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.

Mar 132014
 

The Mets struck for four in the 8th and two more in the 9th to hand the Nats their third straight defeat, 7-5 in Viera.

Early on, the game was a pitcher’s duel between a pair of pitchers looking to make their team’s starting rotation as the #5 man, as Ross Detwiler faced off against Daisuke Matsusaka.

Denard Span doubled, stole third, and came around on a Bryce Harper groundout to score the Nats first run.

Detwiler pitched into the 4th, but couldn’t hold the 1-0 lead. The 27-year-old southpaw gave up two of three hits he allowed in the 4th, with David Wright plating the equalizer with two outs on an RBI double and chasing the Nats’ 2007 1st Rd. pick from the game. Detwiler walked one and fanned two in his third appearance.

Christian Garcia followed Detwiler and walked the first batter he faced but stranded Wright and his free pass with a flyout to second batter he faced, then struck out two in a 1-2-3 fifth inning.

After the Nats took a 2-1 lead on an error in the 7th, the Mets took control with a four-run outburst against NRI reliever Manny Delcarmen, who retired one of six batters faced and while putting the other five on via walk (three times) or base hit (two singles), and minor-league veteran Rob Gilliam, who let in two of three inherited runners via a wild pitch and a sac fly before ending the inning.

Brock Peterson cashed in a pair of walks issued to Steve Souza and Emmanuel Burris to the game at 5-5 with an Earl Weaver special.

Gilliam was lifted for Brian Dupra after giving up a two-out single. The Mets victimized the final Nats reliever with a single-walk-single sequence that drove in the final two New York runs. Stephen Perez drew a leadoff walk and Eury Perez singled two batters later to get the tying runs on with one out but neither Souza nor Burriss could get the ball out of the infield as both popped up for the final two outs.

The Nationals hit the road for the next two days before splitting the squads again on Sunday (one home, one away).

As for the third round of cuts mentioned in the headline: Prior to today’s game LHP Matt Purke and OF Michael Taylor were both optioned to Harrisburg, while LHP Danny Rosenbaum and RHPs Clay Hensley, Daniel Stange, and Josh “Do You Know Who My Brother-In-Law Is?” Roenicke were reassigned to minor-league camp.

The pare-down slices the MLB camp roster to 49 players with 15 games left for the spring and 18 days until the season opener in New York.

Mar 122014
 

The second round of cuts wasn’t too painful or unexpected… just a pair of 22-y.o.’s that most reasonable folks have penciled in as the starters for Harrisburg in the persons of A.J. Cole and Felipe Rivero.

Today’s games? Well, perhaps a little more distressing as the Astros and Braves both rallied in the bottom of the 9th to hand the Nats losses of 3-2 and 10-9 respectively.

In Lake Buenavista, Chris Young got the start and was assaulted for a two-run homer by Freddie Freeman with two outs in the 3rd to erase an early 1-0 lead. He gave up three hits and a walk and struck out three over three innings. Robert Benincasa took the loss after a leadoff single, a steal, and a one-out single plated the third Atlanta run.

Tanner Roark took the hill in Kissimmee but was only able to keep the Astros at bay in the second as Houston scored in 1st, 3rd, and 4th innings as the 27-y.o. struggled in his third outing, giving up three runs on three hits and two walks and was lifted with one out in the 4th. Xavier Cedeno couldn’t hold the 9-7 lead and coughed up three runs on four hits while retiring just two batters for the blown-save-loss.

Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers did this afternoon:
@ ATLANTA
• Jeff Kobernus subbed in CF and went 1-for-2
• Jason Martinson subbed at SS and went 0-for-1
• Caleb Ramsey subbed in RF and went 1-for-1 with an RBI
• Michael Taylor subbed in LF and went 0-for-1
• Cutter Dykstra subbed at 3B and went 0-for-1 with a K and committed an error
• Matt Skole subbed at 1B and went 0-for-1 with a K
• Zach Walters started at 2B and was 0-for-3
• Drew Vettleson pinch-ran for the DH but did not get an AB
• Sandy Leon started at C and was 0-for-2
• Danny Rosenbaum pitched two scoreless innings, giving up a walk and two hits while fanning one

@ HOUSTON
• Steve Souza subbed in RF and went 0-for-1
• Destin Hood pinch ran and scored a run and subbed in LF
• Brian Goodwin pinch-hit for Hood and subbed for him in LF and was 0-for-2 with a strikeout
• Eury Perez started in RF and shifted to CF when Souza came in and was 1-for-4 with an RBI double but also committed an error
• Aaron Barrett stranded two runners in the 7th and pitched a scoreless 8th to keep his ERA at 0.00

The Nats go full-squad tomorrow afternoon (sounds dirtier than what it means) as they host the Mets. Ross Detwiler is expected to make the start. There is no broadcast from either team.

