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.

Jul 152012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 8-1 “@” Scranton/WB,
7:00 p.m.
Duke (10-3, 3.68) vs.
Maine (2-3, 7.15)
Harrisburg Lost, 5-4
(10 inn.)
vs. Richmond,
2:00 p.m.
Rosenbaum (7-6, 3.54) vs.
Westcott (8-6, 3.71)
Potomac Lost, 6-3 OFF DAY N/A
Hagerstown Won, 9-4 @ Lexington,
1:35 p.m.
McKenzie (2-2, 7.54) vs.
Foltynewicz (10-2, 2.59)
Auburn Lost, 3-1 @ Connecticut,
4:05 p.m.
Rauh (0-0, 1.29) vs.
Gillies (0-1, 3.38)
GCL Nationals Lost, 8-6 OFF DAY N/A
DSL Nationals ALL STAR
BREAK
ALL STAR
BREAK
N/A

Scranton-Wilkes/Barre 8 Syracuse 1
• Roark (L, 4-12) 3IP, 8H, 7R, 6ER, 4BB, 0K, 0HR
• Bibens-Dirkx 4IP, 4H, R, ER, 0BB, 4K
• J. Valdez 1-3, BB
• Carroll 1-3, BB

A six-run 2nd put this game away early as Syracuse Chiefs lost on the “road,” 8-1 to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, extending their losing streak to six games (seven if you count the completion on Thursday). Tanner Roark suffered his 12th loss with seven runs surrendered on eight hits and four walks over three innings. Jim Negrych homered in the 8th break up the shutout bid as the Chiefs were limited to just five hits total and stranded eight baserunners. Roster moves: IF Josh Johnson was transferred from Auburn, 1B Chris Marrero was placed on the 7-Day DL.

Richmond 5 Harrisburg 4 (10 inn.)
• Demny 5⅔ IP, 6H, 4R, 3ER, BB, 7K, HR, 1-1
• McCoy 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Nelo (L, 1-3) 1IP, 0H, R, ER, 0BB, 0K, HBP
• Walters 1-4, R, 2B, RBI
• Hood 1-4, RBI

The Senators rallied for four in the last of the 9th but lost in the 10th without giving up a base hit. A hit batsmen, sacrifice, fielder’s choice, and a sac fly did the trick for the Squirrels, handing the loss to Hector Nelo. Starter Paul Demny gave up the first four runs on six hits and a walk over five and 2/3rds while striking out seven. Harrisburg plated four on just seven hits and no walks, going 2-for-4 with RISP and leaving five runners on base. Roster moves: RHP Rafael Martin was transferred from the GCL, with RHP Zech Zinicola placed on the 7-Day DL (ankle).

Wilmington 6 Potomac 2
• Swynenbeg 4⅓ IP, 10H, 5R, 4ER, BB, 2K, HR
• Holland 2⅔ IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, BB, 2K
• Keyes 1-4, 2RBI
• King 1-4, RBI

The Blue Rocks put up a pair of crooked numbers in the first two innings en route to a 6-3 win and a four-game sweep of the Potomac Nationals. Matt Swynenberg made his return to the rotation but was lit up for five runs on 10 hits and a walk over four and a 1/3rd innings. Kevin Keyes and Stephen King accounted for all three runs driven in as the Potomac lineup was held to six hits total. Potomac returns to Woodbridge on Monday for a seven-game homestand against the Lynchburg Hillcats and Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

Hagerstown 9 Lexington 4
• Meyer (W, 7-4) 6IP, 4H, 0R, 0BB, 9K
• Eusebio 6BF, 0IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 0K, HBP
• Bates (SV, 1) 3IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 0K, 2-0 IR-S
• Goodwin 2-3, 2R, 2BB, HR, 3RBI, SB(15)
• Dykstra 3-6, 2R, 2-2B, RBI
• Ortega 3-4, 3B, BB, RBI

After a 100-minute delay to get the field playable, Alex Meyer threw six shutout innings and struck out nine, including the side in the 6th as Hagerstown survived a 7th-inning Lexington rally to win 9-4. Wilson Eusebio faced six batters in the frame and retired none of them, coughing up four runs on four hits, a walk, and a hit batsman. Colin Bates was summoned to douse the flames and delivered for his first save. Seven of the Suns’ 14 hits went for extra bases, with Brian Goodwin homering, Cutter Dykstra doubling twice, and Bryce Ortega tripling. Roster moves: C Adrian Nieto was transferred from the GCL, LHP Bobby Hansen Jr. was placed on the Temporary Inactive List

Connecticut 3 Auburn 1
• Jordan (L, 0-2) 4IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 4K
• Medina 3IP, H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Schill 2-4, RBI
• Kieboom 1-2, R

The night after smacking 15 hits, Auburn was held to just three in a 3-1 loss to the Connecticut. Wes Schill singled twice while Spencer Kieboom singled once, but the rest of the Doubledays lineup was 0-for-23. Taylor Jordan was charged with the loss, giving up all three Tigers runs on four hits over four innings. He walked none and struck out four. Roster moves: IF James Brooks was promoted from the GCL, replacing Johnson on the Doubledays roster.

