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.

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:

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

• RHP Patrick Arnold
• C Hector Taveras

• 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…

• 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

• 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.

Jul 262011

Alas, it is true… Bill “The Godfather” Rhinehart and Chris Manno — two of the fan favorites here at — are no longer in the organization.

They were the minor-leaguers in today’s trade to acquire Jonny Gomes from the Cincinnati Reds, a move made to bolster the parent club’s bench and perhaps garner an extra draft pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, should Gomes become a Type B free agent this offseason.

Rhinehart was second in the Eastern League with 21 HRs and seventh in RBI. In five years with the Nationals farm (2007-2011), he batted .261/.331/.458 with 73HR and 310RBI, an integral part of the 2010 Carolina League champion Potomac Nationals.

Manno was leading the South Atlantic League in Opponents Batting Average at .135 and was 10th in appearances with 34. This was his second season in the organization and he was having a monster season in relief with a 1.04 ERA, a 0.81 WHIP, and had 69K in 43⅓ innings — an otherworldly 14.3K/9IP.

Good luck, boys… and so long.

Jul 252011

I’ll spare you guys the row of bottles, but I did notice a few blips on the transaction front…

• Activated OF Jeff Frazier from DL
• Placed OF Gregor Blanco on 7-Day DL

• Assigned RHP Erik Davis from Potomac
• Assigned IF/OF Leonard Davis from Washington Nationals
(purchased from New Jersey Jackals of Can-Am League)

• Assigned C Adrian Nieto from Auburn
• Assigned IF Sean Nicol from Harrisburg
• Placed C Brian Peacock on the 7-Day DL

• Assigned LHP Evan Bronson from Harrisburg
• Placed OF J.P. Ramirez on 7-Day DL, retroactive to July 20
• Activated IF Justin Bloxom from 7-Day DL

• Activated Brett Newsome from 7-Day DL
• Activated Patrick Arnold from 7-Day DL

• Assigned Justino Cuevas (currently on Potomac 7-Day DL)

• Assigned OF Algenis Ramirez from Washington Nationals (turned 17 this past April, appears to be a signee from the Dominican Prospect League)

Like the previous transaction post, if there are any additions in the next 24-36 hours, I’ll update this post. The nature of these moves certainly suggests that more are coming. We still don’t know, for example, if the swap of Evan Bronson and Erik Davis to/from Harrisburg and Potomac is a permanent move or simply a one-off to accommodate the multiple doubleheadrs in Richmond over the weekend.

UPDATE #1: Potomac has announced the full extent of its roster moves, additions in bold.
UPDATE #2: Harrisburg has announced the full extent of its roster moves, additions in red. As predicted/feared/suspected, the Bronson-Davis move was reversed. Leonard Davis returns to the Nats organization, purchased from the New Jersey Jackals of the independent Can Am league.
UPDATE #3: Potomac and Syracuse have made and/or announced a couple more moves, indicated in blue.

Jul 222011

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

SYRACUSE 43-54, 4th Place I.L. North, 13 games behind

Good Steve Lombardozzi .357/.396/.468, 5SB, 0E in 29G
Bad Corey Brown .161/.217/.268 in July
Interesting Defense — 2nd-best FPct. (.983), 3rd-fewest errors in I.L.

HARRISBURG 56-41, 1st place E.L. West Division, 2½ games ahead

Good Shairon Martis 2.94 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 7QS in last 9GS
Bad Bryce Harper .175/.250/.175, 9K in 12G
Interesting Rafael Martin 2-1, 0.54 ERA, 0.84 WHIP

POTOMAC 16-10, T1st place C.L. North Division (45-50 overall)

Good Francisco Soriano .306/.342/.667 in last 10G
Bad Eury Perez .214/.290/.250, 2CS in last 10G
Interesting Joe Testa 5-0, 1.11 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 2SV, 6 holds in 26G

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 15-12, T2nd place Sally North Division, 3 games behind (55-42 overall)

Good Robbie Ray 2-1, 2.12 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 66K in 63⅔ IP
Bad Wade Moore .181/.286/.278
Interesting Matt Swynenburg 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP in 52IP

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 18-16, 2nd place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 1 game behind

Good Adrian Nieto .292/.375/.469, 4HR in 27G
Bad Travis Henke 7.36 ERA, 1.91 WHIP, 3 Blown Saves
Interesting Ben Grisz 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP in 9G

GCL NATIONALS 11-16, 4th place GCL East, 7½ games behind

Good Bobby Lucas 0.68 ERA, 17K in 13⅓ IP
Bad Deion Williams .121/.171/.121, 10E in 18G
Interesting That it took this long to release Matt Chico

DSL NATIONALS 22-22, 5th place, Boca Chica South Division, 5½ games behind

Good Edgar Gonzalez (18 y.o.) .291/.371/.372 in 27G
Bad Miguel Navarro (18 y.o.) 14.59 ERA, 2.51 WHIP in 6G
Interesting Joel Barrientos (17 y.o.) 2.55 ERA, 1.02 WHIP in 11G
Jul 212011

A long overdue move was finally made, which leads off our transaction update…

• LHP Matt Chico released

• IF Wilmer Difo assigned from DSL Nationals
• RHP Andy Santana assigned from DSL Nationals

As always, if there are any other minor-league moves made in the next 24-36 hours, this post will be updated.

