Offseason Update: Sept. 24, 2016

Well, it’s been a week. I know some of you are still smarting from another late-inning collapse by the big club, complete with the requisite angst of “the guy we traded away did better than the guy we traded for,” as well as another managerial blunder (pro tip: when you have a true CF available in the late innings, you might want to use him on defense), but this is a site devoted to the minor leagues, so let’s follow my digital 13’s from last year and see what’s what…


THE STATE OF THE FARM

Two of the seven affiliates made the playoffs (Hagerstown, Potomac) and two narrowly missed (Harrisburg, GCL). Unfortunately, the other three were not believers in corporal punishment (that’s no hitting, kids) and had league-average pitching (Syracuse, DSL) or worse (Auburn), which resulted in finishes at or near the bottom of the standings.

Naturally, this is not the best bellwether. The system generated another starter for the big club (Trea Turner) and was able to call on a trio of upper-level starters (A.J. Cole, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito) to fill in 16 times (as of this writing) for Joe Ross and Stephen Strasburg with subpar-but-not-bad-considering results (4-6, 5.11/5.04/1.51) as well as a hard-throwing reliever (Koda Glover). Even F.P. Santangelo can tell you that most of these guys were probably rushed a little, but it’s in line with the shift league-wide towards going younger.

As written in this space a year ago, the hopes for an influx of positional talent from the D.R. was fulfilled with the strong seasons from Juan Soto, Kelvin Gutierrez, and Jose “Orange” Marmolejos, with half-a-dozen or more guys behind them, though defense is a big “yeah, but” with the latter (e.g. Raudy Read, Osvaldo Abreu). And that’s not to overlook the ascendance of the age-appropriate Americans like Andrew Stevenson and Drew Ward.

In short, the system is still developing talent on both sides of the ball that can be used for both short-term and long-term needs.

BA TOP 20 LISTS
These are just starting up, so it looks like it’ll be another few days before we see our first Nationals, though I think most of us can probably guess it’ll be only a handful total and usually one or two (tops), for any given league. In other words, SSDY.

THE WATCHLIST AND THE GBI
A year ago, I was worried that this may have to be scrapped. I’m less worried about that than I am in keeping the GBI. I scaled it back this year and it still felt like a struggle to produce. I know it’s a popular feature, but if it stays, I think it’ll be monthly in 2017. My apologies in advance.

A SHOUTOUT TO DISTRICT ON DECK
My season reviews are much, much shorter than they used to be (like below). But one of the writers at District on Deck has taken on that task, and I’m passing along links to his work on the Potomac Nationals and, with my sympathies (for him, not you), the Syracuse Chiefs.

THE DSL NATIONALS
In a word, disappointing. While I don’t follow this level as closely as I used to, it just seems to me that a team with a lot of guys repeating the level should have done better. After being the youngest set of batters in the DSL in 2015, the pendulum swung back to just slight older than the league average (18.4 vs. 18.2) while the pitching staff was still younger (18.7 vs. 19.1).

As alluded to above, the offense was horrible: 35th in the 42-team league and more than a half-a-run worse than the league average (3.80 vs. 4.46). The pitching improved from near-the-worst (33rd out of 38) to middle-of-the pack (4.43 R/G vs. 4.46). The defense was, like 2015, slightly below average (.953FA vs. .957FA — remember, all we have to go on are the stats).

Without further comment, here are the obligatory Top 5’s, excluding the old-for-the-level players…

TOP 5 BATS TOP 5 ARMS
1. Jose Cabello, C/1B
.259 GPA, 28 BB
1. Yelmery Sisneros, LHSP
0.43/2.39/0.91, 4.56 K:BB ratio
2. Santo Falcon, CF
.234 GPA, 12 SB
2. Angel Guillen, RHSP
1.67/2.61/0.94, 4.17 K:BB ratio
3. Brailin Mesa, RF/LF
.225 GPA, 16 2B
3. Gilbert Chu, LHSP
3.18/2.68/0.96, 1.6 BB/9
4. Jesus Morales, 2B/3B
.215 GPA, 10E
4. Warner Duran, RHRP
1.65/2.59/1.22, 6BB in 32⅔ IP
5. Juan Pascal, SS
.209 GPA, 55 of 56G at SS
5. Jairon Peguero, LHRP
4.91/2.91/1.46, 0HR in 33IP

As you might imagine, there are no honorable mentions this year, especially since there were just two (2) batters above the league average and under the age of 20. Folks interested in seeing the entire team’s stats can find them here.

