Nov 252013
 

Less than a week after being designated for assignment, LHP Fernando Abad has been traded from the Washington Nationals to the Oakland Athletics for OF John Wooten. It’s the third trade involving the two teams in 2013 (Mike Morse, Kurt Suzuki) and the fifth since 2011 (Suzuki in 2012, Gio Gonzalez in 2011).

As you might imagine for a 37th Round Draft pick, there is very little information on Wooten, aside from his bio from East Carolina University and his collegiate and minor-league statistics. He was not written up by either John Sickels or Baseball America in their 2013 prospect books.

He’s a former teammate of Dakota Bacus — acquired in the previous Washington-Oakland trade — at Beloit, where he hung a line of .257/.333/.430 with 20 HRs (4th best in the league) and 69 RBIs. With the Nats starved for power-hitting OFs (he’s 15 months younger than Brandon Miller), it seems likely that he’ll progress to Potomac and play one of the corner outfielder positions, presuming that he’s not shifted to 1B or slotted behind Estarlin Martinez or Shawn Pleffner on the organizational depth chart.

Nov 242013
 


While perhaps stealing the thunder from the next Baseball America transactions post, its primary author Matt Eddy relayed the following signings via the twitters yesterday:

  • RHP Daniel Stange
  • IF Melvin Dorta (re-sign)
  • RHP Chris Young (re-sign)
  • C Jeyner Baez
  • RHP Gabriel Alfaro

OK, now put down your beverage because Stange was originally drafted by… wait for it… the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 7th round of the 2006 Draft. He spent 2013 in the Angels organization, making 26 appearances for AAA Salt Lake with a record of 4-1 with five saves and an ERA of 5.06. He allowed 16 runs on 31 hits over 26⅔ innings while while walking 13 and striking out 30. He made three relief appearances for the Angels in his second MLB stint (the first was in 2010), and was hit hard in his first outing, walking a pair and giving up a walkoff blast in a 14-11 loss to Texas. His second and third outings were scoreless, pitching an inning in an 8-2 win and getting the last out in the top of the 9th in a 6-5 loss (both games vs. Toronto).

Dorta, like Sean McCauley last week, was a player-coach for the Senators in 2013 and looks to be re-upping for the same duty in 2014.

Young, who was signed to a similar deal last offseason, made seven starts for Syracuse and was pounded like a drum to the tune of 31 runs on 50 hits (including nine HR) over 32 innings before going on the DL for most of the season (he made one appearance in the GCL and one in the NYPL in August and September respectively). He reportedly has had surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition in which nerves and/or blood vessels become compressed in the space between the collarbone and the first (thoracic) rib and causes pain and weakness in the shoulder.

Finally, as noted by Eddy first, the Nationals have released RHP Yunesky Maya after four less-than-stellar seasons. Signed as an IFA in July 2010 to a four-year/$6M contract, Maya made just 16 appearances in the major leagues, 15 of which came in 2010 and 2011. He made 76 of his 79 starts in the minors for Syracuse over the past four seasons and went 24-28 with an ERA of 4.13 over 453⅓ innings with 456 hits and 44 HRs allowed.

UPDATE:
The latest BA transaction post was published on Monday. Additions are in blue

…The presumption is that Baez is an IFA, given the surname and the lack of an entry on baseball-reference.com.

…WaPo Nats beat writer Adam Kilgore had the story on Alfaro last week, along with details on the Young contract.

Nov 192013
 


It’s been largely quiet on the transaction front thus far in the offseason, but there were a couple of signings released in yesterday’s dispatch from Baseball America to pass along:

  • RHP Carlos Acevedo
  • IF Josh Johnson (re-signed)
  • CA Sean McCauley (re-signed)

It’s not entirely clear if it’s this Carlos Acevedo that was signed or another RHP with the same name. If it is the former Cleveland farmhand (who has not pitched since 2011), it’s likely the Nats are repeating what they did with Raul Ruiz, who pitched in the DSL in 2012, one year removed from three seasons in the VSL (2008-2010) with Pittsburgh. Ruiz pitched well (1.77 ERA/3.30 FIP/1.13 WHIP), but was 21 years old. and was released last December. Acevedo turns 21 in January and is also from Venezuela.

