Sep 122011
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 2-1 ELIMINATED N/A
Potomac Won, 6-1 @ Frederick,
7:00 p.m.
Paul Demny or Mitchell Clegg vs.
Nick Haughian or Jacob Petit
Auburn OFF DAY vs.
Staten Island,
7:05 p.m.
Wirkin Estevez (6-3, 4.01) vs.
Taylor Morton (0-1, 5.40)

The Harrisburg Senators were swept from the Eastern League playoffs with a 2-1 loss to Richmond. While the flooding that delayed the series two days and shifted it to entirely in Richmond didn’t help, the lack of offense was more to blame. The Sens had just five hits yesterday and 18 for the series, batting a .175 overall, .143 with RISP, and 23 runners left on base. The starting pitching was sensational, with Erik Arnesen, Shairon Martis, and Tanner Roark each going seven innings and the trio striking out 29 batters combined while allowing just five runs total.

The Potomac Nationals decided to wait until the next-to-last chance they had on a Sunday Afternoon In Woodbridge to beat the Keys and force a Game Five in the Northern Division Championship Series tonight in Frederick. The winner will meet Kinston for the 2011 Mills Cup.

It’s the final home game of the 2011 season in Auburn, New York as the Doubledays play host to the Staten Island Yankees in Game One of the best-of-three New York-Penn League Championship Series. The two teams split the only two games they played during the regular season. Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez gets the start against 2010 9th-round pick 19-year-old Taylor Morton, who threw all but five of his 55 innings in the regular season in the GCL.

Sep 112011
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 4-2 @ Richmond,
1:05 p.m.
Tanner Roark (9-9, 4.69) vs.
Justin Fitzgerald (9-9, 3.51)
Potomac Lost, 5-1 vs. Frederick,
1:05 p.m.
Adam Olbrychowski (5-7, 4.16) vs.
Ryohei Tanaka (9-5, 3.33)
Auburn OFF DAY OFF DAY N/A

Two losses on Saturday night have pushed both Harrisburg and Potomac to the brink of elimination in the best-of-five format, with the Senators trailing Richmond in its series 2-0 and the P-Nats down 2-1 to Frederick. Both teams could be finished by late this afternoon.

Harrisburg fell 4-2 to Richmond in 11 innings, blowing a 2-0 lead in the 8th. Like the night before, clutch hitting was not to be found as the Senators went 0-for-6 with RISP and stranded seven runners. Derek Norris accounted for the first Harrisburg run and lone RBI while Tyler Moore scored on a wild pitch.

Shairon Martis walked four batters but allowed just one hit and no runs over seven innings while setting down nine on strikes. Rafael Martin let in the tying runs (both unearned) on two hits. Pat Lehman took the loss in the 11th by loading the bases with nobody out after pitching a scoreless 10th. Cory VanAllen couldn’t strand them and the Sens couldn’t get them back in their half of the 11th.

Potomac was held to just three hits total while Frederick’s two true prospects were both outstanding Last Night In Woodbridge. It needs to be mentioned somewhere that despite the deluge of rain on Thursday, the field was restored to playable condition on Friday and Saturday and was not a factor in the game.

Finally, the Staten Island Yankees defeated the Brooklyn Cyclones by the slimmest of margins, 1-0. They will play the Doubledays in Auburn for Game One of the New York-Penn League Championship, then return to New York City on Tuesday for Games Two and Three (if necessary).

Sep 102011
 

Instead of waiting until the final weekend of the year, the Washington Nationals have named Steve Lombardozzi and Brad Peacock as their Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year. Both players will be honored prior to the game tonight.

Both players began the year with Double-A Harrisburg, both having been called up last year from Potomac — key cogs in the machine that would win the 2010 Carolina League Championship. Both were also a part of the Arizona Fall League Championship team.

Lombardozzi has had the double-edged sword of being the son of a former major-leaguer: the sneer of “legacy pick” as well as the expectations of living up to the name. The 22-year-old (turns 23 in two weeks) was drafted in the 19th round of the 2008 Draft out of St. Petersburg (FL) Junior College and has steadily moved up the ladder, hitting for average at each stop, and developing some gap power along the way.

