Apr 092016
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 5-1;
Won, 2-1
Postponed N/A
Harrisburg Won, 10-4 @ Altoona,
1:00 p.m.
Lopez (6-7, 4.09 @ A+ in ’15) vs.
Eppler (6-1, 2.58 @ A+ in ’15)
Potomac Won, 5-2 @ Wilmington,
7:05 p.m.
Fedde (4-1, 2.57 @ A- in ’15) vs.
Tenuta (2-6, 4.25 @ A- in ’15)
Hagerstown Won, 6-4 vs. Delmarva,
2:05 p.m.
J. Rodriguez (1-5, 6.75 in ’15) vs.
C. Jones (DNP in ’15)


Syracuse 5 Lehigh Valley 1 – GAME ONE
• Cole (W, 1-0) 5IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 2K, WP
• Solis (H, 1) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Turner 1-2, 2R, BB, SB
• Sizemore 1-2, 2R, 2B, 2BB, SB
• Skole 1-3, R, 2RBI

The Chiefs put up a two-spot early and three-spot late to take the opener, 5-1. A.J. Cole was the winner with an unearned run let in on one hit and two walks while setting down two (2) on strikes. Trea Turner and Scott Sizemore both stole a base and scored twice while Matt Skole drove in two to lead the Syracuse offense.

Syracuse 2 Lehigh Valley 1 – GAME TWO
• Jordan 5IP, 4H, R, ER, 2BB, 2K, WP
• Gott (W, 1-0) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Masset (SV, 1) 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• Martinson 1-2, R, HR, BB, RBI
• Turner 0-1, R, 2BB, SB

Trea Turner walked, stole second and took third on error, then scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 6th as Syracuse took the finale, 2-1 and swept the doublehader. Taylor Jordan started and gave up Lehigh’s run on four hits and two walks while striking out two. Trevor Gott and Nick Massett followed with a scoreless inning apiece for the win and save, respectively. Jason Martinson’s solo shot in the 1st accounted for the other Chiefs run. Roster move: C Nick Rickles reassigned from XST

Harrisburg 10 Altoona 4
• Mapes (W, 1-0) 5IP, 8H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 5K, HR
• Mendez (H, 1) 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, WP
• Bautista 1-3, 4R, 2B, 3BB, SB
• Difo 2-4, R, RBI, 2BB
• Pleffner 2-4, BB, 3RBI

Like a corrupt accountant, Harrisburg’s batters continue to put crooked numbers in the books as they took Game Two from Altoona by a 10-4 score. The Sens scored once in the 1st, three times in 4th, then twice in the 5th, 8th, and 9th innings as they rallied from a 2-1 deficit and broke a 4-4 tie. Tyler Mapes got the benefit of the onslaught, earning the “W” with despite coughing up four runs on eight hits over five innings. Rafael Bautista and Wilmer Difo both reached base four times as the Sens racked up 13 hits and 10 walks on the night.

Potomac 5 Wilmington 2
• Estevez 2⅔ IP, 4H, R, ER, 2BB, 3K
• Orlan (BS, 1; W, 1-0) 2IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 4K
• Brinley (SV, 1) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Ward 2-4, 2R, BB
• Marmolejos-Diaz 1-3, 2R, 2BB
• Masters 2-5, RBI, SB

For one play, the Blue Rocks dropped from High-A to low comedy as they committed two throwing errors on a sacrifice that enabled both the batter and the baserunner to score on the same play and snap a 2-2 tie. The P-Nats would tack on another in the 9th for the eventual 5-2 tally. Potomac starting pitcher Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez, who had UCL replacement in 2015, left after 50 pitches with an injury, giving up one run on four hits and two walks over two and 2/3rds. The blown-save-win went to R.C. Orlan, who gave up the tying run in the 7th but pitched a scoreless 8th. Ryan Brinley set the side down in order in the 9th for the save. Drew Ward and Jose “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz combined for three hits, four runs, and three walks to lead the Potomac offense.