GCL Astros 8 GCL Nationals 6
• Vasquez (L, 0-5) 4IP, 8H, 6R, 1ER, BB, K, HR
• Mendez 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• J.C. Valdez 3-4, 2R, 2B, 2RBI, BB, SB
• Mesa 2-5, 2R, 2-2B
• Eusebio 2-5, RBI

A five-run third by the G-Astros erased an early G-Nats lead as the Houston affiliate held off a late charge by the Washington squad for an 8-6 win. Daury Vasquez took the loss with six runs (one earned) allowed on eight hits and a walk. Jean-Carlos Valdez led the G-Nats offense with a 3-for-4 afternoon, including a pair of doubles, two runs scored, two RBI, a walk and a stolen base.

DSL NATIONALS — ALL STAR BREAK
The DSL All-Star Game is today but which DSL Nationals, if any, will be participating is unknown because there is no list of players named to the two teams, which will be the A.L. affiliates vs. the N.L. affiliates.

Jul 142012
 

Three Doubledays pitchers combined on a one-hit shutout as Auburn pummeled Aberdeen, 10-0 to complete a three-game sweep.

Nick Lee retired the first nine batters in order before giving up a leadoff single to start the 4th. He quickly erased that baserunner with a nifty 1-3-6-4 pickoff play then finished the inning.

The no-hit bid was an academic exercise by that point as the Doubleday batters were having their way with the Ironbird pitchers, scoring in each of the first four innings and highlighted by Wander Ramos’s two-run shot in the second inning.

The game was blown wide open in the 8th and Ramos was once again in the spotlight, reaching base on a disputed HBP call. Mike McQuillan tripled him in with a liner over the centerfielder’s head for a triple, with Josh Johnson singling him in, then Shawn Pleffner doubling Johnson in, and following a pitching change, Estarlin Martinez finishing the scoring binge with an RBI single ripped up the middle, too hot for the Ironbird SS to hold on to.

The Doubledays pounded out 15 hits, with every batter reaching base and eight of nine batters hitting safely, with Jordan Poole as the “beer man,” though he did draw two walks. Martinez led the hit column with a 3-for-5 night.

Lee lasted six innings, giving up just the one hit and two walks while striking out three. Jack McGeary was the first man out of the bullpen, and worked around a two-out HBP, a stolen base, and a wild pitch by striking out the last of the four batters he faced to preserve the shutout bid.

Cody Davis sealed it by retiring the last six Aberdeen batters in order, striking out the side in the 9th and four overall.

With the win, the Doubledays hit the road and head up I-95 to I-395 to Norwich, CT for three games against the Connecticut Tigers before returning home to Auburn on Tuesday.

Jul 142012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Postponed “@” Scranton/WB,
7:00 p.m.
Roark (4-11, 5.11) vs.
Ortiz (6-3, 2.83)
Harrisburg Lost, 4-0;
Won, 3-2
vs. Richmond,
7:00 p.m.
Demny (6-4, 5.14) vs.
Gloor (2-1, 2.25)
Potomac Lost, 3-1 @ Wilmington,
6:05 p.m.
Swynenberg (4-4, 5.79) vs.
Pimentel (0-1, 6.28)
Hagerstown Lost, 7-2 @ Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Meyer (6-4, 3.32) vs.
Perez (0-0, 0.76)
Auburn Won, 10-0 @ Connecticut,
7:05 p.m.
Jordan (0-1, 4.82) vs.
Briceno (0-2, 9.72)
GCL Nationals Won, 1-0 @ GCL Astros,
12:00 p.m.
Vasquez (0-4, 2.50) vs.
Rivera (0-0, 0.00)
DSL Nationals Won, 6-2 ALL STAR
BREAK
N/A

SYRACUSE — PPD
A power failure postponed the game until August 12, the fireworks until next Saturday night.

Richmond 4 Harrisburg 0 — GAME ONE
• Wang 4+ IP, 7H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, 3K
• VanAllen 1IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K
• Perez 1-3
• Kobernus 1-3, SB(35)

Chien-Ming Wang proved again he can lose at any level, giving up seven hits and three runs in a 4-0 loss in the opening game of the Harrisburg-Richmond doubleheader. The Senators were held to just four hits and a walk, with just three (3) baserunners getting into scoring position and all five men stranded.

Harrisburg 3 Richmond 2 — GAME TWO
• Perry 5IP, 5H, R, ER, BB, 6K
• Davis (W, 7-2) 1⅓ IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, K
• Nelo (SV, 13) ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K, 1-0 IR-S
• Perez 2-3
• Van Ostrand 2-3
• Walters 1-3, R, HR, 3RBI

Zach Walter’s three-run HR in the bottom of the 6th broke up a streak of 12 scoreless inning as the Senators salvaged a doubleheader split with a 3-2 win in the nightcap. Ryan Perry’s conversion to starting continues to succeed as the 25-y.o. lowered his ERA to 1.66 with a run over five innings, but had a no-decision. Erik Davis got the win, though he was touched for a run in the 7th and needed some help from Hector Nelo, who got the last two outs for his 13th save.

Wilmington 3 Potomac 1
• Grace (L, 4-9) 6IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 5K
• Barthmaier 2IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 2K
• Keyes 1-3, R, HR, RBI
• Sanchez 2-2, CS
• Ramirez 1-3, 2B

The Blue Rocks struck for two runs early and held on for a 3-1 win. Kevin Keyes provided the “1” with his 12th HR, homering in back-to-back games for the fourth time this season. Matt Grace turned in second quality start since back-to-back 10-run outings last month but was the losing pitcher despite allowing just two runs on five hits and two walks over six innings. He also struck out a season-high of five.