Mar 112014
 

Jordan Zimmermann was perfect for four innings in his third outing as the Nats edged the Yankees, 3-2 to improve to 8-4-1 for the spring.

The 27-year-old “northpaw” needed just 54 pitches to do it, striking out four and inducing five ground balls. Drew Storen followed but was charged with a run on a back-to-back hits — triple, single — with two outs. Washington’s “other” 1st Rd. pick struck out the final batter to end the inning, with all three outs coming by way of the K.

Felipe Rivero gave up the other New York run on a leadoff double and a pair of flyouts that moved the Yankee runner the remaining 180 feet, then rolled a groundout by Mark Teixiera. Journeymen Daniel Stange and Manny Delcarmen both turned in a scoreless inning to preserve the one-run lead.

Wilson Ramos’s RBI groundout in the 1st and Anthony Rendon’s two-run double in the 2nd accounted for the Nats three runs on offense.

As we approach the time when the regulars start sticking around for a third AB (as alluded in the headline, more later), here’s a summary of how the notable minor-leaguers did coming off the bench:

• Zach Walters replaced Rendon at 3B and took a walk in his sole PA
• Steve Souza subbed for Jayson Werth in RF and struck out in his lone AB
• Brian Goodwin followed Scott Hairston in LF but did not bat and had no defensive chances
• Michael Taylor took over CF from Nate McLouth and also kept the batting gloves in the back pocket, but did snare a flyball to end the game

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Bill Ladson of MLB.com is reporting that the second set of cuts will be made after tomorrow afternoon’s games — both on the road, against the Astros and Braves — which is a little bit earlier than last year, but hardly a surprise given that the CW is that the losers in the battles for second base and the No. 5 starter are still very likely to make the 25-man roster via the bench or bullpen, respectively.

As previously written, the Nats have made it awfully clear that a rookie is extremely unlikely to head north with the club by virtue of the trades and veterans that have been brought in to camp. If I’m right, expect Matt Williams to trot out the old standby about playing every day instead of sitting the bench. If I’m wrong, let’s hope that’s not because of further injuries or another trade of MLB spare parts for prospects.

Mar 112014
 

The Astros scored seven unanswered runs, including five against “closer” Rafael Soriano in the 6th, as they handed the Nats a 7-4 loss to end a modest streak of three wins and a tie.

Gio Gonzalez was charged with the loss, giving up a two-run homer and three hits total in two innings of work. The southpaw struck out five and walked one in his second spring start.

Blake Treinen turned in another solid outing against the Houston regulars, letting up two hits and two walks but fanning a trio in three scoreless frames.

Like a Kennedy at an open bar, Soriano got hammered again. He retired just two of eight batters faced (both on strikeouts), and was charged with five runs on five hits with no walks. In two appearances, the reliever has given up seven runs on eight hits over one and 1/3rd innings.

Aaron Barrett cleaned up after Soriano with a flyout to center to end the 6th and faced the minimum in the 7th, letting up a two-out single but picking him off to finish the frame. He walked none and struck out one to run keep his spring ERA at 0.00.

Zach Walters got the start at 2B and turned a double in four innings played before playing the last two defensive innings at SS. The 24-year-old Wyoming native walked and singled to end a two-game streak without a hit and push his average to .615 (8-for-13) in eight games.

Outfielder Steve Souza also started (in RF) and went deep for his first spring HR, a solo shot in the 6th off Astros minor-leaguer Michael Foltynewicz. The Nats 2007 3rd Rd. pick, who turns 25 next month, has gone 7-for-21 this spring with three doubles, three RBI, and two walks in 11 spring games.

