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.

Aug 012011
 

Still waiting for the official word on Danny Rosenbaum’s promotion, ahem, reassignment, but noticed the following moves in the meantime…

SYRACUSE
• OF Michael Aubrey placed on 7-Day DL
• LHP Tom Milone placed on 7-Day DL
• Activated OF Roger Bernadina
• Activated RHP Brad Meyers from 7-Day DL
• Assigned Evan Bronson from Potomac
Optioned Atahualpa Severino from Washington
Recalled Collin Balester to Washington

HAGERSTOWN
• Assigned C Adrian Nieto from Potomac

These are all dated today on MiLB.com, and I strongly suspect that at least one, if not both, of the two players put on the DL have been placed there retroactively.

Just to recap, the following moves were made over the weekend…

• RHP Yunesky Maya recalled to Washington, optioned back
• LHP Atahualpa Severino recalled to Washington
• IF/OF Brian Bixler recalled to Washington
• Roger Bernadina optioned to Syracuse
• Garrett Mock assigned from Harrisburg
• RHP Chien-Mien Wang activated from 60-Day DL

In case anyone ever wondered, this is not unlike court reporting in a small town… a lot of reading between the lines and being unable to make a definitive statement, even when you *know* what’s really going on.

UPDATE #1: A couple more moves made overnight…

Jul 312011
 

The good news is that the Potomac Nationals figured out a way to beat the Frederick Keys. After losing 6-2 last night and 4-0 on Friday, this afternoon’s 5-2 win over Frederick prevented a three-game sweep and kept the P-Nats within striking distance for the second-half title.

The bad news is that they’re going to have to do it with Danny Rosenbaum. Or at least, they should have to do without him.

That’s because the 23-year-old has shown that he’s ready for the next level. After a rocky first inning — two runs on three hits and a walk — Rosenbaum did more than just settle down. He no-hit the Keys for the next seven innings, allowing just two baserunners (hit by pitch in the 3rd, walk in the 4th) while finishing with a season-high 11 strikeouts.

The curve has been an unreliable weapon for Rosenbaum in 2011, but this afternoon, he had it working. Seven of the 11Ks were called third strikes, including veterans with AA experience like Miguel Abreu and Dale Mollenhauer. Considering that this is the fourth straight start where he’s fanned seven or more while going eight, nine, six and eight innings, it’s both safe and fair to say that he has earned the chance to test his mettle at the next level.

Potomac would erase the 2-0 Frederick lead in the 2nd with three runs on three hits, with a two-run shot by Sandy Leon tying the game and Francisco Soriano’s two-out, bases-loaded walk scoring the go-ahead run.

The five-run output would seem to indicate an improvement from the night before, but the P-Nats were only slightly better with runners in scoring position: 2-for-10 vs. 2-for-12 and actually left on one more baserunner. It’s tempting to chalk that up to walks because they played a part in the three-run 2nd, but the Keys pitchers actually walked two fewer today than yesterday.

Potomac would strand five base runners from the 3rd to the 6th inning before breaking through in the 7th. Destin Hood stroked an opposite field single to right and stole second. After Justin Bloxom flew out, Steve Souza tapped to the mound and Hood got caught in a rundown between second and third. Souza aggressively took second to set up Sandy Leon for another RBI chance and the backstop delivered with a single to right to extend the lead to 4-2.

Jose Lozada doubled and came around to score in the bottom of the 8th when Hood redeemed his baserunning gaffe with an RBI single to center for the fifth and final Potomac run. Hector Nelo came on to pitch the 9th, allowing a one-out single but getting the three outs necessary for his 14th save.

With the win, Potomac returns to a three-game deficit behind Frederick with a 21-15 mark in the second half. They return to action on Tuesday against the Salem Red Sox, with newly acquired SS Zach Walters expected to join the team.

UPDATE: A reliable source tells me that Rosenbaum has been promoted to Harrisburg, swapping places with Erik Davis on the Senators roster. Will have a separate post when the move is officially announced.