Greensboro 7 Hagerstown 2
• Hansen 3+ IP, 6H, 6R, 4ER, 4BB, 0K
• Holt 3IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 4K, 3-1 IR-S
• Souza 2-4, RBI
• Burns 1-2, R, 2BB, RBI, SB

No need to tell Bobby Hansen Jr. it was Friday the 13th yesterday — he faced eight batters in the fourth without retiring any of them, committing two errors after back-to-back singles, then another single, then walking three in a nightmarish six-run inning. The Suns lost this one 7-2, as the Hagerstown batters were limited to just six hits. Steve Souza Jr. extended his hit streak to nine games with a 2-for-4 night.

Auburn 10 Aberdeen 0
• Lee 6IP, 1H, 0R, 2BB, 3K
• Davis 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• McQuillan 3-4, R, 3B, BB, RBI
• E. Martinez 3-5, 2B, 2RBI

Three Doubledays pitchers combined on a one-hit shutout Last Night In Aberdeen.

GCL Nationals 1 GCL Astros 0
• Pineyro 5IP, 1H, 0R, 2BB, 5K
• Barrientos 3IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Dicharry (W, 2-1) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Foat 1-3, RBI

With two outs, James Brooks was hit by a pitch, took second on a wild pitch, and scored on Matt Foat’s RBI single for a 1-0 walkoff win by the GCL Nationals over the GCL Astros. The unlikely run made a winner out of Kevin Dicharry, the third of three G-Nats pitchers, who combined on a four-hit shutout with two walks and nine strikeouts. Foat’s safety was just the fifth of the game as the G-Nats were held to five singles and no walks.

DSL Nationals 6 DSL “Redbacks” 2
• Silvestre (W, 3-2) 5IP, 4H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, K
• Acevedo (H, 1) 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Bautista 2-4, R, BB, 2SB
• Marmolejos-Diaz 2-4, 2B, 2RBI

With two runs in the 5th and three in the 6th, the D-Nats broke open a 1-1 game and cruised to a 6-2 victory over the Arizona/Cincinnati DSL squad. Hector Silvestre got the win with an unearned run on four hits and two walks. Rafael Bautista and “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz both went 2-for-4, with Bautista swiping two bags and Diaz driving in two runs.

Jul 132012
 

Our weekly look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 44-48, T5th place I.L. North, 8 games behind

Good Erik Arnesen 20 scoreless IP since June 4
Bad Carlos Rivero 14BB in 81G
Interesting Jeff Mandel 1.06WHIP in 26⅓ IP

HARRISBURG SENATORS 48-42, T1st place E.L. West, .038 W% behind

Good Jimmy Van Ostrand .934OPS in 35G
Bad Marcos Frias 1.75WHIP in 33G
Interesting 681K Pitching K’s, 2nd in E.L.

POTOMAC NATIONALS 10-11, T3rd place C.L. North Division, 1 game behind (41-50 overall)

Good David Freitas .813 OPS, 9.5 RAA (runs above average), #1 for Car. Lg. Cs
Bad Jason Martinson 12E in 20G
Interesting Jimmy Barthmaier 0.77 ERA, 0.77 WHIP in 10G

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 14-7, T1std place Sally League North Divison, 2 games ahead (56-34 overall)

Good Steve Souza .263/.326/.600, 7HR, 23RBI since All-Star Break (21G)
Bad Bobby Hansen Jr. 15BB in 28⅓ IP
Interesting Billy Burns 12BB in 16G since All-Star Break

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 16-7, 1st place Pinckney Division, N.Y.-Penn League, 1½ games ahead

Good Shawn Pleffner .341/.383/.500 in 21G
Bad Gregory Baez 1-1, 9.64 ERA, 2.25 WHIP in 3 starts
Interesting Craig Manuel .385/.455/.436 in 12G

GCL NATIONALS 9-13, T3rd Place GCL East, 7 games behind

Good Gilberto Mendez 0-0, 3.29ERA, 0.80WHIP in 13⅔ IP
Bad Hayden Jennings 28K in 52AB
Interesting Wilmer Difo .313/.432/.433, 8SB in 20G

DSL NATIONALS 17-18, 6th Place Boca Chica South Division, 8 games behind

Good 19 y.o. Rafael Bautista 20SB in 35G
Bad 18 y.o. Jorge Tillero .553 OPS in 15G
Interesting 19 y.o. Elisaul Gomez 2.75 ERA, 1.17WHIP, 4.81 BB/9
Jul 132012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 3-0;
Lost, 1-0
(14 inn.)
vs. Scranton/WB,
7:00 p.m.
Roark (4-11, 5.11) vs.
Ortiz (6-3, 2.94)
Harrisburg Lost, 12-3 vs. Richmond,
6:00 p.m. (DH)
Wang (rehab) and
Perry (1-1, 1.62) vs.
Fitzgerald (4-6, 4.19) and
Maday (3-5, 3.44)
Potomac Lost, 8-3 @ Wilmington,
7:05 p.m.
Grace (4-8, 6.12) vs.
Adam (1-9, 3.94)
Hagerstown Lost, 4-3
(10 inn.)
@ Greensboro,
7:05 p.m.
Hansen (2-0, 4.13) vs.
Brice (6-3, 4.24)
Auburn Won, 6-3 @ Aberdeen,
7:05 p.m.
Lee (0-0, 2.93) vs.
Vader (0-2, 7.31)
GCL Nationals Won, 7-6 vs. GCL Astros,
12:00 p.m.
Pineyro (0-0, 3.06) vs.
Barrios (1-0, 1.59)
DSL Nationals Won, 8-0 @ DSL Ariz./Cincy,
10:30 a.m.
Silvestre (2-2, 4.97) vs.
Aybar (0-5, 5.34)