McCauley was a player-coach for Potomac last season and appears to be headed towards the same assignment in 2014. He was never activated and has not played professionally since 2009.

Johnson, who was originally drafted by Kansas City in 2004, has been a Washington minor-leaguer since the 2010 season. He spent 2013 splitting time between Harrisburg and Syracuse, batting .267/.350/.453 in 53 games for the Senators and .341/.458/.466 in 35 games for the Chiefs.

Nov 052013
 

Well, it’s that time of year in the minors when we find out which of the veterans have become free agents. Some of these guys will re-sign, some will retire, and some will move on. Without further ado…

(* = spent entire season on DL)
CATCHERS
AAA – Carlos Maldonado
AA – Brian Jeroloman
High-A – Beau Seabury*, Sean McCauley*

INFIELDERS
AAA – Chris Marrero, Will Rhymes, Josh Johnson
AA – Jimmy Van Ostrand, Melvin Dorta*, Carlos Rivero
High-A – Mike Gilmartin
Low-A – Carlos Alvarez

OUTFIELDERS

AAA – Jason Michaels*, Chris Rahl
AA – Jerad Head

LHPs
AA – Bill Bray, Patrick McCoy
High-A – Josh Smoker*

RHPs
AAA – Mike Broadway, Caleb Clay, Mike Crotta, Cole Kimball, Jeff Mandel, Ryan Tatusko, Chris Young
AA – Brian Broderick

Three players are known to have re-signed prior to the deadline — IF Adrian Sanchez, C Jeff Howell, UT Francisco Soriano — but we’ll have to wait until the next dispatch to find out if there were any others.

Like 2011, there were 26 free agents, though three of the five DL guys were signed as player/coaches (Dorta, McCauley, Michaels) and were never going to be activated, according Nationals Director of Player Development Doug Harris. Overall, there were 550 players that became free agents, according to Baseball America.

This year’s first-time free agents include Nats ’07 draft picks Mandel, McCoy, and Smoker, and a pair of ’06 picks who were removed from the 40-man, Kimball and Marrero. There was only one IFA this year (as opposed to two last year), but has anyone ever heard of this Carlos Alvarez guy?

Nov 012013
 

This morning, the Nationals officially confirmed what Steve Souza Jr. wrote to his followers on Twitter last night: The longtime Nationals farmhand has been added to the 40-man roster.

Of course, the move was more than a little telegraphed by his inclusion on the Mesa Solar Sox roster for the Arizona Fall League, but what was not known was whether he’d be added to the big club or if he’d made an agreement to re-sign as a minor-leaguer. Souza was due to become a six-year free agent on Monday. The move also protects the 24-y.o. from next month’s Rule 5 draft.

For those just joining us in progress, Souza has had a tumultuous ride through the minors, beginning as a 3rd-Rd. high-school pick out of Everett, WA in 2007 and seemingly hitting the wall in 2010 his third season at Low-A Hagerstown when he was suspended for PED use. As detailed in this long piece from the Seattle Times, Souza would actually fall further in 2011 before shedding the labels of (among others) draft bust over the past two seasons.

While for many there was a huge disconnect between the praise heaped upon Souza — by Nationals farm director Doug Harris in particular — it was evident, even in 2011, to folks who saw him play everyday that the five-tool tag was legitimate. Indeed, Souza has been a member of this site’s watchlist at three different positions: 3B in 2011, 1B in 2012, and in the outfield for 2013.
(Spoiler: He’ll prolly make it 2014, too)

Souza is currently posting a line of .360/.467/.400 with five RBI and nine SBs in seven AFL games. This past season, despite playing in just 77 of 142 games, he led the Harrisburg Senators in both SBs (20) and HRs (15) and was fourth in runs, walks and RBI.