Jul 312011
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitcher
Syracuse Lost, 4-3
(11 inn.)
@ Toledo,
6:00 p.m.
Craig Stammen (8-5, 4.47) vs.
Brayan Villarreal (2-5, 4.85)
Harrisburg Won, 5-3 vs. Binghamton,
2:00 p.m.
Erik Davis (5-6, 4.75) vs.
Collin McHugh (3-2, 4.14)
Potomac Lost, 6-2 vs. Frederick,
1:05 p.m.
Danny Rosenbaum (5-5, 2.61) vs.
Nathan Moreau (10-7, 3.92)
Hagerstown Won, 8-6
(10 inn.)
@ Delmarva,
5:05 p.m.
TBD vs.
Matt Bywater (0-1, 7.00)
Auburn Won, 4-3 @ Tri-City,
5:00 p.m.
Nathan Karns (1-1, 4.00) vs.
Juri Perez (1-2, 3.86)
GCL Nationals Lost, 8-2
vs. GCL Mets
vs. GCL Marlins,
12:00 p.m.
Adalberto Mieses (1-1, 4.70) vs.
Jose Rodriguez (1-2, 3.30)
DSL Nationals Won, 3-1
@ DSL Yankees1
OFF DAY N/A

Toledo 4 Syracuse 3 (11 inn.)
• Mock 3IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 6K, HR
• Balester 4IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 6K
• Lombardozzi 2-4, RBI
• Hulett 1-3, 2BB, 2RBI

Garrett Mock put the Chiefs in a 3-0 hole that the offense managed to dig itself out from, but the bullpen could only hold off the Mud Hens for so long, falling in extras, 4-3. Collin Balester (4IP), Zech Zinicola (2⅔ IP), and Atahualpa Severino (⅓ IP), combined for seven shutout innings of relief, striking out 10 batters. Steve Lombardozzi led the offense with a 2-for-4 effort, as the Chiefs fell to 47-59, 14 games behind Lehigh Valley in the I.L. North.

Harrisburg 5 Binghamton 3
• Roark (W, 6-7) 6⅓ IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 4BB, 3K
• Martin (S, 6) 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Rahl 3-5, 2R, HR, 2RBI
• L Davis 3-5, R, 2-2B
• Moore 2-3, R, 2B, 2BB, 2RBI

Back-to-back doubles by Tyler Moore and Bryce Harper highlighted a three-run 1st that Harrisburg would ride onto a 5-3 victory over Binghamton. Derek Norris was the lone position player to go hitless as the Sens pounded out 15 hits, but struggled after the first to get the clutch hit with a 3-for-12 mark overall with RISP and 11 men left on base. Tanner Roark turned in another quality start for his sixth win while Rafael Martin shut the door with two scoreless innnings for save #6. Combined with a Richmond loss, Harrisburg’s lead is back to 1½ games with an E.L.-best 61-47 record.

Frederick 6 Potomac 2
• Olbrychowski (L, 3-6) 3IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 4BB, K, HR
• Clegg 3IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Bloxom 2-4, 2B
• Higley 2-4, 2B

The P-Nats couldn’t cash in on multiple opportunities Last Night In Woodbridge

Hagerstown 8 Delmarva 6 (10 inn.)
• Ray 3IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 4K
• Bates 2⅓ IP, 6H, 6R, 5ER, 2BB, 0K
• W Moore 2-5, R, RBI
• Keyes 1-3, R, 2B, 2BB

A pair of errors in the 10th gave the Hagerstown Suns an 8-6 win in extras over the Delmarva Shorebirds. Colin Bates was rocked in his Low-A debut, charged with six runs in two and 1/3rd innings as the first man out of the ‘pen. Starter Robbie Ray went the first three innings, and it would appear that the organization is tapering both him and A.J. Cole down the stretch. Wade Moore was the lone Sun to get multiple hits as Hagerstown had just eight hits, but drew nine walks. The win improves the Suns to 17-17, back in fourth place, and 3½ games behind Hickory in the Sally North.