Hagerstown 6 Delmarva 4
• Hearn 5IP, 4H, 1R, 0ER, BB, 4K
• Rivera (BS, 1; W, 1-0) 1⅓ 1H, 0R, BB, K, 3-3 IR-S
• Robles 2-4, 2R, 2B, 2SB
• Page 2-4, R, 2SB
• Tillero 2-4

Delmarva couldn’t stand the prosperity of a 4-3 lead courtesy of three-run rally in the top of the 8th and gave ’em all back in the bottom of the 8th as Hagerstown took this one, 6-4. The Suns put the pressure on with three stolen bases in their final turn at bat and six overall on the night. Four — two for each — came from the legs of Victor Robles and Matthew Page, who both went 2-for-4, as did Jorge Tillero. Taylor Hearn started and allowed an unearned run on four hits and a walk over the first five innings for the no-decision. Mariano Rivera III let in all three inherited runners by giving up a three-run double to the first batter he faced with two outs in the 8th. He worked around a walk in the 9th to earn the blown-save-win. Roster move: RHP Jose Morales placed on the 7-Day DL.

Apr 032016
 

Catching Up On Transactions
After some April Fools fun, it’s time to cleanse the palate and take a look at the latest transactions (all releases, unfortunately):

SYRACUSE
• Released 3B Zach Cox
• Released RHP P.J. Walters
• Released 1B Marquez Smith

HARRISBURG
• Released LF Randolph Oduber
• Released C Craig Manuel

HAGERSTOWN
• Released 2B Conor Keniry

AUBURN
• Released 2B Melvin Rodriguez

GCL NATIONALS
• Released LF Philip Diedrick

Maybe it’s me, it seems like there are lot more releases this year. I’d like to think that perhaps the slow boat to China facade of extended spring training has fallen out of favor, but I could be proven wrong in a day or two when the rosters are announced.

Apr 012016
 

Two-way player could be the next Giolito… or the next Harper

ENFIELD, MA — The Washington Nationals announced the signing today of Dana Prescott on his 18th birthday for a reported $1 million after a private workout for General Manager Mike Rizzo and Vice President of Scouting Doug Harris.

“It’s unusual for us to spend this much money on an amateur,” Rizzo said, “And, as you all know, I’ll be the first to admit when I’ve made a mistake, but this kid is the real deal.”

Prescott briefly pitched and played first base for Quabbin Regional High School in 2014 after his parents petitioned the local school board for what’s more commonly known as a Tim Tebow exception to allow the home-schooled student to participate in athletics.

In a late-March scrimmage against Nashoba Regional High School, Prescott is said to have struck out 21 batters while tossing a no-hitter over seven innings, which is the standard length of games in the Midland-Wachusett League.

“We realize he didn’t play much two years ago, but usually word of triple digits on the gun is enough to flood an area with scouts and cross-checkers,” Harris added. “Even if were just that one game, you’d think some other organization would have checked up on it.”

Prescott reportedly hit 100 m.p.h. the day after that game, according to QRHS coach Gil Greenwich, who says he asked the Town of Barre’s police department to take an hour off from writing speeding tickets on Rte. 122 and put the town’s chief source of income radar on his pitcher.

An undisclosed injury prevented him from appearing in the 2014 regular season. Prescott’s parents did not reapply for the waiver in 2015, and it is unknown if Prescott played anywhere else.

Besides the lightning arm and the light-tower power–he also went 4-for-4 in that game, homering three times lefthanded and once righthanded–there is also one other thing that makes Prescott unusual. He has an ugly girlfriend.

“We don’t quite understand it,” Greenwich said. “We know his vision is good because he hit everything we threw at him in BP, including the pitching machine turned up all the way to 11.”

“I don’t want to come off as sexist, ” Greenwich continued, “but usually the athletes in these parts end up with the cheerleader types, but his girlfriend? If her face was her fortune, she’d qualify for a tax refund.”

MLB officials said Prescott earned his GED last May, and in an unusual maneuver, formally declared for the Rule 4 Draft a year ago today. All 30 teams passed on him last June, which made him a free agent.