Oct 242013
 

Catching Up On Transactions
In addition to the news that longtime Nationals farmhand Chris Marrero has been outrighted to Syracuse, the latest transaction post from Baseball America has been released, revealing the following signings:

• RHP Hector Guance

• IF Adrian Sanchez (re-signed)

As was the case with the previous (presumably Dominican) signing last week (OF Telmito Agustin), there is very little to be found on Guance. Sanchez has chosen to remain the organization he has played with since 2007 at the age of 16 (he turned 23 this past August) but is most likely a candidate to repeat Potomac.

Marrero, of course, is the Nats 2006 1st Round pick who seemed on track for the majors after reaching High-A in 2007, posting a line of .275/.338/.484 with 23 homers. Inexplicably, that turned out to be his high water mark in terms of power as his slugging percentage steadily dwindled over the next four seasons. He would still make it to AAA at 22, but a hamstring injury limited him to just 53 games in 2012, enabling Tyler Moore to pass him by on the ladder (though his lack of defensive prowess was also an impediment).

Following the World Series, Marrero will most likely become a minor-league free agent.

Sep 192013
 

Other Shoe DroppedOne month after the strange saga of David DeJesus, the Nationals announced today that 22-y.o. LHP Matthew Spann is the “player to be named later.”

Spann was drafted in the 25th round out of Central High School in Columbia, TN (that’s roughly 40 miles south of Brentwood, hometown of Robbie Ray) and was eased into starting his first year in the GCL (2010) before spending another short season as a starter (2011) and a full season at Low-A (2012).

As you might imagine with a low-round draft pick, scouting reports are few and far between. The most recent is this one from Robbie Knopf at RaysColoredGlasses.com where the upshot was this:

Right now, Spann lives and dies off the late movement on his fastball, with the remainder of his pitches showing flashes but no consistency. Spann throws from a high three-quarters arm slot and has trouble at times getting the finish on his pitches to keep them down in the zone, but when he does, he can be effective even though his arsenal is a long ways away.

That was, of course, last summer and a lot could have (and probably did) changed since then, as the Rays decided to move him to the ‘pen for 2013, where he had some good numbers (2.87 ERA, 3.2 BB/9) and some not so good (1.475 WHIP, 5.3 K/9). According to Baseball America’s Jim Callis, Spann is less of a beanpole — 220 lbs. vs. 185 — and pegged his velo at 86-90 m.p.h.

Best guess is that Spann will be in Woodbridge next summer. If used as a setup man, he’ll be mentioned in conjunction with several bridge puns, though my gut feeling is that we’ll see him used in long relief until he’s ready to start. Considering the dearth of age-appropriate-to-level pitchers in the Nats system, this is quite a return for waiver-claim pickup.

Sep 112013
 

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 8-2 @ Trenton,
7:05 p.m.
Cole (4-2, 2.18) vs.
Mitchell (0-0, 1.93)
Potomac Lost, 6-4 END OF SEASON N/A
Hagerstown Lost, 6-2 OFF DAY N/A



Trenton 8 Harrisburg 2
• Treinen (L, 0-1) 2⅔ IP, 4H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 3K, WP
• Gilliam 3IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 3K
• Howell 2-2, 2B
• Bloxom 2-4, R, 2B

An early 2-0 Senators lead was erased with a five-run 3rd as the Thunder struck for an 8-2 win in Game One of the Eastern League Championship Series. Blake Treinen took the loss, charged with all five runs on four hits and two walks over two and 2/3rds innings. Matt Swynenberg stranded one in finishing the 3rd but gave up two of his own in the 4th as Trenton scored eight unanswered runs. Harrisburg mustered just six hits and drew three walks, with Justin Bloxom and Jeff Howell combining for four hits and hitting both doubles. The Senators went 1-for-8 with RISP and stranded eight.