Auburn 4 Tri-City 3
• Rodriguez, M 4⅓ IP, 8H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 3K
• Hawkins (W, 1-0) 3⅔ IP, 3H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Ortega 3-4, 2R, 2B, BB, 2SB
• Burns 3-4, SB

Russell Moldenhauer’s sac fly in the 9th capped a comeback from a 3-0 deficit as the Auburn Doubledays defeated the Tri-City Valleycats, 4-3. Both teams had multiple chances to do much more damage than they did, each collecting 11 hits and committing two errors. Ben Hawkins got the win in relief of Manny Rodriguez, tossing three and 2/3rds shutout innings in his debut appearance for Auburn. Aaron Barrett set ‘em down in order in the bottom of the 9th for his second save. The win improves the Doubledays to 23-19, still a game back of Jamestown and Mahoning Valley and tied with Williamsport in the Pinckney Division of the New York-Penn League.

GCL Mets 8 GCL Nationals 2
• King (L, 1-3) 5IP, 1H, 1R 0ER, 0BB, 4K
• Santana 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Mesa 1-3, R, SB
• P Severino 1-3, 2B

Another bullpen implosion (four runs in the 7th, three runs in the 8th) sent the G-Nats to an 8-2 loss to the G-Mets. NDFAs John Peters and Scott Williams were the pitchers in question, both making their second appearance. Peters faced 10 batters, Williams faced seven, charged with four runs and three runs respectively, with Williams allowing one of two inherited runners to score and Andy Santana letting in one of three while throwing two innings of mopup duty. Meanwhile, the offense was limited to just four hits and two walks. The loss, which is the fourth straight for the G-Nats, tumbles them to a 12-22 mark and reduces their elimination number to 11.

DSL Nationals 3 DSL Yankees1 1 (5½ inn.)
• Mendez, G (W, 5-0) 5IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 6K
• Ruiz 1-3, R, 2B
• Marmolejos-Diaz 1-3, 2B

Gilberto Mendez “went the distance” in a (presumably) rain-shortened affair that the D-Nats won, 3-1, over the DSL Yankees1. Mendez allowed an unearned run on two hits, no walks, and struck out six over five innings. Adderling Ruiz and Jose Marmolejos-Diaz both went 1-for-3 with a double to pace the D-Nat offense. The win puts the DSL Nationals over .500 at 27-26, 4½ games behind the B.C. South Division leaders, the DSL Cubs2 and the DSL Rangers.

Jul 312011
 

Missed opportunities was the theme of the night in a 6-2 loss to Frederick.

Potomac had baserunners in eight of nine innings on offense, including a leadoff walk in the 1st by Eury Perez and a leadoff double in the 2nd. Both runners were erased or stranded.

Meanwhile, Adam Olbrychowski and the strike zone weren’t on friendly terms, with four walks issued during his three innings. Amazingly, none of them scored. But the net effect was that when he was around the plate, the 24-year-old got hit hard — a double and homer in the second and three singles in the 3rd, which chased him from the game.

Mitchell Clegg came on in relief and finally had what’s eluded him all season long: a strong appearance at home. In his eight previous appearances at the Pfitz, he’d given up 34 runs and 43 hits and walked nine over just 22⅔ innings. Instead, the lefty from UMass turned in three scoreless innngs with just two hits allowed, no walks, and four strikeouts.

Down 4-0 after three innings, Potomac broke up the shutout with a run in the bottom of the fourth, But it should have been more. Steve Souza was picked off first after drawing his team-leading 54th walk. Adrian Nieto singled, took second on on error, and scored on J.R. Higley’s ground-rule double to dead center.

Two innings later, Potomac’s night was summarized in the 6th. Destin Hood led off with a single to center, Bloxom ripped a liner to right to send him to 3rd and Steve Souza doubled to score Hood. With runners on second and third, and nobody out and down just two at 4-2, the P-Nats appeared poised to tie the game, if not take the lead.

Instead, Frederick went to the ‘pen and got precisely what they needed to stop the momentum from Chris Petrini — three straight strikeouts by Nieto, Higley, and Sean Nicol. The lefty would strike out five in his two innings of work for his 11th hold of the season.

If that wasn’t the kill-shot, then the two runs in the top of the 7th off Neil Holland put the proverbial bullet to the brain. As if they didn’t do enough damage on defense (with two double plays and seven assists for the night), the keystone combo of Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop led off the inning with a single and double respectively and came around to score on a sacrifice fly to right and an error by Jeff Kobernus that prompted the usual treatment from manager Matt LeCroy: A seat on the bench for the rest of the night.