A shortstop in college, both Baseball America and John Sickels praise the move to second, citing a fringy arm, which is most apparent on balls to his right. That said, Lombardozzi has above-average hands and further compensates for his average range by positioning himself well on defense. Consequently, he’s made just 27 errors in 442 minor-league games for a .987 fielding percentage.

Peacock has had a longer road to The Show, drafted in 2006 as “draft and follow” out of Palm Beach (FL) Community College. A shortstop in high school, Peacock has learned the craft along the way. The 2011 season was actually his first minor-league season in which he (A) had more wins than losses, a.k.a. “a winning record” (B) more than 10 wins. It’s actually just his second season with a sub-4.00 ERA.

As Sickels put it in his 2011 book:

I know… won-loss record is irrelevant to prospect status but you have to admit it looks weird to see a guy who is actually a good prospect have a 19-35, .352 record in his career… His FIPs are consistently much better than the ERAs [but] he’s got the stuff to succeed and I think he’s a sleeper.

Indeed. Peacock caught my eye last summer and became a favorite subject, especially as he figured out that striking out in double-digits wasn’t as important as going seven innings, which culminated in a five-hit shutout shortly before his callup to Hagerstown.

Unlike last year, both men figure to be “in the conversation” for the 2012 ballclub. What remains to be seen is in what capacity: starter or reliever, everyday player or off the bench.

Sep 102011
 


Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 6-0 @ Richmond,
7:05 p.m.
Shairon Martis (8-6, 3.05) vs.
Jason Stevenson (1-0, 1.29)
Potomac Won, 8-0 vs. Frederick,
6:35 p.m.
Evan Bronson (5-5, 3.64) vs.
Scott Copeland (3-2, 2.14)
Auburn Won, 7-2 OFF DAY N/A

Two of out three Nats playoff teams won last night, with Harrisburg dropping the opener, Potomac evening its series, and Auburn advancing to the New-York Penn League Championship Series.

The lack of clutch hitting that bedeviled the Senators late in the season returned with a vengeance as Harrisburg went just 1-for-11 with RISP and stranded 10 baserunners in the loss. The Sens managed just seven hits total in the loss, with Chris Rahl, Tyler Moore and Leonard Davis each going 2-for-4.

Erik Arnesen was more than adequate with three runs given up on eight hits and no walks over seven innings while striking out 10 batters, tying his season high. Jimmy Barthmaier put on the first two runners in the eighth and was lifted for Oliver Perez who gave up two straight singles to let them in, the 3-0 deficit extended to 5-0. Hassan Pena let up back-to-back doubles to make the final score 6-0.

In Frederick, the P-Nats used the longball to put this game away early, as Brian Peacock hit a two-run shot in the 1st and Francisco Soriano smacked a three-run blast in the 2nd en route to an 8-0 shutout of the Keys. Eury Perez scored four runs while going 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base as Potomac pounded out ten hits total.

Sammy Solis walked just one, the 20th batter he faced, but a tight strike zone pushed his pitch count to 91 and prompted manager Matt LeCroy to call upon Neil Holland to escape a two-out, first-and-third jam in the 5th. Holland retired Manny Machado to preserve the shutout and went two more innings to earn the win. Joe Testa and Cameron Selik combined to shut down the keys over the final two frames, with Selik striking out the side in the 9th.

Finally, the Auburn Doubledays scored early and often, building a 7-2 lead after three that four relievers combined to stifle the Vermont Lake Monsters over the last six innings for the win and a berth in the NYPL finals. Brian Dupra got the start but was lifted with two outs in the fourth after allowing six hits and three walks. Alex Kreis got the win with an inning and a third pitched as the first man out of the ‘pen. Carlos Alvarez and Angel Montilla each had three hits in the 10-hit attack, while Bryce Ortega and Matt Skole each drove in two.

Which team and where the Doubledays will play on Monday will be determined tonight, as the Staten Island Yankees and the Brooklyn Cyclones face off in Game Three of the “Battle of the Boroughs.” If Staten Island wins, Auburn hosts Game One, with the series returning to NYC for the deciding game(s); if Brooklyn wins, the Cyclones play host first and the Doubledays get the home field for the rest of the series.

