine-hit attack with a 3-for-4 game, driving in three.

DSL Yankees1 5 DSL Nationals 3
• Yrizarri (L, 2-1) 3IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 3K
• Aquino 3IP, 4H, 1R, 0ER, 1BB, 0K
• Florentino 3-4, 2B
• Gutierrez 2-4

The D-Yankees1 struck for four in the 1st and held on for a 5-3 win over the D-Nats. Deibi Yrizarri suffered his first loss, giving up four runs on four hits and three walks while striking out three. Darryl Florentino led the offense with a double and a pair of singles, followed by Kelvin Gutierrez’ 2-for-4 effort.

Jul 112013
 

rain for npp 3

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-3 @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
7:05 p.m.
Clay (2-2, 1.65) vs.
Pineda (1-0, 3.60)
Harrisburg ALL-STAR BREAK @ Erie,
7:05 p.m.
Ray (1,0, 1.90) vs.
Cooper (2-6, 5.40)
Potomac Lost, 4-1 @ Winston-Salem,
7:00 p.m
Schwartz (6-3, 2.92) vs.
Beck (8-8, 3.08)
Hagerstown Lost, 11-7 vs. Hickory,
7:05 p.m.
Mooneyham (4-2, 2.21) vs.
Edwards (7-2, 1.98)
Auburn Winning, 2-0 (Top 4th) vs. Brooklyn,
5:35 p.m.
Selsor (0-1, 3.60) vs.
D. Alvarez (0-1, 4.73)
GCL Nationals Postponed @/vs. GCL Marlins,
11:00 a.m.
Solis (0-0, 0.00) vs.
TBD
DSL Nationals Postponed @ DSL Yankees1,
10:30 a.m.
TBD vs. TBD



Buffalo 4 Syracuse 3
• Roark 7IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 4K, 2HR
• Davis (L, 1-4) 1IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, K
• Espinosa 2-3, 2R, 2B, HR, BB, RBI, K
• Brown 1-4, 2B, RBI, E
• 65-minute rain delay

After an hour-plus rain delay and tied at 3-3 after seven innings, the Bison won the battle of the bullpens for a 4-3 win. Erik Davis scuffled in the 9th, giving up a run on three hits to suffer his fourth loss. Tanner Roark got the start and let in the first three Buffalo runs on five hits and no walks over the first seven frames. Danny Espinosa doubled and homered and drew a walk while going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored to lead the Syracuse attack.
Roster moves: IF Brian Bocock sent to Pittsburgh as the PTBNL in the Brian Jeroloman trade on May 17.

Harrisburg Senators — ALL-STAR BREAK
• Goodwin 1-3, R, BB
• Souza 0-3
• Barrett ⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K

The Western Division shut out the Eastern Division for a 5-0 victory in the E.L. All-Star game. Brian Goodwin went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored as starting CF and leadoff man, Steve Souza was the DH but went hitless, and Aaron Barrett struck out the only batter he faced to close out the 9th.

Winston-Salem 4 Potomac 1
• Cole 3IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Dupra (L, 0-3) 2⅓ IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 5BB, 1K
• Bates 2⅔ IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 2K, HR, 2-2 IR-S
• Ramsey 2-4, R, SB
• Burns 1-3, 2BB

Colin Bates surrendered a three-run bomb to the first batter he faced in the 6th, which was the margin of victory in a 4-1 Dash win over the P-Nats. As the replacement for Taylor Jordan in Sunday’s Futures Game, A.J. Cole’s outing was shortened to just three innings, as the 21-y.o. allowed just two hits, walked none and struck out one. The first man out of the ‘pen, Brian Dupra took the loss, charged with three runs on three hits and five walks over two and 1/3rd innings. Potomac got six hits and five walks but Cutter Dykstra’s RBI single in the 6th was the “1″ in the team’s 1-for-10 mark with RISP as they stranded ten baserunners.

