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.

Apr 062013

Ten men came to the plate in the Potomac second, which saw eight straight hits as Potomac crushed Lynchburg for a 12-1 win in the 2013 season opener.

If this were softball, beers were on Kevin Keyes as the big man was the sole P-Nat to not get at hit as the Woodbridge nine pounded out 16 hits total, with Cutter Dykstra and Randolph Oduber both going 3-for-5. Michael Taylor drove in three to lead the RBI column.

Jason Martinson drew three walks and got the hit parade started with an opposite-field home run in the bottom of the first. He narrowly missed a second big fly as his second-inning blast went off the wall for a double. He finished the night 2-for-4 with two walks (the box score is wrong).

Early on, it looked like Robbie Ray had picked up where he left off in 2012 — which, as most folks will remember, wasn’t good. An infield single up the middle and a botched sacrifice put the first two runners. The sole Hillcat run came in on the third batter on a hit & run play that went 6-3 in the books as the leadoff man beat the relay throw home to score the way from second.

Ray picked off the runner at second, which proved to be the key to escaping the inning with minimal damage as the next batter walked, and he gave up another single. A passed ball put runners on second and third with two out but Ray caught the No. 6 hitter David Rohm looking to end the threat.

That would be it for Lynchburg as Ray’s habit of settling down after a rough start also kicked in. The 21-year-old retired the next 10 batters in a row, the streak of 11 straight broken up by the third and final hit off him with one out in the 5th.

He finished with the one run (unearned), one walk, and five strikeouts — four to end the inning, three times looking as Ray flashed a much sharper breaking ball than last season. Before folks get too excited though, his command was still a little spotty, especially in the first frame. Still, after a disappointing finish in 2012, this was a great way to start 2013.

A trio of relievers followed Ray out of the ‘pen, beginning with Taylor Hill for one inning — perhaps a tipoff that Matt Grace is indeed still a starter — followed by Greg Holt for two and Richie Mirowski to close out the game. They combined for three scoreless innings and six strikeouts.

Taylor Jordan is slated to make his High-A debut tonight in Game 2, as will his counterpart for Lynchburg, A.J. Holland.

Apr 062013
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 11-0 @ Lehigh Valley,
6:35 p.m.
Maya (11-10, 3.88) vs.
Morgan (4-1, 3.53 @ AA)
Harrisburg Lost, 15-7 vs. Bowie,
7:00 p.m.
Demny (6-8, 5.46) vs.
Gausman (0-1, 6.00 @ A+)
Potomac Won, 12-1 vs. Lynchburg,
6:35 p.m.
Jordan (3-4, 4.05 @ A-) vs.
Holland (5-9, 4.04 @ A-)
Hagerstown Postponed @ Delmarva,
4:35 p.m.
Mooneyham (2-2, 4.55 @ SS-A) and
Pineyro (3-2, 5.50 @ SS-A) vs.
Taylor (5-7, 4.33) and
Blackmar (4-3, 3.57 @ SS-A)

Syracuse 11 Lehigh Valley 0
• Roark (W, 1-0) 6IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 7K
• Mandel 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Costanzo 3-4, 2R, HR, BB, 4RBI (GS)
• Walters 2-5, R, 2B, HR, RBI
• Perez 2-5, 3R, 3B, SB, 2RBI

The Chiefs continued their butchery of Iron Pigs’ pitching with another 11-run outburst for their second straight win, 11-0. Tanner Roark pitched six no-hit innings and was perfect for 3⅔ before giving up the first of his two walks in the 4th. Jeff Mandel lost the no-no by giving up a leadoff single in the 7th but turned in the first of three scoreless frames from the ‘pen to preserve the shutout. Zach Walters homered again while Mike “Don’t Call Me George” Constanzo hit a grand slam to cap a five-run 6th.

Bowie 15 Harrisburg 7
• Treinen (L, 0-1) 2⅓ IP, 9H, 8R, 8ER, BB, K, 0HR
• Barrett 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Hood 2-4, R
• Skole 1-2, R, 2B, BB, 2RBI

Bowie scored on Harrisburg in eight of nine innings en route to a 15-7 stabbing. Starter Blake Treinen took the brunt of it, giving up eight runs on nine hits and a walk in his AA debut. Aaron Barrett was the sole Senator pitcher to go unscathed, tossing a 1-2-3 ninth. Destin Hood led the Harrisburg offense with a 2-for-4 night. Matt Skole doubled in two in the 1st inning and walked in the 7th but left in the 8th after a collision at first base with a Bowie baserunner. Mayflies and Big Flies has the details plus some color from a real weenie shrinker cold night on City Island.