Checking In…

Uninspired for NPPFor those of you not celebrating National Apple Dumpling day, today’s just another Saturday. For us, it’s that weird limbo with the big club steaming towards the playoffs, which nowadays means that “our guys” are mostly sitting the bench until the division is clinched.

Believe me, I prefer this to the earlier days of this site’s existence when WAY TOO MUCH attention, hopes, and pent-up desire for a contender was projected onto players who could only have gotten a shot on a losing team with a farm system that had been stripped for parts by the team’s first GM, then run into the ground without changing the oil, filter, or tires by the team’s second GM.

I don’t miss those days… or the pseudofans who would reflexively (repeatedly) wail about the team’s spending (“The Lerners Are Cheap!”) who I now refer to as the Lieutenant Dans (because they don’t have any legs to stand on), though I believe they’re now lurking in the comments section of MASN and WaPo, where there’s so much stupid, I wouldn’t advise visiting without a dumbrella.

I rather like the folks who’ve stayed here past the meteoric rises of Strasburg and Harper and enjoy following the development of guys who might replace today’s Washington Nationals in a few seasons, but also understand they might be traded away, too. (If we’re honest, it may be more of the latter than the former ☹)

About the only thing I can add to what our diligent commenters have beaten me to the punch in the previous post is the almost fait accompli of the Nationals renewing its PDCs with Auburn and Potomac this month, joining Hagerstown last month. This ensures that all five affiliates that the team doesn’t own will remain in place through the 2018 season.

I know this doesn’t sit well with some folks, who’d like the AAA and AA teams to be closer, but Bowie isn’t going to open up without an apocalypse (Richmond is both farther away in miles and drive time, not to mention its stadium is AA’s analog to the Pfitz) and Norfolk might only be a shorter drive if you’re willing to go there in the middle of the day and the middle of the week.

In my opinion, the substandard facilities in Hagerstown and Potomac notwithstanding, the current arrangement is about as good as we can reasonably hope for. It’s better than it was 10 years ago, when Washington’s AAA affiliate was in Louisiana, Low-A was in Georgia, and SS-A was in Vermont. Maybe you could ask for a switch in the NYPL to State College from Auburn or for Washington to make an arrangement with an Appy League team, I suppose.

That’s about it for now as we shift from daily posts to weekly posts before the AFL starts up. Enjoy your dumplings! 😉

Juan Soto Named GCL MVP

16-y.o. Juan Soto in 2015 at the Dominican Prospect LeagueDon’t look back, Victor Robles – but someone may be gaining on you.

At least as the Nationals’ top young OF prospect, that is, as 17-y.o. Juan Soto was named the 2016 Gulf Coast League Most Valuable Player as well as one of its postseason all-stars after leading the Rookie circuit with a .361 batting average and a .550 slugging percentage and finishing second in on-base percentage at .410.

Last summer, Soto was signed by the Nationals for $1.5 million, the most ever and nearly double the $900K shelled out in 2013 for Anderson Franco.

OK, now that we’ve dispensed with the obligatory (knee-jerk) comp and fawning over (other people’s) money spent, what lies ahead for Soto in ’17? He turns 18 next month but spent less than a week in Auburn, where he hit .429 (9-for-21) with three doubles in six games.

Could the Nationals start him in Hagerstown? Ten years ago, the Nationals started 18-y.o. Chris Marrero at Hagerstown after just 22 games in the GCL the previous summer, but the conventional wisdom is Dominican-born players need more time to acclimate to the American culture.