Hickory 11 Hagerstown 7
• Dickson (L, 0-1) 4⅔ IP, 9H, 8R, 8ER, 0BB, 5K, 4HR
• Schill 3-5, RBI
• Renda 2-4, BB, RBI
• Mesa 2-6, R

Hickory added four more longballs to push its league-leading total to 130 (not a typo) and defeat Hagerstown, 11-7. Ian Dickson was the too-gracious host, surrendering all four homers over four and 2/3rds innings, giving up eight runs on nine hits and striking out five. A five-run 5th got the Suns within two at 8-6 but the Suns ‘pen couldn’t stop the crustacean aggression. Wes Schill paced the Suns 12-hit attack with a 3-for-5 night, followed by Tony Renda at 2-for-4 with a walk.

Auburn 2 Brooklyn 0 — SUSP.
Remember that game that went nine innings without rain in upstate New York? The Doubledays are trying to remember as they had their third game suspended or postponed in ten days. Play will resume tonight in Auburn at 5:35, followed by a seven-inning game.

GCL Nationals at GCL Marlins — PPD
Rain postponed Wednesday’s game. It will be made up this morning with a doubleheader at 11 a.m.

DSL Blue Jays vs. DSL Nationals — PPD
Tuesday’s score came in too late to make the virtual press, but Wednesday’s game was indeed rained out.

Jul 102013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-2 vs. Buffalo Roark (6-3, 3.33) vs.
Germano (5-7, 5.44)
Harrisburg ALL-STAR BREAK ALL-STAR BREAK N/A
Potomac Won, 5-0 @ Winston-Salem,
12:00 p.m
Cole (5-3, 4.58) vs.
Bassitt (7-2, 3.63)
Hagerstown Lost, 4-3 vs. Hickory,
7:05 p.m.
Dickson (0-0, 5.14) vs.
Faulkner (2-2, 3.02)
Auburn Lost, 3-1 vs. Brooklyn,
7:05 p.m.
Johansen (0-0, 1.04) vs.
Lugo (1-1, 5.79)
GCL Nationals Won, 11-3 @ GCL Marlins,
12:00 p.m.
Solis (0-0, 0.00) vs.
Cavanerio (3-0, 2.81)
DSL Nationals Lost, 3-1 @ DSL Blue Jays,
10:30 a.m.
TBD vs. TBD



Buffalo 6 Syracuse 2
• Rosenbaum (L, 5-7) 5⅔ IP, 7H, 5R, 3ER, 3BB, 2K, HR
• Mandel 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Perez 2-4, 2B, OF assist at 2B
• Espinosa 1-3, BB, 0K
• 87-minute rain delay to start

A pair of two-run rallies in the middle innings broke open a 1-1 game as Buffalo defeated Syracuse, 6-2. Starter Danny Rosenbaum suffered his fourth loss in as many starts, charged with five runs (three earned) on seven hits, including a two-run HR in the 6th. The 25-y.o. southpaw walked three and struck out two. Eury Perez and Danny Espinosa combined for three of the six Chiefs hits while Will Rhymes accounted for both runs with an RBI groundout in the 2nd and a solo shot in the 7th. Roster moves: IF Mike Costanzo released; C Jhonatan Solano optioned from Washington; C Brian Jeroloman placed on the 7-Day DL; OF Eury Perez activated from the 7-Day DL

Harrisburg Senators — ALL-STAR BREAK
Tonight is the 2013 Eastern League All-Star game in New Britain, CT with Aaron Barrett, Brian Goodwin and Steve Souza Jr. in uniform for the Western Division. Taylor Jordan, Paul Demny, and Josh Johnson were originally named to the team last month, but are ineligible to play due to injury (Demny) or promotions (Johnson, Jordan). Souza finished second to Bowie’s Caleb Joseph in the Home Run Derby held last night.