Potomac 12 Lynchburg 1
• Ray (W, 1-0) 5IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, BB, 5K
• Holt 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Martinson 1-3, R, HR, RBI, 3BB
• Dykstra 3-5, R, 2B, RBI
• Oduber 3-5, 2R, 2RBI

Potomac’s 2013 home opener turned out to be a laugher Last Night In Woodbridge

The heavy rains that swept through eastern Maryland on Thursday night into Friday morning rendered the playing field at Perdue Stadium unplayable, forcing a doubleheader on Saturday.

Apr 052013
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 11-2 @ Lehigh Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Roark (6-17, 4.39) vs.
Familia (4-1, 2.55)
Harrisburg Won, 4-3 vs. Bowie,
7:00 p.m.
Treinen (7-7, 4.37 @ A+) vs.
Pettit (11-3, 3.86)
Potomac OFF DAY vs. Lynchburg,
7:05 p.m.
Ray (4-12, 6.56) vs.
Moore (8-3, 3.86 @ A-)
Hagerstown Lost, 4-3 @ Delmarva,
7:05 p.m.
Pineyro (3-2, 5.50 @ SS-A) vs.
Blackmar (4-3, 3.57 @ SS-A)

Syracuse 11 Lehigh Valley 2
• Ohlendorf (W, 1-0) 6IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 4K
• Romero 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Kobernus 3-4, 2R, 2BB, RBI
• Owings 2-6, 2R, HR, 4RBI
• Marrero 1-3, R, 2BB, 2RBI, SF
• Rosenbaum PH BB, R

Highlighted by a back-to-back jacks from Micah Owings and Zach Walters, Syracuse broke open a 1-0 game with a five-run 3rd and cruised to an 11-2 opening night win. Ross Ohlendorf tossed six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and a walks while striking out four. Jeff Kobernus led the 14-hit parade with a trio of singles and a pair of walks, followed by Owings and Eury Perez, who both went 2-for-6. RHP Chris Young has re-signed with the Nats while RHP Christian Garcia successfully threw from 60 feet; both will report to Viera with the goal of getting to Syracuse later this month, per WaPo’s James Wagner.

Harrisburg 4 Bowie 3
• Broderick 5IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 5K, 2HR
• Krol 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Souza 3-4, 2R, 2B, SB
• Rendon 1-2, R, 2BB

Destin Hood’s two-run single in the bottom of the 8th sealed the deal as Harrisburg cut down Bowie, 4-3. Rob Wort got the win in relief while Pat Lehman earned the save as each turned in a 1-2-3 frame with a strikeout. Brian Broderick got the start and pitched five mediocre innings, giving up three runs on six hits including a pair of solo shots in the 4th and 5th innings. Steve Souza paced the offense with a 3-for-4 night, including a double and a stolen base while Anthony Rendon also reached base three times with a single and two walks.

Delmarva 4 Hagerstown 3
• Anderson 5IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 4K, HBP
• Rauh (BS, 1; L, 0-1) 3IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 3K, BK, WP
• McQuillan 2-5, R, BB, RBI
• S. Perez 2-4

Delmarva seemed determined to give this one away, committing two errors in the Suns’ three-run 5th and a third in the 9th, but held on to hand Hagerstown a 4-3 loss. Dixon Anderson got the start and turned in a career-high five innings, a good sign for the 2011 ninth-rounder in his recovery from shoulder woes, allowing two runs on four hits and no walks. He hit a batter but struck out four. Brian Rauh finished the game but took the loss, giving up single runs in the 7th and 8th innings on two hits and two walks. Mike McQuillan led the seven-hit attack with a pair of singles and a walk, followed closely by Stephen Perez’s 2-for-4 night.

Apr 042013

Finally. Three of the Nats’ four full-season affiliates begin play today, with Syracuse visiting Lehigh Valley, Harrisburg hosting Bowie, and Hagerstown visiting Delmarva. Provided the rains aren’t too heavy, Potomac hosts Lynchburg tomorrow night.

