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.

Oct 202015

Arizona Fall League #2
Salt River won for the third time in four games, taking a 2-1 decision from Surpriseyesterday afternoon.

Spencer Kieboom and Christopher Bostick were in among the starting nine for the Rafters. Kieboom ended his hitlessness with a leadoff single in the 4th as he went 1-for-4 overall while batting fifth. He was unsuccessful in denying two stolen base attempts but played error-free behind the plate.

Bostick played second base and had just one defensive chance, a lineout in the 6th. At the plate, he went 0-for-3 with a whiff and a GIDP.

The two teams switch venues this afternoon.

# # #

Byron Kerr is reporting that Wirkin Estevez has been added to the Rafters’ taxi squad, making him eligible to pitch twice a week — Wednesdays and Saturdays — and helping him live up to the very bad nickname “For The Weekend.”

Oct 172015

With yesterday’s game between Salt River and Peoria rained out, we turn to the weekly post to fill the time…

Again, still quiet on this front — just the election by Emmanuel Burris for free agency, a move that will only shock the MASN Commenters of the Natmosphere.

Trea Turner, who was the #4 guy in the Texas League after 58 games, was also #4 in the International League despite having played just 48 games there. Turner is obviously an unusual case and will be expected to take over the starting SS duties from Ian Desmond in 2016. As we saw this year, the Nats aren’t afraid to go with rookies who have graduated AA. It should prove to be interesting, however, should Turner struggle in the spring while incumbent infielders do well.

The four-year run of winning baseball and three-year streak of making the playoffs ended with a sub-.500 campaign of 68-70 — 35-33 in the first half, 33-37 in the second. The Suns’ status as the worst draw in the Sally League continued, though the claimed attendance improved nearly 10% [insert joke about extra Thirsty Thursday here] from 979 to 1,073 per date. The next-worst team averaged 1,962. SSDY.

The offense was slightly better than the league average (4.49 R/G vs. 4.39) but the pitching was worse: 4.70 vs. 4.39. The team was fourth in defense on the basis of fewest errors and fielding percentage, while the catchers were tops in the league at CS% at 38% – 3% better than the second-best team. Like many of the teams reviewed thus far, the contingent from the D.R. helped to offset the older players, but as a team they were older than the league average for both bats (22.5 vs. 21.5) and arms (22.4 v. 22.0).

Now, for the comment, Top 5’s:

1. Jose Marmolejos-Diaz, 1B, .285 GPA, 11HR, 87RBI 1. Austen Williams, RHP, 2.10/2.81/1.10, 4.5 K:BB ratio
2. Bryan Mejia, 2B, .305 GPA, .924OPS 2. Andrew Lee, RHP, 2.15/2.19/0.92, 10.43K/9IP
3. Osvlado Abreu, SS/2B, .264 GPA, 30SB, 30E 3. Koda Glover, RHP, 2.25/2.19/0.92, 10.13K/9IP
4. Andrew Stevenson, CF, .239 GPA, 16K in 35G 4. Philip Valdez, RHP, 1.47/4.08/0.93, .189 OBA
5. Alec Keller, RF/CF, .255 GPA, .995FA overall 5. Connor Bach, LHP, 3.85/4.08/1.49, 5.65 BB/9IP

Honorable mention to Andrew Stevenson, who put up a .242GPA in 35 games as a 21-year-old in his first pro season. For the pitchers, there just wasn’t one who had both good production and was closer to 22 than 26. For those who’d like to see the full team stats, click here.

Oct 162015

Arizona Fall League #5
Christopher Bostick homered twice and drove in four as the Salt River Rafters outslugged the Peoria Javelinas, 9-7.

Bostick also singled to go 3-for-4 on the afternoon with two runs scored. He batted ninth and played second base, taking part in two double plays.

The outburst helped make a winnier out of John Simms, who let in a run on three hits and a walk over three innings. Simms struck out two and threw 45 pitches, 25 for strikes.

The two teams rematch tonight in Salt River, which will also host a glorified HR derby the Bowman Hitting Challenge tomorrow night.

Oct 152015

Arizona Fall League #6
Scottdale scored six runs in each of the first two innings en route to a 13-3 demolition of Salt River last night.

Drew Ward and Spencer Kieboom both made their first starts — at 3B and C, natch — but were both hitless. Ward drew two walks, struck out once, and hit into a double play in an 0-for-2 night. Kieboom walked once and was picked off second while going 0-for-3.

Defensively, Ward had two assists and made no errors while Kieboom recorded 10 putouts (all K’s).