Potomac 5 Winston-Salem 0
• Frias 3⅔ IP, 3H, 0R, 2BB, 0K
• Fischer (W, 2-0) 3⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 6K
• Sanchez 2-4, R, RBI
• Nieto 1-3, 2R, 2B, BB
• Dykstra 1-3, BB

Four P-Nats pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout, as Potomac got its first win in Winston-Salem since July 24, 2011 by a 5-0 count vs. the Dash. Marcos Frias got the start, giving up three hits and two walks over three and a 1/3rd innings. David Fischer got the win, striking out six of eleven batters faced, with just a hit and a walk allowed over three and 2/3rds innings. Adrian Sanchez led the hit column with a 2-for-4 night, while Adrian Nieto and Cutter Dykstra both went 1-for-3 with a walk as Potomac scored five times on just six hits.

Hickory 4 Hagerstown 3
• Encarnacion (L, 6-5) 6IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 7K, HR
• Henke 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Renda 1-3, R, 2BB, SB
• Norfork 2-4, R

Ryan Rua’s 26th HR turned a 3-1 Hagerstown lead into Hickory’s eventual score of 4-3, its fourth straight win. The three-run shot in the 6th also tied Rua for the Sally League lead and pegged Pedro Encarnacion with his fifth loss. The 22-y.o. Dominican gave up four hits total, walked two, and struck out seven batters over six innings. Tony Renda reached base three times with a single and two walks while stealing his 17th base to lead the Hagerstown offense. The loss dropped Hagerstown into 2nd place by a half game behind Hickory.

Williamsport 3 Auburn 1
• Barrientos (L, 0-2) 5⅔ IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 4K, HR, 3HBP
• Joyce 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K, 1-0 IR-S
• Yezzo 2-4, 2B
• Gunter 1-3, R, 2B, BB, RBI

The Doubledays lost for the sixth time in seven games, felled by the Crosscutters, 3-1. Joel Barrientos gave up two runs on six hits over five and 2/3rds innings. He walked one, struck out four, and hit three batters, though none of them came around to score. Auburn mustered just five hits, with James Yezzo the sole batter to get multiple hits while Cody Gunter’s RBI double in the 2nd accounted for the lone run scored.

GCL Nationals 11 GCL Cardinals 3
• Giolito 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Cooper 2IP, 4H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Ullmann (W, 1-0) 4IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 4K
• Ward 3-5, 2R, 3-2B, 2RBI
• Mejia 3-5, R, 3B, RBI

The G-Nats scored in each on the first five innings to build an 11-0 lead before the G-Cards got three in the 6th for the eventual 11-3 score. Lucas Giolito made it out of the first and into the second in his second start, allowing just one hit, no walks and striking out three. Ryan Ullmmann got the win with pedestrian line of three runs on five hits and one walk over four innings. Drew Ward led the 11-run, 13-hit parade with a trio of doubles, scoring twice and driving in two. Roster move: RHP Andrew Cooper activated from the 3-Day TIL.

DSL Blue Jays 3 DSL Nationals 1
• Reyes (L, 2-1) 3IP, 4H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, 3K
• Morales 4IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Florentino 2-4, 3B
• Atenio 1-3, R

The DSL Blue Jays posted a picket fence in the first three frames and held the D-Nats to four hits for a 3-1 win. Luis Reyes took the loss, giving up all three runs (two earned) on four hits over three innings. Darryl Florentino was the sole D-Nat with multiple hist, going 2-for-4 with a triple.

Jul 092013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse OFF DAY vs. Buffalo Rosenbaum (5-6, 3.98) vs.
Vargas (5-6, 5.51)
Harrisburg Won, 3-2 ALL-STAR BREAK N/A
Potomac Lost, 12-9 @ Winston-Salem,
7:05 p.m
Frias (1-0, 18.00) vs.
Jaye (5-2, 4.60)
Hagerstown OFF DAY vs. Hickory,
7:05 p.m.
Encarnacion (6-4, 3.14) vs.
Lopez (2-2, 4.44)
Auburn Lost, 6-1; Won, 5-1 @ Williamsport,
7:05 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD
GCL Nationals Lost, 2-1 vs. GCL Cardinals,
12:00 p.m.
Giolito (0-0, 27.00) vs. TBD
DSL Nationals Won, 5-1 vs. DSL Blue Jays,
10:30 a.m.
TBD vs. (Guzman (2-1, 3.48)



Syracuse Chiefs — OFF DAY
After playing three doubleheaders over the past six days, the Chiefs got a scheduled off day yesterday. In the final week before the All-Star Break, the Chiefs have three two-game series, with a two pair against the Bisons and the Iron Pigs and a pair against the RailRiders in between. Roster move: OF-1B Tyler Moore optioned from Washington.

