Nov 122015

Salt River left the bases loaded in the 8th as they were unable to dig themselves out of an early 3-0 hole and fell to Peoria, 6-5.

For the second straight game, three Nationals farmhands saw game action:

  • Spencer Kieboom missed the tag and was 0-for-4 with a walk as the Rafters catcher. He batted fifth and struck out twice.
  • Christopher Bostick batted eighth and played 2B. He also struck out twice but went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
  • Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez got hit hard again, this time giving up three runs in four hits in his one inning of work. He walked none and struck out one.

The loss knocks Salt River back to three games behind Scottsdale, which won its sixth straight. The Rafters stay home today and will host the Desert Dogs tonight.

Nov 112015

Salt River snapped a 1-1 tie with a run in the 8th and this time the bullpen held the lead for a 2-1 win over Peoria, stopping a three-game slide.

Three Nationals appeared in the game.

  • John Simms started and gave up a single run on a home run (again) and four hits total over five innings. He walked one and struck out four while throwing 71 pitches, 47 for strikes.
  • Dakota Bacus pitched the bottom of the 8th and set the side down in order on a groundout, popout, and a lineout. He threw 12 pitches, eight for strikes and earned his second hold this fall.
  • Drew Ward was the DH and went 0-for-2 with a walk, his seventh in nine games, which lowered his BA to .087 but improved his OBP to .290

The Rafters remain two games behind the Scorpions with eight games to play. Tonight, Salt River plays host to Peoria.

Nov 102015

Bostick-Keister-11-9-15Salt River blew a 5-1 lead in the 8th and couldn’t hold on to an 8-6 lead in the 11th as they fell 10-8 to Scottsdale for the second straight game.

Christopher Bostick (pictured) smacked a three-run homer in the top of the 8th to break open the until-then 2-1 game. It was his sole hit of the game, in which he batted seventh and played 2B. Defensively, he had one putout and two assists.

Spencer Kieboom got the start as the Rafters DH and went 0-for-2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch before being lifted for a pinch-runner with one out in the 8th. Bostick’s home run came immediately thereafter.

No other Nationals appeared in the game.

The loss drops Salt River to 12-9, two games behind Scottsdale in the AFL East. They’ll travel to Peoria today for another afternoon game, in which John Simms is listed as the probable starter.

Nov 082015

Last night was the AFL Fall Stars Game, which saw the West defeat the East, 8-3. Surprise: Abel De Los Santos (pictured above) did appear. Not a surprise: He was touched for a run on two hits and was the losing pitcher.

For those wondering, winter league updates might not be a staple post this offseason given how few Nats farmhands are playing. Nevertheless, here’s a quick rundown on the non-AFL guys:

  • Paolo Espino – VWL        1-2, 4.50ERA, 1.46WHIP; 26IP, 27H, 16R, 13ER, 11BB, 22K, 3HR
  • Reegie Corona – VWL    .157/.271/.216, 0HR, 2RBI, 1SB in 15G, 51AB
  • Brian Goodwin – VWL     .222/.300/.389, 1HR, 6RBI, 2SB in 9G, 36AB
  • Rafael Bautista – DWL    .415/.466/.528, 10R, 4RBI, 2SB in 15G, 53AB
  • Pedro Severino – DWL    .265/.265/.529, 2HR, 4RBI, 0SB in 11G, 34AB
  • Jose Lozada – DWL        .476/.500/.619, 0HR, 3RBI, 1SB in 6G, 21AB

Back to the AFL… second-place Salt River has ten games remaining and will rematch against first-place Scottsdale tomorrow on the road. If the rotation holds, John Simms will most likely next pitch on Wednesday.

Nov 072015

Fallball2014Well, perhaps it was too much to expect a bevy of Nats to appear in the AFL for a third straight game, so yesterday there were none in Salt River’s 5-4 loss to Scottsdale.


Minor-league free agency has begun, and while BA has yet to release its compilation, here’s what I’ve culled from

  • RHPs – Bruce Billings, Juan Gutierrez, Tim Alderson, Paul Demny
  • LHP –Richard Bleier
  • IF –Cutter Dykstra
  • OFs –Tony Gwynn Jr., Theo Bowe
  • C –Dan Butler

Now for the annual reminder that this is not necessarily a reflection of the value the organization places on the players, but the reality that players are effectively indentured servants for seven seasons after they’re drafted. For some, this is their only chance to go elsewhere without the stigma of having been released.

On to the final affiliate review…

After fielding a contender in 2014, it was a reversion to the mean in 2015 – a team stocked with veterans that could be easily passed through waivers or lost if need be. The Chiefs had the second-oldest collection of bats, the third-oldest set of arms. Neither were particularly good, with the offense averaging 3.69 R/G and the defense yielding 4.06 R/G against league averages of 3.97 R/G.

Like last year (and the year before, and the year before that…), the true prospects are few; basically, Trea Turner and A.J. Cole. As in previous reviews, it’s worth noting that perhaps the obligatory list would be longer if there weren’t players who lost their rookie status (Felipe Rivero, Joe Ross) or hadn’t been previously been listed (Matt Skole). Instead, it’s just four and were it not for the dexterity of the final two, I’d skip the list entirely:

1. Trea Turner, SS — .267GPA, 14SB in 48G
2. A.J. Cole, RHP — 3.15/3.90/1.18, .470OPS against in August
3. Matt Grace, LHP — 2.40/3.14/1.21, .543OP against LHBs
4. Sammy Solis, LHP — 2.03/2.86/0.98 in 13⅓ IP

If you have a morbid curiosity you’re interested in seeing the full team statistics, you can find them here.

Nov 062015

Salt River’s winning streak ended with a 4-2 loss to Mesa last night, setting up a battle for 1st place between the Rafters and the Desert Dogs tonight.