Sep 092011
 
Player Pos. Age 2011 Team(s) 2010 Invite Notes
David Freitas C-1B 22 HAG Y Spent most of ’11 at C (86 of 123G) and posted another strong triple-slash of .288/.409/.450
Sandy Leon C 22 POT Y Defensively, he’s MLB-ready. Offensively, he’s still a work in progress but getting better.
Cole Leonida C 22 HAG Y Improved his offense, but has been a backup to both Leon and Freitas. POT in ’12?
Adrian Nieto C 21 AUB, HAG, POT Y PED suspension will dog him, but put up career offensive numbers across the board
Raudy Read C 17 DSL N Poor offensive and defensive numbers but age and status as six-figure IFA signee will buy him time and attention
Pedro Severino C 18 DSL N Another IFA with poor offensive numbers, but serviceable defensive numbers in the DSL
Justin Bloxom 3B-1B 23 POT N One of Potomac’s best hitters that the org seems hell-bent into making a 3B despite 39E in 77G there
Diomedes Eusebio 3B 19 DSL N Turned 19 yesterday. Especially good power numbers for a DSL teen: .451 SLG, 6HR, 30RBI in 59G
Blake Kelso 3B-SS 22 HAG Y Undersized IF that can hit for average but not much power and serviceable on defense = utility guy
Jeff Kobernus 2B 23 POT N Has shaken the fragile label, and has great baserunning skills but doesn’t take many walks and has only gap power
Estarlin Martinez 1B-OF 19 GCL N A hitter in search of a position, with exceptional power/on-base numbers for a teen in the GCL
Jason Martinson SS 22 HAG Y An intriguing combination of power and speed but has the hallmarks of an athlete trying to translate athleticism into skill. Could be the 2012 edition of Destin Hood.
Bryce Ortega SS 22 AUB N 41st-Rd Col Sr. that put up strong numbers in Auburn and plays a position where the Nats are very thin (SS)
Arialdi Peguero 1B 18 DSL N Another young IFA that struggled in the DSL on both offense and defense.
Anthony Rendon 3B 21 N/A N The Nationals #1 2011 Draft Pick that fell to the Nats due to injury concerns, but many scouts believe was the best player available
Adrian Sanchez 2B/SS 21 HAG Y If Kobernus feels someone breathing down his neck, that would be Adrian Sanchez, who put up an even stronger second half than his first, which is precisely what you want out of a turning-21 DSL grad in his first full season stateside.
Matt Skole 3B 22 AUB N 5th Rd ’11 pick that’s a suspect on defense but a prospect on offense
Steven Souza 1B 22 POT Y Converted from 3B to 1B last offseason, and tripled his walk total but had long homerless streak that’s intolerable for a CI
Zach Walters SS 22 POT N Acquired in deadline deal with AZ for Marquis, Walters has a slick glove and finished the season batting .366 in last 10G
Deion Williams SS 18 GCL N 16th Rd. HS Pick in ’11 Draft. Tall, lean, toolsy SS who struggled in the GCL. Grandson of George Scott.
Billy Burns OF 22 AUB N Gets on base, runs well, solid glove and he plays CF. Excuse Mr. Rizzo while he takes a cold shower.
Brian Goodwin OF 20 N/A N Supplemental Rd. Pick that might have been a 1st rounder before his transfer from UNC to Miami-Dade CC. Scouts aren’t high on his defense and some question if the power will ever be there, but most believe the upside is worth the risk.
Kevin Keyes OF 22 HAG Y Arguably the biggest surprise of the entire Nats organization in ’11, going from an abysmal .278 SLG to a robust .510 SLG
Narciso Mesa OF 19 GCL N Made the jump from DSL to GCL successfully, and was said to be “plus-plus” for his arm and speed, though neither attribute showed up much in the numbers.
Randolph Oduber OF 22 GCL, HAG Y Injuries limited the “Groovin’ Aruban” to just 60G but his ’11 numbers were fairly similar to ’10 despite playing a level higher.
Eury Perez OF 21 POT Y Defensively, he’s fairly close to MLB-ready, but his on-base skills are woeful — especially when you take away the small-ball chances
Caleb Ramsey OF 22 AUB N 11th Rd Pick in ’11 Draft that stole 15 bases in 64G despite the “not very fast” knock. Good glove, good on-base skills.
Michael Taylor OF 20 HAG Y Last year, we wondered why he got the invite. This year, we got the answer with 23SB and a .253/.310/.432 line from a 20-y.o.
Sep 092011
 