Unlike the windmill of a non-existent “scoreless game” (game always has a score, it begins with 0-0), I’ve given up tilting against the idea of fast-tracking position prospects, even if I can easily cite some mistakes (*cough* Brian Goodwin *cough*). The Nats have been successful enough often enough, period. Not to mention, they’re working with information that we don’t have.

So go ahead and think about taking a trip to Hagerstown next spring, or Woodbridge next summer; Juan Soto could very well play in one or both places in 2017.

Hagerstown, Potomac Eliminated From the Playoffs

So LongBoth Potomac and Hagerstown lost last night and were eliminated from the playoffs to close the books on the 2016 Washington Nationals minor league season.

Lynchburg 3 Potomac 1
• Crownover (L, 0-1) 6+ IP, 3H, 2R, 1ER, 2BB, 4K
• Orlan 1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Abreu 2-4, R, 2B
• Page 1-3, BB

The P-Nats never led this one, falling behind 1-0 after four innings and 3-0 after seven. They got the tying runs to the plate in both the 8th and 9th innings, but plated just one run with Bryan Mejia’s two-out double in the 9th. For the game, Potomac was 1-for-9 with RISP and left on seven. Osvaldo Abreu was the sole batter not to whiff as the P-Nat batters fanned 12 times total, including three times swinging in the 1st.

Matthew Crownover did his part, pitching into the 7th and giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks while striking out four, but was saddled with the loss. Gilberto Mendez came on with a runner on first that reached on Raudy Read error and retired just one of three batters before Lynchburg sent him packing with a two-run homer that proved to be the difference. R.C. Orlan got the last five outs in as many batters faced, but the offense couldn’t match his effort.

The loss was the first time Potomac had failed to reach the Mills Cup finals since 2011, when the P-Nats fell to the Keys 3-2 in the then (much more fair) best-of-five Divisional series. Lynchburg will now face the defending Carolina League champs Myrtle Beach, which upset (well, see previous parenthetical) Salem to win both Game 3 and the C.L. South Division series, 2-1.

Lakewood 5 Hagerstown 2
• Watson (L, 0-1) 4⅔ IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, 4K
• Peterson 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Sagdal 2-4, R, HR, RBI
• Beckwith 2-3, RBI

Likewise, Hagerstown fell behind 2-0 before they even came to bat and were never able to catch Lakewood, which took the game, 5-2 and swept the series, 2-0. Tyler Watson, who was making just his fifth Low-A start, was predictably knocked around for three runs on six hits and two walks over four and 2/3rds innings to wear the “L.” Jake Johansen got the last out of the 5th and pitched into the 7th before he ran out of gas. He left with runners on first and second but Mariano Rivera could not strand them as he gave up a two-out, two-run triple that effectively put the game out of reach.

Offensively, the Suns did little after Ian Sagdal led off the game with a HR to cut the deficit to 2-1. Blake Perkins followed with a single but a double play stopped the momentum, as did twin-killings in the 5th and 6th innings. Hagerstown managed just seven hits total and drew just one walk. The heart of the lineup – nos. three through seven – went 0-for-17 and accounted for four of the six batting strikeouts and both runners stranded in scoring position with two outs.

The first-round exit was the first for Hagerstown since 2012, when they were also swept by Greensboro. Lakewood gets an extra day off as they await the outcome of the Sally South series, which was tied up when Rome blew a 3-0 lead and lost 4-3 to Charleston to force a Game 3 tonight.