Nick Lee appeared in relief and went two innings, but put on four baserunners with a hit and three walks. He struck out two with 21 of his 40 pitches going for strikes.

Salt River remains on the road — like it really matters — for an afternoon tilt in Peoria. As noted in the comments, Byron Kerr is reporting that John Simms is scheduled to pitch three innings in relief.

Oct 142015

Arizona Fall League #1
The 2015 AFL season began for the Salt River Rafters with a 5-3 win over the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Just two Nationals saw game action: Christopher Bostick and Dakota Bacus.

Bostick got the start at 2B and batted ninth. He went 0-for-4, but scored a run in the 5th as he beat out a double-play ball to get on base, stole second and third base, then came in on an two-out single. Defensively, he had two assists and no errors.

Bacus pitched the top of the 8th and set the side down in order on two strikeouts and a groundout. He threw 18 pitches, nine for strikes and earned the hold.

The two teams rematch tonight in Scottsdale.

# # #

John Simms is the lone starting pitcher for the Nationals on this year’s AFL squad but is not listed among the next two probables for Salt River. Abel De Los Santos and Nick Lee round out the moundsmen for Washington while Spencer Kieboom and Drew Ward are the other two position players. Just a fair warning that many of the updates could be short and sweet. Lee Magenheim has been in touch with me and will be sending in pictures as he has the past few seasons.

Oct 102015

It’s been an interesting week to say the least. And as much as I’d like to say there’s been a lot of news, if you look more closely, there’s a hell of a lot more smoke than fire. The entire Nats coaching staff — many of whom have been mainstays in the organization before the current GM assumed his role — was “informed their contracts would not be renewed” while the Nats have reportedly “offered several jobs to several of our former major league coaches in our system.”

I’d like to know which coaches were offered which jobs. Not that for a minute would I actually believe that Rizzo or the Nationals would answer that directly or honestly, but it would nice if somebody, somewhere would ask such an obvious (and necessary) question. Maybe it was asked, but I doubt it.


Perhaps biggest “news” is that Trea Turner won’t be playing on the taxi squad after all. This never made much sense and sounds like a (yet another) tone-deaf PR maneuver. Meanwhile, Christopher Bostick replaces Wilmer Difo, who was injured last weekend. Games start up on Tuesday the 13th.

Three Nats made the Carolina League Top 20: Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Austen Williams. Not much argument about Giolito, but the previous accolades and perhaps a weak year seems to account for the picks of Lopez and Williams respectively. Giolito as the top dog in the Eastern League also reeks of laziness, as does the naming of Joe Ross — who is no longer an MLB rookie — at No. 8.

Let me be clear: I’m criticizing Baseball America here. Yes, we get that Giolito is a great talent, but double-dipping means that another guy elsewhere doesn’t get named. And a pitcher that made 13 starts for a second-place team might be a major-leaguer someday?
Even F.P. Santangelo could make that call.

Still fairly slow, as P.J. Walters was re-signed. That’s it.

A look over the rosters of the Venezuelan Winter League, which started up on the 7th, has turned up two pitchers and two position players who were with the organization at the end of the 2015 season:

  • Reegie Corona
  • Mario Lisson
  • Paolo Espino
  • Mario Sanchez

So far, no Nationals have been listed on the Mexican Pacific League teams, which began last night.

In 2011 and 2012, the Doubldays were contenders to win the NYPL league. In 2013, they bottomed out with the league’s worst record and worst pitching. The past two seasons, it’s been a slow climb to the .500 mark. It’s worth noting that the first two teams were among the league’s oldest while the last three have been edging towards the average, falling below this year (20.6 vs. 21.1 for bats; 21.1 vs. 21.3 for arms) with the influx of more players from the D.R.

Just two of the seven Washington affiliates surpassed the league average runs scored per game. Not coincidentally, both clubs — Auburn and Hagerstown — were the closest to a winning record. Funny how that works. The Doubledays scored 4.82 R/G (vs. 4.25), which was good for second-best in the league. The pitching and defense let in 4.88 R/G which was third-worst in both categories. Thus, the 36-38 mark is only one off from the Pythagorean projection (for the folks who still mindlessly lament the “collapse” of the 2005 parent club, look at the second paragraph under “Justification”) of 37-37.