Player Pos. Age 2011 Team(s) 2010 Invite Notes
Gregory Baez LHSP 19 DSL, GCL Y Repeated GCL with much better success, lowering ERA from 5.92 to 3.30
A.J. Cole RHSP 19 HAG Y First full season as a pro, thus his second-half fade is understandable
Paul Demny RHSP 22 POT Y Prone to longball, but throws hard. Predicted move to ‘pen for ’11 last Sept, but his age and stamina say he’s a candidate for the HBG rotation in ’12
Brian Dupra RHSP 22 HAG N 7th Rd. Pick in ’11 draft with a low-to-mid-90s FB and improving secondary pitches that scouts like.
Pedro Encarnacion RHSP 20 AUB, GCL Y Challenged with SS-A but dropped back to GCL where like Baez, he put up better numbers
Wirkin Estevez RHSP 19 AUB Y Accepted the challenge to skip GCL and put up decent numbers for a 19-y.o.
Christian Garcia RHRP 26 AUB, SYR N Former Yankee farmhand that’s undergone TJ surgery twice. A project, a la Ryan Mattheus.
Matt Grace LHSP 22 HAG Y Threw a lot of innings, gave up more hits. Decent peripheral numbers and respectable FIP. And then there’s that lefthanded thing.
Taylor Hill RHSP 22 AUB N 6th-rd pick in ’11 Draft with SI/SL/CU arsenal that scouts feel might be refined with a pro coach
Greg Holt RHRP 22 AUB, HAG N 8th Rd Pick in ’11 Draft. Average FB, but good CV — projects as a middle reliever
Taylor Jordan RHSP 22 HAG Y Didn’t pitch after July 9, so the presumption is he was shut down due to injury.
Nathan Karns RHSP 23 GCL, AUB N ’09 Draft Pick that finally surfaced in pro ball in ’11
Jack McGeary LHSP 22 GCL N Recovering from mid-2010 TJ surgery, put up decent numbers in five late-season GCL appearances
Chris McKenzie RHSP 21 HAG, POT N 13th Rd. Juco Pick in ’10 Draft. Spent two-plus mos. on DL with much better results upon return
Alex Meyer RHSP 21 N/A N Deadline-sign 1st Rd. ’11 Draft pick. Live arm, poor control likely due to 6’9″ frame that’s reportedly not finished filling out.
Blake Monar LHRP 22 GCL, AUB N 12th Rd Pick in ’11 Draft. Had just five appearances, but likely limited due to his injury history
Ivan Pineyro RHSP 19 DSL N Led DSL club in games started, innings pitched, and strikeouts.
Matt Purke LHSP 21 N/A N Another 1st Rd ’11 Draft deadline sign. Fell to the 3rd round due injury concerns, sophomore leverage but considered a great value play by stock jocks risk-reward pick by draft gurus.
Elvin Ramirez RHRP 23 N/A N Dec. ’10 Rule 5 Draft Pick that was alleged to have amped up his fastball in winter ball then never pitched in ’11
Robbie Ray LHSP 19 HAG Y Stronger results than Cole, but similar late-season fade
Manny Rodriguez RHRP 22 AUB N 10th Rd. Pick in ’11 Draft. Small-college convert from 3B that throws 90-95 and is still learning to pitch.
Cameron Selik RHSP 24 HAG, POT N Started with a bang at HAG, but faded in second half in POT of first full season as a pro.
Matt Swynenberg RHSP 21 HAG N Lean, long-limbed and a slow riser in the Nats system, having been drafted in ’09 and repeating SS-A in ’11
Kylin Turnbull LHRP 21 N/A N 4th Rd Pick in ’11 and another deadline sign. A hard-throwing lefty with a projectable frame that the Nats talked out of going to UOregon
Sep 092011
 