Friday’s News & Notes — Playoff Edition

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Potomac Lost, 6-5
(14 inn.)
@ Lynchburg,
6:30 p.m.
Crownover (4-4, 4.28) vs.
Brady (12-6, 4.95)
Hagerstown OFF DAY vs. Lakewood,
7:05 p.m.
Watson (1-1, 4.80) vs.
Taveras (8-8, 3.26)

Lynchburg 6 Potomac 5 (14 inn.)
• Silvestre 5IP, 8H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 5K, HR
• Brinley (BS, 1) 1IP, 2H, R, ER, 2BB, 0K
• Holland (L, 0-1) 1⅔ IP, 4H, E, ER, 2IBB, K
• Robles 3-6, 2B, RBI, wait for it, HBP
• Mejia 3-7, 2R, 2-2B
• Gutierrez 2-6, RBI

Lynchburg came back from the brink with a two-out run in the 12th and plated the game-winner with two down in the 14th to force a deciding Game 3 tonight with a 6-5 win over Potomac. Hector Silvestre got the start and gave up three over five innings on eight hits and a walk while striking out five. Ryan Brinley’s late-season struggles continued as he failed to keep any baserunners from reaching or scoring for the sixth straight appearance, as he blew a 5-4 lead with a run on two hits and two unintentional walks. Neil Holland took the loss as Lynchburg got the leadoff single in the 14th and pushed the runner to third on a sacrifice and an infield groundout. Tripp Keister ordered two intentional walks to two switch-hitters to get the RHP vs. RHB matchup (and an out at any base, natch) but Bobby Bradley, who’d been 1-for-7 before the 14th, got his second single to push across the deciding run. Roster move: RHP Austen Williams placed on the 7-Day DL.

Hagestown – OFF DAY
It’s do-or-die after just one playoff game, with the Suns giving the ball to 19-y.o. Tyler Watson, who’s making his fourth Low-A start versus 22-y.o. Jose Taveras in his 21st start for the Blue Claws.

Thursday’s News & Notes — Playoff Edition

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Potomac Won, 7-0
(7 inn.)
@ Lynchburg,
6:30 p.m.
Silvestre (0-0, 2.08) vs.
Lugo (8-5, 4.04)
Hagerstown Lost, 6-1 OFF DAY N/A

Potomac 7 Lynchburg 0 (7 inn.)
• Whiting (W, 1-0) 7IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Gutierrez 3-4, R, 2B, RBI
• Carey 2-3, R, 3B, RBI
• Page 2-4, 2R, 2B, 2RBI

Rain delayed the start and ended it early, but in between, Potomac dominated Lynchburg for a 7-0 shutout in seven innings. Staff ace Boone Whiting went the distance, allowing just two hits and a walk while fanning three to get the win. Kelvin Gutierrez led the 13-hit parade with two singles and a double, as eight of the starting nine batters hit safely while the beer man (Bryan Mejia) contributed with a pair of sacrifices.

The series now shifts to Lynchburg, where Potomac will have two chances to win one game to advance to the Carolina League Finals for the third time in four seasons. Roster move: C Jake Lowery activated from the TIL.

Lakewood 6 Hagerstown 1
• Rodriguez (L, 0-1) 4+ IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 4K, WP
• Guilbeau 2⅓ IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 1K, 2-2 IR-S
• Sagdal 1-3, BB
• Perkins 0-2, R, 2BB

The BlueClaws limited the Suns to just four hits and came up big in the middle innings for a 6-1 victory in the SLDS opener. Jefry Rodriguez pitched into the 5th, giving up a double and a walk then wild-pitching them over to 2nd and 3rd before giving way to the ‘pen. Taylor Guilbeau couldn’t get an out on his own until the third batter he faced, as he gave up a single and a sacrifice before getting a strikeout. He issued an intentional walk to load the bases then surrendered a two-run double to let in both of Rodriguez’s runs and the first of four charged to him. Hagerstown’s offense drew just four walks while striking out 12 times. Ian Sagdal (single, walk) and Blake Perkins (two walks) were the only two batters to reach base twice.

After a mandated travel day, the series resumes on Friday in Hagerstown, with the Suns needing to win both Games 2 and 3 to return to the Sally League Finals, where they lost in five games to the Tourists in 2014. Roster move: C Adderling Ruiz reassigned from Potomac.

