Nov 082013
 

For the second straight summer, Syracuse admirably achieved its primary mission of providing the Washington Nationals with replacements for injured or underperforming players. They also fulfilled a secondary function of providing a place for the latter to either get back on track (Tyler Moore) or get reps to try to work through their injuries issues (Danny Espinosa).

From that point of view, the 2013 Chiefs were successful. Like it or not, that’s the role for AAA nowadays — a place to play for “inventory” to stay active and a “finishing school” of sorts for certain prospects (typically, but not exclusively position players). That the Nationals have fielded also-rans for three straight seasons is irrelevant in this philosophy.

With that “said,” we embark on the final 2013 season review with the usual comparison against the league, then a focus on the Top 10 who were 27-and-under (i.e. league-average age) and had significant playing time, which this year works out to 17 or more innings pitched for pitchers, 111 or more plate appearances.

HITTING AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA* SB
Syracuse 4824 600 1256 114 395 1094 .260 .320 .395 .243 123
Lg. Avg. 4792 609 1223 107 485 1087 .255 .328 .384 .244 111

* GPA = Gross Production Average

PITCHING IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
Syracuse 1251⅔ 4.10 4.56 1.391 104 444 999 9.3 3.2 7.2 2.25
Lg. Avg. 1261 3.86 4.23 1.355 107 485 1087 8.7 3.5 7.8 2.24


At first glance, it looks like this team should have done better than a last-place finish, albeit in a strong division. The Chiefs were better than the league in average, HRs, slugging on offense, walks issued, HRs surrendered. Sure, the ERA was a notch below, but… oh wait: 143 errors in 144 games (tied with Indianapolis)? The worst fielding percentage in the I.L. (.974)? The most unearned runs (86)? Never mind.

Obviously, poor defense aside, the two most glaring exceptions to the around-the-league-average theme are batting walks (tied for 12th fewest) and pitching strikeouts (tied for 11th fewest). Not taking walks is always going to help out the opposing pitchers. Likewise, not getting K’s increases the odds of contact, which was a double handicap because the team was not adept at converting batted balls into outs.

If there is something I’m glad to be wrong about, it’s that the Nationals haven’t gotten older at this level as I thought they might a year ago. Even with the likes of 32-y.o. Yunesky Maya (who pitched the second-most innings), the team’s pitchers were only slightly older than the league average (27.6 vs. 27.3) and the hitters were actually younger (26.6 vs. 26.9), thanks to a pair of 23-year-olds (Zach Walters, Eury Perez) playing nearly every day.

Which brings us to those age-appropriate bats… (Full statistics for the team can be found here.)
here.

Name Age PA Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err GPA ISO
Zach Walters 23 521 SS/3B 104/27 .981 38 .258 .264
Chris Marrero 24 450 1B 97 .990 9 .249 .132
Corey Brown 27 438 CF/LF/RF 61/22/21 .973 6 .265 .208
Eury Perez 23 433 CF/LF/RF 69/15/9 .979 4 .257 .122
Jeff Kobernus 25 412 LF/2B/CF/3B/RF 50/15/12/11/8 .992 2 .262 .070
Danny Espinosa 26 313 2B/SS 41/35 .965 12 .198 .070
Carlos Rivero 25 239 3B/1B/SS/LF/RF 42/10/6/5/1 .950 12 .208 .048
Tyler Moore 26 200 LF/1B 21/19 .987 3 .324 .266
Jhonatan Solano 27 148 C 38 .997 1 .180 .065
Josh Johnson 27 111 3B/2B/LF/RF 16/9/8/1 .975 2 .323 .125


The good news is that seven of these ten are home-grown. The bad news is that just two of them aren’t repeating the level. Those two, of course, are Jeff Kobernus and Zach Walters, who will be competing in 2014 to achieve what Tyler Moore and Steve Lombardozzi did in 2012: establish themselves as MLB bench/role players.

