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.

Apr 052014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Postponed vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
2:00 p.m.(DH)
Hill (1-0, 4.22 in ’13) and Tatusko (5-8, 4.33 in ’13) vs.
Whitley (3-2, 3.06 in ’13) and Stoneburner (4-6, 4.57 in ’13)
Harrisburg Lost, 9-0 @ Bowie, 6:35 p.m. Gilliam (3-6, 4.40 in ’13) vs. Berry (11-7, 3.85 @ A+ in ’13)
Potomac Won, 10-5 @ Carolina, 6:00 p.m. Mooneyham (0-3, 13.50 in ’13) vs. Merritt (0-0, 5.00 in ’13)
Hagerstown Won, 2-1 vs. Rome, 5:05 p.m. Giolito (1-0, 0.64 @ SS-A in ’13) vs. Salazar (0-3, 6.92 @ Rk. in ’13)


Scranton/Wilkes-Barre vs. Syracuse — PPD
With rain in the forecast and temps in the low 40s, officials pulled the plug on the Chiefs-RailRiders game approximately 90 minutes before gametime yesterday afternoon. It will be made up today with a doubleheader, um, weather permitting.

Bowie 9 Harrisburg 0
• Rivero (L, 0-1) 3+IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 2K
• Perry 3IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• Skole 0-3, BB, 2K
• Taylor 0-4, 4K

The BaySox jumped on Felipe Rivero for three runs in the 1st and never trailed as they shut out the Sens, 9-0. The Harrisburg southpaw settled down to hold off Bowie for two innings before getting lifted with no outs in the 4th after allowing his seventh and final hit. He walked one and struck out two. Ryan Perry stranded that runner and pitched two scoreless before getting knocked for four runs in the 5th. The lack of pitching was only exceeded by the dearth of hitting as the Senators managed just four hits and struck out 10 times (led by Michael Taylor with four) and walked just once (Matt Skole).

Potomac 10 Carolina 5
• Pena 3⅔ IP, 5H, 5R, 5ER, 4BB, 0K, WP
• Dupra (W, 1-0) 2⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 6K, 2-0 IR-S, 2WP
• Lee (H, 1) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 5K
• S. Perez 2-4, 2R, 2B
• Keyes 2-4, R, 2B, BB
• Renda 2-5, 2R, 2RBI, SB

Beginning with a three-run shot by backstop Pedro Severino, the P-Nats rallied from 5-0 to score ten unanswered runs and double up the Mudcats, 10-5. Potomac capitalized on seven walks issued to score ten times on just nine hits, with Stephen Perez, Kevin Keyes, and Tony Renda each having multiple hits. Mike McQuillan led the free-pass brigade with three BB’s. P-Nats starter Ronald Pena was roughed up for all five Carolina runs on five hits and four walks over three and 2/3rds innings. He fanned no one. Brian Dupra got the win in relief as the Potomac ‘pen struck out 13 (of 19 batters faced) while locking down Carolina for five and 1/3rd shutout innings.

Hagerstown 2 Rome 1
• Voth 5IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 7K
• Hollins (W, 1-0) 1⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K, 2-1 IR-S
• Bautista 2-4, 2B, 2RBI
• Difo 2-4, 2SB

Rafael Bautista’s two-out, two-run double to the right-center gap was the one moment that decided the game as the Suns walked off in the 9th with a 2-1 victory over the R-Braves. Austin Voth started and went the first five, tossing five shutout frames with just two hits and two walks allowed while striking out seven, matching Nick Pivetta’s line from the night before. L.J. Hollins got the win in relief by getting the last five outs, though he gave up the hit that plated the sole Rome run to score in the 8th. Bautista and Wilmer Difo both went 2-for-4 to lead the Hagerstown hit parade of seven, with Difo swiping two bases.

