AFL Update: Oct. 21, 2016

afl-jake-johansen-10-20-16A two-out steal of third in the bottom of the 8th changed from dumb baserunning to a genius move when the Mesa catcher threw it away. That proved to be the gamewinner in a 3-2 win by Glendale that snapped a five-game losing streak.

It also made a winner out of Ryan Brinley, who pitched two perfect innings in the 7th and 8th with two strikeouts. He threw 20 pitches, 13 for strikes to maintain his 0.00 fall ERA.

Jake Johansen (pictured) also made a relief appearance, pitching a scoreless inning and 2/3rds. He stranded a runner in the 4th and worked around an error in the 5th. He walked one and struck none on 22 pitches (nine strikes).

Two Nats position players played:

• Osvaldo Abreu led off and played shortstop, but went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He committed the aforementioned error, but also took part in two double plays
• Drew Ward played 1B and made nine putouts without an error in the field while going 1-for-4 with two strikeouts at the plate.

The Desert Dogs finish the week with a pair of afternoon road games in Peoria today and Surprise tomorrow.

AFL Update: Oct. 20, 2016

andrew-stevenson-10-19-16The Desert Dogs rallied to tie with a two-spot in the 5th but had no answer for the Rafters’ two-run rally in the 7th as they dropped their fifth straight, 4-2.

Drew Ward and Andrew Stevenson were among the starters while Nick Lee appeared in relief.

Ward batted second and played 3B and reached base twice with a walk and an RBI single while striking out once in four plate appearances. In the field, he made two assists and did not commit an error.

Stevenson batted ninth and played LF. He bunted his way on (pictured) in the 3rd and stole second, doubled in the 5th with two outs, then scored on leadoff man Ramon Laureano’s double. Defensively, he made two putouts, including a crash into LF fence in foul territory to end the 5th.

Lee was the first man out of the Glendale ‘pen and worked around an infield single for a scoreless inning of work. He threw 11 pitches, six for strikes and did not walk a batter.

The Desert Dogs stay at home for an afternoon game today against the Solar Sox.

AFL Update: Oct. 19, 2016

Arizona-Fall-League-#7It was a very light night for the Nationals prospects in Glendale’s 6-3 loss to Peoria.

Just one player appeared: Osvaldo Abreu.

The 22-y.o. Dominican started at shortstop and batted ninth. He went 1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored, a stolen base, and a strikeout. Defensively, Abreu had just two assists and no errors.

It was the fourth straight loss for the Desert Dogs, who host the River Rafters tonight.

AFL Update: Oct. 18, 2016

austin-voth-10-17-16The Desert Dogs got good pitching from the starter, the first man out of the ‘pen, and the last man out of the ‘pen.

In between? Not so much as Peoria overcame a 3-1 deficit with four runs in the final three innings to beat Glendale, 5-4.

Austin Voth (pictured) made his second start and was much more effective, giving up one run (albeit on a home run) on two hits and no walks over four innings. He struck out seven and threw 57 pitches, 39 for strikes.

Jake Johansen followed and tossed two scoreless innings with two hits allowed and no walks or whiffs. He threw 31 pitches, 19 for strikes.

Ryan Brinley was the last reliever to appear, coming on with two outs in the 9th with the bases loaded. He left ’em that way as he retired the only batter he faced with a grounder to Drew Ward, who tossed across the diamond for the third out and his fourth assist.

At the plate, Ward reached base twice with a leadoff walk in the 4th and an RBI single in the 6th. He also grounded out and struck out looking and committed an error in the top of the 9th. He was the only Nationals position player to appear in the game.

The loss drops the Desert Dogs to 2-4 on the season. The two teams will rematch and switch venues for a night game in Peoria.

AFL Update: Oct. 16, 2016

nick-lee-afl-10-15-16Scottsdale put up a four-spot in the 1st and never looked back as they defeated Glendale, 9-4 yesterday afternoon.

Drew Ward and Osvaldo Abreu both started and comprised the Desert Dogs’ left side of the infield at third and shortstop, respectively. Andrew Stevenson got the nod in right field (it’s a developmental league, kids).

Ward, who batted third, remains red-hot as he reached base three times with a double and two walks. He was busy at the hot corner, making four assists without an error.

Abreu batted eighth and went 1-for-4 with a strikeout. In the field, he had two assists and turned a double play.

Stevenson singled in a run and stole a base but struck out twice in four trips to the plate. He had one putout on defense.

