For the real diehards, John Sickels has opened the floor to discussing the Washington Nationals farm system. I’ve already weighed in on my “sleepers,” but feel free to join in and check things out. If you must mention this site, by all means, do so
The Scottsdale Scorpions took their second straight with a 5-1 decision over the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Highlights from the Nats included…
- Steve Lombardozzi led off, played 2B, and went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base
- Michael Burgess tripled and drove in two for is 1-for-4, playing RF and batting seventh
- Cole Kimball closed out the game with a scoreless inning, allowing a hit, a walk, but striking out one
The win combined with a loss by the Mesa Solar Sox extends the Scottsdale lead to four games with six to play. They host the Peoria Saguaros tonight, then visit the Surprise Rafters tomorrow. Check back on Monday to see how they did, plus our weekly review of the AFL stats. Plus, the last of the affiliate season reviews is on tap for Tuesday.
While folks checking in to see the parent club’s new uniforms may have been disappointed, the news from Arizona was about as good as it gets. Scottsdale won 11-1 and all three Nats that played had a good day:
- Sammy Solis went five innings, allowing one run on two hits (one was a home run) and one walk and striking out two and got credit for the win.
- Derek Norris was the DH and batted cleanup, going 3-for-6 with a double, home run, two runs scored, and three RBI. He struck out once.
- Bryce Harper played RF and batted seventh, tripling twice in five at-bats, scoring two runs, and driving in two runs. He struck out twice.
The win extended the Scorpions’ lead over the Mesa Solar Sox to three games with seven games left to play, a championship tilt against the Peoria Javelinas looming for next Saturday.
Just a quick note: It’s now known where Gary Cathcart will be reassigned: For the first half of the season, he’ll be a roving instructor (along with Bobby Henley), focusing on the GCL and Hagerstown. In the second half, he’ll be managing the Auburn Doubledays. Click here for the full story from MASN’s Byron Kerr.
As mentioned last week, the official list has been released by Baseball America and here’s the rundown:
So Where Did You Screw Up?
Actually, all things considered, BinM caught most of my mistakes, of which most were guys in the lower levels (Nolan Brannon?!). Rafael Martin appears to be still with the organization, as is Brian Peacock. Considering that the most up-to-date transactions on BA are through October 31, it’s more than possible that there are some more guys that resigned in the interim.
Perhaps more interesting is the trend of fewer and fewer guys testing the waters. In ’07, there were 602. In ’08, there were 561. In ’09, there were 536. This year, it’s 533. The only obvious theory? The poor economy has convinced some guys that maybe another year of a known quantity is better than taking their chances with hooking on elsewhere.
A better game for the Nats, but the Scottsdale Scorpions fell 7-4 to Phoenix Desert Dogs to snap their four-game win streak. Highlights included:
- Michael Burgess smacked a two-run HR (his 1st in the AFL), doubled, and scored two runs while going 2-for-4 and playing RF
- Steve Lombardozzi went 0-for-1 off the bench and played 2B
- Adam Carr tossed two scoreless innings, allowing no hits and just one walk
- Cole Kimball gave up a hit but struck out two while keeping the Desert Dogs off the scoreboard in the bottom of the 8th
The Mesa Solar Sox also lost, thus the Scottsdale lead remains at two games with eight to play. Sammy Solis (0-0, 5.17) is slated to take the hill this afternoon against former National farmhand Daryl Thompson as the Scorpions visit the Peoria Saguaros this afternoon. Bryce Harper is also expected to play.
In the upper minors, there is no half system, which makes the 2010 Harrisburg Senators playoff run even more impressive. At the halfway mark, their record stood at 34-37, more than a dozen games back and in fourth place. Down the stretch, they would go 43-28 and shave that lead to five games to earn the Eastern League’s Western Division wild card, beating out Bowie and Akron by a game and two games respectively.
The Senators would lose to the eventual Eastern League champions, the Altoona Curve — a team that featured several players with playoff experience in winning the 2009 Carolina League championship with the Lynchburg Hillcats. Like Potomac, this team gelled at just the right time, and got some significant help with the addition of two starters — Ryan Tatusko and Tanner — that would become known as “The Guz Two” because they were acquired from Texas in the Christian Guzman trade.
You know the drill: Let’s look at how the Senators compared to the Eastern League…
Italics = League Trailer
Bold = League Leader
As we just saw from our most recent World Champions, great pitching can carry mediocre-to-poor hitting and the Senators were no different. Offensively, the Sens were in the bottom third of the league for runs scored, hits, doubles, RBI, SBs, walks, OBP, and SLG percentage. They were middle of the pack for HRs and triples, and surprisingly for a team that was dead-last in BBs, they stuck out the third-fewest.