Before I unveil the Top 5’s, a note: I’m not listing Victor Robles twice, even though he was head and shoulders above the rest (.311 GPA). If that doesn’t make sense, re-read “BA Top Prospects” above 😉

1. Max Schrock, 2B/SS, .272 GPA, .308 BA 1. Erick Fedde, RHP, 2.57/2.60/1.31, 9.26 K/9IP
2. Dalton Dulin, 2B, .273 GPA, .410 OBP 2. Mariano Rivera III, RHP, 5.45/2.70/1.64, 0.82BB/9
3. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B, .265 GPA, 21 doubles in 62G 3. Tommy Peterson, RHP, 2.66/2.83/1.23, 1.8 BB/9
4. Edwin Lora, SS, .238 GPA, .414 SLG% 4. Taylor Guilbeau, LHP, 3.88/2.89/1.39, 1.6 BB/9
5. David Kerian, 1B, .236 GPA, .995 FA 5. Grant Borne, LHP, 3.59/2.99/1.26, 1.3 BB/9

Honorable mentions to Rhett Wiseman and Matt Crownover; the former was just a tick below Kerian, the latter because he finished very strong — 2.22 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in August. And it pained me to have to include Mariano Rivera III because I am really not a fan of legacy picks (*cough* Shane McCatty *cough*) but like Crownover, getting pounded early skewed his stats.

This is why I like FIP and include it as a “pitcher’s triple slash” because it’s less volatile. Indeed, you’ll see that a lot of the pitchers listed had one thing in common: they didn’t issue walks. We can complain that they didn’t strike out many, either, but that’s a conversation for the comments section.

As always, folks who want to see the numbers for the full team can find them here.

Oct 032015

Rained-Out-2014There’s still more than a week to go before the Arizona Fall League starts up, while the hot mess that is the 2015 Washington Nationals limps to a finish.

As much as I’d like to keep the focus on the minor-leaguers, times like these I understand why people want to discuss the parent club. It’s certainly better than in the days of the Nationals Farm Authority, where there was a sizable contingent of folks who only came to whine and campaign for replacements for the product in D.C. and bitch about the perceived lack of spending [Insert remark about Papelbon salary with rhetorical question here].

For what it’s worth, I too, worry that the proverbial window is closing and that Rizzo might not be able to trade his way out of “cleanse the palate” season (or three). But that’s as much as I think I should write about that; I’d like to shift back to why we’re here: to follow the paths of the future Nationals (and/or trade bait ;-)…

Speaking of trade bait, shortly after last week’s post went to virtual press, the Nationals announced the 2015 Organizational Awards with Jose “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz earning the Player of the Year, Austin Voth was tabbed as the Pitcher of the Year, and Austen Williams earned the third annual Bob Boone Award. For the folks not on the inside joke, take a look at that link and scroll down: Eight of the last 17 award winners have been traded.

As expected, no Nationals made the South Atlantic League Top 20 or were referenced in its “In A Box” feature. The home office in Durham, NC chose to do the Florida State League ahead of the Carolina League, so the adulation for Lucas Giolito will have to wait until next week.

As usual, it’s pretty quiet on this front: one pitcher re-signing (Justin Amlung) another getting cut loose (Manny Rodriguez). With the free agency period starting in roughly five weeks, we may see one or two more guys re-up rather than test the waters.

For the fifth time in the last six seasons, the G-Nats finished fourth with a 24-34 record. Like most of the affiliates, they had league-average pitching (4.00 R/G vs. 3.99) and were below-average offensively (3.59 R/G). Defensively, they were a shade better (.966FA vs. .964). This is where I also remind you to not get too excited or too depressed: short-season baseball = small sample size, not to mention the bevy of pitchers recuperating from Nationals elbow.

Without further ado…

1. Victor Robles, CF, .358 GPA, 12SB in 23G 1. Matt DeRosier, RHP, 1.29/2.21/0.90, 9.4 K/9
2. Telmito Agustin, LF, .278 GPA, .446 SLG% 2. Joan Baez, RHP, 2.13/2.67/1.18, 6.6 H/9IP
3. Anderson Franco, 3B, .259 GPA, 4HR in 43G 3. Rocky Harmening, RHP, 2.86/3.26/1.14, 4:1 K:BB ratio
4. Darryl Florentino, OF, .267 GPA, .329 BA 4. Brayan Serrata, RHP, 1.80/3.26/1.35, converted from C
5. Oliver Ortiz, 1B-OF, .226 GPA, .982 FA at 1B 5. Maximo Valerio, RHP, 1.72/3.36/0.98, 88.8 LOB%

There were three players that were statistically better than 19-y.o. Ortiz, who was repeating the level, but all three were significantly older (~22 y.o.) Thus, no honorable mentions. Three of the top five pitchers were also on a subsequent tour, but unlike the 2014 staff, they were at or below league-average in terms of FIP. Folks who are interested in seeing the entire team’s stats, should click here.

