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.

Aug 162012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 1-0;
Lost, 4-3
vs. Toledo,
7:00 p.m.
Duke (13-5, 3.57) vs.
Below (2-1, 3.88)
Harrisburg Lost, 5-2 vs. Akron,
7:00 p.m.
Wang (1-3, 4.88) vs.
Murata (2-1, 3.45)
Potomac Lost, 9-1 @ Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Grace (7-11, 5.62) vs.
Couch (8-9, 3.75)
Hagerstown Lost, 14-7 @ Delmarva,
7:05 p.m.
Schwartz (1-1, 3.80) vs.
Rodriguez (5-6, 3.29)
Auburn Lost, 5-4 @ Mahoning Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Lee (1-1, 3.86) vs.
Morel (2-2, 4.39)
GCL Nationals Won, 10-4 vs. GCL Cardinals,
12:00 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD
DSL Nationals Won, 13-2 @ DSL Ariz./Cincy,
10:30 a.m.
TBD vs. TBD

Syracuse 1 Toledo 0 — GAME ONE
• Mandel (W, 4-4) 6IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 5K
• Garcia (SV, 10) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Perez 1-3, SB
• Leon 1-1, R, BB, HR, RBI

Sandy Leon homered for the second straight game while Jeff Mandel tossed six scoreless innings to lead the Chiefs past the Mud Hens, 1-0 in the opener. Mandel allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out five. Christian Garcia notched his 10th save and extended his scoreless inning streak to 20⅓. Eury Perez singled and stole his 13th base for Syracuse (44th overall).

Toledo 4 Syracuse 3 — GAME TWO
• Roark (L, 6-15) 6IP, 8H, 3R, 2ER, BB, 4K, HBP
• MacDougal 1IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, 3K
• Brown 1-3, R, 2B, BB
• Perez 1-3, R, BB

Syracuse struck for two early but couldn’t hold the lead and couldn’t complete the last-inning comeback to lose the nightcap, 4-3. Tanner Roark lost his I.L.-leading 15th game despite throwing a quality start of three runs (two earned) on eight hits and a walk over six innings. Seven of the nine Chiefs batters hit safely, but they also hit into three double plays. Corey Brown and Eury Perez both reached base twice with hit and a single.

Akron 5 Harrisburg 2
• Holder (L, 2-3) 1+IP, 7H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 0K, 0HR
• Tatusko 6IP, 3H, 0R, BB, 6K, 2-0 IR-S
• Van Ostrand 2-3, R, BB
• Hood 2-4, 2B

Despite a heroic bullpen effort from Ryan Tatukso, the Senators couldn’t muster the offense to dig out of an early 4-0 hole to lose their third straight, 5-2. Starter Trevor Holder got strafed for four runs on seven hits and two walk over the course of 12 batters faced. Tatusko came in with two on and no outs in the 2nd and stranded them both, then pitched five more shutout innings, giving up just three hits and a walk. The offense could only manage seven hits, with Jimmy Van Ostrand (2-for-3, BB) and Destin Hood (2-for-4, 2B) leading the way.

Wilmington 9 Potomac 1
• Ray (L, 4-10) ⅔ IP, 3H, 6R, 6ER, 3BB, 0K, 0HR, WP
• Demmin 4⅓ IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 2K, 2-2 IR-S
• King 2-4, 2-2B
• Hague 2-4
• Kelso 2-4

Robbie Ray couldn’t make it out of the first, hitting the org’s pitch-count limit for a single inning while giving up three hits and three walks while getting just two outs for his 10th loss as the P-Nats fell again to the Blue Rocks, 9-1. Since the C.L. All-Star break, Ray has gone 1-7 with a 7.92 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP. Potomac registered 10 hits, with Stephen King, Ricky Hague, and Blake Kelso each going 2-for-4, but struggled in the clutch with a 1-for-12 mark with RISP and eight runners left on base. The loss drops Potomac to 3½ games behind Wilmington with three games left against each other (Sep. 1-3), as they head down I-81 to Salem for four games against the Red Sox.