Potomac stranded four more over the last three innings, with Bloxom striking out with runners on first and second in the 7th, Machado and Schoop turning a Sean Nicol grounder into a 6-4-3 DP to end the 8th, and Hood’s last-gasp flyout to deep right-center ending the 9th.

The loss extends the Keys’ lead over the P-Nats to four games and narrows the gap between Potomac and third-place Wilmington to seven games. Staff ace Danny Rosenbaum (5-5, 2.61) will be tasked with stopping the losing streak and salvaging the series this afternoon. Frederick’s Nathan Moreau (10-7, 3.92) will oppose him, with a shot to tie teammate Bobby Bundy for the Carolina League lead in pitching wins.

Jul 302011
 

Photo Credit: Futurebacks.com

There’s a whole lot less (right now) about SS Zach Walters, acquired in the trade for Jason Marquis, but in the interest of serving our readers…

A 9th-round pick last year out of the Univ. of San Diego, Walters is your prototypical “athletic shortstop” — raw power, runs well, has range and arm… and makes a ton of errors (40 in 160 games). Injuries dogged him in college but he’s stayed off the DL this year and last.

Sickels graded him a “C” in his 2011 Prospect Book and cautioned that his plate discipline needs improvement. So far so good, as he’s improved his OBP from .338 to .377 while still batting .302 and improving his slugging percentage from .440 to .485.

Baseball America describes the switch-hitter as having “all the hallmarks of a future utility player,” and say the scouts have doubts that his arm and range will improve enough to stick at shortstop.

If he is indeed assigned to Potomac, I’ll obviously have more to say after the next homestand on August 8-14. In the meantime, I’m off to Woodbridge…

UPDATE: Bill Ladson is reporting that Walters will be placed on the Potomac roster. With Walters leaving from Michigan, his debut is most likely going to happen on the road in Salem, Virginia, where the P-Nats begin a three-game series on Tuesday.

Jul 302011
 


For an organization that’s sorely lacking upper-level position prospects, flipping a journeyman 35-year-old utility player for 23-year-old AA outfielder ain’t so bad.

Maybe that’s too sunny for the rest of the Natmosphere, but I’m here to give you the cheese, not the whine.

Erik Komatsu is a short, stocky (college 5’10″, 190 lbs) outfielder that most scouting services project as a fourth outfielder. He’s a high-contact batter (more walks than strikeouts this season and last) with gap power but isn’t expected to develop into a power hitter. He can steal a base (28 last year, 13 so far this year) and has slightly above average speed. Defensively, he’s capable of playing all three positions (career .985 Fld%, most starts in CF), and his arm is described as strong and accurate.

Komatsu was drafted in the 8th round out of Cal State Fullerton in 2008, and had a strong first season in Helena (11HR, 47RBI in 68G) but injuries (hamstring, wrist, concussion) limited him to just 26 games in 2009. He recovered in 2010 to put up a .323/.413/.442 line in 130 games and earn Player of The Year honors from the Milwaukee organization. Thus far in 2011, he’s hit for a .294 average, gotten on base at a .393 clip, and clubbed 19 doubles, a triple, and six HRs for a .416 slugging percentage. As mentioned previously, he’s walked 53 times and struck out just 44 times in 379 ABs.

As of this writing, it would appear that he’ll be ticketed to fill out the roster in Harrisburg.

Jul 302011
 

The first inning is not the friend of Cameron Selik. Four runs by Frederick in the frame, plus another lull from the P-Nats bats, put another “L” in the books for both Potomac and Selik on Friday night.

It was the fifth time in 13 starts that Selik had been scored on in the first inning, the second in as many starts against the Frederick Keys. There wasn’t much doubt about it, either: a leadoff home run, single, single, ground-rule double to the first four batters (with a wild pitch just before the double) before the first batter was retired.

The problem is a fairly common one. Selik simply doesn’t have the stuff to live up in the zone, and that’s where the pitches were early on. To his credit, he made the adjustment and settled down. He would retire 10 in a row after the ground-rule double before giving up his sixth and final hit in the fourth (another double), and then the last 11 batters he faced.