Harrisburg 3 Bowie 2
• Karns 3⅓ 1H, R, ER, 2BB, 4K, WP
• Grace (W, 2-1) 3⅔ IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 1K, 2-1 IR-S
• Barrett (SV, 18) 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Goodwin 2-3, BB, SB
• Bloxom 1-2, R, 2BB, RBI

Harrisburg took advantage a key Bowie error in the 4th and weathered a 92-minute rain delay to edge Bowie, 3-2 and take five of seven games played over the holiday weekend. Nathan Karns was rained out of his start in the 4th, charged with an earned run when Matt Grace let in one of two baserunners in the top of the 4th. Grace finished the inning and turned in three more and got the win with two hits and one run of his own allowed over three and 2/3rds. Brian Goodwin and Ricky Hague each had a pair of singles while Justin Bloxom collected the only RBI while going 1-for-2 with two walks.

Winston-Salem 12 Potomac 9
• Purke (L, 0-1) 3⅔ IP, 11H, 9R, 9ER, BB, 3K, 2HR
• Martin 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Burns 2-4, R, RBI, SB
• Dykstra 2-4, R, 2B, BB
• Leonida 2-5, R, HR, 2RBI

Make that 14 straight losses for the P-Nats to the Dash at BB&T since the beginning of last season. Winston-Salem outslugged Potomac 12-9 as the two teams combined for eight home runs. Matt Purke suffered his worst outing as a pro, hammered for nine runs on 11 hits and a walk over three and 2/3rds innings, albeit to the Carolina League’s top offense. Adrian Sanchez, Cole Leonida, Mike Gilmartin each hit solo shots while Kevin Keyes came off the bench for a two-run pinch-hit HR in the 8th. Rafael Martin made his first appearance north of Florida in 2013 with two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out two.
Roster moves: RHPs Rafael Martin, Marcos Frias reassigned from Harrisburg.

Hagerstown Suns — OFF DAY
The Suns return home to Municipal Stadium after a 6-1 roadtrip in West Virginia and Eastern Maryland. It’s first place versus second place again as the Hickory Crawdads return for three, followed by the Rome Braves for four.

Williamsport 6 Auburn 1 — GAME ONE
• D. Williams (L, 0-3) 3⅓ IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, 2K, HR
• Simms 2IP, 7H, 5R, 5ER, BB, 2K
• W. Rodriguez 2-3
• Chubb 2-3, R, 2B

A three-run 5th broke open a 1-0 game as the Crosscutters took the first game, 6-1. Deion Williams pitched into the 4th for the second time in four starts but took the loss on a solo HR as the Doubledays failed to score until the top of the 7th. Wilman Rodriguez and Austin Chubb both went 2-for-3 with Wilmer Difo breaking up the shutout with an RBI groundout.

Auburn 5 Williamsport 1 — GAME TWO
• Voth 4IP, 5H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 5K
• Simko (W, 3-0) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Thomas (SV, 1) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Zebrack 3-3, R, HR, 3RBI
• Ballou 2-4, R, 2B

The Doubledays scored five unanswered runs over the final three innings to split the doubleheader with a 5-1 win. Austin Voth allowed an unearned run on five hits over four innnings in his NYPL debut. Todd Simko pitched a scoreless 5th for the win while Justin Thomas retired the final six batters in order for the save. Greg Zebrack drove in three runs while going 3-for-3, including a two-run shot in the 7th for his first professional HR.