[Ed. Note: The fourth guest column from frequent commenter BinM]
A 2011 regular-season wrapup from another voice…

Syracuse Chiefs, 66-74; 4th in Northern Division, International League
The Chiefs and their fans suffered on many levels this year. Between a spotty offense, and an ever-changing pitching staff (31 total pitchers for the year), the team never really mounted a challenge for the playoffs, despite plenty of MLB experience (25 players appearing with prior MLB time over the course of the year). The 10-game drop in the standings from 2010 with what looked like a better team was disapointing, to say the least.
Hitter of the year
Chris Marrero, 1B — With a slash of .300/.375/.449, 114 runs produced and a .281GPA, he squeaks past Steve Lombardozzi, who compiled a .310/.354/.408 slash, with 71 runs produced, 16SB and a .261GPA over 69GP.
Pitcher of the year
Tom Milone, LHSP — More silly numbers from a guy most people overlook: 3.22ERA, 1.03WHIP, 9.1:1K-BB over 148⅓ IP over 24GS. Hands down, the best pitcher on the staff.
Biggest disappointment
Yunesky Maya, RHSP — 5.00ERA, 1.24WHIP, 2.96:1K-BB, and 14HR allowed over 129⅔ IP ove 22GS.

Harrisburg Senators, 80-62; 1st in Western Division, Eastern League

Despite losing two of their top hitters (Lombardozzi and Bill Rhinehart), and their #1SP (Brad Peacock) near midseason, this team managed to stay together & won their division. The additions of the OF’s Bryce Harper (promotion) & Erik Komatsu (trade), and LHSP Danny Rosenbaum (promotion) to the starting staff certainly didn’t hurt the team. Simply by making the playoffs, I have to call this a good year.
Hitter of the year
Tyler Moore, 1B — Despite how well Steve Lombardozzi played earlier this year, I’m giving the nod to Moore for the Senators. His overall compilation of a .270/.314/.532 slash, with 70 XBH, 129 runs produced, and a .274GPA over 137GP was enough to sway me.
Pitcher of the year
Brad Peacock, RSHP — With numbers like a 2.01ERA, 1.29WHIP, 5.2:1K-BB, and a 10-2 W-L prior to his promotion to Syracuse, he gets the nod over Erik Arnesen, and Shairon Martis for the season, who each had good seasons as well.
Biggest disappointment
Oliver Perez, LHSP — From a former MLB pitcher: a 3.09ERA, 1.39WHIP, 1.9:1K-BB, and 10HRA over only 75⅔ IP and 16GP at AA fails to impress on a lot of levels.

Potomac Nationals, 29-40, 1st half; 39-31 2nd half, 68-71 overall;
2nd Half Champ, North Division Carolina League

An up and down year, with ongoing field/venue problems and a poor 1st half record, the team managed a surprisingly steady 2nd half to make the Carolina League playoffs once again. The team suffered some key losses to the pitching staff, with callups for RHRP Pat Lehman and Rosenbaum, and an injury to RHSP Trevor Holder. The callups of LHSP Sammy Solis and RHRP Neil Holland helped cover those losses. A decent year overall, salvaged by another playoff appearance, but slightly off last years’ pace.
Hitter of the year
Destin Hood, OF — Could be considered the core of the team this season, contributing across the board offensively. Posted a .276/.364/.445 slash, 131 runs produced and 21SB with a .278GPA.
Pitcher of the year
Daniel Rosenbaum — Promoted to AA in late July, he managed a 2.59ERA, 1.17WHIP, and a 2.3:1K-BB over 20GP and 132.0IP for the P-Nats.
Biggest disappointment
J.P. Ramirez, LF-DH — This one is hard for me because I wanted him to succeed, but I can’t ignore the numbers: .223/.275/.342 slash, no speed and limited range defensively, all of which appear to be signs that he’s topped out at High-A.