Wednesday’s News & Notes — Playoff Edition

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Potomac OFF DAY vs. Lynchburg,
7:05 p.m.
Whiting (11-3, 3.45) vs.
Esparza (2-4, 3.92)
Hagerstown OFF DAY @ Lakewood,
7:05 p.m.
Rodriguez (7-11, 4.96) vs.
Tirado (7-1, 3.90)

Potomac vs. Lynchburg – C.L. Division Series
For the third time in three seasons, the Hillcats and P-Nats will square off in the first round of the Carolina League Playoffs. In 2013 and 2014, Potomac prevailed 2-0 in the best-of-three series, but also had home-field advantage as double-half winners. This season, it’s just the opener in Woodbridge, then Game 2 and Game 3 (if necessary) in Lynchburg. The Hillcats took 12 of the 22 games between the two teams, but the P-Nats won five of nine in the second half. Pitching matchups have not yet been announced beyond tonight, but if the rotation is not altered, it’ll be Hector Silvestre in Game 2 and Matt Crownover in Game 3.

Hagerstown vs. Lakewood – S.A.L. Division Series
Like Potomac, Hagerstown makes its first playoff appearance since 2014. The Suns have been on the road since August 29, but like most 80+ game winners, have played well both home and away (44-26 vs. 39-31). Hagerstown dominated Lakewood early (11-0) but won just four of the last 11 games against the Phillies affiliate. According to MiLB.com, the playoff rotation will be Jefry Rodriguez, Tyler Watson, and (if necessary) Joan Baez. Roster moves: RHP Luis Reyes placed on the 7-Day DL.

Tuesday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-3
(10 inn.)
END OF SEASON N/A
Harrisburg Won, 5-4 END OF SEASON N/A
Potomac Won, 3-1 OFF DAY N/A
Hagerstown Won, 9-5 OFF DAY N/A
Auburn Lost, 4-3 END OF SEASON N/A

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 4 Syracuse 3 (10 inn.)
• Ross 3IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, 2K, HR
• Voth (L, 7-9) 6⅔ IP, 4H, 3R, 1ER, 5BB, 7K
• Solano 2-3, 3RBI
• N. Soto 3-5, R
• Martinson 2-5, 2R

Syracuse secured the worst record in the I.L. with a 4-3 loss in 10 innings to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the season finale. MLB Rehab Joe Ross went the first three frames, giving up a run on a home run and three hits total over the first three innings. Austin Voth followed and took the loss, pitching the final six and 2/3rds and charged with three runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks (two intentional) while striking out seven. Jhonatan Solano drove in all three Chiefs runs while Neftali Solo singled three times to lead the Syracuse offense. Roster moves: IF Wilmer Difo reassigned from Harrisburg.

Harrisburg 5 Hartford 4
• J. Martin 8IP, 7H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 3K; 0-1, 2SAC
• Ross (W, 5-1) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Bautista 4-5, 2B, 2RBI, SB
• A. Sanchez 3-4, 2R
• Marmolejos 3-5, RBI

The Sens rallied for three in the 9th for a 5-4 walkoff win against the Yard Goats. Alas, it was too little, too late as Altoona beat out Harrisburg by one game for the playoffs. J.D. Martin replaced Erick Fedde and went the first eight innings, giving up all four Hartford runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three. Greg Ross got the “W” with a scoreless 9th. The Sens singled six times in seven at-bats in the final frame with Jose “Orange” Marmolejos driving in the deciding run on his third single of the afternoon. Rafael Bautista led the hit parade with three singles and a double, finishing September with a 15-for-36 flourish. Roster Moves: RHP J.D. Martin reassigned from Potomac, IF Khayyan Norfork reassigned from Syracuse.

Potomac 3 Myrtle Beach 1
• Mayberry (W, 4-4) 7IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 9K
• Mendez (H, 4) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Davidson 2-4, R, RBI
• Robles 3-4

Potomac won its third second-half title in four seasons behind a masterful outing by Whit Mayberry on a Monday Afternoon in Woodbridge.

Roster moves: RHPs Wirkin Estevez, Dakota Bacus activated from the 7-Day DL; C Adderling Ruiz reassigned from Hagerstown; C Jake Lowery placed on the 3-Day TIL.

