Mar 282015
 

So Long
Yesterday, there was another round of cuts in spring training… the big one that usually comes earlier in March, but was most likely delayed this year due to the bevy of injuries. In the latest transaction post from Baseball America today, we learned the following Nationals minor-leaguers have been released:

  • OF Garrett Gordon (Auburn)
  • RHP D.J. Jauss (GCL)
  • RHP Jean Ramirez (GCL)
  • UT Mike McQuillan (Potomac)
  • LHP Brandon Sisk (Offseason pickup)

The closest thing to a surprise was the release of Jean Ramirez, but that’s primarily because of his age (20). This is the flip side to the free-agent signings in the offseason — to make room, some guys are going to be let go, which for most means their days as a pro baseball player are over.

Mar 212015
 

Split Doubleheader
The hometown fans left the park happy today, as the Nats doubled up the Marlins, 4-2 in Viera while the Braves followed the Disney fun mandate with a 5-2 triumph in Orlando.

At Space Coast, the Nats scored all four in the 3rd inning as Wilson Ramos plated two with a one-out single, then Dan Uggla homered to erase an early 1-0 deficit. Jordan Zimmermann went five innings total in his fourth spring start, scattering eight hits while walking none and fanning four.

The Marlins got their final run in the 9th off Rafael Martin, who issued a one-out walk and gave up a two-out double, but was credited with the save.

At Champion Stadium, a 2-0 lead vanished when journeyman reliever Evan Meek allowed the first five runners to reach base in the 4th and three of them came around to score. Taylor Jordan got the start and allowed just a hit and a walk over three innings.

Michael Taylor got the start in CF for the visiting Nats and went 2-for-3 with a run scored.

Here’s a rundown of how the notable minor-leaguers fared in Viera:

  • Kevin Keyes subbed for Bryce Harper in RF and was 0-for-1 with a strikeout.
  • Shawn Pleffner followed Ryan Zimmerman at 1B and struck out in his lone at-bat.
  • Chris Bostick took over at 2B from Uggla and singled in the 8th inning.
  • John Wooten subbed for Danny Espinosa at 3B and was 0-for-1.
  • Cutter Dykstra grounded out to first as a pinch-hitter.

And in Orlando:

  • Rafael Bautista followed Taylor in CF and went 0-for-1 with a whiff.
  • Matt Skole was 0-for-1 in relief of Mike Carp at 1B.
  • Tony Renda went 0-for-1 as the sub for 2B Kevin Frandsen.
  • Sandy Leon was 0-for-1 as the replacement for C Jose Lobaton.
  • Drew Vettleson drew a walk as the second RF, following Clint Robinson.

The Nats make their second trip to Lakeland to visit the Tigers, with A.J. Cole getting the start in place of Stephen Strasburg. The game can be heard locally on 1580AM.

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In the latest transaction report from Baseball America, we learned that RHPs Richie Mirowski and Melvi Salazar joined Jeff Kobernus on the list of released players over the past few days. Mirowski was a 45th Rd. pick in 2011 and came into the 2014 season with much promise after a strong AFL campaign in the fall of 2013, but struggled in his second go ’round in AA, posting a 6.23 ERA in 10 appearances before dropping down to Potomac. Salazar, who turned 20 in December, hit the wall in the GCL with 25 baserunners allowed in 15⅓ innings. In 2013, he had been 4-0 with 13 saves and a 0.98 ERA in his second DSL season.

Feb 082015
 

Plugging Away
Having reviewed the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, but knowing the Sickels version is still another couple of weeks away, I’ve spent this weekend making another pass through the player reports. There’s a good chance that many of the guys I’m holding out on won’t be covered, but I’d rather be sure than just assume that.

Yesterday’s transaction post from Baseball America had but one name, Tim Alderson, a 26-y.o. RHP who began 2014 as a reliever for Baltimore’s AAA team in the International League and finished with seven starts in eight appearances for Oakland’s High-A entry in the California League.