Sep 252015

Now I can follow last year’s digital size 13’s, so here goes…


All seven affiliates had losing records and missed the playoffs. Obviously, that’s not the only measuring stick or even the most important one. But I’ve long felt that the reflexive, “stats are meaningless in the minors” trope by baseball folks to be disingenuous. I’m sure many of you had this reaction at least three times a week when looking at the daily rundown. Like a taxi on a rainy night, offense (age-appropriate or not) was hard to find. A lot of you are pinning your hopes on the influx of talent from the D.R. and I have little reason to disagree.

Victor Robles was named the #2 prospect in both the GCL and the NYPL (remember Baseball America loves to double-dip) and was joined by Erick Fedde (#4). That, of course, means there’s a small chance that Fedde will make the cut for the Sally Lg., too. Aside from Lucas Giolito, I have little confidence we’ll see many more.

The logical inference from the previous two items is that the watchlist has become a depth chart. This has always been my worst fear, and it makes me less interested in creating a 2016 edition. This is not necessarily a result of a disappointing season; a year ago I wrote that I knew the list will become smaller and less comprehensive, but I was hoping not to scrap it altogether. Perhaps I’ll feel differently in a few weeks, or someone can make a case in the comments for a way to preserve this.

After years of being one of — if not the — oldest teams in the DSL, the 2015 edition had the youngest set of position players in the league (average age: 17.6 vs. 18.3) and the fourth-youngest pitching staff (18.3 vs. 19.0). But being young is only a part of the equation; were they any good? In the 38-team DSL, the bats were 29th (4.46 R/G vs. 5.02) and the arms were 33rd (5.74). The defense was also below average with a .947FA (.952).

So, no, not really.

The million-peso question is how many of these guys will repeat, with the follow-up of how many will be let go. We won’t know until next May. But the hope is that those that do repeat — and are still age-appropriate — will improve dramatically.

Without further ado…

1. Aldrem Corredor, 1B/OF, .289 GPA, 39 BB 1. Pedro Avila, RHSP, 2.26/1.87/1.06, 13.1 K/9
2. Luis Perdomo, LF, .275 GPA, 16 2B 2. Francys Peguero, RHRP, 1.82/1.99/0.84, 13.5 K/9
3. Edwin Ventura, RF, .265 GPA, 15SB 3. Yonathan Ramirez, LHSP, 2.75/2.91/1.12, 1.7 BB/9
4. Roberto Medina, C, .278 GPA, .442SLG% (34G) 3. Gilbert Chu, RHRP, 2.55/2.90/1.09, 11.0 K/9
5. Juan Evangelista, CF, .258 GPA, 108 TB 5. Warner Duran, RHRP, 2.67/2.35/1.22, 0HR in 33⅔ IP


Honorable mentions go to 17-y.o. Omar Meregildo, who led the team in slugging at .443 (but also faded badly, .450 OPS in August vs. .643 in July and .885 in June) and 18-y.o. RHRP Angel Guillen, who had a very respectable 3.02 FIP and an extremely unlucky .423 BABIP, which can be obscured by his ERA (6.08) and H/9IP (10.8). Folks interested in seeing the entire team’s stats can find them here.

Sep 172015

Uninspired for NPP
We’re in a weird place right now. Whenever I would hit a lull like this, I would quite literally see what I posted this time a year ago. Well, can’t really do that since a year ago today I made the decision to dial back (if not off) this site.

I appreciated the kind thoughts at the season’s end. I’ve also appreciated the break from the daily grind over the last week and a half. So even though I plan to resume covering the Arizona Fall League — which doesn’t start for nearly a month — I will need to resist the temptation to do more than that.

Hence, today’s post to reset the hot stove comments and let folks know we’re still here; we’re just back to weekly (or semi-weekly) posts.

Now, for a couple quick hits…

• For those that missed it, Byron Kerr posted a list of who’s been assigned to the Fall Instructional League. Like the Rule 5 Draft, this mole hill becomes a mountain when the parent club isn’t doing well and we’re desperate for discussion fodder. The first year of this site a commenter broke it down. Five years later, I see little reason to disagree.

• Our Hagerstown guy has his takes on the Suns’ hitters and Suns’ pitchers. The only thing I have to add or object to is the characterization of Raudy Read’s defense as being anything other than subpar. The kid can hit, but a catcher he is not.

Until next time…