Nick Lee (↑↑ if you haven’t figured out yet ↑↑) made his second appearance with an up-and-down inning: one unearned run allowed on one hit and two walks while striking out one. He threw 26 pitches, 10 for strikes.

Glendale is now 2-3 and has today off. They’ll start back up tomorrow afternoon as they host Peoria.

AFL/Offseason Update: Oct. 15, 2016

andrew-stevenson-10-14-16It was a light night for the Nats in last night’s 8-7 loss by Glendale to Scottsdale.

Andrew Stevenson was the only prospect to appear, as the 22-y.o. started, batted ninth, and played left field for the Desert Dogs. At the plate, he went 0-for-4 while grounding into a double play. In the field, he had two putouts and fielded four singles.

The loss drops Glendale to .500 with a 2-2 mark. They’ll close out Week 1 with a home game this afternoon against Salt River.
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BA TOP PROSPECT LISTS

Despite having exhausted his rookie eligibility – the generally accepted, least arbitrary way to end prospect status – Baseball America continued its practice of ignoring this standard when it suits them to name Trea Turner the #1 “prospect” in the International League. A.J. Cole, who turns 25 in January, came in at #20.

TRANSACTION UPDATE
Still the slow season as folks await the World Series to end for full-fledged free agency to begin…
• Signed – OF Yadiel Hernandez (scouting report)
• Re-signed – IF Adrian Sanchez
• Released – RHP Bronson Arroyo

WINTER LEAGUE SIGHTINGS
It’s too early to list any stats, but for those desperate for something to talk about…
• Mexico – 1B-3B Matt Skole,
• Venezuela – RHPs Mitch Lively, Greg Ross, and Boone Whiting

THE HAGERSTOWN SUNS

We’re now in the full-season territory, where the sample sizes are larger and (Auburn excepted) there’s some actual local media coverage. I have a spy in Hagerstown, who has made posts about the Suns hitters and pitchers upon my request.

Disclosure: Shawn is not a fan of Washington teams, which is perfectly fine because only the Nielsen folks consider Western Maryland part of the DC-Baltimore market. I can relate, having grown up in Western Massachusetts, where some folks were fans of NY teams (particularly in football and hockey, thanks to Hartford and its top AHL team being in Springfield) because that’s who you could see if you didn’t have cable TV.

The Suns got back on the horse and played winning baseball from wire-to-wire, winning the first half by slimmest possible margin (½ game) and finishing second in the second half by five games to the Blue Claws, who swept them in the first round, two games to none.

Hagerstown was the #1 offense in the Sally League (4.77 R/G), buoyed by the likes of Victor Robles and Max “For Those About To” Schrock, and got league-average pitching from a mixed bag of pitchers and league-average defense (one interesting caveat: Hagerstown allowed the least number of stolen bases while throwing out 35% of those that did attempt to steal).

Now, for the obligatory Top 5’s…

TOP 5 BATS TOP 5 ARMS
1. Victor Robles, CF
.297 GPA, .459 SLG%
1. Jorge Pantoja, RHRP
2.63/2.67/1.15, 1.65 BB/9
2. Max Schrock, 2B
.286 GPA, 22BB, 20K in 67G
2. Tommy Peterson, RHRP
2.11/2.85/0.89, 0.70 BB/9
3. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B
.259 GPA, 19SB in 96G
3. Grant Borne, LHRP
3.34/3.35/1.20, 4.18 K:BB ratio
4. Austin Davidson, 3B/2B
.283 GPA, .473 SLG%
4. Andrew Lee, RHSP
3.71/3.15/1.24, 1HR in 51 IP
5. Ian Sagdal, 2B
.281 GPA, .303 BA, 30 doubles
5. Taylor Guilbeau, LHP
3.61/3.15/1.32, 8.3 K/9

Obviously, I’m probably giving short shrift to Rhett Wiseman again, but I also thought it’d be specious to skip over Schrock simply because he’s no longer in the organization. Had I gotten to see him in person, perhaps I might have slotted him ahead of the older, less talented players, i.e. like I did with Gutierrez.

It’s also worth noting that the tilt towards relievers on this list is an argument regarding performance vs. potential. The Nats kept giving the ball to the Dominican trio of Joan Baez, Jefry Rodriguez, and Pedro Avila—who started 72 games and went 23-25, 4.17 ERA combined—for a reason.

Again, this where we need to remind ourselves that development is the goal, and winning is nice but not necessary. As always, folks interested in seeing the full stats, are directed here.