Salem 6 Potomac 4
• Solis (L, 0-1) 3⅓ IP, 6H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 4K
• Dupra 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, HBP
• Nieto 2-4, 2B, 3RBI
• Sanchez 2-4, 2B, BB

The P-Nats broke out for playoff highs of four runs and 10 hits, but the Red Sox would not be denied, winning their 11th straight game by a 6-4 count to sweep the 2013 Mills Cup. It’s the first Carolina League Championship for the franchise since 2001. Sammy Solis was the losing pitcher, knocked for five runs on six hits and two walks over three and a 1/3rd innings while striking out four. The Adrians Nieto and Sanchez both went 2-for-4 with a double with Nieto driving in the first three Potomac runs — all with two outs.

Savannah 6 Hagerstown 2
• Voth (L, 1-1) 1⅓ IP, 1H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 0K
• Meza 2⅔ IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 5K, 2-1 IR-S
• McQuillan 3-4, R
• Lippincott 2-4, 3B, 2RBI

Savannah evened the Sally League Championship Series at 1-1 with a 6-2 win over Hagerstown. The Sand Gnats scored three in the 2nd, two in the 5th, and one more in the 8th before the Suns were able to respond with a pair in the last of the 8th. Austin Voth, who left the game with an undisclosed injury (redundant, yes, I know) got the “L” and was dinged for the first three runs on three walks and one hit with no K’s over an inning and a 1/3rd. Mike McQuillan and Bryan Lippincott combined to go 5-for-8 with a run scored (McQuillan) and both RBI (Lippincott). The series resumes on Thursday in Georgia for Games 3 with Kylin Turnbull as the Hagerstown starter.
Roster moves: LHP Jake Walsh added to playoff roster; RHP Pedro Encarnacion removed from it.

Sep 102013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg OFF DAY @ Trenton,
7:05 p.m.
Treinen (6-7, 3.64) vs.
Turley (11-8, 3.88)
Potomac OFF DAY @ Salem, 7:05 p.m. TBD vs. Cuevas (8-9, 5.05)
Hagerstown Won, 6-1 vs. Savannah,
7:05 p.m.
Voth (1-0, 3.38) vs.
Lugo (2-2, 2.53)



Harrisburg @ Trenton — Game 1 Eastern League Finals
Great pitching can cover up a very poor offense. Same thing goes for Harrisburg, too. Of course, that’s all fine and dandy in the long run but the playoffs are about who’s hot now. Trenton just swept the league’s best team in the regular season (86 wins, #2 offense, #2 pitching), which ought to fit that description. The Senators and Thunders played nearly to a draw, Harrisburg taking five of nine, but Trenton winning two of three in their final series at home. Apparently, rest means more than rust, as both teams are opting for a pitcher who didn’t appear in the first round and last pitched nine days ago.

Potomac @ Salem — Game 3 Carolina League Finals
The P-Nats were the only team in the Carolina League with a winning road record (37-32) and they did sweep the Red Sox in a road series (in April). So yes, there’s a chance and it may even be better than 3,720 to 1… if the team can snap out of its offensive funk. Tonight’s Game Three starter for Potomac continues to be the indecisive “TBD,” though the smart money is for the team to stick to its rotation with Sammy Solis.

Hagerstown 6 Savannah 1
• Johansen (W, 1-0) 5IP, 3H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Dickson (H, 1) 3IP, 1H, R, ER, 2BB, 3K
• Renda 1-3, 2B, 3RBI
• Ramos 2-4, R, 2-2B
• Lippincott 2-4, R, RBI

Nats top draft pick Jake Johansen was reactivated and was none the worse for wear, tossing five shutout innings for a 6-1 Suns win over the Sand Gnats in Game One of the Sally League Cahmpionship Series. Johansen allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out two to pick up the win. Tony Renda drove in the first three Hagerstown runs with an RBI groundout in the 3rd and a two-run double in the 5th while “Help Me” Wander Ramos and Bryan Lippincott both went 2-for-4 to lead the Suns offense, which put the game away with a three-run rally in the bottom of the 8th.
Roster moves: RHP Jake Johansen added to the playoff roster; LHP Jake Walsh removed from it.