Hagerstown 9 Asheville 5
• Borne (W, 5-2) 5IP, 5H, R, ER, 0BB, 5K
• Peterson 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Wiseman 4-5, R, 2RBI
• Noll 4-5, 2R, 2B, RBI
• Reetz 2-4, R, 2B, BB, 2RBI

The Suns battered Tourist pitchers for 19 hit as they took the season finale, 9-5. Grant Borne won his fifth game with five innings of one-run ball on five hits and no walks while striking out five. Beers were on Angelo La Bruna as the only Hagerstown batter to go hitless with Jake Noll and Rhett Wiseman leading the attack with eight hits, three runs, and three RBI combined.

Batavia 4 Auburn 3
• Sharp 5IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, 3K
• Ramirez (L, 4-3) 1⅔ IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 1K
• J. Soto 2-4, R, 2B, E(2)
• Ripken 2-4, 2B, RBI

Auburn completed its 0-for-September with its seventh straight loss, 4-3 to Batavia. ABC News 5 Anchorman Sterling Sharp got the callup from the GCL to make one more start and let in three runs on six hits and no walks over five innings for a no-decision. Yonathan Ramirez gave up the deciding run in the 7th to take the loss, his third. Juan Soto and Ryan Ripken both singled and doubled to lead the Doubledays offense, which managed nine hits but was 0-for-7 with RISP. Roster move: RHP Sterling Sharp reassigned from the GCL.

Monday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 5-4 @ Scranton/WB,
12:05 p.m.
J. Ross (0-2, 3.48) vs.
Bleier (2-3, 3.61)
Harrisburg Won, 6-3 vs. Hartford,
1:30 p.m.
Fedde (2-1, 3.99) vs.
Howard (5-6, 4.10)
Potomac Lost, 11-4 vs. Myrtle Beach,
1:05 p.m.
J. Martin (1-2, 5.96) vs.
TBD
Hagerstown Won, 10-5 @ Asheville,
2:05 p.m.
Reyes (0-2, 2.81) vs.
Johnson (7-4, 4.23)
Auburn Lost, 1-0;
Lost, 6-5
@ Batavia,
1:05 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 5 Syracuse 4
• Laffey 5IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 5K, HR
• Self (BS, 1) 2⅔ IP, 4H, 2R, 2BB, 0K
• DeFratus (L, 2-3) 1IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• den Dekker 2-5, R, RBI
• Ramsey 3-4, 2RBI

The RailRiders scored twice in the 8th and once in the 9th to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 win over the Chiefs. Aaron Laffey got the start and turned in five innings of two-run ball on five hits, including a two-run HR in the 2nd. He walked none and struck out five. Derek Self was pushed an inning too far as he blew the save in his third inning of work with two runs let in. Justin DeFratus coughed up the gamewinner in the 9th on a hit and two walks. Tablesetters Matt den Dekker and Caleb Ramsey combined for five of the ten Syracuse hits. Roster moves: RHP Reynaldo Lopez recalled to Washington; RHP Russell Harmening, LHP David Ramos reassigned from Auburn.

Harrisburg 6 Hartford 3
• Valdez (W, 6-4) 7+ IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 6K
• Benincasa (SV, 3) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• A. Sanchez 2-3, BB
• Stevenson 2-4, 2R, BB, RBI, CS
• Bautista 2-5, R, 3B, SB(55), CS

Harrisburg scored in each of the first four innings while doubling up Hartford, 6-3. Phillips Valdez pitched into the 8th for the fourth straight start, and earned his sixth win (12th overall) with three runs allowed on six hits and two walks. Nick Lee and Mitch Lively divvied up the 8th to each earn a hold while Rober Benincasa worked around a one-out single to get his third save. Andrew Stevenson and Adrian Sanchez both reached base three times to pace the Sens’ 11-hit, four-walk offense. Thanks to a third straight loss by the Curve, the Senators were not eliminated from the playoffs but need to win again while Altoona loses again to become the E.L. West wildcard.