Apr 042014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-1 vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
5:00 p.m.
Hill (1-0, 4.22 in ’13) vs.
Whitley (3-2, 3.06 in ’13)
Harrisburg Lost, 12-6 @ Bowie,
6:35 p.m.
Rivero (9-7, 3.40 @ A+ in ’13)
vs. Wilson (7-5, 3.83 in ’13)
Potomac Lost, 6-3 @ Carolina,
7:00 p.m.
Pena (4-3, 3.48 @ A- in ’13) vs.
Peoples (1-4, 5.27 in ’13)
Hagerstown Won, 4-0 vs. Rome,
6:35 p.m.
Voth (1-0, 3.38 in ’13) vs.
Buchanan (0-0, 3.00 @ Adv-Rk. in ’13)


Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 4 Syracuse 1
• Rosenbaum (L, 0-1) 5IP, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 2K
• Stange 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• Solano 2-3, 2-2B,
• Walters 2-4, CS

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre scored in three of the first five innings to build a 4-0 lead over Syracuse and cruised to a 4-1 win. Danny Rosenbaum suffered the loss, giving up nine hits with four going for extra bases (three doubles, one triple) but walked one and struck out two. The Chiefs ‘pen uncoupled the RailRiders for four scoreless innings, led by newcomer Daniel Stange with two goose eggs. Jhonatan Solano doubled twice in three at-bats, while Eury Perez and Zach Walter both singled twice to lead the Syracuse offense.

Bowie 12 Harrisburg 6
• Schwartz (L, 0-1) 3⅓ IP, 8H, 8R, 6ER, 2BB, 0K, HR
• Holland 1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K, 2-1 IR-S
• Dykstra 3-5, R, E
• Taylor 2-4, 2R, BB, SB
• Canham 1-3, R, HR, RBI

A six-run 4th proved to be the difference as Bowie doubled up Harrisburg, 12-6. Blake Schwartz was charged with a career-worst eight runs over three and a 1/3rd inning on eight hits, including three-run bomb by Garabez Rosa, while walking two. The 24-y.o. Minnesota native struck out none. Michael Taylor and Cutter Dykstra picked up where they left off at the end of the 2013 regular season, reaching base six times and scoring three runs combined. Mitch Canham also homered as seven of the nine regulars hit safely for 11 hits as a team.

Carolina 6 Potomac 3
• Rauh 5IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 3K
• Dickson (L, 0-1) ⅔ IP, 2H, 4R, 4ER, BB, K, 2HBP
• Henke 1⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 2K, 3-2 IR-S
• Renda 2-4, R, 3B

Carolina snapped a 2-2 tie with a four-run 6th to hand Potomac and Ian Dickson the “L” by 6-3 tally. Brian Rauh got the start and gave up two runs on six hits and two walks while fanning three. Dickson retired two of the first three batters he faced before putting on four straight baserunners, leaving the game after a second hit by pitch that gave Carolina’s Ollie Linton the Homer Simpson RBI. Travis Henke was greeted with two-run double to complete the big inning. Tony Renda went 2-for-4 as the P-Nats registered eight hits, including triples by Randolph Oduber and Kevin Keyes.

Hagerstown 4 Rome 0
• Pivetta (W, 1-0) 5IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 7K
• Simms (SV, 1) 4IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Kieboom 3-3, 2R
• Ward 2-4, 2B, 3B, 2RBI

Nick Pivetta and John Simms combined for a five-hit shutout as Hagerstown got the sole minors win for Washington on Opening Day with a 4-0 shutout of Rome. Pivetta went the first five frames and gave up two hits and two walks and while striking out seven. Simms finished the game, allowing three singles, no walks, and set down four on strikes. Drew Ward would not settle for one, as the 19-y.o. doubled and tripled and drove in two while Spencer Kieboom scored twice and hit safely in all three ABs.