(Yeah, the news is still slow).

So after you’ve enjoyed the brief respite from the winter weather, feel free to take a look at the player reports while we await the start of spring training.

Jan 312015
 

Morning Reading 2If you’re here to find out which team Kim Kardashian’s favorite prospect thinks will win the Super Bowl, well then maybe the SEO ad partner I hired isn’t so bad after all.

As the post title and pic suggests, here are few items to stew on while the dreaded month of January comes to a close.

Keith Law has ranked the Nationals farm system 9th overall, up from No. 18 last year, and the highest he’s ever ranked the Nationals (H/T Todd Boss, who lays down some more Law in his latest post).

MLB.com, who seemed to know that its audience was probably home, unveiled its Top 100 prospects last night on the MLB Network. Lucas Giolito (6th), A.J. Cole (52nd) both moved up from last year’s rankings (44 and 69 respectively), while Michael Taylor debuted at No. 42 and “San Diego” shortstop Trea Turner came in at No. 62. Baseball Prospectus has yet to reveal its Top 101, while Law put six Nats in his Top 100.

In transaction news, Baseball America notes that the Nationals have signed former Reds OF Derrick Robinson, who missed 2014 due to shoulder surgery, and IF Grant DeBruin, who spent the past two seasons in the Frontier League after going undrafted in 2012 after playing for Div. II Univ. of Alabama-Huntsville.

Finally, MASN has announced there will be seven games broadcast this year (all times 1 p.m. except March 26, which is at 5 p.m.):

• Sat., March 7 vs. Cardinals • Mon., March 9 vs. Braves • Wed., March 11 vs. Tigers • Mon., March 16 vs. Astros
• Mon., March 23 vs. Yankees • Thu., March 26 vs. Mets • Sat., April 4 vs. Yankees  
Jan 142015
 

So Long
Today the Nationals announced the trade of LHP Danny Rosenbaum for AAA veteran Dan Butler, as part of an offseason push to replenish the upper minors with catchers.

Rosenbaum was a 2009 pick out of Xavier University who quickly established himself as a workhorse, throwing 140+ innings in his first three full seasons (2011-2013). That also earned him a Rule 5 look-see during the 2012-13 offseason before developing Nationals elbow last spring. He was expected to spend 2015 rehabbing in the GCL and perhaps Auburn before becoming a six-year free agent.

As noted in the link above, Roberts is one of several minor-league veteran catchers (Steven Lerud, Omir Santos) added in the wake of the departures of 40-man backstop Jhonatan Solano as well as AA/AAA reserves Brian Jeroloman and Mitch Canham.

Jan 112015
 

Transactions for NPP 2
After a two-plus week hiatus, Baseball America has made its latest transaction post for the period of December 24, 2014 to January 8, 2015. Among the transactions not previously reported:

SIGNED
• OF Kevin Mattison

RELEASED
• RHP Travis Henke
• C Austin Chubb
• SS Willie Medina

Mattison was released from Milwaukee’s AAA affiliate in August following an 0-for-19 slump in his final 14 games. The 29-y.o. centerfielder was drafted by the Florida Marlins in 2008 in the 28th Rd. out of the Univ. of North Carolina at Asheville.

Henke was a 2011 pick who topped out at High-A with 5-2, 5.24 record with Potomac over part of 2013 and all of the 2014 season. Chubb was drafted in 2012 but was a backup backstop in all three of his seasons, finishing with a .622 OPS in 21 games with Hagerstown. Medina had the plug pulled after just two seasons as the 31st Rd. pick out of High Point Univ. began 2014 in Hagerstown but was demoted to Auburn after hitting just .207 over 44 games, and finished up with a .247 mark over 27 games for the Doubledays.

Jan 032015
 

Winter Baseball Update
With the close of the Venezuelan Winter League last night, here’s the last look at how players in the Nationals organization did in the 2014-15 Winter Leagues.