“We know we could have signed him for $1,000 and a plane ticket,” Rizzo explained. “But when I called the Lerners, they insisted on opening up the pocketbook to make sure he’d sign.”

It’s unknown where the young man, who’s listed at 6’3″ and 185 lbs, will play this year. Harris demurred on questions regarding his first minor-league destination.

“We’ll assign him to XST,” the Assistant GM said. “But you’ll be hearing from him soon.”

Mar 302016
 

Transactions for NPP 2
Less than a week to go before the full-season affiliate rosters are announced, but more than a week to go for “our” Opening Day.

On Monday, the Nats optioned SS Trea Turner and RHP Rafael Martin to Syracuse while picking up the contract of RHP Matt Belisle. This effectively reduces the battle for the Opening Day roster down to the last spot on the bench and/or bullpen, which can usually be handicapped by looking at the number of options left for a given player or pitcher, but may be less predictable for the latter with two to choose from (Treinen, Gott) and a southpaw who hasn’t pitched since 2014 and can become a free agent on Friday (Burnett).

In terms of what’s next, the usual pattern is for Harrisburg to announce its roster, then Syracuse, then Hagerstown, and then Potomac. I expect the press releases to begin on Tuesday morning, but it could be sooner. In 2013, for example, the news came six days ahead of the minor-league season start. But usually it’s 2-3 days before.

Reminder: Where the players are now (on paper) on the Big Board or the rosters on MiLB.com is not a guarantee of where they’ll be next week. These press releases will finalize the guessing game that our intrepid volunteer (SpringfieldFan) does during the offseason.

Mar 242016
 

So Long
While I’m sure many of you heard by now that Lucas Giolito was reassigned to minor-league camp – along with Erik Davis, Burke Badenhop, and Michael Brady – our resident keeper of The Big Board, Springfield Fan, alerted me to a set of releases that happened last week (H/T as always):

  • RHP Justin Amlung (Hagerstown)
  • RHP Calvin Copping (GCL)
  • RHP Ian Dickson (Potomac)
  • RHP Brian Dupra (Harrisburg)
  • RHP Scott McGregor (Syracuse)
  • RHP Drew Van Orden (Hagerstown)
  • LHP Darin Gorski (Offseason pickup)
  • LHP David Napoli (Hagerstown)
  • LHP Jake Walsh (Potomac)
  • C Zach Wright (Potomac)

No real surprises here. These are the proverbial “other shoe(s)” to drop for the minor league free agents that were signed during the offseason. Let’s not forget that for some, if not most, of these guys this means their days as a professional baseball player are over.

UPDATE
As noted in the comments, several more cuts have been posted on MiLB.com:

  • UT Ricky Hague (Syracuse)
  • RHP Jon Velasquez (Offseason pickup)
  • IF Reegie Corona (Harrisburg)
  • OF Estarlin Martinez (Potomac)
  • RHP Deion Williams (Hagerstown)
  • RHP Adam Boghosian (Auburn)
  • RHP Kida De La Cruz (GCL)

It’s always embarrassing when a watchlist player gets released (Martinez), especially in spring training, but it’s still a mild surprise because he had just turned 24 (March 8). The saga of the lone HS bat signed in 2011 (Williams; converted to RHP in 2012) also comes to a close, as does a couple of pitchers from the past two drafts (De La Cruz, 2014; Boghosian, 2015).

Mar 012016
 

Transactions for NPP 2
We finally made it to March. Spring Training games start tomorrow. But first, let’s take care of some housekeeping with a look at the transactions from the past two weeks, as reported by Baseball America:

• Signed RHPs Burke Bandenhop, Matt Belisle, J.C. Gutierrez, and Connor Porter
• Released C Edward Trejos

Bandenhop and Belisle are the prototpyical veteran signs who are in camp for a look-see as the big club – like all do this time of year – looks to shuffle and solidify the bullpen. Neither has spent significant time in the minors in the past five seasons.

Gutierrez is a re-sign, having made nine appearances for Syracuse last August and September. Gutierrez last appeared in the MLB during the 2014 season.