• RHP Trevor Holder assigned to GCL Nationals for rehab
• IF Justinn Bloxom placed on 7-Day DL
(BA is reporting this, has him as active; given his hospitalization, I lean towards BA)

• OF Rick Hughes assigned to GCL Nationals
• RHP Brad Meyers assigned to Auburn for rehab

• OF Billy Burns (32) signed

• Scott Williams, Wisconsin-Stevens Point

A couple moves in Harrisburg this afternoon…

• OF Archie Gilbert placed on 7-Day DL
• IF Sean Nicol assigned from Hagerstown

Jul 192011

A two-base hit, a sacrifice bunt, and a “run-scoring flyball” gave Potomac a 1-0 win over the Lynchburg Hillcats.

The problem is that happened in the bottom of the first and it was never that certain that the P-Nats would prevail.

Cameron Selik, Marcos Frias, and Hector Nelo combined for a five-hit shutout, allowing just one runner to reach second base. The defense turned two double plays and gunned down a runner trying to stretch a single into a double. And the Potomac offense managed just two more hits from the second to the eighth innings.

It’s difficult to convey the excitement that a 1-0 game is supposed to elicit because, like the sign on Jimmie Dimmick’s lawn, it simply wasn’t there. After the first, it was two hours of wondering when the other shoe would drop: “We’re ahead, but it doesn’t feel like we’re winning.”

For three games now, the Potomac offense has been lifeless. They’ve managed to win two of those games… against a last-place team. To expect the pitching and defense to be that good that often is not realistic. Apologies for the short writeup today, but there’s not much else to say.

The win improves Potomac to 15-9 in the second half, still tied with Frederick for first place in the Carolina League North. Adam Oblrychowski (2-5, 5.36) is slated to start this afternoon, opposed by David Hale (1-3, 4.71).

Jul 182011
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitcher
Syracuse Won, 8-4 vs. Buffalo,
7:00 p.m.
Yunesky Maya (1-6, 4.45) vs.
Dylan Owen (4-5, 4.48)
Harrisburg Won, 9-7 vs. Bowie,
7:00 p.m.
Erik Arnesen (6-1, 2.27) vs.
Tim Bascom (5-2, 2.96)
Potomac Lost, 5-4 vs. Lynchburg,
7:05 p.m.
Cameron Selik (2-6, 4.42) vs.
Chris Masters (5-4, 3.48)
Hagerstown Lost, 6-2 @ Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Robbie Ray (2-1, 1.76) vs.
Alex Sogard (1-3, 3.98)
Auburn Lost, 8-3 vs. Batavia,
7:05 p.m.
Colin Bates (2-1, 1.93) vs.
Tod McInnis (2-1, 1.44)
GCL Nationals OFF DAY vs. GCL Cardinals,
12:00 p.m.
Brandon King (1-2, 8.44) vs.
Victor De Leon (0-3, 5.03)
DSL Nationals OFF DAY vs. DSL Giants,
10:30 a.m.
Jesus Guzman (0-0, 2.33) vs.
Yeini Martinez (2-3, 2.55)

Syracuse 8 Lehigh Valley 4
• Milone (W, 8-5) 7⅓ IP, 6H, 1R, 1ER, BB, 6K; 3-3, 2R, RBI (.421 BA)
• Wilkie ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Frazier 3-3, 2R, 2-2B, BB, RBI
• Marrero 3-4, R, 2-2B, 2RBI
• Lombardozzi 3-5, 2R, HR, 3RBI

Tom Milone picked up where he left off from before the All-Star break, tossing seven and 1/3rd innings of one-run pitching for his 8th win as Syracuse doubled up Lehigh Valley, 8-4. Steve Lombardozzi’s three-run homer in the bottom of the 4th was the offensive highlight, as five Chiefs would collect multiple hits, including Milone (3-for-3). The win improves Syracuse to 40-53, 15 games behind Lehigh Valley.