GCL Cardinals 2 GCL Nationals 1
• Ott 2⅔ IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, K
• Derosier (L, 0-1) 2⅓ IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, K
• K. Rodriguez 3IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Mejia 3-4, R, OF assist at 3B
• Marmolejos-Diaz 2-4, 2B, BB

The clutch hit eluded the G-Nats in a 2-1 loss to the G-Cards. 24th-Rd. pick Matt Derosier took the loss in relief with a run on three hits over two and a 1/3rd innings. Bryan Mejia and Jose “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz combined for five of the seven G-Nats hits, but an 0-for-8 mark with RISP led to seven men left on base. The G-Nats also struck out 12 times for the game.

DSL Nationals 5 DSL Pirates2 1
• Valerio (W, 2-2) 6IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Sanchez 2IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, K
• Atencio 2-3, 3RBI
• Corredor 2-3, 2B, RBI

Three D-Nats pitchers held the D-Pirates2 squad to just four hits and an unearned run in a 5-1 win. Maximo Valerio evened his won-loss record at 2-2 with one hit over six shutout innings, walking none and striking out four. Miguel Atencio and Aldrem Corredor both went 2-for-3 to lead the 10-hit attack.

Jul 082013
 

Estarlin Martinez has been named the South Atlantic League’s Batter of the Week for the week ofJuly 1-7, the first Hagerstown Sun to win a weekly award this season.

Martinez, who is currently riding an eight-game hitting streak, went 12-for-27 for the week with four doubles, a home run, and eight RBI while scoring seven runs and drawing three walks.

For the season, Martinez is hitting .251/.344/.358 with two HR and 52 RBI. The 21-year-old was on the DL from late April to late May.

He’s in his fourth season with Nationals organization, having begun in the DSL in 2009 and spending 2010 and 2011 in the GCL before making it north of Florida with a season in Auburn last summer, where he posted a strong campaign (.319/.385/.455) that put him on this site’s 2013 watchlist for outfielders for the second straight year.

Jul 082013
 

Late last night, news came that the Nats had traded for Scott Hairston for a minor-leaguer. Early this morning, it was reported that it would be a “Class A pitcher” (a CYA, BTW since that could mean Auburn, Hagerstown, or Potomac).

Now, it’s been revealed that Ivan Pineyro is “the guy the Cubs got,” as well as the two teams swapping players to be named later.

The 21-year-old Dominican entered the Nats system in 2011, leading that DSL squad in starts, innings, and strikeouts and second to former Suns teammate Gilberto Mendez in ERA and WHIP. Last summer, he started five games in the GCL and posted a 2.38ERA over 22⅔ innings (no record), before finishing with a less impressive 3-2 mark with a 5.50/3.26/1.660 line in eight starts with Auburn (note the FIP).

That was, however, good enough to earn Pineyro a trip to full-season ball in 2013, in addition to making this site’s 2013 Watchlist for the second straight year as one of the “Notable Arms” (which, along with $2, gets you a cup of coffee).

In Hagerstown, Pineyro went 5-3 with a 3.14 ERA in 13 starts and represented the Suns in the All-Star game. Following the break, Pineyro was moved up to Potomac, a move that at the time, appeared to be more of an injury replacement for Sammy Solis than a true promotion.

Pineyro made three starts for Potomac, all at home, with mixed results. In his debut, he was left out there a little too long and couldn’t go the requisite five innings against Carolina for the win. His second outing was in a suspended-by-rain start versus Myrtle Beach, in which he gave up a run on three hits over three innings, but was hit hard in the second inning.

His final start, however, was impressive as he threw seven scoreless on the 4th of July in a 3-1 win over Wilmington.

Pineyro was a good but not great pitcher in the limited time I was able to see him. Decent fastball, good change, but quite hittable when he missed his spots and left pitches up. There’s sure to be some overreaction to dealing one of the very few age-appropriate-to-the-level arms in the system, particularly one developed in the post-SmileyAlvarez era of the team’s efforts in the Dominican Republic.

A corresponding move in terms of “backfilling” Pineyro’s spot in the rotation has not yet been announced. Two possibilities (and this is pure speculation) are (A) Solis returning from the GCL (B) Dixon Anderson coming off the DL in Hagerstown.