Hagerstown Suns — 75-64, 35-34 2nd half; 4th place, Northern Division, South Atlantic League
With a fading finish in the 1st half, and some indifferent play in the 2nd half, the Suns missed out on both chances at a playoff spot this year. This was a huge disappointment, given the hitting (Harper, Blake Kelso, and David Freitas) and pitching (Cameron Selik, Solis, Taylor Jordan, Holland and Chris Manno) the team received in the 1st half of the season. The 2nd half was more a “grind-it-out and hope for the best” kind of year. All in all, a better record than 2010, but it still must be a bittersweet finish to the Hagerstown faithful.
Hitter of the year
David Freitas, C-DH — He gets my hat-tip over Harper the younger here. With a slash of .288/.409/.450, 127 runs produced, a .297GPA, and the fact that he catches earns him the honors.
Pitcher of the year
Christopher Manno, LHRP — With a 1.04ERA, a 0.81WHIP, a 4.0:1K-BB and 12Sv / 25GF in 34GP prior
to his trade, he beats out LHP Paul Applebee who compiled a nice 3.35ERA, 1.01WHIP, and a 6.5:1K-BB over 96.2IP and 31GP.
Biggest disappointment
The trade of Christoper Manno to the Reds for Jonny Gomes. Seriously.

Auburn Doubledays – 45-30; 1st place, Pinckney Division, NY-Penn.
With a steady season, the Doubledays reach the playoffs in 2011, only to face last years’ Nats affiliate (now the Oakland A’s), the Vermont Lake Monsters in the 1st round. The team received timely hitting from a number of players (Bryce Ortega, Matt Skole, Hendry Jimenez, Caleb Ramsey, Russell Moldenhauer, Justin Miller; even ‘Bowden’s folly’), and pitching to match (Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez, Taylor Hill, Brian Dupra, Nathan Karns, Richie Mirowski, Tyler Hanks, Manny Rivera and Ben Grisz). A good year, with a 9½ game improvement over the 2010 record.
Hitter of the year
Bryce Ortega, SS-3B — With a .314/.410/.392 slash and a .283 GPA over 56GP at SS, he beats out Matt Skole (.290/.382/.438 slash and a .281GPA at 3B) by the slightest of margins.
Pitcher of the year
Benjamin Grisz, RHRP — I’m going against the grain with this one, but regardless of his alleged off-field behavior, this kid was a solid reliever for the Doubledays coming out of college, posting a 1.35ERA, an 0.85WHIP and 4SV / 8GF in just 11GP.
Biggest disappointment
Benjamin Grisz (see above). If the allegations are true — that he made no further appearances after July 27, despite being named to the NYPL All-Star Team is telling — the lack of personal restraint could ruin a budding career.

Gulf Coast Nationals – 20-33, 4th place Eastern Division
An overall lack of offense couldn’t support spotty pitching, and the G-Nats post their worst record in three years as a result. The team’s most interesting hitters were all out of the DSL — OFs Wander Ramos, Narciso Mesa, Estarlin Martinez; IFs Jean-Carlos Valdez and Wilmer Difo. The pitching carried a few possibles as well, with LHSPs Jack McGeary (recovering from TJ surgery) and Gregory Baez showing promise, and RHRP Scott Williams and LHRP Bobby Lucas out of the bullpen. Not a lot in terms of the record, but some players to keep an eye on going forward.
Hitter of the year
Wander Ramos, RF-LF — A 21-y.o. corner OF up from the DSL, he compiled a .313/.401/.653 slash, with a .344GPA this year.
Pitcher of the year
Gregory Baez — Only 19-y.o., Baez moved up from the DSL to compile a 3.72ERA, a 1.59WHIP and a 1.28K-BB over 48⅓ IP.
Biggest disappointment
Hector Taveras, C — Released without a single 2011 appearance, another career possibly wasted by a lack of restraint.