Apr 032014
 

Catching Up On Transactions
Rather than clutter tomorrow’s News & Notes with this many moves, here are the transactions that have come to our attention (yes, the daily games notes are coming in to the inbox again)…

SYRACUSE
• RHP Brad Meyers, C Brian Jeroloman, UT Josh Johnson placed on the 7-Day DL

HARRISBURG
• C Brandon Bantz assigned from Washington
• RHP Paul Demny, Rafael Martin reassigned from Potomac, placed on the 7-Day DL
• LHP Sammy Solis, placed on the 7-Day DL

POTOMAC
• 1B Shawn Pleffner reassigned from Hagerstown, placed on 7-Day DL

HAGERSTOWN
• LHP Kylin Turnbull, RHPs Wirkin Estevez, Cody Davis, OF Narciso Mesa placed on 7-Day DL

Apr 032014
 


It’s a full slate today for minor-league Opening Day — first time since 2010 — as the Chiefs host the RailRiders, the Senators visit the BaySox, the P-Nats visit the Mudcats, and the Suns host the R-Braves.

Well, weather permitting. As of this writing, it’s 27 degrees in Central NY with a first-pitch forecast of 44 degrees. There’s a 30% chance of rain in the late afternoon in Zebulon, a 40% chance at gametime in Bowie, and a 60% chance in Hagerstown.

Team Today’s Game Pitching Matchup (’13 Stats at Level)
Syracuse vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
2:00 p.m.
Danny Rosenbaum (7-11, 3.87) vs.
Bruce Billings (13-8, 4.31)
Harrisburg @ Bowie,
6:35 p.m.
Blake Schwartz (11-4, 2.65 at A+) vs.
Ed Rodriguez (4-3, 4.22)
Potomac @ Carolina,
7:00 p.m.
Brian Rauh (4-2, 4.22) vs.
Shawn Morimando (8-13, 3.73)
Hagerstown vs. Rome,
6:35 p.m.
Nick Pivetta (0-1, 3.38 @ SS-A) vs.
Francois Lefreniere (7-13, 5.36)


Just the annual reminder: These pitchers are not necessarily the team’s #1 starter. They are, within a slot or two, how the Nationals would like the starters to align from Low-A to MLB in the event of promotions or injuries.

Based on what I’ve been able to gather, here’s how the rest of the starting rotations will round out:

TEAM Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5
Syracuse Hill Tatusko Treinen Poveda
Harrisburg Rivero Gilliam Purke Cole
Potomac Pena Mooneyham Encarnacion Lee
Hagerstown Voth Giolito Silvestre Johansen


As semi-predicted in the P-Nats roster reveal, Pena and Rauh have indeed returned to starting, with Ian Dickson and Dakota Bacus returning to bullpen roles. It’s natural to speculate as to who “benefited” by Sammy Solis’s latest trip to the DL, but we’ll never know for sure (yes, I can be that certain; there’s no legitimate reason to ever tell anyone outside the organization that information).

As implied in the comments, these rotations are quite likely to be short-lived — if past history holds, four or five turns max before guys are shifted around, which of course, will be tracked in either separate posts like yesterday or in the daily News & Notes, which returns tomorrow

Apr 022014
 

After Sandy Leon was a no-show for the Mayflies Senators media day yesterday, it was no mystery as to which catcher on the Washington 40-man roster would get the call today. This afternoon, the Nationals officially placed C Wilson Ramos on the 15-Day DL and recalled Sandy Leon from Harrisburg.

In a related story, veteran minor-league catcher Brandon Bantz was signed to a minor-league deal today as well. Bantz spent 2013 with the Mariners organization, splitting time between AA Jackson and AAA Tacoma, with a one-game sojourn to Seattle last June 8th, which was his MLB debut. Combined, Bantz hit .219/.282/.307 in 59 minor-league games, but was released at the end of spring training this year.

Rotoworld.com is reporting that Bantz has been assigned to Syracuse, which is in line with previous catcher shuffles. If this turns out to be the case, journeyman Jeff Howell will be reassigned from the Chiefs to the Senators to take Leon’s place on the Harrisburg roster.

As always, if/when the corresponding moves are announced, this space will be updated.