Of course, none of this would be dissected in that kind of detail had the Potomac batters done more than just five hits and a walk on offense. Just two batters reached second: J.R. Higley via a double (the only extra-base hit) and Jeff Kobernus on a fielder’s choice. This was the second time in three starts against the P-Nats that Frederick’s Bobby Bundy had stifled them, and the smart money says that he’ll be skipped this time next month if the two teams are still in line to meet in the first round of the playoffs.

The loss drops Potomac three games behind Frederick in the Carolina League North division. Lynchburg and Wilmington both won to narrow the gap between second and third place to eight games.

The series continues tonight with Adam Oblrychowski (no word as to why he was bumped back one night) toeing the slab for Potomac against Frederick’s Jake Pettit.

Jul 292011
 

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

SYRACUSE 46-58, 4th Place I.L. North, 15 games behind

Good Josh Wilkie 2-0, 3SV, 0ER in last 14⅔ IP (11 appearances)
Bad Craig Stammen 0-2, 6.48 since I.L. All-Star Break
Interesting Tom Milone, Randy Knorr ejected in same game last night

HARRISBURG 60-46, 1st place E.L. West Division, 1½ games ahead

Good Derek Norris .283/.431/.478 since E.L. All Star Break
Bad Erik Davis 1-4, 7.52 ERA, 1.41 WHIP in July
Interesting Six different Ps have 4 or more saves, team is T2nd for league lead with 33

POTOMAC 20-13, 2nd place C.L. North Division, 2 games behind (49-53 overall)

Good Marcos Frias 1-0, 2.12 ERA, 1.06 WHIP since C.L. All-Star Break
Bad Rob Wort 1.60 WHIP, 5.81 FIP
Interesting Steve Souza .427 OBP since C.L. All-Star Break

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 16-16, 4th place Sally North Division, 4½ games behind (56-46 overall)

Good David Freitas 59BB, 58K
Bad Shane McCatty 8.10ERA in July
Interesting Jason Martinson 12HR, 44RBI, 46BB, 106K, 24E

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 22-18, T1st place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 1 game ahead

Good Brian Dupra 1.93 ERA, 0.99 WHIP in July
Bad Connor Rowe .578 OPS, 38K in 29G
Interesting Team SB success rate of 78.33% (47/60), best in NYPL

GCL NATIONALS 12-20, 4th place GCL East, 11 games behind

Good Wander Ramos 1.092 OPS in 24G
Bad Andy Santana 2.65 WHIP, 12.71 ERA
Interesting Silvio Medina 26K in 18⅓ IP (12.76/9IP)

DSL NATIONALS 25-25, 5th place, Boca Chica South Division, 5 games behind

Good Ivan Pineyro 2.22 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 54K in 48⅔ IP
Bad Raudy Read .147/.200/.255, 7E in 30G
Interesting Yermin Mercedes .318/.361/.409, 1E in 32G
Jul 282011
 

While there appears to be a waiting game on this front, the weekly BA report has been issued, and the following, previously unreported moves are now noted:

SIGNED
• RHP Cody Davis (NDFA—Tampa)
• RHP Christian Garcia
• RHP John Peters (NDFA—Augustana)

RELEASED
• RHP Patrick Arnold
• C Hector Taveras

PLACED ON 60-DAY DL
• RHP Dixon Anderson

Jul 272011
 

As everyone surmised, Matt Stairs has been designated for assignment to make room for Gomes. Of course, that’s the MLB front; not our turf.

So far, only one move has just a couple of moves have been officially announced in the minors…

HAGERSTOWN
• P Gregory Holt assigned from Auburn
(Unofficially, one of our commenters has informed us that RHP Colin Bates is on the way, too)
• P Colin Bates assigned from Auburn
• SS Justino Cuevas activated from Potomac DL and assigned from GCL

AUBURN
• 1B-DH Russell Moldenhauer assigned from Hagerstown Suns.
• P Ben Hawkins assigned to Auburn Doubledays from GCL Nationals

With Harrisburg short one man at 23, it’s pretty clear that another move will be made soon. But it’s not obvious who because both Potomac and Syracuse have four or less OFs on the active roster. My apologies for these kind of “placeholder” posts, but I feel like it’s the best way to handle this until the dust settles… or another trade is made.

UPDATE: A few moves shuffling the deck between Auburn and Hagerstown, indicated in bold.