Here’s a rundown of how the rest of the notable minors guys fared:

• Michael Taylor spelled Denard Span in CF but went 0-for-1
• Jeff Kobernus replaced Bryce Harper in LF and was 0-for-1
• Stephen Perez subbed for Walters at SS and went 2-for-2
• Sandy Leon followed Jose Lobaton at C and was 0-for-2 with a strikeout
• Theo Bowe drove in a run on a groundout in the 9th after pinch-running for DH Jhonatan Solano
• Brian Goodwin took over RF from Souza and went 1-for-2

The Nationals host the Yankees this afternoon in Viera with Jordan Zimmermann getting the start. The game will be televised live at 1 p.m. on MASN and can be seen on tape delay tonight on MLB Network at 9 p.m.

Mar 092014
 

First Cuts of Spring Training
A four-run 4th snapped a 1-1 tie as the Nats cruised to an 11-1 win over St. Louis on Sunday afternoon.

Stephen Strasburg gave up a run on two hits and two walks in his second outing, but also rolled a pair of twin-killings to minimize the damage as the staff ace went three innings total.

Matt Purke gave up a long double to the first batter he faced in the 4th and threw a wild pitch to move the runner over to 3rd but went DIY for a 1-5 DP to end the threat. The 23-y.o. southpaw dispatched St. Louis 1-2-3 in the 5th for two scoreless innings total for his first solid outing of the spring.

Christian Garcia also improved his footing by with his second clean inning of the spring, setting down the side on strikes in the 8th.

Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers fared off the bench, as the Nats pounded out 15 hits total on the afternoon:

• Zach Walters replaced Ian Desmond at SS and went 0-for-2 with a walk
• Steve Souza pinch-ran for Jayson Werth and took over in RF, scoring twice and going 1-for-2 with a double
• Brian Goodwin subbed for Nate McLouth in LF and went 0-for-1 with a walk and a strikeout
• Eury Perez started in CF and was 0-for-3
• Michael Taylor followed Perez in CF and went 1-for-2

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Prior to the game, the first set of cuts were announced, as IF’s Matt Skole and Josh Johnson, C’s Jeff Howell and Brian Jeroloman, RHP Gabriel Alfaro and LHP Tyler Robertson were reassigned to minor-league camp. Patrick Reddington has the recap on manager Matt Williams’ thoughts for the first round of cuts. Johnson and Jeroloman were announced after the first four, but as multiple beat writers noted both are recovering from injuries, which is especially troubling as Jeroloman appears to be still suffering from the concussion he suffered from a home-plate collision that ended his 2013 season.

Mar 082014
 

Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche homered off former Nationals farmhand Yunesky Maya (SSDO) in an 8-2 win over the Braves at home, while the Cardinals tied the Nats, 4-4 in 10 innings on the road.

Destin Hood homered in the top of the 8th of the Cardinals game to give the Nats a brief 4-1 lead that was answered with three unearned runs in the bottom of the 8th off Daniel Stange, who gave up three hits and was charged with a blown save.

In Viera, Ross Detwiler labored through two innings in his second start of the spring, scattering six hits while allowing just one run. The win went to Taylor Jordan in relief. Jordan struck out six in three innings while giving up a run on three hits.

Chris Young got the start in Jupiter, going three innings with a run scored against him on two hits and three walks. A.J. Cole struck out three in two and 2/3rds scoreless innings as the first man out of the ‘pen. He allowed two hits but no walks. Aaron Barrett was the second reliever and fanned two of the four batters he faced, all of which he retired. Taylor Hill pitched a 1-2-3 tenth inning to preserve the tie.

Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers fared today, the first of three split-squad doubleheaders this spring:

VIERA
• Brian Goodwin played CF and went 0-for-2
• Stephen Perez played SS and went 0-for-1 with a strikeout
• Isaac Ballou played LF and went 0-for-1
• Zach Walters played 3B and went 0-for-1
• Matt Skole played 1B and went 0-for-1 with a strikeout
• Jeff Kobernus played 2B went 1-for-1 with a run scored
• Eury Perez started in RF and went 0-for-3 with two K’s
• Drew Vettleson played RF and went 0-for-1

JUPITER
• Jason Martinson played SS and went 1-for-2 with a run scored and a K
• Michael Taylor played CF and went 0-for-2
• Hood played LF and went 1-for-2 with a run and three RBI
• Tony Renda played 2B and went 1-for-1 but committed an error
• Steve Souza started in RF and went 0-for-2 with a walk
• Brandon Miller played RF and went 0-for-1 and had an OF assist

The full Cardinals squad visits Viera tomorrow. Stephen Strasburg is expected to pitch. The game will be televised on MASN and can be heard on both AM (1500 and 1580) and FM (106.7).