Mar 312014
 

The Potomac Nationals unveiled its 2014 Opening Day this afternoon, which as per usual, will return quite a few familiar names. Without further ado, here’s the rundown (watchlist players in bold, notables in italics):

PITCHERS INFIELDERS OUTFIELDERS CATCHERS
Dakota Bacus Kevin Keyes Brandon Miller Cole Leonida
Robert Benincasa
Mike McQuillan Justin Miller Pedro Severino
Ian Dickson Stephen Perez
Randolph Oduber
Brian Dupra Tony Renda
Piwnica-Worms
Pedro Encarnacion Adrian Sanchez
Bryan Harper Oscar Tejeda
Travis Henke
Nick Lee
Gilberto Mendez
Brett Mooneyham
Ronald Pena
Brian Rauh
Derek Self


This more in line with past Potomac rosters, where there are some prospects, but not many high-profile ones (two Top 20 guys per BA in Renda and Severino) and a sizable chunk of guys repeating or returning — nine by my quick count here, with three (Keyes, Oduber, and Sanchez) coming back for their third season.

Eyeballing it, we’re looking at a (alphabetically) rotation of Bacus-Dickson-Encarnacion-Lee-Mooneyham unless Rauh and Pena are returned to a starting role, which is entirely possible since Bacus and Dickson have switched between starting and relieving.

As is always the case, if the Hagerstown core can pick up where they left off last season, the High-A veterans should offset any hiccups and make for a contender. If they can win the first half — a big IF, as it’s only happened twice in the last six seasons — a wave of callups from Western Maryland (especially the pitchers) could make for another fun summer and perhaps another title run.

Mar 312014
 

Well, it has been a long cold lonely winter, so here come the Suns* for 2014 (watchlist players in bold, notables in italics):
* Yes, I’ve been waiting awhile for the chance to drop that one

PITCHERS INFIELDERS OUTFIELDERS CATCHERS
Dixon Anderson Wilmer Difo Isaac Ballou Spencer Kieboom
Andrew Cooper David Masters Rafael Bautista Craig Manuel
Lucas Giolito Khayyan Norfork Estarlin Martinez
L.J. Hollins Drew Ward Wilman Rodriguez
Jake Johansen James Yezzo John Wooten
Nick Pivetta
Hector Silvestre
John Simms
Matthew Spann
Wander Suero
Justin Thomas
Austin Voth
Jake Walsh


Twenty of these 25 are on this site’s 2014 Watchlist, so by definition, this is a roster that will bear, um, watching — especially the pitchers. Headlined by Lucas Giolito, who it looks like I was wrong about (and happy for it) and will begin the season on the active roster, it would appear that he’ll be joined in the rotation by Jake Johansen, Austin Voth, and Nick Pivetta. Who the #5 guy will be appears to be the biggest mystery, with Hector Silvestre, Matthew Spann, and Dixon Anderson all candidates.

Silvestre will be joined by Wander Suero and Jake Walsh from the 2013 GCL Champs, with Rafael Bautista and Drew Ward bypassing Auburn. That’s perhaps not as many as some had hoped, but it’s roughly what I thought it would be (especially for Ward).

Busy day… finally, the P-Nats.

Mar 312014
 

Coming on the heels (i.e. roughly 29 minutes later) of the Senators announcement, the Syracuse Chiefs also announced its 2014 Opening Day roster (watchlist players in bold, notables in italics):

PITCHERS INFIELDERS OUTFIELDERS CATCHERS
Xavier Cedeno Emmanuel Burriss Brian Goodwin Jeff Howell
Manny Delcarmen Brandon Laird Jeff Kobernus Jhonatan Solano
Christian Garcia Brock Peterson Tyler Moore
Taylor Hill Will Rhymes Eury Perez
Warner Madrigal Zach Walters Steve Souza
Ryan Mattheus
Omar Poveda
Tyler Roberston
Josh Roenicke
Danny Rosenbaum
Daniel Stange
Ryan Tatusko
Blake Treinen


As has become common in AAA, there are a lot of new faces on this team. Yes, there are 14 players who played here at some point last year, but only about seven of them had any significant playing time. Eight of these 25 were acquired this past offseason, and just nine of these players were drafted by the Nationals.