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 3 Syracuse 0 — GAME ONE (comp.)
• Atkins 9IP, 5H, 3R, 1ER, 6BB, 4K
• Maldonado 1-3, 2B, BB
• Rivero 1-3
• Negrych 1-2

After a 92-day hiatus, Syracuse lost to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the completion of the suspended game, 3-0. The loss went to Mitch Atkins, who threw the unusual complete game, giving up all three Yankees runs on five hits and six walks while striking out four. Syracuse mustered one more hit (six) with the Carloses (Maldonado and Rivero) both going 1-for-3.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 1 Syracuse 0 — GAME TWO
• Mandel 5IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Arnesen 3⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 6K
• Bibens-Dirkx (L, 0-2) 1IP, 1H, R, ER, 2BB, 0K, HBP,
• Rivero 2-6, 2B
• Marrero 1-3, BB

What was supposed to be one reliever making a spot start and possibly another finishing it up for a light night, the Chiefs ended up emptying the bullpen as they dropped the second game, 1-0 in 14 innings. Jeff Mandel flirted with a no-hitter for four and 2/3rds and finished with a one hit allowed over five innings. Austin Bibens-Dirkx took the loss when he walked the leadoff batter, gave up a single, hit a batter, then walked in the game’s lone run. The Chiefs collected 10 hits total, but left on 11 while going 0-for-8 with RISP.

Richmond 12 Harrisburg 3
• Holder 1⅔ IP, 6H, 7R, 7ER, 2BB, K, 2HR
• Tatusko 5⅓ IP, 6H, R, ER, 2BB, 6K, 1-0 IR-S
• Kobernus 2-5, R, 3B, 2RBI
• Lozada 1-2, R; ⅓ IP, BB, 1-1 IR-S

Trevor Holder’s AA debut was a tale of two innings. The first was the best of times (1-2-3), the second… not so much. Richmond scored seven times against the 25-y.o., including a grand slam that ended his night as the Flying Squirrels went on to a 12-4 triumph. Ryan Tatusko turned in a masterful piece of relief, allowing just a run on six hits and two walks over five and a 1/3rd innings. Jeff Kobernus led the Senators offense with a single and a triple and two RBI.

Wilmington 8 Potomac 3
• Ray (L, 3-6) 4IP, 5H, 5R, 4ER, 2BB, 4K, HR
• Storen 2IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, 5K, HR
• Ramirez 2-3, 3B
• Soriano 2-3, R, BB

A four-run fourth by the Blue Rocks knocked Robbie Ray from the game and helped send the P-Nats to an 8-3 loss. Ray gave up five runs on five hits and two walks over the first four innings. Drew Storen finished out the game with two innings, but was touched for a home run by Wilmington’s Matt Fields, who also took Ray deep in the 4th. Francisco Soriano and J.P. Ramirez both went 2-for-3 as the offense registered eight hits total, but the defense committed three errors.

Greensboro 4 Hagerstown 3 (10 inn.)
• Hill 6⅔ IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 2K
• Hawkins (L, 3-2) 1⅓ IP, H, 2R, ER, BB, 2K, HR
• Burns 0-2, 3BB
• Souza 1-5, R, HR, RBI

After taking the lead in the top of the 10th, the Suns were eclipsed in the space of three batters in the bottom of the 10th as a one-out HR gave the GreenJackets the 4-3 win in extras, stopping the Hagerstown win streak at seven. The Suns managed just five hits total, including Steve Souza’s 16th home run. Taylor Hill had just one bad inning, giving up two runs in part of the 7th after tossing six scoreless to begin the game. The loss went to Ben Hawkins who gave up just the big fly over an inning and a third, walking one and striking out one.

Auburn 6 Aberdeen 3
• Mooneyham 3IP, H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Fischer (W, 1-1) 4IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 2K
• Ramos 2-3, 2B, 2BB, 3RBI
• Pleffner 3-5, R, 3B
• E. Martinez 2-5, RBI

A pair of two-run rallies in the 6th and 7th innings pushed the Doubledays past the Ironbirds for a 6-3 win in Aberdeen. David Fischer got the win in relief of Brett Mooneyham, who tossed three scoreless inings with a walk, a hit and two strikeouts. Fischer gave up two runs on two hits and a walk over four innings. Derek Self got the last four outs of the game for his second save. Wander Ramos reached base four times: a single, a double, and two walks and drove in three to pace the Auburn offense, which tallied 10 hits total. Roster move: IF Josh Johnson assigned to Auburn from Syracuse.

GCL Nationals 7 GCL Marlins 6
• Hudgins 4+ IP, 5H, 4R, 0ER, BB, K
• Hollins (BS, 1; W, 1-0) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K, IR-S 3-1
• Boyden (SV, 1) 1IP, H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Difo 3-5, 2R, RBI
• Brooks 3-5, R, RBI

After blowing leads of 3-0 and 5-4, the G-Nats put up single runs in the 7th and 8th and held on for their third straight win, 7-6 over the G-Marlins. Starter Will Hudgins gave up four unearned runs on five hits and a walk, but struck out just one. Leonard Hollins let in one run on a groundout but got the win when G-Nats went ahead for good. Wilmer Difo and James Brooks both went 3-for-5 with an RBI as the G-Nats pounded out 16 hits total for the afternoon.