Hickory 14 Hagerstown 7
• Hill 5IP, 8H, 5R, 5ER, 0BB, 2K, 2HR
• Hawkins (BS, 1; L, 3-3) 1+IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, K, HBP, WP
• Nieto 2-3, R, 2-2B, 2BB
• Norfork 2-4, R, 2B, BB, RBI
• Dykstra 2-5, R

Hagerstown gave up nine runs over the last four innings in a 14-7 loss that prevented a sweep of Hickory and dropped the Suns back into second place. Starter Taylor Hill gave up two gopherballs and eight hits total for five runs over five innings but left with a 6-5 lead. Ben Hawkins got tagged with the loss, allowing the tying run in the 6th and letting on what proved to be the winning runs in the 7th. All four Hagerstown relievers were touched for earned runs. Adrian Nieto led the Suns offense with a pair of doubles and a pair of walks, followed by Khayyan Norfork, who singled, doubled, walked, scored a run and drove in a run. Hagerstown visits last-place Delmarva for four games starting tonight before returning to the Muni for seven on Monday.

Mahoning Valley 5 Auburn 4
• Encarnacion 6IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, K, HR
• Davis (L, 3-1) 1⅔ IP, H, R, ER, 0BB, 4K
• E. Martinez 3-5
• Mesa 2-4, R

Auburn fought back from a 4-0 deficit, gave the lead back in 8th, and got the tying run in scoring position with two out in the 9th, but fell 5-4 to Mahoning Valley. Starter Pedro Encarnacion gave up four second-inning runs but went six innings total, with four hits allowed, a walk, and a strikeout. Cody Davis was charged with the loss when Robert Benincase gave up a hit to the first batter he faced to send in the winning run. Estarlin Martinez led the 11-hit attack with a 3-for-5 night, followed by Narciso Mesa’s 2-for-4 effort.

GCL Nationals 10 GCL Cardinals 4
• Pena 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Barrientos (W, 4-0) 4⅔ IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 3K, HR
• Foat 4-5, 2R, 2B, 4RBI
• Bailey 2-4, 2R, 2-2B, RBI
• Brooks 2-5, R, 2B, 2RBI

The G-Nats scored in four straight innings to cruise to a 10-4 win over the G-Cards. Joel Barrientos got the win in relief, throwing four and 2/3rds innings and giving up two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out three. The G-Nats pounded out 12 hits, with Matt Foat once again leading the hit column with a 4-for-5 game with a double and four RBI.

DSL Nationals 13 DSL “Redbacks” 2
• Valerio (W, 3-4) 5IP, 4H, 2R, 0ER, BB, 4K
• Acevedo 1⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Mercedes 4-5, 2R, 2-2B, RBI
• De Los Santos 3-4, R, 2B, BB, 2RBI

The D-Nats pounded out 16 hits en route to a 13-2 smackdown of the Cincinnati/Arizona DSL co-op. Maximo Valerio got the start and the win with two unearned runs on four hits and a walk over five innings. Yermin Mercedes singled twice and doubled twice to raise the 19-year-old’s average to .325, while 18-year-old Venezuelan Juan De Los Santos went 3-for-4 with a double, a walk, a run scored, and two RBI.

Aug 152012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Postponed vs. Toledo,
5:00 p.m.
Mandel (3-4, 3.40) and
Roark (6-14, 4.72) vs.
Crosby (7-5, 3.91) and
Brown (3-3, 4.95)
Harrisburg Lost, 2-1 vs. Akron,
7:00 p.m.
Holder (2-2, 4.26) vs.
House (6-3, 3.58)
Potomac Won, 7-5 vs. Wilmington,
12:05 p.m.
Ray (4-9, 5.99) vs.
Adam (4-11, 3.73)
Hagerstown Won, 4-3 vs. Hickory,
7:05 p.m.
Hill (10-6, 4.75) vs.
Faulkner (4-4, 3.86)
Auburn ALL-STAR
BREAK
@ Mahoning Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Encarnacion (3-1, 4.43)
vs. TBD
GCL Nationals Lost, 4-3 @ GCL Cardinals,
12:00 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD
DSL Nationals Won, 10-8 vs. DSL Ariz./Cincy,
10:30 a.m.
TBD vs. TBD

Syracuse vs. Toledo — PPD
Rain postponed the opener of this three-game series. It will be made up tonight with a doubleheader starting at 5 p.m.
Roster moves: 1B Chris Marrero activated from the DL, RHP Mitch Atkins placed on DL.