BATTERS

PLAYER LG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Tyler Moore DWL 22 77 19 23 4 0 6 17 18 20 .299 .429 .584 2
Emmanuel Burriss DWL 17 55 4 16 4 1 0 4 2 6 .291 .350 .400 1
Estarlin Martinez DWL 2 7 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .143 .250 .143 0
Wilman Rodriguez DWL 1 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .500 .500 .500 0
Jose Lozada PWL 29 99 11 23 8 0 2 7 5 23 .229 .295 .429 0
Sandy Leon VWL 46 147 13 31 8 1 2 14 17 27 .211 .290 .320 1
Mario Lisson VWL 32 112 11 26 5 1 4 13 18 20 .232 .372 .402 2
Wilson Ramos VWL 18 67 4 15 2 0 1 6 2 17 .224 .257 .299 0
Adrian Sanchez VWL 5 6 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 .000 .000 .000 0

PITCHERS

PLAYER LG W L SV ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Richard Bleier DWL 1 3 0 5.23 7 4 20⅔ 26 14 12 2 4 12 1.45
Manny Delcarmen DWL 1 0 0 8.71 14 0 10⅓ 15 10 10 2 6 7 2.03
Gilberto Mendez DWL 0 0 0 0.00 3 0 2⅔ 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.00
Rafael Martin MWL 1 0 10 1.90 24 0 23⅔ 22 8 5 1 4 22 1.10
Jose Lozada PWL 0 0 0 0.00 1 0 0⅔ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Paolo Espino VWL 3 0 0 3.74 8 8 33⅔ 34 14 14 3 11 34 1.34
Mitch Lively VWL 1 2 0 3.38 6 2 18⅔ 21 8 7 2 5 18 1.39
David Ramos VWL 0 1 0 2.95 6 0 18⅓ 19 6 6 0 6 7 1.36


As usual in early January, there’s very little to report on the minor-league front. Earlier this week, the Nationals signed another veteran catcher: 33-year-old Omir Santos, who appeared in just 11 games last summer with Pittsburgh’s AAA affiliate due to a concussion and an ankle injury. Santos was orignally drafted by the Yankees in 2001, but made his MLB with Orioles in 2008. Since filling in for former Nats catcher Brian Schneider for 96 games with the Mets in 2009, Santos has played sparingly — just 226 games across five seasons for the Mets, Tigers, Rockies, Indians, and Pirates, with only 15 games played at the MLB level (14 for Detroit in 2011 and 2012, one for Cleveland in 2013).

Dec 252014
 

minor leagues signs 2
By now most of you have heard about the fat guy that came along this week, so we’ll focus on the pitcher and two third basemen named in Baseball America’s latest transaction post.

The pitcher is LHP Richard Bleier, a 6th Rd. pick in the 2008 Draft for Texas who has since moved on to the Toronto organization. He spent the majority of 2014 with AA New Hampshire, throwing 84⅔ innings over 34 appearances for a 6-5 record with one save with a pitcher’s line of 3.93/4.83/1.31. Though the 27-y.o. mostly worked in long relief, LHBs managed just a .620 OPS (.841 vs. RHBs) against him.

One of these offseasons we’ll go without a former Arizona player being signed. This is not one of them. Local product Jacob Mayers is the first of two third basemen signed. Mayers was drafted in the 19th Rd. in 2013 out of the Univ. of Richmond and spent two short seasons in Diamondback organization before being released. The 24-y.o. posted a line of .296/.362/.376 in the SS-A Northwest League in 2014.

The second third basemen is Ian Stewart, a 1st Rd. pick in 2003 for Colorado who has struggled to recreate the .785 and .781 OPS marks he put up in 2009 and 2010 during his age 24 and 25 seasons. After a wrist injury ended his 2012 campaign at just 55 games with only five HRs and 17 RBIs, he’s been on the interstate, batting .171 for the Cubs and Dodgers AAA teams in 2013, and .176 for the Angels in April and May and .198 for their AAA affiliate in Salt Lake City the rest of the 2014 season.