Unfortunately, that path seems blocked for Corey Brown (who’s now out of options) while Eury Perez has languished at AAA and has but one option left and would seem destined to follow in Brown’s footsteps. Time ran out for Chris Marrero, who was removed from the 40-man last month, and became a free agent earlier this week. Likewise for Carlos Rivero, who went from nearly making the club out of spring training to getting demoted to AA after his production dropped dramatically (.783 OPS in ’12 to .588)

On to the pitchers…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HR HBP WP
Danny Rosenbaum 25 28/28 7-11, 0 3.87 158⅓ 167 67 102 1.478 10 8 8
Tanner Roark 26 33/11 9-3, 2 3.15 105⅔ 85 20 84 0.994 6 3 2
Caleb Clay 25 14/13 5-2, 0 2.49 83 68 14 51 0.988 5 3 3
Erik Davis 25 45/0 3-7, 15 3.10 52⅓ 55 20 54 1.433 4 0 2
Ryan Perry 26 12/8 1-4, 0 7.93 42 54 23 27 1.833 9 1 3
Xavier Cedeno 26 39/0 2-0, 4 1.31 34⅓ 23 16 45 1.136 2 1 5
Tyler Robertson 25 26/1 2-7, 0 3.04 26⅔ 33 8 24 1.538 2 0 2
Cole Kimball 27 23/0 0-0, 1 8.06 25⅔ 31 14 25 1.753 4 0 6
Michael Broadway 26 18/0 1-1, 6 2.28 23⅔ 16 7 26 0.972 2 0 1
Fernando Abad 27 17/0 1-0, 0 1.06 17 17 2 12 1.118 0 0 0


Here is where you see how AAA has become the place to “house inventory” — even with an age-28 cutoff, a significant number of innings went to guys that were acquired, signed, or claimed since last November. And it’s not hard to see what the parent club was looking for in reserve: left-handed relievers.

Danny Rosenbaum, who was taken then returned by Colorado in the Rule 5 draft, was the only lefthanded starter all season long and one has to wonder: If he sticks around next year, is there any chance he’ll be converted to relief to increase his chances of pitching in DC? Or will he be given the Corey Brown treatment and continue to start, with neither the hamburger or the pay on Tuesday?

Methinks the latter will be the case and the example of Tanner Roark will be the justification, as he too was asked to eat innings in 2012 (147⅔ in 26 starts) started 2013 in the Chiefs ‘pen, then shifted back to starting and did both for the parent club, winning seven of his first eight decisions and logging 53⅔ innings for a team that was chasing a playoff spot.

As I did a year ago, I expect the Nationals to promote a handful of the Harrisburg pitchers and use FAs to plug the gaps at both AA and AAA until the prospects are ready. It’s WAY too early to say much more than that, esepcially in light of the trades that have been made over the past couple of offseasons.

OBLIGATORY TOP FIVE
That four of these five are already on the 40-man makes this easy. Justifying the two pitchers is a little harder, given that they turned 26 and 27 last month. But this is what I have to pick from, and the guy not on the 40-man could very well be added to somebody’s 40-man next month (again). Plus, as the old saw goes, he is lefthanded and throws strikes, so…

1. Zach Walters
2. Jeff Kobernus
3. Eury Perez
4. Danny Rosenbaum
5. Erik Davis

  9 Responses to “Season Review: 2013 Syracuse Chiefs”

  1. I suppose you don’t have Tanner Roark in the top 5 because you consider him to be a part of the parent club. I have a feeling you are right about Rosenbaum. He just needs to take advantage and grab the opportunity.

  2. Roark threw 53⅔ innings for the big club, passing the 50IP limit that’s commonly used to cut off prospect status (130AB for batters).

  3. Not directly related again. Becoming a habit of mine. I am convinced that the parent Nats will end up with Price, maybe Schesner (Too lazy to look up spelling) but who would they give up. For Price I am thinking Jordan, Cole, Espinosa, and Goodwin. Now, would that get it done, or is it too much? Like to get your take on it, Luke. And others, of course.

    • Not sure Espinosa has much trade value at this point, someone proposed cole, Goodwin, and Gilolito in th Keith Law chat this week and he said that was too much

    • I think that’s too much, but if someone accused me of being biased towards the prospects, they might not be wrong.

  4. Would agree with Law. For me, Giolito or Rendon could not be involved in any trade of this nature.

  5. I have to say I’m glad for his sake that Corey is out of options. There has to be 5-10 teams that could use him and not sweat keeping him on the major league options.
    He’s no spring chicken, but getting hurt at the worst possible moment probably kept him in Syracuse until September. He had a .799 OPS.

  6. Vet seedlings for SYR
    Brock Pederson, Ian Stewart.
    Matt Williams snake farm pupils??
    Any other names to list????

  7. One of the most intriguing guys for me on Syracuse’s roster this year was Caleb Clay. I hope the Nats work a deal with him in minor league free agency to keep him; he seems to have turned it around this year for us … just in time to possibly get snapped up by another team and contribute. He’s only 25. Maybe he’s a late bloomer like Roark.

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