Akron 2 Harrisburg 1
• Pucetas 5+IP, 3H, 0R, 4BB, 2K
• Frias (BS, 2) 2IP, H, R, ER, BB, K
• McCoy (L, 7-2) ⅓ IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, K
• Bloxom 2-4
• Lozada 1-4, R, HR, RBI
• Rendon 1-4, K

The addition of the Nats’ top hitting prospect did nothing to stem the tide of losses, as Harrisburg lost for the seventh time in eight games, 2-1. Anthony Rendon was 1-for-4 with a strikeout and helped turn two of the three Senator double plays. Starter Kevin Pucetas went five-plus innings, giving up three hits and walking four. The tying and winning runs came on sacrifice flies in the 7th and 8th innings off relievers Marcos Frias and Jimmy Barthmaier, with Pat McCoy taking the loss. Jose Lozada’s first-inning home run was one of just six (6) hits Harrisburg would manage, as the Senators went 0-for-5 with RISP and stranded eight baserunners.

Potomac 7 Wilmington 5
• Gilliam 5IP, 6H, 5R, ER, 2BB, 7K, HR
• Olbrychowski (W, 5-10) 1IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K
• Wort (SV, 9) 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 2K, 2-0 IR-S
• Hague 2-3, R, 2B, BB
• Ramirez 2-4, 2R, RBI
• Skole 0-3, RBI, SF

It was like a battle between a toothless dog and clawless cat, but Potomac overcame a self-inflicted 5-0 deficit for a 7-5 win over Wilmington. The P-Nats committed six errors to two by the Blue Rocks, who did their part to catch up by uncorking a pair of wild pitches, playing right field like a high-school scrub, and dropping popups and throws to the plate. Starter Rob Gilliam gave up one earned run on a moonshot to center and four unearned runs on six hits and two walks over five innings. Adam Olbrychowski got the win in relief, pitching the top half of the 6th when the P-Nats rallied for five in the bottom half. Rob Wort got the save in high-wire fashion, striking out the final batter on a called third strike on a 3-2 count with the bases loaded. Roster moves: 3B Matt Skole promoted from Hagerstown.

Hagerstown 4 Hickory 3
• Rauh (ND) 6IP, 4H, R, ER, BB, 5K, HR
• Meza (H, 4) 2⅔ IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 5K
• Mirowski (BS, 1; W, 4-0) ⅓ IP, H, 0R, 0BB, 0K, 2-1 IR-S
• Newsome 2-4, R, 2B, RBI
• Higley 2-4, 2B, RBI
• Ortega 1-3, R, SAC, E

J.R. Higley’s RBI double in the bottom of the 9th gave Hagerstown its 10th walkoff win of the season, 4-3. The Suns’ 70th win also secured sole possession of first place in the Sally League North by a ½ game over the Power. Richie Mirowski got the dreaded blown-save-win in relief of starter Brian Rauh, who turned in six strong innings with just one run allowed on four hits and a walk. Higley and Brett Newsome both went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI to lead the Suns’ offense. Roster moves: IF Khayyan Norfork promoted from Auburn, LHP Bobby Hansen Jr. placed on the 7-Day DL, RHP Wirkin Estevez activated from the DL.

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS — ALL-STAR BREAK
The N.L. All-Stars crushed the A.L. All-Stars, 8-1 in the New York-Penn League All-Star game. Here’s how the Doubledays performed:
• Schill 0-3, starting SS
• Martinez 2-4, 2R, 2-2B, starting LF
• Ramos 1-3, off the bench, RF
• Pleffner 1-2, off the bench, 1B
• Manuel 0-2, PH-DH

GCL Marlins 4 GCL Nationals 3
• Giolito 2IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, K
• Anderson 4IP, 5H, R, ER, BB, 5K, HR
• Mieses (BS, 1; L, 1-4) ⅓ IP, 2H, 2R, 1ER, BB, 0K
• Foat 2-4, R
• Piwnica-Worms 2-5, R, HR, 2RBI, 3K

Lucas Giolito gave up a run on two hits over two innings with no walks and one strikeout in his professional debut. The G-Nats, however, fell to the G-Marlins, 4-3. Dixon Anderson was stretched to four innings, allowing a run (home run) on five hits with a walk and five K’s. Adalberto Mieses took the loss by surrendering the tying and winning runs in the 7th. Matt Foat (2-for-4) and Will Piwinica-Worms (2-for-5) continue to produce on offense. Roster moves: OF Jordan Poole assigned from Auburn Doubledays, RHP Shane McCatty assigned from Potomac Nationals.