What this team could do well, however, was pitch. They managed to lead the league in ERA despite their #2 pitcher (in terms of IP, of course) sporting a 5.80 ERA. Seven of the Top 16 pitchers had ERAs below 3.00. As you can see from the bolded categories, they led the league in some of the most important ones: runs allowed, earned runs allowed, and ratio, and were second in baserunners allowed (WHIP) and walks, and third in strikeouts. In fact, we almost had a microcosm of Harrisburg vs. the Eastern League on the same staff, with Jeff Mandel as the former and Jason Jones as the latter.
In terms of batters, the stalwarts of the 2009 Potomac Nationals — Chris Marrero, Danny Espinosa and Jesus Valdez — were the top three batters in terms of plate appearances, runs, and RBIs. But beyond that it was the usual mix of formers, might-haves, were-it-nots (whatever euphemism you’d prefer for the “other guys” on the team) that were complementary parts, of which the best can be said is that they played league-average defense, with the exception of the catchers, who led the league in baserunners caught and worked with the pitchers to tie for the fewest stolen bases allowed.
As in previous season reviews, let’s look at the Top 16 (in terms of Plate Appearances or Innings Pitched) which puts the cutoff at 100PA and 32⅓ IP. The full team statistics can be found here.
|Name||Age||Position(s)||G @ Pos||Fld%||Err||PA||GPA|
Believe it or not, the average age of the batters (24.7) wasn’t that far off from the league average (24.3) nor were they the oldest in the league. With three 22-year-olds (Norris, Lombardozzi, and Burgess) expected to begin the season in 2011, that number may trend downward unless more than one of them gets the bump to Syracuse. Just six of these sixteen were above the league-average for GPA, as you’d expect for team as a whole being in the bottom third of the league. But the good news was the pitching…
|Aaron Thompson||23||26/26||4-13, 0||5.80||136⅔||164||53||95||1.588||5||5|
|Andrew Kown||27||15/15||6-4, 0||3.83||84⅔||83||19||47||1.205||3||1|
|Hassan Pena||25||48/0||2-2, 1||4.29||71⅓||73||30||64||1.444||6||8|
|Rafael Martin||26||21/14||5-4, 0||3.61||67⅓||55||26||58||1.203||1||6|
|Cole Kimball||24||38/10||5-1, 12||2.33||54||33||31||75||1.185||5||13|
|Jack Spradlin||25||39/1||1-1, 1||4.09||50⅔||51||18||49||1.362||4||2|
|Adam Carr||26||36/0||6-1, 5||3.04||50⅓||43||14||48||1.132||1||3|
|Chuck James||28||21/2||8-0, 2||1.59||45⅓||28||7||50||0.772||6||3|
|Erik Arnesen||26||13/5||2-2, 2||2.81||41⅔||36||7||35||1.032||1||1|
|John Lannan||25||7/7||1-4, 0||4.20||40⅔||49||10||28||1.451||4||0|
|Jeff Mandel||25||7/7||1-4, 0||3.82||40||37||13||27||1.250||2||1|
|Brad Peacock||22||7/7||2-2, 0||4.66||38⅔||33||22||30||1.422||0||0|
|Ryan Tatusko||25||6/6||3-1, 0||1.72||36⅔||30||13||36||1.173||1||1|
|Tanner Roark||23||6/6||1-1, 0||2.50||36||35||9||33||1.222||0||0|
|Ross Detwiler||24||7/7||2-2, 0||2.48||32⅔||38||7||31||1.378||2||1|
There’s not much that I haven’t said already about the top dog on the pitching staff, Tom Milone. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how Sickels, BA, and the scouts at MLBA rate him this time around, now that he’s put up the numbers at the level that commands attention outside the prospect universe. Aaron Thompson was his counterweight in terms of affecting the team’s numbers as a group, and is likely to repeat this level in ’11, along with Brad Peacock and Tanner Roark.
Ryan Tatusko is the best candidate to join Milone at Syracuse next season, but beyond that is guessing game. Given the modern usage of AAA as a taxi squad, much will depend on the FAs that get signed between now and this spring. As mentioned in the comments, we’re still not at the point where the AA team has more prospects than organizational guys. While that will improve next year with the influx from Potomac, I expect to look over the ’11 Opening Day Roster and see a fair number of ’84s and ’85s in the DOB column.
Obviously, there’s some overlap with Potomac and some AFL bias in these lists. And like last week, naming a fifth bat is perfunctory. Johnson gets the nod because he’s versatile and handles the bat well. It’s no secret that next week will be even more of a, um, crapshoot when it comes to this part of the review.
OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS
1. Danny Espinosa
2. Chris Marrero
3. Steve Lombardozzi
4. Michael Burgess
5. Josh Johnson
1. Tom Milone
2. Cole Kimball
3. Brad Peacock
4. Adam Carr
5. Tanner Roark
The Scottsdale Scorpions won their fourth straight by a count of 8-3. Here’s how the Nats fared in the game:
- Steve Lombardozzi led off and played shortstop, going 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored but committed his third error. He was also hit by a pitch.