Last year, it was the infield. This year, all eyes will be on the (listed) outfield(ers), and on Brian Goodwin and Steve Souza in particular. Despite Perez being the superior fielder, he’ll most likely spend time in left field to give Goodwin developmental time, and all signs point to Souza continuing to work in right field (130 of 151 games in the OF).

Obviously, Moore and Kobernus will be plugged in at 1B and 2B respectively as well as LF and DH to keep them ready for a possible callup to DC where they’d most likely be used as bench players

The Chiefs have announced a starting rotation of Rosenbaum, Tatuskso, Treinen, Hill, and Poveda. If you’re wondering where Sammy Solis is, so am I — none of the affiliates have announced their DLs yet.

On to the Suns…

Mar 312014
 

As it has been historically, the Harrisburg Senators were the first of the four full-season affiliates to release their 2014 Opening Day Roster (2014 watchlist players in bold, 2014 notables in italics):

PITCHERS INFIELDERS OUTFIELDERS CATCHERS
Gabriel Alfaro Justin Bloxom Destin Hood Mitch Canham
Colin Bates Cutter Dykstra Caleb Ramsey Sandy Leon
A.J. Cole Ricky Hague Michael Taylor
Rob Gilliam Jason Martinson Drew Vettleson
Matt Grace Sean Nicol
Tyler Herron Matt Skole
Neil Holland
Zach Jackson
Richie Mirowksi
Ryan Perry
Matt Purke
Felipe Rivero
Blake Schwartz


As it should be, this is a roster laden with the organization’s top talent — 17 of the 25 are on this site’s 2014 Watchlist along three of the Baseball America Top 10 prospects (Cole, Skole, & Taylor) and three more that were ranked in the Top 20 for the Nationals (Purke) and Tampa Bay (Rivero & Vettleson).

Busy day today, so I’m off to write up the next roster release…

Mar 302014
 

Transactions for NPP
While we patiently await the finalization of the four full-season rosters, here are few more transactions to pass along (H/T to Springfield Fan):

  • OF Wander Ramos released (Hagerstown)
  • UT Francisco Soriano released (Potomac)
  • LHP Christian Meza released (Hagerstown)

Obviously, the jettison of “Help Me” is a bit of a shock (though it could just be yet another misjudgement of a DR guy) but it’s hard to say the same of Soriano, who’d stalled at High-A, and Meza, who hit the wall at High-A.

I’m expecting another transaction post from BA today, so if there are any other notable moves this space will be updated.

UPDATE #1
Late Saturday afternoon, the Nationals signed lefty Aaron Laffey to a minor-league deal after the Cumberland, MD native was released by the Orioles. Late this afternoon, the Nationals acquired righty Omar Poveda from the White Sox for “cash considerations.”

Laffey, who turns 29 next month, has bounced around several organizations since being traded away from Cleveland to Seattle in the spring of 2011 and has surpassed 100 innings at the MLB level just twice (2009, 2012). He spent most of 2013 at the AAA level, pitching 110⅔ innings for the AAA affiliates of the Dodgers and Brewers, after getting released by the Mets after four lackluster appearances last April and the Blue Jays after one.

Poveda signed with Texas as a 17-y.o. in 2005 and rose to AAA by age 21 in 2009 before developing Nationals elbow and undergoing UCL replacement in 2010. He pitched for Florida’s AA affiliate in 2011, split time between Jacksonville (AA) and New Oleans (AAA) for the Marlins in 2012, and spent all of 2013 (164IP) pitching for Atlanta’s AAA farm club in Gwinnett. He turns 27 in September.

Both pitchers are candidates to pitch for the Syracuse Chiefs in 2014, the rosters for which are expected to be released Monday or Tuesday.

UPDATE #2
BA posted its latest transactions post, “End of Spring Avalanche,” which included the following releases that were previously unreported:

  • RHP Kelvin Perez (offseason pickup)
  • IF Mike Fontenot (offseason pickup)
  • IF Drew Rossi (offseason pickup)
  • OF Joe Dunigan (offseason pickup)
  • C Chris Snyder (offseason re-sign)