DSL Nationals 10 DSL Giants 8
• Valdez 3IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 3K
• Benitez (W, 3-2) 3IP, 5H, 5R, 5ER, 3BB, 6K, HR
• Lopez (SV, 1) 2IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, 3K
• Novas 4-5, 4R, 2B, 3B, HR, 2RBI, 3SB
• A. Martinez 3-5, R, 2B, RBI

Randy Novas hit for the cycle and stole three bases to lead the DSL Nationals past the DSL Giants, 10-8. Starter Philips Valdez gave up two runs on four hits and two walks over the first three innings, while Juan Benitez got the win despite giving up five runs on five hits and three walks over the next three frames. Reynaldo Lopez was credited with the save for pitching the final two innings with a run on two hits, a walk, and three strikeouts. Roster moves: OF Armando Echenique on the 7-Day DL.

Aug 142012
 

It was first whispered on Twitter, then mentioned here in the comments, and now it’s been confirmed by the likes of MASN’s Byron Kerr — Anthony Rendon has been promoted from Potomac to Harrisburg.

One has to wonder if there is a timeline for Rendon that’s divorced from the usual developmental path. In other words, he was only going to be in Potomac for the month of April anyway and may have even been a three-level guy this year. The promotions of Bryce Harper and Brian Goodwin also lend credence to the theory that the usual rule of a level per year below AA doesn’t apply to certain guys.

No sense in me parroting Rendon’s bona fides or brief prospect history; Kerr does a fine job here. I liked what I saw over the four (4) games I got to see him, both offensively and defensively. And clearly the folks that know better (or have the power other than this virtual press) appear to agree.

Meanwhile, the champing at the bit for Matt Skole to join the P-Nats resumes. Perhaps today will be a good day all around for prospect watchers if indeed the Hagerstown third baseman is promoted to take Rendon’s place on the Potomac roster. The corresponding move to make room for Rendon in Harrisburg has not yet been announced. When it is, look for this space to be updated.

UPDATE #1
We still don’t know the corresponding move for Harrisburg yet, but as SpringfieldFan notes, the Senators have been carrying three catchers and it’s been the pattern to plug & play the backstops all season long. We do, however, know that 3B Matt Skole has been freed from Hagerstown and will replace Rendon on the Potomac roster. Replacing Skole for the Suns will be IF Khayyan Norfork from Auburn.

UPDATE #2
Longtime Nationals farmhand Devin Ivany was released to make room for Rendon on the Harrisburg Senators 25-man roster.

Aug 142012
 

For eight innings, the Potomac lumber was in a slumber but awoke in the ninth for two runs. They needed three, and lost 4-3 to the first-place Wilmington Blue Rocks.

Nathan Karns was tagged with his second straight loss, giving up three runs on eight hits and three walks over six innings. And it could have been worse. Twice Wilmington ran into outs at home plate, the first coming in the 2nd inning when Nick Van Stratten attempted to score from second on groundout to short, the second when Van Stratten attempted to score from first on a one-out double to right-center in the 4th.

Karns had but one clean inning, and it didn’t come until the 5th. Much will be made of the 10 strikeouts, but more should be made of how hittable Karns was. Command and control are not the same thing, but poor command will often lead to fat fastballs and that’s what the Blue Rocks were feasting on last night.

Like too many pink drinks on Ladies Night, the Potomac offense made a big ugly look good. For seven innings, the aptly surnamed Brooks Pounders (6’4″, 270, 5.43ERA) held the P-Nats to just four hits and one unearned run, walking none and striking out five. The portly starboarder retired the last nine batters he faced, but did not appear to have overpowering stuff.

Matt Swynenberg followed Karns from the bullpen and turned in three solid innings of relief, with one run on two hits, no walks and three strikeouts. The lone mistake was a dropped third strike to lead off the 8th. A steal and a two-out single plated the extra runner for Wilmington’s fourth run and it turned out to be the difference.

Anthony Rendon started the 9th-inning rally with one out with a grounder steered between first and second with two strikes. Kevin Keyes followed suit with Rendon going to third. Ricky Hague sent Rendon in with a single to left. After a Jason Martinson strikeout, Jeff Howell drove in Keyes with a single to center and snuck into second on the relay throw trying to get Hague at third.

Stephen King, however, couldn’t cash in either runner and struck out to end the game.

The loss drops Potomac to 3½ games back in the Carolina League North. The P-Nats and Blue Rocks are scheduled to play tonight with Rob Gilliam (0-1, 7.04) facing off against Leondy Perez (3-4, 4.26).