Dominican League Nationals – 33-36, 5th place, BCS division
Another up-and-down season with little consistency and some questionable starting choices led to a bad overall record. There are some youngsters on this team whose numbers look promising, with Adderling Ruiz (20-y.o. C), Yermin Mercedes (18-y.o. C-DH), Diomedes Eusebio (18-y.o. 3B) all showing promise at the plate, and Ivan Pineyro (19-y.o. RHSP), Gilberto Mendez (18yo RHSP), and Joel Barrientos (18-y.o. LHRP) from the pitching staff. With a regression of 3½ games from 2010, not the best overall result.
Hitter of the year
Adderling Ruiz — Still a little sketchy defensively (5E), he produced at the plate with a .343/.417/.476 slash, and a
.307 GPA.
Pitcher of the year
Ivan Pineyro — Overall solid numbers for a SP (65.7IP, 1.64ERA, 1.08WHIP, 3.14K-BB).
Biggest disappointment
Brian Escolastico, LHRP — Great last name but horrid results, with a 17.72ERA, 3.84WHIP, and a 0.78:1K-BB over 11GP.

Sep 082011
 

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Postponed Postponed N/A
Potomac Lost, 5-1
(6 inn.)
@ Frederick,
7:00 p.m.
Sammy Solis (6-2, 2.72) vs.
Richard Zagone (4-2, 2.97)
Auburn Postponed vs. Vermont,
7:05 p.m.
Taylor Hill (0-2, 3.16) vs.
Brent Powers (4-2, 3.84)

Rain forced a postponement in Auburn and complete series shift in Richmond yesterday, while the Potomac Nationals might have wished for more with a 5-1 loss to Frederick in six innings.

Both Auburn and Frederick have more rain forecast for today. The Doubledays and P-Nats both trail their series 1-0, with Auburn facing elimination tonight and Potomac staring at a possible 2-0 deficit.

Meanwhile, the tenor of the E.L. West Divisional series has changed dramatically with the two-day postponement and series shift to Richmond for Games One and Two. Simply put: The Squirrels have owned the Sens at the Diamond, winning 10 of 15 games played there this season. Ironically, Richmond was one of the few that Harrisburg couldn’t handle on the road, with a 38-19 record against the rest of the Eastern League.

Thus, instead of the chance to go up 2-0 and hit the road needing to win just one, it’s the opposite: They have to take at least one on the road and hope to come home with the series tied. Statistically, the chances are the same; psychologically, the game has changed.

Back to Frederick… Paul Demny’s season-long bugaboo — the big fly, he led the Carolina League with 18 surrendered — came back to bite him in the [prosterior] with two given up in the four-run 4th that overcame an early 1-0 deficit, courtesy of a Steve Souza home run in the top of the 2nd.

Much like Auburn in its Game One, the woulda-coulda-shoulda game that fans like to play doesn’t apply. The P-Nats were stifled by Jacob Petit (again, he beat them twice in two regular-season starts) with just three hits and two walks given up over six innings and only two reaching second base — Souza and Sandy Leon on a double two batters later. That kind of offensive production might win a game in soccer, but in baseball, it’s too much to ask for a 1-0 win in the playoffs. Particularly against a lineup with nearly 300 games of AA experience.

Sep 072011
 

Wait, haven’t I done this before?

For the second straight year, it’s Potomac vs. Frederick in the Divisional Series, and the “Battle of The Beltways” misnomer is back. As of 3 p.m., “The Game Is Still On” according to the Keys website.

Similar to 2008 for Potomac, the Frederick Keys have basically led wire-to-wire, winning 41 games in the first half and 39 in the second. [Insert snarky comparison about overaged team and only a couple of true prospects here]. Yes, Potomac did manage to catch them (*ahem*) to win the paper title of second-half champion, but because Potomac did not win the Northern Division outright (the two teams tied with 39 wins), Frederick gets the advantage of hosting a Game Five if one is necessary.

With a season series that went 10-10, that’s kind of a big deal. Or is it?

Frederick actually had a losing record vs. Potomac at home, going 5-8, the uneven split made possible by the series shift in April. Potomac actually won the last two series played there (July 6-8, August 26-28) two games to one.

What should have P-Nats fans worried is the lack of one Mr. Rosenbaum, who beat the Keys three times out four starts, including his final start for Potomac. What should have Keys fans worried is how they staggered to the finish line, winning just twice over the last 10 games, and three in a row to the last-place Wilmington Blue Rocks.