Team Today’s Game Pitching Matchup (’12 Stats at Level)
Syracuse @ Lehigh Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Ross Ohlendorf (5-4, 4.52) vs.
Tyler Cloyd (12-1, 2.35)
Harrisburg vs. Bowie,
7:00 p.m.
Brian Broderick (2-0, 3.99) vs.
Mike Wright (5-3, 4.91)
Hagerstown @ Delmarva,
7:00 p.m.
Dixon Anderson (1-1, 2.79) vs.
Parker Bridwell (0-3, 7.06)

Because it’s a common misnomer, I’ll trot out the annual reminder that these are not the team’s #1 starters, but rather, how the organization wants to align pitchers for future promotions and assignments.

For those wondering about the rotations, here’s what I have found, been told, or am predicting for the next four games:

Team Friday Saturday Sunday Monday
SYRACUSE Roark Maya Perry Rosenbaum
HARRISBURG Treinen Demny Clay Karns
POTOMAC Ray Jordan Cole Turnbull
HAGERSTOWN Pineyro Mooneyham Pena Encarnacion

A couple of small surprises… Demny back in the Sens rotation after finishing 2012 in the ‘pen… Pena, a 16th rounder last June who made just two appearances in Auburn and threw only 12⅓ innings total, assigned to the Suns.

Potomac has only announced its first three starters, Turnbull is the best guess based on age and prior usage for the one of the remaining two spots. As mentioned in the P-Nats roster reveal last week, Taylor Hill and Matt Grace are the other two likely candidates.

News & Notes, the daily rundown and highlights from the previous day’s action, starts back up tomorrow.

Apr 032013

Preliminary Watchlist 2013*Sigh* – still another day until the minor-league season begins, but it occurred to me that there might be some interest in see how the 2013 Watchlist has been distributed to start the season. Excluding the DSL guys for obvious reasons, here’s how it looks (ordered by position 1-9 first, alphabetical second):

SYRACUSE– Rosenbaum, E. Davis, Solano, Marrero, Kobernus, Rivero, Walters, Brown, E. Perez

HARRISBURG– Barrett, Demny, Holland, Karns, Lehman, Wort, Bloxom, Hague, Rendon, Skole, Hood, Goodwin, Souza

POTOMAC – Cole, Grace, Jordan, Meza, Ray, Self, Turnbull, Nieto, Keyes, Sanchez, Dykstra, Martinson, Burns, Ramsey, Taylor, Oduber

HAGERSTOWN – Anderson, Benincasa, Encarnacion, Hudgins, Mooneyham, Pineyro, Rauh, Schwartz, Manuel, Severino, Renda, S. Perez, McQuillan, Miller, E. Martinez, Ramos

D.L. – Applebee, Estevez, Garcia, Kimball, Meyers, Purke, Kieboom, Komatsu, Mesa

XST – Barrientos, C. Davis, Giolito, Lee, Mendez, M. Rodriguez, Selik, Solis, Vasquez, Williams, Lippincott, Pleffner, Foat, D. Eusebio, Difo, Jennings, Piwinica-Worms

Numerically, it’s tilted towards the “A” teams, which is as it should be — these are the guys that have proven themselves both worthy of being drafted and being promoted to full-season ball. But that’s quantity, not quality.

I still stand by my assessment that Harrisburg is the team to watch this summer, thanks in no small part to having four of Washington’s Top 10 prospects per Baseball America as well as a strong bullpen that could arguably produce another 40-man guy a la Erik Davis last fall.

It may pain some to read this, but this is the new world order. Those nine guys at Syracuse? They might actually have a better chance of getting traded than promoted. Nobody hopes this (except maybe their agents) of course, but that’s how it goes when the parent club is loaded.

Where will these guys be at season’s end? That’s the story we aim to tell over the next 22 weeks or so.

Apr 022013

Catching Up On TransactionsAs expected, the latest transaction post from Baseball America was filled with releases and reassignments that have already been covered.

There were, however, two signings that I’ll pass along… but unfortunately there’s not a whole lot to tell.

• Signed RHP Fiyeral Charlis

• Signed OF Anthony Bryant

The presumption is that Charlis is a signee from the Dominican Republic, but there’s no mention of him on the Dominican Prospect League website — from which the Nats have had a couple of other previous IFA signings. Searches on multiple search engines have been like a Yukon Cornelius expedition.