Aug 142012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-4 vs. Toledo,
7:00 p.m.
Mandel (3-4, 3.40) vs.
Crosby (7-5, 3.91)
Harrisburg OFF DAY vs. Akron,
7:00 p.m.
Pucetas (7-5, 3.64) vs.
Espino (7-2, 3.03)
Potomac Lost, 4-3 vs. Wilmington,
7:05 p.m.
Gilliam (0-1, 7.04) vs.
L. Perez (3-4, 4.26)
Hagerstown Won, 5-1 vs. Hickory,
7:05 p.m.
Hill (10-6, 4.75)vs.
Lamb (4-8, 4.79)
Auburn ALL-STAR BREAK ALL-STAR BREAK N/A
GCL Nationals Won, 7-2 vs. GCL Marlins,
12:00 p.m.
Giolito (pro debut)
vs. TBD
DSL Nationals Won, 4-3
(11 inn.)
@ DSL Giants,
10:30 a.m.
TBD vs. TBD

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 6 Syracuse 4
• Lannan (L, 7-11) 6⅓ IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 4BB, 3K
• Pena 1⅓ IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 2K, 2-2 IR-S
• Carroll 2-3, R, 2B, BB, CS
• Leon 2-4, 2R, HR, RBI

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre rallied for five runs in the 7th and 8th innings and held off a late charge from Syracuse to win the rubber game of the series, 6-4. John Lannan dropped his 11th game with three runs allowed on three hits and four walks over six and a 1/3rd innings. The Chiefs ‘pen surrendered all four inherited runners, two by Hassan Pena and two by Erik Davis. Jim Negrych homered in the 9th to drive in two of three Syracuse runs scored. Sandy Leon homered in the 5th off former Nats farmhand Michael O’Connor for the Venezuelan backstop’s first AAA longball.

HARRISBURG SENATORS — OFF DAY
The Senators six-game homestand continues with three against the first-place Akron Aeros before Harrisburg heads out for three games over the weekend to Erie, PA.

Wilmington 4 Potomac 3
• Karns 6IP, 8H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 10K
• Swynenberg 3IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 3K
• Soriano 3-4, R, CS, OF assist at HP
• Rendon 2-4, R

A ninth-inning rally fell short Last Night In Woodbridge.
As noted in the comments, and elsewhere online, 3B Anthony Rendon has reportedly been promoted to Harrisburg.

Hagerstown 5 Hickory 1
• Jordan (W, 1-2) 5IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 6K
• Holt (H, 4) 3IP, H, R, ER, BB, 3K, HR
• Ortega 2-4, R, 3B, 2RBI
• Newsome 2-4, R, 2B
• Skole 1-2, 2BB, RBI, E(19)

Taylor Jordan earned his first Sally League win in more than a year as Hagerstown downed Hickory, 5-1. Jordan tossed five shutout frames, giving up just two hits and two walk while striking out six. Bryce Ortega powered the Suns attack with a 2-for-4 effort, including a two-run triple. The win gave Hagerstown sole possession of second place in the Sally League North, as they kept pace with first-place West Virginia.

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS — ALL-STAR BREAK
Five Doubledays will represent Auburn in the 8th annual New York-Penn League All-Star Game in Mahoning Valley: OFs Wander Ramos and Estarlin Martinez, 1B Shawn Pleffner, SS Wes Schill and C Craig Manuel.

GCL Nationals 7 GCL Marlins 2
• Turnbull 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Vasquez (W, 3-6) 5IP, 5H, 2R, 1ER, 3BB, K
• Mendez 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Lippincott 4-5, R, 2-2B, 2RBI
• Nix 3-5, 2R, 2B, HR, 2RBI

The G-Nats rapped out 16 hits en route to a 7-2 win over the G-Marlins. Bryan Lippincott singled twice and doubled twice to lead the attack, followed by Tony Nix, who was a triple shy of the cycle with a 3-for-5 afternoon. Kylin Turnbull made the start in rehab, allowing just hit over two scoreless innings. Daury Vasquez got the win with both Marlins runs allowed on five hits and two walks over five innings.