Bleier and Mayer will be competing for playing time at Low-A and AA respectively, while Stewart appears to be a let’s-see-what-he’s-got gamble as his deal reportedly includes an non-roster invite to Spring Training.

Dec 172014
 

Sorry, no “pair of Padres” pun this time.

Another December trade has the Nats taking part in an 11-player, three-team trade that will be known elsewhere as “Myers To Friars” and perhaps to us (Nationals fans) as the Souza for Turner trade.

Late-bloomer Steven Souza (2007, 3rd Rd.) and teenage southpaw Travis Ott (2013, 25th Rd.) are the two players reported to be on the move. In return immediately will be RHP Joe Ross (2011, 1st Rd.) while 2014 1st Rd. pick SS Trea Turner will be eligible to join the Washington organization in June, thanks to MLB’s rules that prohibit draft picks from being traded within a year of signing.

Obviously, most folks are interpreting this as a move to acquire a possible successor to Ian Desmond by using a bench/role player, albeit one coming off a career year as the International League’s MVP while giving up a young southpaw in exchange for AA pitcher. Having just traded for 2B Chris Bostick, one has to wonder if another trade is coming or if there’s another PTBNL in this deal, which, as of this writing, is not official yet.

Tacitly, it would also seem that GM Mike Rizzo is agreeing with the scouts who say that Difo is a 2B and not a SS. If you’re the type that likes to bring the tartar sauce when you go after a white whale, then you counter with the notion that when Turner comes in Difo moves up and whoever’s playing SS in Harrisburg steps aside.

A little more on the new guys…

Turner split time between SS-A Eugene and Low-A Fort Worth, posting a combined line of .323/.406/.448 with 23 steals in 69 games. He’s considered an 80-grade speedster but there are questions about his ability to hit for average at the upper levels. Defensively, he’s the unusual 3B-to-SS convert despite his size (6’1″, 170).

Ross made 19 starts for High-A Lake Elsinore and three starts for AA San Antonio with a combined ERA of 3.92 and a WHIP of 1.258. In his 2014 book, John Sickels noted the gap between the effusive praise for his “stuff” (93-97 FB, hard-breaking SL) and the pedestrian H/IP and K/9IP ratios (9.0 and 7.2 for his career) and wondered aloud at what point will the numbers improve or the scouts dial down?

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments.

Dec 162014
 


Thus far it’s been quiet on the free-agent front for the minors, but with the latest dispatch from Baseball America, we’re finally starting to see some movement.

• RHPs Paul Demny, Mitch Lively
• 1B-DH Clint Robinson
• 3B Mario Lisson
• OF Delta Cleary

Demny and Lively are re-signs, with Demny apparently finding no interest elsewhere in his first free-agent stint while Lively looks to be returns after making seven starts and two appaearances for Syracuse after getting released by the Giants organization.

Robinson is a former Royals farmhand who’s spent the past four seasons at AAA, bouncing to the Blue Jays in 2013, and the Dodgers in 2014, where he posted a line of .312/.401/.534 in the hitter-friendly PCL. He turns 30 in February and would appear ticketed for Syracuse.

Lisson is also a former KC minor-leaguer who returned to the U.S. after spending 2013 in the Mexican League to play with the AA Richmond squad as a 30-year-old (he turns 31 in May). The Venezuelan native hit .266 with 18 HR and 76 RBI and mostly played 3B.

Cleary is former 37th Rd. draft pick for Colorado (2008) and lands with Washington as six-year free agent, having peaked last summer in AAA for Colorado Springs. He turns 26 in August and for the tea-leave-reading folks, it would appear he’s the plan B for the Senators if the powers that be deem Isaac Ballou not ready for AA, as Clearly has spent the majority of his career as a centerfielder.

It’s also worth noting that virtually all of these signees played in the same leagues as the Nationals affiliates at one point or another.