As is always the case when a prospect shares the name of a football player (or two), sifting through the NFL results is tedious and time-consuming. Little can be found on Bryant beyond his stats and commenters confusing him with Anthony Garcia.
                                          #                                     #                                     #
Media days for all four affiliates will be taking place early this week (yesterday in Harrisburg, today in Hagerstown and Syracuse, tomorrow in Potomac). The Suns are expected to unveil new home jerseys (exepcted to be very similar to this) as well as a red Sunday-only jersey (likely the reverse).

As always, if/when there are any transaction-oriented news items discovered (e.g. who’s on the Harrisburg D.L.) in the next 24 hours, this post will be updated.

Mar 302013

The official press release is not yet in hand, but per MASN’s Byron Kerr, here’s a look at the 2013 Hagerstown Suns (watchlist players in bold, notables in italics):

Dixon Anderson Carlos Lopez J.R. Higley Craig Manuel
Robert Benincasa Mike McQuillan Estarlin Martinez Pedro Severino
Brian Dupra Khayyan Norfork Brandon Miller
Pedro Encarnacion Stephen Perez Wander Ramos
David Fischer Tony Renda
Bryan Harper Wes Schill
Travis Henke
Will Hudgins
Brett Mooneyham
Ronald Pena
Brian Rauh Wirkin Estevez Spencer Kieboom Narciso Mesa
Blake Schwartz Matt Purke Todd Simko Dean Weaver

Well, the gang’s all here. Just four of the 25 active players here didn’t play for the Auburn Doubledays last summer.

However, like Potomac, there’s a question of who’s gonna start and who’s gonna relieve. Nine of the 13 were starting pitchers for significant periods of time in Auburn, Hagerstown, and the GCL. Sight unseen, and without knowing folks’ health, it’s tough to guess… especially if the Nats do what they did last year with Nathan Karns and begin one of the guys coming off surgery (e.g. Dupra, Anderson) in the bullpen to keep the innings count down in the early going.

Health, of course, is going to probably be a theme with these guys… injuries shortened the already short seasons of Miller and Perez — how will they do over the course of a full season? Matt Purke; ’nuff said.

Of course, it bears repeating that even though this largely the same team that racked up .605 winning percentage in the New York-Penn League, it’s no guarantee that they’ll do the same in the Sally. But if the pitching improves as much as the hitting declines, it could be another playoff run for this group.

Mar 302013

The Potomac Nationals unveiled its 2013 Opening Day this afternoon, which as expected, will feature quite a few familiar faces. Without further ado, here’s the rundown (watchlist players in bold, notables in italics:

Colin Bates Cutter Dykstra Billy Burns Cole Leonida
A.J. Cole Blake Kelso Randolph Oduber Adrian Nieto
Matt Grace Kevin Keyes Caleb Ramsey
Ben Hawkins Jason Martinson Michael Taylor
Tyler Herron Adrian Sanchez
Taylor Hill Francisco Soriano
Taylor Jordan
Christian Meza
Richard Mirowski
Robbie Ray
Kylin Turnbull Paul Applebee Rob Gilliam Josh Smoker

Perhaps not as many high-level prospects or high-profile guys as Harrisburg, but with 10 watchlist players and seven notables (which includes the M*A*S*H unit), it’s certainly an interesting roster. For better or worse, you’re going to read about these guys the most because (full disclosure) Potomac is home base for me as a season-ticket holder.

The early drama is who’s going to the ‘pen? Ray, Grace, and Hill finished the year in the P-Nat rotation but Cole, Jordan, and Turnbull were all Low-A starters last year. Unless there’s a six-man rotation, there’s an odd man out.

The outfield will be one of the fastest and most athletic in recent memory, with three CFs among the four outfielders. Taylor is still likely to the one the one that sees the most time in center, but it wouldn’t hurt to have that arm in right, either.

Keyes is expected to start at first and Martinson at short, but beyond that, I have a feeling we’re going to see a lot of mixing and matching at second and third with the rest of the infielders (except Soriano) having spent time shuffling between 2B, SS, and 3B.

Finally, Nieto and Leonida will be a catching tandem and teammates for the third straight year. Neither has caught more than 70 games in a season, but the edge probably goes to Nieto as the more accomplished hitter in his limited appearances due to injury and suspension.

Mar 302013

As noted in the comments, the Syracuse Chiefs “revealed a preliminary roster” yesterday, beginning with a feature on the starting pitchers.

