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 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.

Mar 042014
 

Lowlighted by a bases-clearing triple against a five-man infield in the Braves’ four-run 8th, Atlanta doubled up Washington 8-4 to hand the Nats their second straight Grapefruit League loss.

Ace Stephen Strasburg breezed through two scoreless innings in his first spring-training start, needing just 15 pitches to get six outs, one by way of the K. He allowed just a one-out single in the 2nd then ended his outing with a 6-4-3 double play.

He was followed by Taylor Jordan, who was knocked for two runs on five hits in his second appearance. The 25-y.o. gave out no free passes and fanned three over his two innings.

A.J. Cole, another Floridian, also appeared for the second time this spring, retiring all six batters he faced with two strikeouts.

Brian Goodwin was the sole prospect in the starting lineup, going 1-for-3 with a doubled while batting ninth and manning centerfield.

Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers fared off the bench:

• Steve Souza went 1-for-2 while playing RF in relief of Nate McLouth
• Michael Taylor struck out in his lone AB as the sub for Bryce Harper in LF
• Matt Skole also whiffed in one at-bat, replacing Ryan Zimmerman at 3B
• Eury Perez singled to raise his spring BA to .500 taking over for Goodwin

The Nationals return to Space Coast tomorrow for an afternoon tilt against the split-squad Mets. Gio Gonzalez is expected to make his spring debut. The game can be heard on MLB Radio.

Mar 032014
 

MartinsonGrab3314Ross Detwiler’s campaign to retain his No. 5 slot in the rotation got off on the wrong foot as the Yankees tagged the 2007 1st Rd. pick for four runs in the second inning in a 4-2 win over the Nationals.

Detwiler retired the side in order in the 1st, but couldn’t get out of the second as New York singled three times and doubled twice in the space of six batters, with a two-run error by Zach Walters interrupting the streak of base hits. Detwiler would be lifted with one out and two runners on and charged with all four runs (three earned).

Danny Rosenbaum ended the threat as efficiently as possible, getting future Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play and strand two runners. Tanner Roark, another possible #5 SP, followed Rosenbaum with two goose eggs and two hits allowed, no walks and no strikeouts.

Walters, Matt Skole, and Eury Perez were the starters at SS, 1B, and RF, respectively, with Walters atoning for his miscue to a certain degree with a solo shot in the 5th and break up New York’s shutout bid. Walters and Perez would finish with a 1-for-2 mark while Skole went 0-for-2 with a strijkeout.

Christian Garcia and Aaron Barrett both made their second spring appearances, and both allowed a pair of baserunners but worked around them for scoreless innings.

Other notable minor-leaguers to appear in the game:

• Michael Taylor relieved Denard Span in CF and was 0-for-1 with a strikeout
• Brian Goodwin subbed for Tyler Moore in LF and and went 0-for-1
• Sandy Leon got an AB as the PH from the DH spot and struck out in his lone PA
• Destin Hood followed Leon but was also 0-for-1
• Jason Martinson replaced Walters at SS and was 0-for-1 but (pictured) made a nice catch to end the Yankees 8th inning
• Cutter Dykstra replaced Will Rhymes at 3B and went 0-for-1
• Steve Souza subbed for Perez in RF and singled to raise his spring BA to .500

The Nats stay on the road and visit the Braves at the House of Mouse Spring Training Facility tomorrow afternoon. Stephen Strasburg is slated to make his spring debut. The game can be heard on MLB Radio.

Mar 022014
 

Offseason acquisitions Doug Fister and Jerry Blevins made their Nats spring debuts as the DC nine bested the Miami Marlins, 10-3 on Sunday afternoon.

Fister gave up a run on two hits and a walk and struck out two over the first two innings. Blevins pitched a scoreless 9th, giving up a walk. The win went to Craig Stammen who was the pitcher of record when the Nats rallied for two in the bottom of the 5th to take a 5-3 lead, highlighted by Jeff Kobernus’s RBI triple which scored RF Nate McLouth.

Kobernus (1-for-3, R) was joined by Zach Walters in the triple space of the scorebook, as Walters remains perfect for the spring with a 2-for-2 mark that improved him to 5-for-5 in three games. Walters spelled Desmond at SS and made a couple of standout plays in the field.

Steve Souza (1-for-2, R) and Matt Skole (1-for-2, 2RBI) also went for extra as the two AFL teammates both connected for doubles, with Skole making his first appearance at third base in relief of Anthony Rendon.

A rundown of how the other notable minor-leaguers did:

• Michael Taylor connected for a sacrifice fly and played error-free in LF as the sub for Scott Hairston.
• Eury Perez started in CF and went 0-for-1 with a walk.
• Brian Goodwin took over for Perez but was 0-for-2 with a K.
• LHP Sammy Solis threw two scoreless innings, scattering three hits with no walks and no strikeouts.

The Nats hit the road for Tampa to visit the Yankees tomorrow afternoon. LHP Ross Detwiler is scheduled to start. The game will be televised on MLB Network.

Mar 012014
 

The only true contest in this game was determining which was worse — the sloppy play on the field or the unseemly call on the radio.

Somehow, the Nationals didn’t lose despite committing a week’s worth of errors in one inning while the Braves scored nine times to take a 14-6 lead at the game’s midpoint.

Thanks in large part to the Atlanta relievers issuing 11 walks*, Washington made the most out of its 12 hits and a pair of sacrifice flies to erase the eight-run deficit with a pair of five-spots in the 5th and 6th innings.
* Jim Powell and Don Sutton, too busy trolling the DC fans, failed to notice this while wondering how the Nationals were scoring so many runs while being outhit, 25-11

The win went to newly acquired Felipe Rivero, who gave up a run on three hits in the 6th with no walks and no strikeouts. Luis Ayala earned the save by stranding two runners with an inning-ending double play in the 8th and worked around a hit in the 9th.

Jordan Zimmermann got the start and threw two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and fanning one. Matt Purke, Blake Treinen, and Josh Roenicke were touched (torched?) for 14 runs in the 3rd, 4th, 5th innings on 16 hits combined, including five doubles.

Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers fared at the plate:
• Brian Goodwin, 0-for-1, 3R, RBI, 2BB
• Jeff Kobernus, 0-for-2, RBI
• Matt Skole, 1-for-1, R, BB, RBI
• Sandy Leon, 0-for-1, 2R, 2BB
• Steve Souza, 1-for-2, R, 2B, RBI, SB
• Michael Taylor, 0-for-3, R

Taylor was charged with two of the five Nats errors, both coming on the same play as the 22-y.o. Floridian missed a catch and air-mailed the subsequent throw while playing right field as part of the disastrous 5th inning.

The Nationals will send Doug Fister to the hill tomorrow for Game 3 of the Grapferuit slate against the Marlins, which will also be the first MASN telecast.