DSL Nationals 8 DSL “Redbacks” 0
• Gomez (W, 4-2) 8IP, H, 0R, 3BB, 2K
• Chavez 1IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Bautista 2-4, R, BB, RBI, 2SB (20)
• Mercedes 2-4, 2R, RBI

Elisaul Gomez and Jose Chavez combined on a two-hit shutout as the D-Nats downed the Arizona/Cincinnati co-op, 8-0. Gomez allowed just a single in the 7th while walking three and striking out two over eight frames. Jose Chavez gave up a double and a walk in the 9th, but preserved the shutout with the help of a double play. Rafael Bautista and Yermin Mercedes both went 2-for-4 as the D-Nats made their 10 hits count, going 5-for-13 with RISP.

Jul 122012
 

Steve Souza Jr. has been named the South Atlantic League’s Batter of the Week, the second straight week a Nationals farmhand has earned that honor.

Souza refused to single for the week (July 2-8), hitting four doubles and five home runs last week for a total of nine runs scored and 12 RBI and line .of .333/.455/1.037. He’s the second Sun to earn weekly honors, joining Alex Meyer, who earned Pitcher of the Week honors for June 11-17.

The 2007 third-round pick out of Cascade High School in Everett, WA is currently riding a seven-game hit streak and is batting .293/.396/.756 for the month of July.

Jul 122012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse ALL-STAR BREAK vs. Scranton/WB,
6:00 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD
Harrisburg ALL-STAR BREAK vs. Richmond,
7:00 p.m.
TBD vs.
Kickham (6-7, 2.96)
Potomac Lost, 6-2 @ Wilmington,
7:05 p.m.
Ray (3-5, 4.87) vs.
Ferguson (0-0, -.–)
Hagerstown Won, 4-3 @ Greensboro,
7:05 p.m.
Hill (9-4, 4.72) vs.
Urena (5-4, 2.96)
Auburn Won, 9-5 @ Aberdeen,
7:05 p.m.
Fischer (0-1, 4.91) vs.
Coffey (0-3, 12.66)
GCL Nationals Won, 7-3 @ GCL Marlins,
12:00 p.m.
Hudgins (0-2, 4.70) vs.
Jackson (0-1, 1.50)
DSL Nationals Won, 15-5 vs. DSL Ariz./Cincy,
10:30 a.m.
Gomez (3-2, 3.45) vs.
Ramirez (1-2, 1.32)

SYRACUSE — ALL STAR BREAK
• Brown 0-4
• Rivero 0-2, 2K
• Negrych 1-2,
• Duke 1IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 0K

The Pacific Coast League defeated the International League 3-0 in the Triple-A All Star Game. All four Chiefs saw game action, as indicated above.

HARRISBURG — ALL STAR BREAK
• Perez 0-4
• Kobernus 1-2
• Rahl 1-4, RBI
• Davis 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Nelo (L, 0-1) 0IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, 0K

The Eastern Division rallied for a 5-4 win in the last of the 9th, with Harrisburg’s Hector Nelo taking the loss with a run on two hits and a walk.

Wilmington 6 Potomac 2
• Olbrychowski 6⅔ IP, 9H, 6R, 5ER, 2BB, 5K, HR
• Carr 1⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K, 1-0 IR-S
• Freitas 3-4, 2B, 2RBI
• Sanchez 2-4, SB

Potomac led this one briefly, 2-1, but the Blue Rocks pantsed the P-Nats with five unanswered runs for a 6-2 win. Adam Olbrychowski took the loss with all six runs allowed (five earned) on nine hits and two walks while striking out five. David Freitas drove in both Potomac runs while going 3-for-4 with a double.

Hagerstown 4 Greensboro 3
• Turnbull 6IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 2K
• Bates (W, 4-2) 2IP, 4H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Barrett (SV, 16) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Miller 1-2, R, 2B, BB, SF, 2RBI
• Ortega 1-3, BB, RBI, SB

With three runs in the 7th and a run in the 8th, Hagerstown went from being nearly no-hit to a 4-3 win over Greensboro. Steve Souza broke up the no-no with a leadoff single in the 7th, with Justin Miller following him with an RBI double to break up the shutout. In the following frame, Miller broke the 3-3 tie with a sac fly that sent in Billy Burns, who had led off the 8th with a single. Colin Bates got the win in relief of Kylin Turnbull while Aaron Barrett pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his league-leading 16th save.

Auburn 9 Aberdeen 5
• Encarnacion 4⅔ IP, 10H, 4R, 3ER, BB, 5K, HR
• Smith (W, 3-1) 1⅓ IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, 2K, 2-0 IR-S
• Henke (H, 2) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Poole 3-5, 2B, 2RBI
• E. Martinez 2-4, R, BB
• Pleffner 2-5, 2R, RBI

Auburn batted around in the 7th for six-run inning and a 9-5 win over Aberdeen. The Ironbirds strafed starter Pedro Encarnacion for four runs (three earned) on 10 hits and a walk. Jason Smith picked up the win in relief while Robert Benincasa snuffed a late Aberdeen charge in the 9th for the save. Travis Poole paced the offense with a 3-for-5 night, including a double and two RBI.

