Luke Erickson

Luke Erickson is a season-ticket holder for the Potomac Nationals, but makes a point of seeing games in Hagerstown and Harrisburg at least once a summer. When the PNats are away on the weekend, Luke finds a minor-league game somewhere to watch, and generally attends 70-80 baseball games a year up across several states. A former sportswriter with newspapers in Massachusetts and Oregon, Luke lives in Western Fairfax County with his wife and two sons.

Nov 192011
 

Now that the dust has settled from the Rule 5 deadline, let’s take a look at who’s eligible. One mistake I made was overlooking the Dominican League players, hence missing Eury Perez. Thus, I spent some time putting into a spreadsheet all the DSL and GCL players from 2007 forward that appear to be still active. That’s where things get tricky, of course.

Because it’s a maintenance nightmare, I’ll keep that list offline but refer to it next November. I’ve been told that even folks in the MLB front offices are befuddled by this exercise, so I feel a little less stupid. As Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus tweeted yesterday: “Who does/doesn’t get added to the 40-man says as much about the player as it does the chances of him getting hid on a roster for a year.”

So here’s my latest pass at who’s eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the first time this year:
Manuel Rivera
Carlos Alvarez
Adrian Sanchez
Angel Montilla
Hendry Jimenez
Brett Newsome
Marcos Frias
Sandy Leon
Francisco Soriano
Steve Souza
Josh Smoker
J.R. Higley
Jose Lozada
Chris Curran
Pat McCoy
Tanner Roark
Erik Komatsu

The odds are better than even that I missed someone, so my apologies in advance. Like the watchlist, it’s in order of the highest level played, which is roughly short-season A to AA. I wish I had more information about the minor-league phase of the draft, but as I mentioned in the comments, who’s protected isn’t readily available thus it’s nearly impossible to speculate on who might be taken. As you can see from last year’s results (scroll down), it’s mostly pitchers and catchers that get moved around.

Likewise, here’s a thumbnail list of who’s eligible for the first time next year. With the college tilt of the past few drafts, you can see that a couple of these names are likely to be gone by next April, never mind next November:
Nathan Karns
Bobby Hansen
Taylor Jordan
Paul Applebee
Shane McCatty
Matt Swynenberg
Chad Jenkins
Andruth Ramirez
Justino Cuevas
Jeff Kobernus
Justin Bloxom
Destin Hood
Adrian Nieto
J.P. Ramirez
Paul Demny
Trevor Holder
Dean Weaver
Mitchell Clegg
Rob Wort
Pat Lehman
Danny Rosenbaum
Sean Nicol
Evan Bronson

The folks that were dismissive of the ’08 DSL champs can have their “told you so” — Justino Cuevas is the sole rookie from that team still in the organization (Andruth Ramirez played for the “JV” DSL Nationals 2) and has yet to play at the AA level. The ’09 rookies aren’t looking much better, with none thus far having played full-season baseball. But as I’ve stated previously, the reliance on the DSL for teenage talent really shows up when you look ahead to the the ’13-’15 drafts: 13 of 31, 12 of 37, and 27 of 28 (Deion Williams is the sole 2015 American-born Rule 5 candidates.

Nov 182011
 

It’s like so weird…

According to multiple online sources, the Nationals have re-claimed Cole Kimball, who had been placed on waivers by Toronto Blue Jays in the wake of tonight’s midnight deadline to submit 40-man rosters for the the Rule 5 draft.

According to Mark Zuckerman
, the move was required when the Blue Jays claimed another pitcher (Andrew Carpenter) off waivers from the Padres and were trying to clear room for him.

At virtual press, 16 of the 30 MLB teams have added players thus far, per MLBDepthCharts.com

UPDATE:
As pointed out below, the Nationals have announced the following four players have been added to the 40-man roster:

  • 1B Tyler Moore
  • C Jhonatan Solano
  • CF Eury Perez
  • C Derek Norris

The selection of Solano is the most curious, and one has to think that this means that either Jesus Flores or Norris could be traded, with Solano as the fallback option. Perez is a close second, especially for a position player that hadn’t reached AA.

Thus, notable names that appear to be eligible:
Adrian Sanchez
Marcos Frias
Hector Nelo
Josh Smoker
Sandy Leon
Pat McCoy
Stephen King
Erik Komatsu
Tanner Roark
Brad Meyers

None of these is terribly surprising, and yes, that includes Brad Meyers. As previously reported, players with an injury history are often left unprotected, as are position players with either little AA or AAA experience (e.g. Leon) or coming off subpar seasons (e.g. McCoy).

Nov 182011
 

Bryce Harper singled and tripled in the Arizona Fall League finale, which the Scottsdale Scorpions lost, 6-2.

The 2-for-3 effort pushed the 19-year-old’s batting average to .333, thanks to a 16-game hit streak and a .424 finish (28-for-66) over his last 18 games. Of course, Harper also struck out and was picked off first and made no putouts in left field, but those are nits for the Nats bandwagon, as I’m sure we can expect the drum for Harper to be the next Heyward all winter long (pay no attention to the latter’s .227/.319/.389 sophomore slump and make no correlations, right?).

Derek Norris went 0-for-3 to lower his line to .276/.367/.382 but threw out a baserunner and stole a base himself (#4). Despite the 0-for-13 finish, Norris is still a near-lock to be added to the 40-man roster and start 2012 in Syracuse. He reached base 18 of 21 games.