Five Nats saw game action yesterday, including three position players and two relievers.

  • Christopher Bostick batted second and played 2B, but was 0-for-4. He helped turned two double plays on defense and had three assists and a putout.
  • That putout came when catcher Spencer Kieboom threw out Chad Pinder. He singled in the 1st and went 1-for-4 overall.
  • Drew Ward batted 9th and drew another walk but was hitless for his fifth straight game to lower his BA to .095 (2-for-21). Defensively, he had two putouts and three assists while playing 3B.
  • Nick Lee worked around three singles — thanks to a double-play grounder — for a scoreless inning in the 6th. He threw 21 pitches, 12 for strikes.
  • Dakota Bacus pitched the 8th but let in a run on a double and a single. Seven of his 11 pitches went for strikes.

Salt River is now 12-7 with 11 games left to play. The Rafters play division rival Scottsdale tonight, Monday, and the final game of the regular season on Nov. 19.

Nov 052015

John-Simms-AFL-11-4-15Salt River scored early and often as they extended their win streak to six as they doubled up Mesa, 12-6.

John Simms made his third start and went five strong innings, giving up one run on a solo HR in the 1st and five hits total. He walked none and struck out three, tossing 61 pitches with 41 going for strikes.

Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez was the first man out of the bullpen and pitched a 1-2-3 sixth but failed to retire four batters faced in the 7th as he issued three walks and hit a batter for a run. Abel De Los Santos let in another with a sacrifice fly then struck out two to minimize the damage.

Estevez’s line: 1IP, 0H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 0K, HBP
De Los Santos’s line: 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, 3-1 IR-S

Drew Ward was the sole Nats bat in the lineup. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and RBI via a sacrifice fly while batting ninth and playing 3B, where he had four assists and no errors.

The Rafters host Mesa tonight in Salt River, then play second-place Scottsdale tomorrow night.

Nov 042015

Arizona Fall League #2
Make that five in a row for the Rafters, who broke open a 2-1 game with a four-run 6th in yesterday’s 6-2 win over the Desert Dogs.

Just two Nationals appeared in the game.

Christopher Bostick got the start at 2B and batted second, but was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Defensively, he took part in a 4-6-3 double play and had four assists and one putout.

Drew Ward was the DH and batted seventh. He drew a walk in the first and then grounded out three times for an 0-for-3 line in the scorebook.

Salt River, which leads the AFL East by one game, visits last-place Mesa this afternoon with John Simms (2-0, 1.64) slated to make his third start.

Nov 032015

Arizona Fall League #5
Salt River continues to roll, as they took their fourth straight, 5-0.

Three Nationals appeared in the game:

  • Christopher Bostick batted second and played 2B. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI, two stolen bases, and two strikeouts.
  • Drew Ward struck out in a pinch-hit appearance.
  • Spencer Kieboom batted fifth and caught. He reached base three times with a single and two walks.

The Rafters remain tied with Scottsdale at 10-6 in the AFL East. They play host to Glendale this afternoon.

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For what it’s worth, Abel De Los Santos was placed on the AFL East Fall Stars game roster. Tripp Keister will manage. The game will be televised on the MLB Network at 8 p.m. ET.

Nov 012015
Abel-De-Los-Santos-2015-2 Nick-Lee-AFL-10-31-15

Just two Nationals relievers appeared in Salt River’s 6-5 win over Surprise — Abel De Los Santos and Nick Lee.

The clean outing continues to elude De Los Santos as he gave up a run on a triple and a sacrifice fly during his lone inning of work in the 7th. In four appearances, he’s been strafed for nine runs on 10 hits over four innings.

Lee was dinged for a leadoff HR in the 8th but then retired the next three batters on a flyout and two grounders.

After three straight wins, Salt River is tied with Scottsdale at 9-6 in the AFL East. It’s a five-game slate before next Saturday’s “Fall Stars” game (rosters to be announced tomorrow), which will be held in Salt River.

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Just a couple of items to tack on to the AFL dispatch…

Not sure if this is the 2015 postseason or the 2016 preseason edition or just Baseball America trying to make its October online pageviews, but the latest BA Top 10 for the Nationals is out. Without stealing the thunder of Byron Kerr, I’ll reveal that Trea Turner is the No. 2 prospect.

The 2015 edition couldn’t help but be better than the 2014 disaster, though that’s a lot like having better hair than Mike Rizzo. (Thanks, I’m here all week). Due in large part to the injury shuffle from the big club, the rotation was in flux all season long, with only Austin Voth making more than 15 starts. The pitching was a shade better than league average (4.06 R/G vs. 4.08) and the offense was a little worse than that (4.00), hence the eight-games-below .500 mark of 67-75 that missed its pythaogeran projection of 70-72.

As has been the case since 2012, it’s a combined Top 5 for the ancillary purpose of generating the 2016 Watchlist:

1. Austin Voth, RHP — 2.92/3.07/1.11, 148K in 157⅓ IP
2. Wilmer Difo, IF — .279/.312/.387, 26SB, 79K in 87G
3. Abel De Los Santos, RHP — 3.43/3.39/1.13, 4.59 K:BB ratio
4. Matt Skole, 1B — .232/.332/.398, 12HR in 90G
5. Isaac Ballou, OF — .304/.383/.494 in 49G

Obviously, I’m excluding Joe Ross because he’s lost his rookie status and Lucas Gioltio because he’s already appeared on a Top 5 list. Skole and Ballou are included mainly because the organization is starved for power and outfielders at the upper levels. Even then, I’m not sure (De Los Santos getting lit like a Christmas tree isn’t terribly convincing, SSS or not). This next watch list may be the smallest yet.

As always, folks who’d like to see the full stats can find them here.