Sep 072013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Won, 4-1 vs. Erie,
7:00 p.m.
Ray (5-2, 3.72) vs.
R. Garcia (2-4, 4.79)
Potomac OFF DAY vs. Salem,
6:35 p.m.
Purke (5-3, 4.43) vs. TBD
Hagerstown Lost, 6-3 (11 inn.) vs. West Virginia,
7:05 p.m.
Turnbull (6-5, 3.58) vs.
Heredia (7-3, 3.05)



Harrisburg 4 Erie 1
• Karns (W, 1-0) 7IP, 5H, 0R, 0BB, 8K
• Herron (SV, 2) 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• Goodwin 2-3, R, BB, RBI, SB
• Bloxom 2-4, 2B, RBI

Nathan Karns shut down the Seawolves for seven innings as the Senators won, 4-1 and took a 2-1 lead in the ELDS. Karns walked none and struck out eight and needed just 79 pitches to lay the seven goose eggs atop the scoreboard. The shutout was broken up in the 8th when Christian Garcia walked two of three batters faced and Erie connected for a two-out RBI single off Richie Mirowski. Tyler Herron closed out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth. Brian Goodwin reached base three times with a walk and two singles and scored on an RBI double off the bat of Justin Bloxom (2-for-4) as Harrisburg notched seven hits, including a solo HR by Jason Martinson.
Roster move: RHP Christian Garcia reassigned from Potomac to Harrisburg for MLB Rehab.

Potomac — OFF DAY
After eliminating the 2012 Mills Cup Champs, Potomac starts its quest for its third Carolina League championship as a Nats affiliate with two games against Salem. The Red Sox come to Woodbridge as winners of 19 of their last 22 games — a streak that includes seven wins against the defeated playoff teams, Lynchburg and Myrtle Beach. During the regular season, the P-Nats won 10 of 18 games, but haven’t played the S-Sox since late July, when the two teams split ten games over a three-week period. Matt Purke* who beat Salem for his first High-A win on July 29, is the probable for Potomac but Salem has yet to show its hand as to which of its remaining three starters — Mike Aguilera (9-6, 4.23), Heri Quevedo (6-5, 4.18), William Cuevas (8-9, 5.05) — will oppose him in Game One.
* Psst… new PA guy: it rhymes with turk, not turkey.

West Virginia 6 Hagerstown 3 (11 inn.)
• Encarnacion 4+ IP, 5H, 2R, 1ER, 2BB, 5K
• Bacus 4IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, BB, 4K, 2-1 IR-S
• Thomas (L, 0-1) ⅓ IP, 1H, 2R, 2ER, BB, K
• Harper ⅔ IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, K, 3-2 IR-S
• Ballou 2-3, 2R, 2B
• Renda 3-5, 2B

Josh Bell powered West Virginia’s 6-3 win with a two-run double in the 11th to force a deciding Game Three in Hagerstown tonight. The switch-hitting outfielder had four RBI total, tying the game in the 5th with a sacrifice fly and again in the 7th with an RBI groundout. This was in stark contrast to the Suns, who went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left on seven men. Isaac Ballou (2-for-3), Tony Renda (3-for-5), and Pedro Severino (2-for-4) scored all three runs and combined for seven of the eight Hagerstown hits. Pedro Encarnacion went the first four innings and allowed the first two Power runs on five hits and two walks while fanning five. Dakota Bacus and Gilberto Mendez combined for six innings of one-run relief before the fateful 11th. The final frame began with Justin Thomas for three batters and one out, Cody Davis for one batter (single), and ended with Bryan Harper giving up the bases-loaded double to Bell (could have been worse: the runner from first was gunned down on a 7-6-2 play at the plate) and a single before striking out the final batter.