Solis last pitched on July 5 in the GCL, which is prototypical for a rehabbing pitcher to appear in a game or two before returning north. Anderson was placed on the DL justbefore his scheduled start on July 4th as opposed to after his previous start on June 29, which could also indicate that he may have been one of the players under consideration (and still may be).

If/when such an announcement is made within the next few fours, this space will be updated.

Jul 082013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-2; Lost, 4-1 OFF DAY N/A
Harrisburg Won, 1-0; Won, 6-2 vs. Bowie,
12:00 p.m.
Karns (6-3) vs.
Wilson (3-1, 2.96)
Potomac Won, 5-2 @ Winston-Salem,
7:05 p.m
Purke (0-0, 1.80) vs.
Blough (7-5, 4.09)
Hagerstown Won, 11-7 OFF DAY N/A
Auburn Postponed @ Williamsport,
5:05 p.m.
D. Williams (0-2, 9.00) and
Voth (SS-A Debut) vs.
Prosinski (0-1, 6.14) and
Anderson (2-1, 3.38)
GCL Nationals OFF DAY @ GCL Cardinals,
12:00 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD
DSL Nationals OFF DAY vs. DSL Pirates2,
10:30 a.m.
Valerio (1-2, 2.22) vs.
Vivas (2-1, 2.60)



Buffalo 6 Syracuse 2 — GAME ONE
• Maya (L, 4-6) 5IP, 9H, 6R, 4ER, 3BB, 2K, HR
• Garcia 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Rhymes 3-3, R, 2B, HR, 2RBI
• Walters 1-3, 2B

The Bison halted the Chiefs’ win streak at four with a 6-2 win in the opener. Yunesky Maya gave up all six Buffalo runs on nine hits, including a home run, and three walks while striking out two. Will Rhymes accounted for both Syracuse runs with a two-run blast in the 3rd and went 3-for-3 overall.

Buffalo 4 Syracuse 1 — GAME TWO
• Robertson (L, 2-1) 1⅔ IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, BB, K, HR
• Kimball 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• Kobernus 1-3, R, SB
• Espinosa 1-3, RBI

Buffalo stampeded spot starter Tyler Robertson for four runs in the 2nd and cruised to a 4-1 win in the nightcap, sweeping the doubleheader. Robertson lasted an inning and 2/3rds and gave a walk and five hits, including a three-run home run. Jeff Kobernus singled, stole second, and scored on Danny Espinosa’s RBI single, but the bats were otherwise limp against recently outrighted Chien-Ming Wang. Roster move: Yunesky Maya activated from 3-Day temporary inactive list.

Harrisburg 1 Bowie 0 — GAME ONE
• Gilliam (W, 3-2) 6IP, 1H, 0R, 2BB, 3K
• Barrett (SV, 17) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Head 1-3, R, HR, RBI
• Leon 1-2

Rob Gilliam and Aaron Barrett combined on a two-hit shutout as the Senators edged the BaySox, 1-0 in the opener. Gilliam allowed one hit and walked two over the first six to earn the win, his third for the year. Barrett worked around an leadoff single and retired the next three batters for his 17th save. Jerad Head’s leadoff HR in the 4th was the difference as Bowie’s Eduardo Rodriguez gave up just two hits for the complete-game loss.

Harrisburg 6 Bowie 2 — GAME TWO
• Swynenberg 5IP, 7H, 2R, 0ER, BB, 0K, HBP, WP
• Head 2-3, 2R, 2B, HR, 4RBI
• Goodwin 2-2, 2R, 2B, BB,
• Game Time 1:29 (1:22 delay)

Rain shortened the nightcap to just five innings, but a pair of three-run Senator rallies in the first two innings ended it early as Harrisburg completed the doubleheader sweep with a 6-2 win. Spot starter Matt Swynenberg went all five innings and scattered seven hits, giving up two unearned runs while walking one and striking out none. Jerad Head and Brian Goodwin combined for four hits, four runs, and four RBI as the Senators scored six times on just six hits.