Zach Walters stayed off the interstate by going 1-for-3 with an RBI double to finish with a .205 mark. Not bad for a kid that began the year as a 21-year-old in Low-A. The signs of Josh Johnson and Chris McConnell above him on the Nats ladder make Potomac his most likely starting point for 2012, not to mention his mere 30 games of High-A experience.

Scottsdale finished the 2011 season with a 14-22 mark, last in the East division of the Arizona Fall League and tied with Phoenix for the circuit’s worst record. Last year, Scottsdale won the AFL championship.

And as if yesterday’s chill rains weren’t a talisman, winter has “officially” begun.

Nov 172011
 

Since the minor-league free agency period began a couple of weeks ago, the Nationals have re-signed four of their own free agents…

  • Josh Johnson (Harrisburg)
  • Seth Bynum (Syracuse)
  • Carlos Maldonado (Syracuse)
  • Jesus Valdez (Harrisburg/Syracuse)

This, of course, is relatively old news to the diehards, but I’m also aware that not everybody sticks around to read the comments; hence this post. For folks that can’t wait, here’s the Calgon. For the folks under 40, that’s a reference to this classic, not exactly PC, 30-second TV ad.

Nov 172011
 

Just two Nats relievers got into last night’s 4-3 loss by Scottsdale.

Pat Lehman got back on the horse with a scoreless inning, allowing one hit, but no walks and no strikeouts to drop his ERA to three digits at 9.82.

Rafael Martin walked one but also laid a goose egg on the scoreboard, allowing no hits and striking out none in his single inning of work.

The AFL wraps up this afternoon as the Scorpions visit the Solar Sox. Sammy Solis is not listed as the starter, so it’s most likely one more start for the position player trio of Derek Norris, Zach Walters, and, um, whatshisname, oh yeah… Bryce Harper.

Nov 162011
 

Well, it wouldn’t be any fun if we could predict every move, right?

As the headline says, Cole Kimball was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays while Corey Brown cleared them and was outrighted to Syracuse. Kimball is an interesting risk for the Blue Jays, given that he’s unlikely to pitch until mid ’12 after undergoing surgery this past July. Brown had the beginning and end of ’11 cut short by injuries, but did get a September call-up.

The moves knock down the Nationals’ 40-man roster to 32 ahead of the Friday deadline for the Rule 5 draft. As mentioned in the comments, it’s fair to speculate that these may not be the only players dropped, given that the most recent waiver period only began a few days ago, and these two move were most likely made on Monday morning (the waiver period is 48 hours).

Nov 162011
 

Bryce Harper continued his torrid hitting while Scorpions remain tepid, losing again by a 4-1 count.

Harper went 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a stolen base. Defensively, he caught a foul fly but committed his sixth error on a missed catch.

Derek Norris remained ice-cold with another oh-fer, striking out twice in four at-bats and also committing an error on a throw. That was his seventh miscue of the fall.

Zach Walters wouldn’t be left out of this mistake-fest, committing his sixth error while playing third base. Offensively, he went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.

On the pitching side, Matt Purke turned in another scoreless outing, his fourth straight. He allowed a hit but struck out two, throwing 12 of his 16 pitches for strikes.

Scottsdale hosts Peoria for its final home game tonight, before finishing up the 2011 season tomorrow afternoon. Sammy Solis is not listed as a starter for either game.

Nov 152011
 

Just one National appeared in yesterday’s Scottsdale’s 6-5 win over Salt River. Yeah, you know it.

Batting fifth and playing left field, Bryce Harper went 1-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored, an RBI double, and two strikeouts. Defensively, he made four putouts and made no errors.

The two teams rematch this afternoon, with Rafters hosting the Scorpions.

Nov 142011
 

Our weekly look at the Nationals players in the Winter Leagues, with all statistics as 12:19 a.m. on November 13, 2011.
AFL HITTERS

AFL PITCHERS

DWL HITTERS

DWL PITCHERS

VWL HITTERS

VWL PITCHERS

MWL PITCHERS

PRWL PITCHERS

PRWL HITTERS

For those that are wondering, it appears that my data source for this feature has excised some of the recently declared free agents. I anticipate dropping others when it appears that they’ve been released, i.e. the stats stay the same for 2-3 weeks in a row. And obviously, once the AFL finishes, the final numbers will be reported once.

Nov 132011
 

The streak is over for Bryce Harper as the Nationals’ 19-year-old wunderkind went 0-for-3 in a 6-4 Scottsdale loss on Saturday.

Harper also committed an error, his fifth of the fall, and made a putout while playing left field. Here’s how the rest of the Nats fared:

…Zach Walters played third base again and notched four assists, but was also hitless at 0-for-2.

…Matt Purke made his third straight scoreless appearance, tossing a 1-2-3 inning for his second hold of the fall with six of his 11 pitches registering as strikes.

…Pat Lehman’s troubles returned as the 25-year-old was torched for four runs on four hits and a walk while striking out two.

…Rafael Martin labored through a 28-pitch inning, throwing just 12 strikes, but stranded all three walks he issued.

Just four games remain on the slate for Scottsdale, as they host then visit Salt River on Monday and Tuesday, host Peoria on Wednesday, and finish up on the road at Mesa on Thursday.