If you have a fixation for uniform numbers, you’re going to have to wait a few more days — just only handful of players have numbers listed so far. Otherwise, here’s how the active roster looks like (watchlist players in bold, notables in italics):

Fernando Abad Mike Constanzo Corey Brown Carlos Maldonado
Jeremy Accardo Jeff Kobernus Micah Owings Jhonatan Solano
Michael Crotta Chris Marrero Eury Perez
Erik Davis Will Rhymes Jim Van Ostrand
Jeff Mandel Carlos Rivero
Yunesky Maya Zach Walters
Pat McCoy
Ross Ohlendorf
Ryan Perry
J.C. Romero Bill Bray Jerad Head Cole Kimball
Danny Rosenbaum Erik Komatsu Brad Meyers Chris Rahl
Ryan Tatusko Matt Torra Sean West

Like the AAA club of most contenders, Syracuse is laden with replacement-level veterans. Three of the five starting pitchers have significant MLB experience (Maya, Ohlendorf, Perry), as do three of the active relievers (Abad, Accardo, Romero) and fourth on the D.L. (Bray).

Both catchers have served as injury fill-ins and will probably split time, which is the best explanation for Leon starting in Harrisburg (not to mention his limited AA experience of 40 games).

For us, the eyes are on the infield: all four projected starters (Rivero-Walters-Kobernus-Marrero) are at the top of their columns on the 2013 watchlist. Unfortunately, they’re (take your pick) stuck/blocked/stranded behind their counterparts in D.C.

Never mind there’s a 22-year-old in Harrisburg that everybody and their grandmother wants to see in a Chiefs uniform yesterday, if not sooner.

Corey Brown returns for his third season and will probably play in right field, given the duo of LF-1B types in Owings and Van Ostrand and the presence of true CF Eury Perez, though it shouldn’t surprise anyone if both Brown and Perez are used in multiple OF spots in preparation for their most likely usage as a defensive replacement off the bench if/when they’re called up to Washington.

Finally, it should probably come as no surprise to see the large contingent starting on the D.L. including the law firm trio of Kimball, Komatsu, and Meyers. As we saw in the comments, some of those guys won’t leave Viera and will cool their heels in “Extended Spring Training.”

UPDATE: Per Byron Kerr, the Syracuse Opening Day roster includes Ryan Tatusko while Sam Palace has been removed from the D.L. and Jason Michaels apparently will be strictly coaching.

Mar 292013

It was expected to be the first, but perhaps not this soon… this afternoon the Harrisburg Senators announced its 2013 Opening Day Roster.

As was the case last year, there are more than 25 names here, which means one or more of them will be placed on the DL prior to the Sens’ home opener next Thursday (watchlist players in bold, notables in italics):

Aaron Barrett Ricky Hague Justin Bloxom Jeff Howell
Brian Broderick Josh Johnson Brian Goodwin Sandy Leon
Caleb Clay Jose Lozada Destin Hood Kris Watts
Paul Demny Sean Nicol Steve Souza  
Marcos Frias Anthony Rendon    
Trevor Holder Matt Skole    
Neil Holland      
Nathan Karns      
Ian Krol      
Pat Lehman      
Matt Swynenberg      
Blake Treinen      
Rob Wort      

As predicted this morning, this is the roster to watch — 13 of ’em from the 2013 edition including two notables, though it remains to be seen whether Swynenberg is fully healed. I’m sure some folks are disappointed to see Rendon here instead of Syracuse, but “conservative” has been the watchword for prospect development under Rizzo (with some notable exceptions like Goodwin and that Bryce Harper kid).

There are worse things for Rendon (or us as fans) than for him to savage Eastern League pitching for a few weeks before moving along.

A couple of guys from Syracuse that I was surprised to see: Sandy Leon and Pat Lehman. Now, both could be here only on paper until the Syracuse roster is settled, but it could also be the classic “pushdown” scenario where replacement-level guys are sent to upstate New York instead.

We’re not going to know until the Chiefs roster is unveiled, which isn’t necessarily next — though this looks promising for Danny Rosenbaum and Jeff Kobernus.

Otherwise, it’s a familiar group of names, with roughly half of these guys spending some time in Harrisburg last season. Both Aaron Barrett and Matt Skole are moving up from Potomac despite limited time in Woodbridge, which is appropriate given their age and developmental path (otherwise, why bother sending them to the AFL).