Potomac 5 Wilmington 2
• Rauh (W, 1-0) 6IP, 3H, 2R, ER, BB, 4K, HBP
• Benincasa (SV, 5) 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• Burns 3-5, R, 2B, 2RBI
• Dykstra 2-2, 2BB, SB

Only the rain could slow down Potomac as they scored in each of the first five innings in a 5-2 win over Wilmington. Starter Brian Rauh earned his first win for Potomac with a quality start of two runs given up on three hits and a walk over six innings. He hit a batter and struck out four. Robert Benincasa walked one but got his fifth save in as many opportunities. Adrian Nieto was the sole P-Nat to not march in the 14-hit parade, though he extended his on-base streak to 15 games while Robert Gilmartin pushed his on-base streak to 17 games.

Hagerstown 11 Delmarva 7
• Turnbull 2⅓ IP, 9H, 6R, 5ER, 2BB, 2K, HR
• Harper (W, 5-1) 2⅔ IP, 3H, R, ER, BB, 2K, 2-0 IR-S
• Pena (H, 3) 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Martinez 2-3, 4R, HR, 3RBI, BB
• Lippincott 2-5, 3B, RBI
• Miller 1-4, 2R, HR, BB, 4RBI

Hagerstown racked up three big innings in the first five “ups” to outslug Delmarva, 11-7 and take the series, 3-1. Twice-demoted starter Kylin Turnbull gave up six runs in his first start back from the NYPL, knocked from the box with one out in the 3rd with two walks, two strikeouts, and nine hits surrendered. Bryan Harper bailed him out of the third with the Suns clinging to a 7-6 lead. Estarlin Martinez and Brandon Miller both homered, combining for seven of the 11 RBIs the Suns

Williamsport vs. Jamestown — PPD
Make that four rainouts in the past nine days as Auburn and Williamsport will play two tonight with 5th Rd. pick Austin Voth scheduled to make his NYPL debut.

GCL Nationals — OFF DAY
The G-Nats still lead the GCL East by 3½ games and are riding a modest three-game win streak.

DSL Nationals — OFF DAY
Rain shortened the slate to just four games last week, which the D-Nats split. This week, they begin at home against the Pirates2 and finish on the road against the Cubs, with home-and-home series against the Jays and Yankees1 in between.

Jul 072013
 

A three-run 6th broke open a 2-2 game as the P-Nats fell again to Wilmington, 8-3.

It was the first time the same opponent had beaten Potomac consecutively since May 18-19, which was part of a three-game sweep in Winston-Salem. The last time they had lost to back-to-back games was nearly a month ago, when Frederick beat them 7-6 in Woodbridge on June 9 and Carolina won 11-3 in Zebulon.

This, of course, is the problem with such a prolonged streak of winning baseball — especially at the minor-league level in an eight-team league. It’s a wonder that this hasn’t happened sooner with such frequency and familiarity between the seven other teams. It’s hard to dominate the same seven teams, especially when it’s not unusual to play each other on back-to-back weekends.

Blake Schwartz took the loss for this one, giving up five runs (four earned) on eight hits, no walks, while striking out just one over five and a 1/3rd innings. The one K is always a troubling sign, as it’s extremely difficult to succeed with that much contact, especially for a pitcher that relies heavily on the gap in speed between an average fastball and plus changeup.

Suffice it to say, the bullpen wasn’t any better (three runs over three and 2/3rds innings) but neither was the offense. In the aggregate, eight of nine batters hit safely and collected 11 hits total. But it when it mattered most? Not so much — just 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, resulting in 10 men left base.

Adrian Nieto continues to be as hot as the weather, going 2-for-5 with a run scored to extend his hit streak to six games and on-base streak to 14 games. Perhaps he’s nursing some small injuries, but since Wilson Ramos has come and gone the 23-y.o. Floridian has been the DH, thus one cannot help but wonder if this is to help him maintain this success.

The four-game series (and seven-game homestand) concludes this evening with a matchup between Brian Rauh (0-0, 3.86) and Kellen Moen (1-1, 4.35), with Potomac looking for the series split and stay in first place, as the consecutive losses have shaved the lead over Wilmington to just a ½ game.