Mar 072014
 

Homers by Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos accounted for five of the six runs scored in the Washington 1st, as the Nats rocketed past the Astros, 8-5 for their fifth win of the spring.

Tanner Roark, who was scheduled to relieve, instead got the start as Doug Fister was scratched with a sore elbow. The 27-y.o. turned in two and 2/3rds innings, giving up a run on a home run and four hits total. He walked none and struck out three.

Christian Garcia struck out the final batter of the 3rd but gave up two unearned runs on two hits and a walk in the 4th for his second uneven appearance out of three this spring.

Zach Walters rebounded from his (stomach) flu-like symptoms and picked up where he left off with a two-run single in the bottom of the 6th to undo the damage done by Rafael Soriano’s spring debut, a typical non-save “effort” of 1IP, 6BF, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, K. The 1-for-2 effort lowered his batting average from .857 to .778.

Here’s how the other notable minor-leaguers did coming off the bench:
• Michael Taylor replaced Denard Span in CF but was 0-for-2
• Steve Souza subbed for Jayson Werth in RF and went 0-for-1
• Eury Perez was 1-for-1 with ground-rule double, spelling Harper (presumably H-A-R-P-E-R) in LF
• Matt Skole took over 3B from Ryan Zimmerman and drew a walk, but was thrown out trying steal second behind Perez
• Sandy Leon pinch-hit for Tyler Moore in the DH spot but flew out to CF in his only AB
• Jeff Kobernus followed Jamey Carroll at 2B and fell victim to Carlos Correa’s cannon at SS on your run-of-the-mill 5-6-3 groundout in his sole PA

The Nats split the squads tomorrow with games against the Cardinals in Jupiter and hosting the Braves in Viera.

Mar 072014
 

After rallying for two runs to tie the game in the top of the 9th, the Nats gave it away with a leadoff walk, an error, a wild pitch, and a two-out single for a 3-2 loss to the Braves.

Danny Rosenbaum suffered the loss as the Washington pitcher in the 9th, charged with the run while striking out one in ⅔rds of an inning. It was his second appearance of the spring.

Jordan Zimmerman marched like McClellan Sherman through the Atlanta lineup, striking out four while working around two singles and a walk, including a 1st and 3rd with two outs situation set up by an error by Tyler Moore, the first of four DC errors.

Blake Treinen was the first man out of the ‘pen and continues to impress with mid-90s heat, though he did allow three hits and a walk in his two innings.

After Ross Ohlendorf loaded up the bases and let in the first Braves run with three singles and a walk, Aaron Barrett minimized the damage with double play ball to the first batter he faced, scoring the second Braves run, and inducing a flyball by Ernesto “Ole” Mejia to end the inning.

Two innings later, Felipe Rivero tossed a 1-2-3 eighth to keep the Nats in the game.

Career backup catchers Chris Snyder and Koyie Hill homered and singled to open the Washington 9th. Eury Perez sacrificed Stephen Perez, who pinch-ran for Hill, to second. Two batters later, Michael Taylor delivered the equalizer with a single to LF to tie the game. Alas, Matt Skole struck out to the end the frame.

Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers fared coming off the bench, with the exception of Steve Souza, who got the start in RF:
• Jeff Kobernus went 1-for-1 as the replacement for Anthony Rendon at 2B
• Jason Martinson followed Danny Espinosa at SS but was 0-for-2 with a strikeout
• Skole doubled in his first AB to go 1-for-2 at Tyler Moore’s sub at 1B
• Cutter Dykstra went 0-for-1 with a strikeout at 3B in relief of Will Rhymes
• Brian Goodwin struck out twice in two ABs while playing LF in place of Scott Hairston
• Souza went 0-for-2

The Nats are back in action this afternoon in Viera as they play host to Houston. Doug Fister is slated to make his second start. Per Bill Ladson of MLB.com, Tanner Roark will get the start. The can be heard locally on 1500 and 1580AM as Charlie Slowes and Dave Jaegler have the call.