GCL Nationals 7 GCL Marlins 3
• Schwartz 3IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, K
• Martin (W, 1-0) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Mesa 2-3, 2B, RBI
• Nieto 2-4, 2R, BB

A four-run 5th broke open 3-3 tie as the G-Nats downed the G-Marlins, 7-3. Blake Schwartz got the start but allowed all three Marlins runs on six hits over three innings. Rafael Martin led a trio of relievers that combined for six shutout and hitless innings with eight strikeouts. Eight of the nine G-Nats batters hit safely, with Narciso Mesa, Adrian Nieto, Jean Carlos Valdez and Will Piwnica-Worms each collecting two hits while the team compiled 12 total.

DSL Nationals 15 DSL Giants 5
• Valerio 4IP, H, 0R, 2BB, 3K
• Valdez (W, 1-1) 5IP, 8H, 5R, 2ER, 3BB, 3K, HR
• Marmolejos-Diaz 3-5, 3R, 2B, 3B, 5RBI
• A. Martinez 3-6, 3R
• Cerda 2-4, 2R, BB, RBI

The D-Nats snapped their eight-game skid with a 15-5 beatdown of the D-Giants. “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz singled, doubled, and tripled while driving in five to lead the 13-hit attack. Starter Maximo Valerio threw four scoreless, allowing just a hit and two walks while striking out three. Phillips Valdez completed the game and got the win, giving up five runs (two earned) on eight hits and three walks.

Jul 112012
 

Things have been real busy at the home office of Nationals Prospects, but it occurred to me that I haven’t done a follow-up to the “First Impressions” column from May. With the lull afforded by the All-Star break, it’s time to fix that problem.

Everybody and their grandmother wants to know when __________ will be promoted. The three most common: Matt Skole, Brian Goodwin, and Alex Meyer. Perhaps the move of Carlos Alvarez up from Auburn to Hagerstown concurring with Skole’s placement on the DL is a signal that a move is coming. Potomac does return home this coming Monday, which is seven days after Skole last played. Or it could just be that he’s legitimately hurt. But there was no mention of an injury in the game report by the Hagerstown newspaper…

I tease because I have no other recourse. The truth is that I rarely get much notice, and sometimes I find out before the team employees do (well, except for the clubbies ;-). But my working assumption is that it’s most likely to be one or none of those three that gets promoted, informed by the pattern of the past three seasons which is (altogether now) one level per year below AA.

Back to the Potomac players & pitchers. Here’s an update on what I’m seeing…

FIRST BASE
Justin Bloxom has been moved up and it was earned. Stephen King has been moved down. Evaluating this has been a battle between the heart and mind. The heart hopes for him to hit like he’s been unfairly demoted and in the process, helping the P-Nats to a second-half playoff run. The mind knows that this has been a pattern: someone from AA gets dropped down to finish out the season (e.g. Sean Rooney, Bill Rhinehart). Defensively, it’s been about what you’d expect – he’s improving relatively quickly (as you’d expect from an athletic IF), but there have been moments of cringe. Offensively, he’s showing that he’s seen AA pitching and hitting the High-A pitchers’ mistakes.

SECOND BASE
Adrian Sanchez has played here the most, but not the best. The word is out that he likes the inside heat, but he’s starting to adjust and drive the ball the other way. Defensively, he has simply not impressed, and is visibly taking steps to compensate for his lack of range, often playing a step or two onto the outfield grass.

SHORTSTOP
This has been a shared position all season long. First with Zach Walters and Rick Hague, now with Jason Martinson and Hague. A lot of this is because there are more left-side IF prospects than positions, which we knew all along. Walters got promoted because of his bat, and while he showed flashes of brilliance on defense, he also committed errors in spades. It’s a similar story for both Hague and Martinson — offense is not the problem, but the defense is uneven. Hague has shown more promise at his secondary position (2B) than Martinson (3B), but the sample sizes for both are very small (16G and 4G).

THIRD BASE
Amid the (constant) carping, campaigning, and complaining about Skole, Blake Kelso has been quietly doing his job. He’s probably never going to hit for power, but I can understand why the Nationals are trying to keep him playing: He’s a decent baserunner, he plays relatively steady-if-unstellar defense and could make for a UI sometime down the line. He’s been regularly pushed aside for rehabbers and the shortstops, so the inference that he’s “blocking” anybody is simply untrue.

LEFT FIELD
Kevin Keyes has a ton of power and is passable on defense, but he’s an all-or-nothing hitter and strikes out a lot. J.P. Ramirez is back and while better than he was at this point last year, most of that is attributable to being a year older and 10-15 lbs lighter. Neither has shown a tremendous amount of improvement.

CENTERFIELD
The link that put in yesterday’s comments section regarding Brett Mooneyham in regards to reality vs. expectations comes to mind. In the offseason, Michael Taylor received scads of praise and was given comps to Mike Cameron and Devon White. Relative to that lofty praise, Michael Taylor has fallen way short. Considering that he’s a convert to the position and turned 21 in March, he’s going through some growing pains. There is still time for him to turn things around and put up the numbers that folks want/demand, but I’m satisfied with Sickels’ assessment that “he’s just scratching the surface,” as he runs well, covers a LOT of ground in CF, and has the kind of arm you’d expect from a former SS.

RIGHT FIELD
This has mostly been the province of Randolph Oduber, who seemed to be turning the corner in June but has fallen into a slump with the the turn of the month. He plays hard, he runs out every ground ball, can easily play any of the three OF positions, but just hasn’t quite mastered the strike zone. I’d like to think there may be other reasons for why he’s been unable to break through, and there probably are, but it probably is that simple.