Harrisburg 9 Akron 7

• O Perez 2IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 2K, HR
• Barthmaier (W, 2-3) 3⅔ IP, 4H 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Moore 2-4, R, 2B, HR, 2RBI
• Gilbert 2-4, 2R, 2B, 2RBI, SB

Perhaps it’s time for tines in the spine for Oliver Perez, who needed 67 pitches to get six outs while giving up four runs. He was bailed out by Jimmy Barthmaier’s hold-the-fort relief effort of three and 2/3rds scoreless innings, as the Harrisburg Senators fell behind early (4-1), went up big (9-4) and held on for a 9-7 win. Tyler Moore continues his assault on the E.L., smacking HR #20 to go back into a tie with teammate Bill Rhinehart for the league lead as the Sens got nine runs on nine hits and went 5-for-11 with RISP in the win. Second-place Bowie is in town for the next three, hoping to chip away at the 4½ game lead the Sens have built with their 55-38 mark.

Lynchburg 5 Potomac 4
• Demny (L, 6-8) 6IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 4K, HR
• Wort 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Soriano 2-5, R, 2B, 2RBI
• Kobernus 2-5, RBI

A too-little-too-late offensive effort for the P-Nats Last Night In Woodbridge

Lexington 6 Hagerstown 2
• Grace 6IP, 6H, 1R, 0ER, 3BB, 6K
• Hanks (L, 0-1) 2IP, 6H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, K
• Keyes 2-3, 2R, 2B, BB, HR, RBI
• Martinson 2-4, 2B, RBI

Shortly after Kevin Keyes had bailed him out with a solo shot in the top of the 8th, Tyler Hanks was even less effective in the bottom of the 8th as the Lexington Legends battered him for five runs on six hits over the last two innings in a 6-2 win over the Hagerstown Suns. Matt Grace started and went the first six, allowing one unearned run on six hits and three walks while striking out three. Jason Martinson, David Freitas and Keyes each had two hits, but just one hit came from the rest of the lineup. With the loss, Hagerstown falls to 2½ games behind first-half champ Hickory in the Sally North with a 13-10 record.

Batavia 8 Auburn 3

• Rodriguez, M (L, 1-2) 4⅔ IP, 8H, 5R, 5ER, BB, 3K
• Ramsey 2-5
• Skole 2-4, R, BB

The Muckdogs pretty much had their way with whomever was on the mound, as they battered three Doubledays pitchers for 15 hits in 8-3 romp over Auburn. Manny Rodriguez took the most damage, allowing five runs on eight hits and a walk with three strikeouts, losing his second game of the season.
Caleb Ramsey, Matt Skole, and “Bowden’s Folly” each had two hits in the nine-hit offensive effort. The loss was the fourth straight for Auburn, evening the Doubleday record at 15-15, two games behind the trio of Batavia, Jamestown and Mahoning Valley in the Pinckney Division of the New York-Penn League.

GCL Nationals
Seems early to start referring to the elimination number, but with G-Marlins on an 8-game win streak and the G-Nats on a 7-game losing skid, it’s down to 25 with 33 games left to play and a nine-game deficit (6½ in the wild-card race) to overcome.

DSL Nationals
Just five games this week for the D-Nats, who are also looking at bleak prospects for postseason play — down six games in the division, eight games in the wild-card race.

Jul 182011

Two good innings of hitting weren’t enough to offset seven innings of bad as the Potomac Nationals saw their five-game win streak snapped with a 5-4 loss to the Lynchburg Hillcats.

Perhaps it was the hangover effect from facing a knuckleballer the night before. Journeyman Aaron Shafer simply wasn’t as good as his numbers might indicate, limiting the P-Nats to just four hits over the first seven innings. There seemed to be an unusual number of popups (5), particularly against a pitcher that wasn’t throwing especially hard.

The too-little, too-late effort made a loser out of Paul Demny, who pitched well enough to win: two runs on six hits (though one was home run #15 surrendered) and two walks against four strikeouts over six innings. On most nights, that would have been good enough to win.

Mitchell Clegg came on in the 7th and continues to be a decent pitcher on the road (3.58 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) and dreadful at home (7.94, 2.29). This despite showing an improved breaking pitch. He would go two innings, but one mistake (a three-run double) after a single, walk, and sacrifice-turned-hit loaded the bases and a near escape (strikeout, flyout to shallow center) would keep the trend going.

Curiously, the seventh also saw manager Matt LeCroy pull Destin Hood during the warmups and replace him with Cutter Dykstra, ostensibly a punishment for not running out the last out of the sixth, a high fly to left field. The last time such a thing happened (Eury Perez, July 1), the offender was benched for three games. Something to consider if Hood is out of the lineup tonight.

Potomac would rally for two runs in both the bottom of the 8th and 9th innings, pounding out five hits and drawing two walks but the five-run cushion built by Lynchburg would hold for the 5-4 win.

With the loss, Potomac drops into a first-place tie with Frederick at 14-9. Cameron Selik (2-6, 4.42) takes to the hill tonight, opposed by Lynchburg’s Chris Masters (5-4, 3.48).