Myrtle Beach 11 Potomac 4
• Williams (L, 4-6) ⅔ IP, 4H, 6R, 6ER, BB, 0K, HR, HBP
• Sanchez 6IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 5K
• Davidson 2-3, 2-2B, 2R, BB
• Robles 2-4, 2B

Mario Sanchez turned in six strong innings of pitching with two runs allowed on five hits and a walk while striking out five. The problem is that it came in relief after the P-Nats dug themselves into a 9-2 hole en route to a third straight loss to the Pelicans, 11-4. Austen Williams hit the 40-pitch-in-one-inning limit in the 1st as he retired just two of eight batters faced, giving up six runs on four hits and a walk and hitting a batter. Austin Davidson doubled twice and scored twice while Victor Robles singled and doubled to lead the Potomac offense. Playoff update: The Hillcats lost yet again to the Red Sox, 5-4 in 12 innings, to keep the P-Nats’ hopes of a 2nd half title alive.

Hagerstown 10 Asheville 5
• Baez (W, 9-7) 6IP, 3H, 4R, 3ER, 3BB, 0K, HBP, 4WP
• Held (SV, 1) 3IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, 3K, WP
• Sagdal 4-5, 3R, 2B, HR, 2RBI
• DeBruin 4-5, R, RBI
• Noll 2-5, R, HR, 2RBI

Hagerstown put up five in the 4th and four in the 8th as they outslugged Asheville, 10-5. Joan Baez managed to give up four runs on three hits and three walks over six innings. He struck out none while winning his ninth game. Sam Held closed it out with one run over the last three innings for the save. Ian Sagdal and Grant DeBruin both went 4-for-5 while and Jake Noll both homered as the Suns pounded out 16 hits total.

Batavia 1 Auburn 0 – COMP.
• Dunning (L, 1-2) 9IP, 6H, R, ER, BB, 8K
• J. Soto 1-3
• Dulin 1-3, 3B, BB

Dane Dunning picked up where he left off 22 days ago and threw another six innings for a complete-game, 1-0 Doubledays’ loss to the Muckdogs. Dalton Dulin was the only Auburn batter to reach base twice, going 1-for-3 with a walk as Batavia’s Sam Perez held the Doubledays to just three hits over seven innings of “relief.”

Batavia 6 Auburn 5 – GAME TWO
• Fuentes 4IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 7K
• Mooney (L, 0-2) ⅓ IP, 4H, 5R, 4ER, 2BB, 0K, 0HR
• J. Soto 2-3, R, 2B, BB
• A. Martinez 0-1, BB, 2HBP
• 1-for-16 RISP; 11 LOB

Batavia did all it could to give it away with six errors, but Auburn insisted on being a good guest by blowing a 5-1 lead in the 7th and final inning for a 6-5 walkoff loss. Steven Fuentes tossed four scoreless innings to start, while Hayden Howard followed with an unearned run over the next two innings. Kevin Mooney retired just one of seven batters faced in the final frame as he was lit up for five runs on four hits and two walks for his second loss.

Sunday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 2-1 @ Scranton/WB,
1:05 p.m.
Laffey (6-6, 3.83) vs.
Wotherspoon (2-0, 1.37)
Harrisburg Lost, 3-2;
Won, 3-0
vs. Hartford,
1:30 p.m.
Valdez (5-4, 4.69) vs.
Jemiola (8-9, 4.27)
Potomac Lost, 5-4
(14 inn.)
vs. Myrtle Beach,
6:05 p.m.
Williams (4-5, 4.75) vs.
Pugliese (6-5, 3.87)
Hagerstown Lost, 5-2 @ Asheville,
7:05 p.m.
Baez (8-7, 3.91) vs.
Palacios (1-5, 5.92)
Auburn Lost, 5-0 @ Batavia,
4:05 p.m.
Dunning (3-1, 2.36) and
Fuentes (2-1, 3.97) vs.
TBD and TBD

Pawtucket 2 Syracuse 1
• Hill (L, 6-13) 7IP, 5H, 2R, 1ER, 2BB, 4K
• E. Davis 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Collier 1-3, BB
• Lombardozzi 2-4

Syracuse broke up the shutout in the 6th but couldn’t draw to a tie, losing the series finale to Pawatucket, 2-1. Taylor Hill let in both PawSox runs on five hits and two walks over seven innings but lost for the organization-leading 13th time. Jason Martinson’s RBI double accounted for the lone tally as the Chiefs were a woeful 1-for-10 with RISP. Steve Lombardozzi led the hit column with two singles. Roster move: OF Matt den Dekker outrighted from Washington.