AFL Update: Oct. 14, 2016

osvaldo-abreu-10-12-16Osvaldo Abreu connected for a two-run double in the 9th (how novel) for 5-4 Desert Dogs walkoff win over the Scorpions.

Abreu (pictured from earlier this week) drove in three total with an RBI single in the 7th and finished the game 2-for-4. He started and batted eighth, but did make an error at shortstop on a missed catch.

To his right (on the field), Drew Ward played third base and and singled twice in four trips to the plate. He was caught stealing and fanned once, but made two assists (Abreu had three).

Two Nats relievers appeared in the game. Ryan Brinley came on with one out in the 5th and retired all five batters he faced over the next inning and 2/3rds, including two by way of the K.

Jake Johansen followed Brinley in the 7th and worked around a two-out single. He was not as fortunate in the 8th, as he loaded the bases with three singles and let in the fourth Surprise run with a sacrifice fly. He finished with a line of one run allowed on four hits over two innings with no walks and two whiffs.

The two teams play again tonight, with Glendale playing host. The Desert Dogs are now 2-1 and are tied for 1st place in the AFL west, percentage points behind the unbeaten (but twice tied) Peoria Javelinas (yeah, that does sound weird).

AFL Update: Oct. 13, 2016

andrew-stevenson-10-12-16Powered by Andrew Stevenson’s five RBI, the Glendale Desert Dogs eclipsed the Mesa Solar Sox, 7-1 to take their first AFL contest of 2016.

The 22-y.o. Louisiana native homered in the 1st (pictured), hit a sac fly in the 3rd, and drove in two with a single in the 9th as he went 2-for-4 in his AFL debut. He batted second and played in LF, where he had no defensive chances.

Nick Lee was the only other National to appear. The longtime lefty (both for the Nationals and, presumably, since birth) allowed a leadoff double and walked two over two scoreless innings.

As noted in the comments, Osvaldo Abreu did play on Tuesday, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Our copyeditor has been informed.

The Desert Dogs host the Saguaros tonight in Game Three of 32.

AFL Update: Oct. 12, 2016

drew-ward-10-11-16The 2016 AFL campaign begun on down note as the Scottsdale Scorpions scored in each of the first three innings against Austin Voth en route to a 9-6 win over the Glendale Desert Dogs.

Voth was stung for five runs on five hits and two walks over two and 2/3rds innings. He threw 58 pitches, 33 for strikes and struck out two.

Drew Ward (pictured) was the sole National position player to see game action. He started at 3B and batted seventh and went 1-for-3 with a strikeout. He was lifted in the top of the 8th but made no errors on defense and had two assists.

In obligatory SEO news, ESPN mancrush Tim Tebow went 0-for-3 for Scottsdale and did not hit the ball out of the infield.

Glendale visits Mesa this afternoon before returning home for a night game on Thursday.

AFL Begins Play

10-8-16-drew-wardThe minors beat picks back up with the start of the Arizona Fall League, which begins today for the Washington contingent as the Glendale Desert Dogs host the Scottsdale Scorpions.

The AFL site is not listing any probables, so we don’t know when the lone starter (Austin Voth) is going to pitch. For the non-diehards: we can probably expect one or two Nats to start each day and for one of the relievers to appear every other day.

I know there’s not as many of you stopping by each day, but for a little we can have a semblance of the morning routine back for a few weeks.
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For those who are fans of the most local Nats affiliate (*ahem*), we’re starting to get some idea as to how the new world order will shake out, thanks to the Frederick Keys’ press release yesterday.

While we still don’t know the name of the team that will play in Kinston—though we do know we might be looking at one of the worst names since the New Hampshire Primaries—and where the Fayetteville-area team will play in 2017, it would appear the Carolina League is finally going to have an unbalanced schedule.

Granted, this may be a one-year exception due to the Fayetteville entry perhaps functioning as a traveling team for 2017 – the bevy of games between Frederick, Potomac, and Wilmington is not unlike Hagerstown, Delmarva, and Lakewood in the Sally League. It would appear that there will be a similar cluster with Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, and (*ugh*) Down East

One of my pet peeves about the balanced schedule (relatively, it’s been a little unbalanced lately, but for years it was ten home and ten away each half) and two four-team divisions is that it has not always produced the four best playoff teams. There have been third-place teams with better records than the wildcard entry (e.g. Potomac in 2009) and in some instances, the division winner (e.g. Myrtle Beach in 2006). We can only hope that when it all shakes out, it’ll be 20 games vs. each divisional opponent (80 games) and 12 against the opposite division’s teams (60).