Mar 062014
 

It’s not as detailed as anyone would like it to be (e.g. 30 players were reportedly signed, but no complete list), but here are the highlights from the Baseball America review of the Washington Nationals International signings in 2013.

As noted previously, the CBA limited the Nationals to the smallest pool for signings for the July 2013 to June 2014 signing period ($1,846,000) thanks to its MLB-best 2012 finish. As such the Nats only exceeded the $100,000 signing figure for just four players — Anderson Franco ($900,000), Victor Robles ($225,000), Dany Rojas ($100,000) and Israel Mota ($100,000).

Franco is one the “Notable Bats” on the 2014 Watchlist, who signed on his 16th birthday last August. He’s a big kid (6’1″, 190) who features raw power and arm strength along with an advanced feel for his position (3B). The question mark is whether the Nats can fix some of the flaws (long swing, poor pitch recognition) and turn him into a true hitter.

Robles is a 17-y.o. right-handed outfielder, listed at 6′ and 180 lbs and praised for “above-average speed and a strong arm,” as well as being a “high-energy player with a high baseball IQ.”

Rojas is another 17-y.o. OF, but lefthanded and more compact at 5’10″ and 185 lbs with power to all fields. Both Robles and Rojas were July 2 signees.

Mota signed early enough to play in the DSL but only hit .215/.356/.313 in 180 PAs and will likely repeat. His best tool is his arm, which was said to be top-level (80 on the 20-80 scale).

Two 16-y.o.’s that fell short of the 100K threshhold, but were given some play in the article were Dominican southpaw Jose Jimenez and Venezuelan catcher Jose Cabello, both of whom signed for $75,000. Jimenez was clocked just shy of 90mph but at 6’1″ 170 could very well add some length as he continues to physically mature. Cabello, listed at 5’11″ and 185, is a technically sound defensive backstop with a line-drive swing.

Mar 052014
 

Brian Goodwin started the Nats comeback with two-run shot in the 7th to tie the game at 4-4 while Matt Skole and Sandy Leon blasted two- and three-run blasts respectively as part of the Nats seven-run 8th in an 11-5 Washington win this afternoon.

The win snapped a two-game slide and saw the Nationals hit double digits in runs for the third time in five games, a mark that perhaps bodes well for the Syracuse and Harrisburg offenses next month. It also marked the final debut for Big Nats regulars Gio Gonzalez and Jayson Werth..

Gonzalez made quick work of the Mets split squad, allowing just two baserunners (one hit, one walk) in two innings of work while striking out one, while Werth went 0-for-1 with a walk while playing his customary RF.

More concerning was the second straight poor showing for Matt Purke, who gave up the first three Mets runs on five hits and a walk over two innings. It’s early, of course, for the Nats #6 prospect (according to MLB.com’s latest (prepostoffseason?) Top 20 list), but troublesome nevertheless for the 2011 Nats third-round pick.

Zach Walters had been slated to make the start at 2B but was a late scratch due to illness, according to MASN’s Dan Kolko, who also had the story on the Nats’ plans to get the 24-y.o. more reps at 2B, where he hasn’t played since 2011 (11 games in Low-A). He was replaced by Mike Fontenot in the starting lineup, which had seven Nats regulars in the starting lineup (Wilson Ramos was the DH, Jhonatan Solano was the catcher).

Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers fared coming off the bench:
• Goodwin 1-1, R, BB, HR, 2RBI replacing Denard Span in CF
• Steve Souza 0-2, K following Werth in RF
• Skole 1-3, R, HR, 2RBI, 2K subbing for Zimmerman at 3B
• Cutter Dykstra, 0-0, R as PR for DH Jose Lobaton, who replaced Ramos
• Leon 2-2, 2R, HR, 3RBI replacing Solano at C
• Michael Taylor, no defensive chances while playing RF in the 9th inning

The Nats head back to Lake Buenavista to play the Braves tomorrow night. Jordan Zimmeramnn is expected to make his second start. The game can be heard on MLB Radio and seen on MLB.tv but will not be televised locally.