DSL Nationals 4 DSL Giants 3
• Silvestre 5IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 4K
• K. Rodriguez (W, 4-2) 1IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K
• Bautista 3-5, R, 3B, RBI
• A. Martinez 2-4, 2RBI
• Novas 2-5

Wester Suarez’s two-out RBI single gave the D-Nats a 4-3 win in 11 innings. Starter Hector Silvestre gave up two runs on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts over five inning. Kelvin Rodriguez got the win with a scoreless top of the 11th. Rafael Bautista led the hit column with a 3-for-5 afternoon as the D-Nats rapped out 10 hits total. Andres Martinez (2-for-4) and Randy Novas (2-for-5) also had multi-hit games.

Aug 132012
 

Zach DukeZach Duke’s complete-game shutout late in the week cinched the International League’s Pitcher of the Week honors for the period of August 6 to 12.

Duke went the distance in Syracuse’s 6-0 shutout of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, allowing three hits, no walks and striking out seven. A week ago, the I.L. Leader in pitching wins (13) struck out eight over six frames in a 5-4 win over Buffalo.

Combined, he went 2-0 with 15 innings pitched, three runs allowed on eight hits and a walk while striking out 15.

Duke was signed as a free agent at the end of spring training following his release from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was originally drafted by Pittsburgh in the 20th round of the 2001 Draft, making his major-league debut in July of 2005 and representing the Pirates in the 2009 All-Star game.

He is the third Syracuse Chief to win weekly honors, following Tanner Roark (July 23-29) and Corey Brown (May 21-27).

Aug 132012
 

It’s the post you’ve been nagging asking for — a look at who might get sent to the Arizona Fall League.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that as the parent club improves, this kind of information becomes pushed to the periphery by the mainstream media. In other words, there’s going to be a lot more written about who might get called up in September than who’s going to play in the greater Scottsdale area in October. It’s already happening in the comments here, a niche site devoted to the future Nats, not the present Nats, as much as some folks want to bridge that gap like Evel Knievel with the Snake River Canyon.

Like last year, there is one clear choice: Brian Goodwin. Leapfrogging him from Hagerstown to Harrisburg has to have an AFL angle to it, which is not to say the only reason why the move was made. The next choice with little doubt is Anthony Rendon, assuming he doesn’t get hurt between now and then. A little less certain is Jeff Kobernus, though there is some question as to whether he’ll be healed by then (fractured rib).

As discussed previously, Zach Walters seems like a candidate to go back after being added to the taxi squad last fall, but repeats in the AFL aren’t very common. Likewise for Chris Marrero, who’s the right age and could use the playing time, especially since it’s unlikely he’ll be playing winter ball this year.

Less clear is whether Destin Hood or Justin Bloxom gets the call. Hood has been beset by injuries for a good chunk of this season, leaving some doubt as to whether his struggles at AA have been a matter of health or having hit a bump in the road developmentally. That kind of uncertainty is precisely what GMs want when it comes to the Rule 5 draft, which Hood will be eligible for in December. Bloxom might not get sent simply because the other teams responsible for filling out the roster of the Salt River Rafters have more attractive candidates (e.g. Matt Davidson, Toronto) at first base.

If Rendon is indeed the Single-A exception, then it might be safe to say that Nathan Karns and Alex Meyer might be held back, especially in the name of limiting innings with both in their first full professional season. I’ve heard whispers that Ricky Hague might be this year’s Zach Walters (taxi squad player), though that was when Hague was on a hot streak and has since cooled some.

With the new CBA, there just aren’t the late-sign, high-profile pitchers that would make obvious choices (e.g. Stephen Strasburg, Matt Purke). Folks suggesting Lucas Giolito need to share what they’re ingesting (tomorrow is his first outing, and I suspect it’ll be limited to one inning or 20 pitches, whichever comes first). We were surprised last year at the selections of Rafael Martin and Pat Lehman, neither of whom was on the verge of Rule 5 eligibility, but there just aren’t any pitchers that fit that mold at AA or AAA.

Perhaps we’ll see one or two out of the trio of Trevor Holder, Pat McCoy, and Paul Demny. That’s the safest guess at this point (and to be clear, without knowing which pitchers the other five organizations are likely to send, it’s a guess). Like last year, the only thing I’m sure of is that somebody, somewhere is going to be disappointed with the selections.