CATCHER
David Freitas has done little to change my mind on two things: (1) he can hit and get on base (2) he’s not likely to stick at catcher beyond this level. I know the raw numbers don’t agree with that assessment, but having watched him catch now for more than half a season, it’s my gut feeling, especially knowing that he’s a former first baseman and could be converted with much more ease than others.

BENCH
Not much new to report here, especially since it’s still basically the backup catcher and utility infielder. Erick Fernandez has replaced Beau Seabury but Francisco Soriano is still the utility guy. Fernandez has played sparingly and fits both the role and the requirements of a second-string backstop. Soriano started the season very slowly but has since returned to form, which is good enough to sub in at several positions, won’t kill you on defense, and uses his speed well.

STARTING PITCHERS
Adam Olbrychowski — Will get lit up from time to time by the better Carolina League offenses, but can generally be counted on for six innings each time out and will do well against the teams he should.

Trevor Holder — Finally got the promotion after becoming the team’s anchor in May and June. In addition to getting healthy, he got there by no longer doing the things that hurt (leaving the ball up, issuing walks) and kept doing the things that served him well (keeping the ball down, enticing hitters to chase).

Matt Grace — Has had moments where you think he’s turned the corner, but more often than not, it feels like he’s gone up in flames. The trend of giving up a LOT more hits than innings pitched has gone on for a season and a half. It would be one thing if those were mostly singles, but to often they’re extra-base hits to the gaps. As I said in the offseason, he may be better served by returning to the bullpen, where he spent much of his collegiate career.

Matt Swynenberg — Shoulder soreness shelved him in June, but it appears that he’s gotten strong enough to return, especially after a pair of 4+ inning outings. When he’s on, he’ll get ahead and force batters to swing at pitches low and/or away. When he’s off, much like Grace, there’s not much doubt about it: the hitters will eat him alive.

Robbie Ray — One of the disturbing trends has been the dropoff in strikeouts. The K is a very sexy stat, often overrated because some pitchers sacrifice efficiency to achieve them, but it’s concerning when a pitcher gets three or less when going five or more innings, which has happened to Ray four times in 12 starts. Coming out of the all-star break, Ray was giving up a lot of runs early and then settling down. Like Taylor, it’s important to note that he’s still young for the level and also that he missed all of April.

Nathan Karns — Has become the prospect du jour thanks to the high K numbers (52 in 40⅔ IP for Potomac, including 31 over the last three starts of June) but what should make more people excited is that he seems to finally be healthy and is going deep into games, including an 8-inning, 29-batters-faced start in late June. Throws hard but is starting to get serious separation from the the heat to his breaking pitches, which is what’s helping him pile up the strikeouts.

RELIEF PITCHERS
This has gone from a strength to a question mark, particularly in the late innings.

Rob Wort — Since the All-Star game, he’s been foundering: three blown saves, two losses, and an ERA spiking from 1.07 to 2.58. Deception has always been a part of his game, but hitters at this level don’t miss pitches left up and over the plate, and that’s been the problem.

Neil Holland — Was nearly perfect in May, but has since reverted to something more human. Arguably the most reliable reliever that’s been there the whole year.

Paul Applebee — Hasn’t pitched in nearly a month and his last five outings were all pretty, both indications that he’s either hurt or done for the year or both. Struggled with the long ball (8 in 36IP).

Jimmy Barthmaier and Joe Testa — Both are older pitchers that are trying to reinvent themselves as side-armed relievers. Barthmaier, helped in part by have the long, lean physique that seems to help mechanically, has been mostly successful. Testa, who is now in Year Two of the experiment, has not.

Jul 112012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse ALL-STAR BREAK ALL-STAR BREAK N/A
Harrisburg ALL-STAR BREAK ALL-STAR BREAK N/A
Potomac OFF DAY @ Wilmington,
7:05 p.m.
Olbrychowski (4-6, 5.43) vs.
Pounders (1-2, 6.08)
Hagerstown Won, 9-7 @ Greensboro,
7:05 p.m.
Turnbull (4-4, 4.85) vs.
Lowell (3-4, 4.31)
Auburn OFF DAY @ Aberdeen,
7:05 p.m.
Encarnacion (2-0, 0.55)
Guzman (0-0, 1.17)
GCL Nationals Won, 3-1 vs. GCL Marlins,
12:00 p.m.
Schwartz (0-2, 6.75) vs.
Fox (0-1, 8.53)
DSL Nationals Lost, 2-1
(11 inn.)
@ DSL Giants,
10:30 a.m.
Valerio (0-4, 5.47) vs.
Guzman (1-2, 3.41)

SYRACUSE — ALL STAR BREAK
The Triple-A All Star game is tonight in Buffalo, NY with Corey Brown, Zach Duke, Jim Negrych, and Carlos Rivero representing Syracuse.

HARRISBURG — ALL STAR BREAK
The Double-A All Star game is tonight in Reading, PA with Jeff Kobernus, Hector Nelo, Eury Perez, Kevin Pucetas, Chris Rahl, Danny Rosenbaum representing Harrisburg.