- Derek Norris caught and batted seventh. He had an RBI double in his five at-bats, but struck out three times. Nobody attempted to steal against him.
- Brad Peacock was tagged for a three-run home run in the seventh, giving up two hits and a walk while striking out two.
The win, combined with a Mesa loss, puts Scottsdale three games up with nine to play. Sammy Solis is expected to start on Wednesday of this week.
In case folks haven’t heard, Brian Daubach has been hired as the new manager for the Hagerstown Suns while Matt LeCroy is reportedly taking the helm for Potomac in 2011. There is no word on the fate of Gary Cathcart. Officially, the Nats have not made any announcements for any of the affiliates coaching staffs for next year.
As stated in the comments, I had heard that Cathcart wasn’t returning to Potomac but with his assignment to the Florida Instructional League, I inferred that he is likely to remain and be reassigned within the organization. This is also the time of the year when coaches change jobs anyway, so it could also very well mean that Cathcart could be in the running for another managing job elsewhere.
It’s as good a time as any to also remind folks that what we see on the field is arguably the least important facet of a manager’s job. There are lots of funny saws about the art of managing (my favorites invariably come from Casey Stengel), but the common thread is about keeping young men prepared, engaged and motivated. I don’t think there’s any correlation between past playing success to those “people” skills.
It’s a light update for the Nats in the AFL. Just one played in Friday’s game, obligatory SEO insert Bryce Harper, who went 1-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts and was caught stealing. John Sickels, who was presumably in Arizona to catch the AFL Rising Stars game (Burgess made the lone Nat appearance, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout), had this to say about what he saw:
I got to see Bryce Harper play last night for the first time. It is hard to believe he just turned 18. I would rate his raw power at an 80 on the traditional scale. He’s got outstanding bat speed, and while he can be fooled at this point, he did make an effort to work the count and showed the ability to make adjustments in the same at-bat. It was just one game but I saw enough to completely buy into the hype.
I’m sure more folks will weigh in next week, but as the snarky strikethrough suggests, it’s pretty clear that the comparisons to A-Rod and Griffey may in fact be justified… so the baseball world is watching with baited breath, which leads to an awful lot of one-handed typing. I’m excited, too, but the hype is something I hate — especially with a fanbase that’s both impatient and imbued with an enormous sense of entitlement. Hey, what’s this soapbox doing here?
As we’ve done the past few Mondays, here’s a look at the AFL stats through Friday (22 games):
The Scottsdale Scorpions won their second straight by a 9-5 count to remain in first place, two games ahead of the Mesa Solar Sox. Sources say that if they win today, it’ll be what’s known as winning streak.
Here’s how the Nats did:
- Derek Norris caught, batted fifth, and went 1-for-4 with an RBI (his 15th in 12 games) but struck out three times and allowed another passed ball.
- Michael Burgess played RF, batted seventh, and also went 1-for-4 but struck out just once and threw out a runner at 3B.
- Adam Carr pitched a scoreless seventh and struck out one, dropping his ERA to 3.00
- Cole Kimball struck out the side in the ninth
Bryce Harper will be eligible to play in Friday night’s game as the Scorpions visit the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Tomorrow night is the AFL Rising Stars Game, pitting the players from the Eastern Division against the Western Division. It will be televised on MLB Network and streamed on MLB.com.
A busier-than-usual day for the Nationals in the AFL, as five of the eight saw action in a 9-3 Scottsdale win over Surprise.
- Steve Lombardozzi returned to 2B and the #2 spot in the order and had a 2-for-5 afternoon with a triple and two runs scored.
He also helped turn two double plays.
- Bryce Harper batted sixth and played RF, walking twice (his first two BBs), and scoring two runs in a 1-for-2.
He also collided with the opposing team’s catcher in scoring one of the runs.
- Sammy Solis allowed two runs on five hits and one walk over four innings. He also gave up a home run and stuck out one.
- Brad Peacock allowed a run on one hit (triple) while striking out one in his lone inning of work
- Cole Kimball pitched a scoreless ninth, allowing a hit and striking out one , lowering his ERA to 1.13
Adam Foster from Project Prospect was tweeting from yesterday’s game, and besides the Harper takeout play, which he described as “Nobody f’s with Bryce Harper,” he had the following tweets that are of interest:
…[Bryce Harper has a p]lus arm, good instincts, good speed, aggressive. Should be at least MLB average in RF.
…Brad Peacock’s FB last inning: 96, 94, 95, 95, 95, 95, 96, 95.
…If you like SP who command a low-90s FB with movement along with a changeup, you may like Sammy Solis. He has touched 94 today, too.
…Solis has a promising changeup, but his success with it will hinge on his ability to command it.
The only thing I can add is that Peacock’s velocity as a starter was 93-95. It’s not that hard to imagine that if he were being groomed as a setup man, he could could touch 97 or 98 after an offseason of rest and conditioning.