Aug 132012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 3-1;
Lost, 1-0
vs. Scranton/WB,
7:00 p.m.
Lannan (7-10, 5.03) vs.
O’Connor (2-6, 3.76)
Harrisburg Lost, 7-2 OFF DAY N/A
Potomac Lost, 7-0 vs. Wilmington,
7:05 p.m.
Karns (8-3, 2.06) vs.
Pounders (4-4, 5.43)
Hagerstown OFF DAY vs. Hickory,
7:05 p.m.
Rauh (1-2, 5.49) or
Jordan (0-2, 5.63) vs.
Martinez (6-6, 4.75)
Auburn Won, 8-4 ALL-STAR BREAK N/A
GCL Nationals OFF DAY @ GCL Marlins,
12:00 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD
DSL Nationals OFF DAY vs. DSL Giants,
10:30 a.m.
TBD vs. TBD

Syracuse 3 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 1 — GAME ONE
• Maya (W, 11-8) 5IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, K, HR
• Garcia (SV, 9) 2IP, H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Rivero 2-3
• Hoffpauir 2-3, RBI
• Teahen 1-3, R, 2RBI

Yunesky Maya continues to give up solo shots, but also continues to win as Syracuse took the first game against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 3-1. Maya gave up a first-inning HR then threw four scoreless innings to get the win (#11), finishing with one run on three hits and no walks. Jarrett Hoffpauir’s RBI single tied it in the 2nd while Mark Teahen plated the winning runs with a two-run single in the 3rd. Christian Garcia went the final two frames to earn his 9th save and lower his ERA to 0.36.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 1 Syracuse 0 — GAME TWO
• Atkins (L, 6-9) 3IP, 4H, R, ER, BB, 3K, HR
• Lehman 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Perez 2-3, OF assist at HP
• Leon 1-2, BB

Mitch Atkins also surrendered a solo shot, but the Yankees’ pitchers were able to keep the Chiefs off the board for a 1-0 shutout. Atkins allowed four of the five Scranton/Wlikes-Barre hits, walking one and striking out three over three innings. Eury Perez was the sole Syracuse batter to collect multiple hits, going 2-for-3 and gunning down a runner at the plate. Roster move: RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx released.

Binghamton 7 Harrisburg 2
• Demny (L, 6-7) 2⅔ IP, 8H, 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 2K
• Broderick 3⅓ IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, K, HR, 3-0 IR-S
• Nicol 3-4
• Bloxom 2-4, BB, RBI

A four-run third chased starter Paul Demny as Harrisburg fell for the sixth time in seven games, 7-2. Demny was buffeted with eight hits while walking three and left the bases loaded with two out in the 3rd. Brian Broderick was able to strand them but eventually gave up two runs of his own. Harrisburg racked up 10 hits but continues to struggle with getting runners in, leaving 10 runners on and going 2-for-9 with RISP. Sean Nicol led the hit parade with a 3-for-4 afternoon, followed by Justin Bloxom’s 2-for-4 effort. Roster moves: RHP Erik Davis was promoted to Syracuse with RHP Zech Zinicola activated from the DL to take his place on the 25-man roster.

Winston-Salem 7 Potomac 0
• Meyers (L, 2-1) 6IP, 4H, R, ER, 0BB, 7K
• Olbrychowski 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Kelso 1-2
• Keyes 1-3, BB
• Rendon 0-2, 2K (ejected after 2nd AB)

In case you missed it: Sunday Afternoon In Woodbridge.

HAGERSTOWN — OFF DAY
With a game lost to the rains, the focus is on the loss column in the Sally League North, as the Suns, Crawdads, and Power each have 22. It’s the last series between Hickory and Hagerstown this week as the two teams match up for three this week before the Suns head out to the shore to face Delmarva while the Crawdads head home for a seven-game homestand. As of now, the schedule favors Hickory as they still have four games left against West Virginia while the Suns will be done with both after this week.

Auburn 8 Mahoning Valley 4
• Fischer (W, 2-3) 5IP, 5H, 2R, 1ER, 0BB, 5K
• Henke 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Pleffner 3-4, R, RBI
• C. Lopez 1-4, R, HR, 4RBI
• Marrero 1-3, 2R, 2B, BB, RBI

Carlos Lopez’s grand slam highlighted a five-run first as the Doubledays doubled up the Scrappers, 8-4. David Fischer got the win with two runs over five innings on five hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Shawn Pleffner led the hit column with a 3-for-4 night, scoring a run and driving in a run. Chris Marrero walked, doubled, scored twice, and drove in a run in what could be his final rehab appearance before rejoining Syracuse.

GCL NATIONALS — OFF DAY
An 8-2 run thus far in August has put the G-Nats in a position to climb out of the GCL East cellar, and perhaps even make a run at .500.