Hartford 3 Harrisburg 2 – GAME ONE
• Mapes (L, 12-10) 7IP, 8H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, 1K, HBP
• Bautista 4-4, R, SB

Tyler Mapes went the distance in the opener for the Sens but the offense couldn’t do their part in a 3-2 loss in the opener. Mapes gave up eight hits and two walks and hit a batter while fanning one as he lost for the tenth time. Rafael Bautista singled four times, scored a run, and stole a base, but the rest of the line up mustered just three hits and a walk.

Harrisburg 3 Hartford 0 – GAME TWO
• Simms (W, 8-5) 5IP, 4H, 0R, 0BB, 4K, HBP; 0-0, 2BB
• Suero (SV, 4) 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• A. Sanchez 2-3, R, 2-2B, RBI
• Rickles 2-3, R, HR, RBI

John Simms and Wander Suero cobmined on six-hit shutout to split the doubleheader with a 3-0 win for the Senators. Simms went the first five and allowed four hits and hit a batter while striking out four to win his eighth decision. Suero worked around two singles in the 6th then set the side down in order in the 7th for his fourth save. Adrian Sanchez doubled twice, drove in a run, and scored a run while Nick Rickles singled and homered to lead the Harrisburg attack. Playoff update: Akron also won to push Harrisburg to the brink of elimination; the RubberDucks must lose twice and the Senators must win twice to make the playoffs.

Myrtle Beach 5 Potomac 4 (14 inn.)
• Crownover 6IP, 7H, 4R, 3ER, BB, 9K, HR
• Thomas 3IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Orlan (L, 5-6) 1IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 1K, 2WP
• Read 3-7, 2B, RBI, PB(19)
• Mejia 3-6, R

Potomac got a ton of solid pitching and a pound of adequate catching as they gave away this one in 14 innings, 5-4. A passed ball in the 6th let in the tying run after the P-Nats battled back from 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead. In the 14th, a wild pitch took away the double play and allowed the winning run to get to 3rd with just one out. R.C. Orlan took the loss as he gave up the final Pelicans run on two singles and no walks. Matt Crownover recovered from a three-run HR in the 1st to turn in six strong innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and a walk while striking out nine. Raudy Read and Bryan Mejia both had three hits to pace the P-Nats attack. Playoff update: Lynchburg lost again to Mills Cup favorite Salem, 9-3, to preserve the first-place tie in the C.L. North.

Asheville 5 Hagerstown 2
• Watson (L, 1-1) 5IP, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 2K, WP
• Bourque 3IP, 4H, R, ER, BB, 2K, HBP, WP
• Beckwith 2-4, 2-2B
• Reetz 2-4

The Tourists burned the Suns for four runs in the middle innings for 5-2 win. Tyler Watson suffered the loss with four runs allowed on nine hits and two walks over five innings. Tyler Beckwith doubled twice, Jakson Reetz singled twice, and Rhett Wiseman homered to lead the eight-hit, no-walk offensive effort.

West Virginia 5 Auburn 0
• W. Davis (L, 3-6) 5IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 4K
• Ortiz 1-3, BB

Three West Virginia pitchers combined on a one-hit shutout to complete the three-game sweep of Auburn with a 5-0 win. Weston Davis dropped his sixth game while tossing five innings of two-run ball on five hits and two walks. He struck out four. Oliver Ortiz broke up the no-hitter with two out in the 4th and drew one of the four Doubledays’ walks.