On paper, this shouldn’t even be close. Looking at the team stats in the aggregate, Frederick has the league’s best pitching, Potomac has the worst. The problem with that approach is that it ignores what everybody knows: It’s how the current roster is playing right now that matters most, not how the collective team has done over the past five months.

Unlike last year, I would not be surprised by a couple of 1-0, 2-1, or 3-2 scores in this series — even in the hittng-friendly confines of Harry Grove Stadium.

Without further ado, here’s the schedule, starting with the schedule…
Game 1 at Frederick, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.
Game 2 at Frederick, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.
Game 3 at Potomac, Sept. 9 at 7:05 p.m.
Game 4 at Potomac (if necessary), Sept. 10 at 6:35 p.m.
Game 5 at Frederick (if necessary), Sept. 11 at 2 p.m.

And here are the announced matchups, per MiLB.com…

Game 1 Paul Demny (10-10, 4.32) vs. Jacob Petit (7-0, 1.62)
Game 2 Sammy Solis (6-2, 2.72) vs. Richard Zagone (4-2, 2.97)
Game 3 Evan Bronson (5-5, 3.64) vs. Scott Copeland (3-2, 2.14)
Game 4 Adam Olbrychowski (5-7, 4.16) vs. TBD
Game 5 Mitchell Clegg vs. Nicholas Haughian (8-7, 3.67)

Projected Starting Lineups
POTOMAC
LF Francisco Soriano
2B Jeff Kobernus
DH Justin Bloxom
RF Destin Hood
1B Steve Souza
SS Zach Walters
C Sandy Leon
3B Jose Lozada
CF Eury Perez

FREDERICK
3B Dale Mollenhauer
2B Jonathan Schoop
SS Manny Machado
1B Aaron Baker
DH Michael Flacco
RF Jacob Julius
CF Miguel Abreu
C Brian Ward
LF Bobby Stevens

Obligatory Prediction:
Head: Frederick in Four
Heart: Potomac in Five

Sep 072011
 


As you might have guessed by the image, rain is going to be an underlying theme during the playoffs.
Last night, Harrisburg beat writer Geoff Morrow reported a story about how the the forecast of heavy rain, coupled with the the proximity of the Susquehannah River and the location of Metrobank Park (i.e. on an island in said river) could force the rearrangement* of the Eastern League Divisional Series.
*Could be worse. The Pittsfield Colonials, Hagerstown manager Brian Daubach’s previous ballclub, will be playing ALL its games on the road.

UPDATE: As predicted/feared, the Harrisburg Senators and Richmond Squirrels have postponed their series until Friday, shifting Games One & Two to Friday and Saturday, with Games Three, Four and Five (if necessary). H/T to Max Power to bringing this to our attention, and I strong encourage folks to read his Senators vs. Flying Squirrels Series Preview.

The forecast for Frederick isn’t any better: 1-2″ of heavy rain today with a chance of rain in the hourly forecast that won’t fall below 50% until 11. On Friday night. Rearranging the series simply isn’t an option given the forecast for Woodbridge is nearly identical. It’s also my understanding that the Potomac field there doesn’t drain very well.

Finally, the Auburn Doubledays took on the Vermont Lake Monsters in Burlington, VT last night — located on higher ground than the folks in the Winooski River Valley to the east — but were stifled by 32nd-round pick Drew Garnier, who allowed just one run on two hits and three walks while fanning nine over five innings to lead the Lake Monsters to a 7-1 win.

Auburn starter Nathan Karns was hit hard early, giving up four runs in the bottom of the first, lowlighted when Angel Montilla lost the ball in the, well, low lights at Centennial Field to let in three runs. He would give up six runs total over four innings on seven hits and two walks to take the loss.

Of course, the defensive gaffes aside, the Vermont ‘pen struck out seven and gave up just one hit and one walk after Garnier’s exit. That’s just three hits, four walks on offense for the Doubledays while striking out 16 times. They left on eight and went just 1-for-13 with RISP.

The series shifts to Auburn for today and tomorrow. But wouldn’t you know? There’s also a forecast for heavy rain over the next two days, and a strong chance of rain on Friday. Stay tuned and stay dry.