DSL NATIONALS — OFF DAY
After a 3-3 week, the D-Nats play the Giants, the “Redbacks,” and Pirates2 squads with home games on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

Aug 122012
 

It would be tempting to pin this one entirely on the bullpen, but it would be letting the offense off the hook.

For the second time in three games, Winston-Salem shut out Potomac, this time by a 7-0 count. The P-Nats managed just five hits and drew just one (1) walk to put three (3) baserunners into scoring position. They stranded five baserunners.

Perhaps that’s not so bad, considering that for five and 2/3rds innings, Dash pitcher Erik Johnson had a no-hitter, which was broken up when veteran utilityman Francisco Soriano served up a clean, line-drive single to center.

But after back-to-back singles to open the 7th, Potomac couldn’t do any more damage against the White Sox 2011 2nd round draft pick, who wriggled out of the 1st-and-2nd-no-out jam with a strikeout and a double-play ball.

Alex Meyer suffered his first Carolina League loss, giving up a single run over six innings on four hits and no walks with seven strikeouts. His lone mistake: A leadoff triple by Michael Earley that Meyer couldn’t strand at third, getting the first out to a drawn-in infield but giving up the run on a sacrifice fly to medium right field.

As aforementioned, the firemen came out of the ‘pen with gas instead of water, as Adam Carr gave up back-to-back HRs to open the 7th and five straight hits total before being lifted for Joe Testa, who stranded one of two inherited runners then gave up two of his own on three hits in the 8th. Within the space of roughly 20 minutes, a 1-0 pitcher’s duel was transformed into another rout.

With the loss, Potomac finished 5-15 against the leading contender for the 2012 Mills Cup, which includes 0-10 at BB&T stadium. They are now 2½ games behind first-place Wilmington, which comes to town for three games starting tomorrow night and finishing on Wednesday afternoon.

Aug 122012
 

What a difference a day makes.

The P-Nats bats came to life last night. The defense made the game closer than it should have been. But the pitching carried the game.

It took a couple of innings, but once the hitters figured out the soft-tossing Winston-Salem righthander, the offense came to life. The P-Nats struck for a pair of runs in third, highlighted by singles by Blake Kelso and Francisco Soriano and an Adrian Sanchez double that the Dash defense misplayed into a triple with both poor route running and a missed cutoff man.

Potomac hounded Chris Bassitt for another pair of runs in the fourth on four hits, as J.P. Ramirez fisted a one-out single over the shortstop to start the rally, took third on an errant pickoff throw, and scored as Kelso, Erick Fernandez, and Soriano connected for consecutive two-out singles.

Meanwhile, southpaw Matt Grace retired the first nine batter he faced, getting a little help from the defense as Jason Martinson erased a hit batsman in the 2nd with a 6-3 DP. On the second pass through the lineup, though, it was a tougher go — self-inflicted with a pair of walks in the 4th with a single sandwiched in between, but Grace erased the first free pass with a pickoff and Martinson helped again with a nifty 6-5 force at third on a grounder to his right.

Grace wasn’t so fortunate in the 5th as a leadoff walk and a double to left after a strikeout put two runners in scoring position. Grace got another strikeout and was on the verge of stranding another pair of runners when Stephen King botched the would-be groundout to let in two runs. He would put on another pair of runners in the 6th but worked out of the jam with another couple of K’s, for a season-high of eight strikeouts.

Potomac would score single runs in the 6th and 7th innings, with an error on a Fernandez grounder to third after a Kelso double in the 6th and a triple to right by Anthony Rendon that was hit so hard that the Dash outfielder, Brandon Short, a triple-A guy on rehab, got spun around and fell trying to track ti down.

Winston-Salem would make this a ballgame again with a two-run blast to right-center by veteran 1B/DH Dan Black off reliever Neil Holland in the 8th inning.

In the 9th, Rob Wort did his best imitation of Chad Cordero by loading the bases on a pair of doubles and a walk, but this 23-year-old can get the K when he needs it and struck out the side, including the final batter on a 3-2 count with two outs to bring his team-leading total to 81.

With the win, Potomac keeps pace with the rest of the Carolina League’s North Division as all four teams won on Saturday night. They remain 1½ games back.

The Dash and P-Nats conclude the series and the regular-season slate — Winston-Salem has won 14 of 19, and all 10 in North Carolina — with a matchup between Alex Meyer (2-0, 0.78) and Erik Johnson (1-2, 2.13).