POTOMAC — OFF DAY
After the first off day of the second half, Potomac takes to the road for a four-game set against the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

Hagerstown 9 Greensboro 7
• McKenzie 4⅔ IP, 2H, R, ER, 5BB, K
• Meza (W, 5-1) 1⅓ IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, K, 3-0 IR-S
• Barrett (SV, 15) ⅓ IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 0K, 3-3 IR-S
• Goodwin 3-5, 2R, 2-2B, BB
• Miller 2-4, 2R, 2B, HR, BB, 3RBI
• Dykstra 2-3, 2R, 2B, 3BB, 2RBI, SB(25)

The disturbing pattern of the bats building a big lead and bullpen giving it away continues for the Hagerstown Suns in a 9-7 escape from Greensboro. The Suns led this one 9-1 after 6½ innings before allowing three runs to the Grasshoppers in both the 8th and 9th innings. Christian Meza got the win with four outs in the middle innings, stranding the bases loaded in the 5th. Hagerstown pounded out 12 hits, led by Justin Miller’s 2-for-4 night with a double, walk, two runs scored, and three RBI. Starter Chris McKenzie went the first four and 2/3rds, giving up two hits and a run, but walking five while striking out one. Roster moves: 3B/DH Carlos Alvarez transferred from Auburn, 3B Matt Skole placed on the 7-Day DL.

AUBURN — OFF DAY
It’s first of three against the Aberdeen Ironbirds, the furthest point south on the New York-Penn League circuit. Roster moves: UT Mike McQuillan promoted from GCL Nationals, IF Carlos Lopez activated from DL, LHP Jack McGeary assigned from GCL

GCL Nationals 3 GCL Cardinals 1
• Mieses (W, 1-2) 5IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Dicharry (SV, 2) ⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K, 2-0 IR-S
• Nieto 1-3, R, BB, HR, RBI
• Piwnica-Worms 0-1, 3BB

With five scoreless frames from the start, strong relief, and a balanced offense, the G-Nats defeated the G-Cards, 3-1. Adalberto Miese allowed just three hits and struck out three, with no walks and no runs allowed to get the win. Eight of nine batters reached base safely, totaling seven hits and four walks, with Adrian Nieto connecting on a solo HR. Kevin DiCharry came on in the 9th to strand the tying runs and earn his second save.

DSL Giants 2 DSL Nationals 1 (11 inn.)
• J. Rodriguez 4⅔ IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 7K, HBP
• Benitez 3⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 3BB, 4K
• K. Rodriguez (L, 2-2) 3IP, 3H, R, ER, 3BB, 4K
• A. Martinez 1-4, R, HR, BB, RBI, 3K
• Bautista 1-2, 2BB, SB

The tailspin continues for the DSL Nationals as they fell 2-1 in 10 innings for their eighth straight loss. The three D-Nats pitchers combined for eight walks and 15 strikeouts, with Jefry Rodriguez giving up the first run on three hits and two walks over four and 2/3rds and Kelvin Rodriguez giving up the second on three hits and three walks over the final three frames. Andres Martinez’s solo HR in the bottom of the 6th accounted for the D-Nats scoring, as they left on seven and went 0-for-8 with RISP.

Jul 102012
 

With some luck, some timely hitting, and great pitching, the Potomac Nationals closed out their six-game homestand with a 2-1 victory that featured a scary/bizarre finish.

Anthony Gallas stroked a two-out single to left fielder J.P. Ramirez, who like most LFs, doesn’t have the plus arm. Barrelling in from second base, however, was Giovanny Urshela, a stocky infielder who doesn’t have plus speed. Urshela beat the throw. Though he went in feet first, Urshela collided head-to-helmet with catcher David Freitas, and crumpled at the point of contact.

Freitas, who had dropped the ball, picked it up and tagged Urshela out. Game over. A few minutes later, Urshela got up amid the surreal scene of the Potomac players celebrating the win while coaches, umpires, and fans nervously waited to see if the 20-year-old was okay. He received the respectful cheer as he walked up and away.

It was sour moment amid an otherwise sweet pitcher’s duel. The Indians’ #29 prospect Matt Packer was a late insert, recently recalled from the Arizona League after a couple of rehab outings. He thew three perfect innings with three strikeouts.

Nathan Karns took the hill for Potomac and turned in his fourth quality start in his last five appearances, giving up the lone Mudcat run on three hits and a walk while striking out five. He retired the leadoff batter in six of seven innings.

As the lede hinted, Potomac got a little luck in this one. After a J.P. Ramirez single in the sixth (the first of two on the night), Francisco Soriano launched a would-be flyout to left-center that Carlos Moncrief lost in the twilight. It fell in for a triple that tied the game. Blake Kelso would follow with a sac fly for what proved to be the gamewinner.

These two teams meet again on August 20-23, which bears mention because in addition to the play at the plate in the 9th, tempers flared in the 7th when shortstop Jason Martinson upended his counterpart Tony Wolters to break up a double play. While certainly rough, the play looked clean. Perhaps Wolters took exception to Martinson NOT saying something as he walked away.

Drew Storen made his third appearance in the 8th, working around a one-out error by Kelso with a little help from Carolina baserunner Delvi Cid, who kept going from first to third on a groundout to first baseman Stephen King, apparently missing either that the ball didn’t go through or the coach signalling him to retreat to second. Instead, King fired across the diamond for your “routine” 3-A-5 double play.

Neil Holland, fresh from his return from Syracuse, pitched the ninth and gave up the two hits that created the play at the plate, but got the save.

With an off day today, the P-Nats head up 95 to visit the Blue Rocks for a four-game set from Wednesday to Saturday before returning to the Pfitz next Monday.