Porter has the kind of stats and specs that scream “project” – a 54.00 ERA and 6.00 WHIP in one (1) appearance in the Frontier League in 2015 and a 4.40 ERA, 1.53 WHIP in 29 appearances in the 2013 and 2014 seasons for the University of Memphis. The 22-y.o. is listed at 6’8″ and 202 lbs.

Trejos appeared in just 29 games as a 17- and 18-y.o. backup catcher for the DSL and GCL Nationals and posted a career OPS of just .613.

Feb 092016
 

minor leagues signs 2
As some have already noted in the comments, there’s finally some movement on the transaction front with the Nationals signing two career minor-leaguers and a former major-leaguer to a minor-league contract.

First, the guys we might see this summer:

• LHP Robert Fish – Hasn’t pitched since 2013. While he’s already succumbed to Nationals elbow (2012), the inference that he’s had another round would certainly be logical, but there’s little to found on the southpaw since his release.

• C Nick Rickles – Released in October by Oakland after a lackluster 2015 spent at three levels, but mostly at High-A. He missed all of 2014 with a torn labrum.

Both would seem to be look-see candidates with only a small chance of sticking, which should be obvious given the lateness of the offseason; most guys signed this late are released within 6-8 weeks.

The former major-leaguer is Brendan Ryan, who was also given a non-roster invite and will compete for a bench job as a utilityman and, if he loses, will look to hook on elsewhere.

Jan 272016
 

Watchlist Added3The first pass at the player reports for the 2016 Watchlist is now done. Rather than use the snowstorm to work on my novel, I tried to get as many written as reasonably possible.

Truth be told, between doing this and reading the books from Baseball America and John Sickels, this is where the real research gets done.

Until the BA book and the Sickels PDF arrive, I punt on some with a “Report Not Yet Written” with the belief hope that one or the other will list him and discuss him – especially with the 2015 draft picks and guys who I haven’t seen recently (with an exception or two).

The Baseball America handbook and John Sickels’s prospect PDF have been ordered, so now we wait until they arrive to fill in the gaps, which I’ve labeled “Report Not Yet Written,” because I believe one or the other will cover the player. Nevertheless, you’ve got individual capsules on 36 of the 51 pitchers and position players to read, plus the essays on the DSL guys and notables.

The latest BA Transaction post yielded just one new name to ponder: Darin Gorski, who fits the Rizzo mold of an MLFA that can eat innings for either AA or AAA. [Insert speculation about conversion to relief to help big club here].

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments.

Jan 202016
 

Catching Up On Transactions
Things have been slow, but with the Baseball America transaction post earlier this week, we have some stuff to discuss:

SIGNED
• RHP Boone Whiting

RELEASED
• RHP Andrew Cooper
• RHP Sam Johns
• RHP 2B Thomas Alvarez
• RHP OF Wilman Rodriguez

OUTRIGHTED TO AAA
• RHP Erik Davis
• RHP Taylor Hill

Whiting would appear to be in the mold of other AAA/AA inventory, but *gasp* not a former Arizona draft pick. He struggled in two stops at AAA, going 0-2 with an 7.77/7.10/2.32 line in seven appearances for Mempis; 4-7, 1 SV and 6.04/5.78/1.82 in 22 appearances for Colorado Springs.

Cooper’s release is a mild surprise, given he turns 24 in June and wasn’t terrible (3.53/3.63/1.40) for the Suns last summer. Johns and Rodriguez appear to be classic cases of aging out (both will turn 25 by mid-July). Alvarez, who at one point was the youngest American-born farmhand in the Nats system, looks like he simply hit his ceiling as he struggled to produce a line of .204/.332/.284 in 151 games over four seasons in the DSL and GCL.

Dec 292015
 

minor leagues signs 2
After nearly three weeks, BA has finally issued a transactions post. Some of the names have been previously reported, but for the sake of discussion, I will re-post them:

RHPs: Tim Alderson, Nick Masset, Andrew Robinson, Sam Runion, Stephen Shackleford, Jon Velasquez
LHP: Aaron Laffey
C: Brian Jeroloman
1B: Marquez Smith
UT: Cutter Dykstra
OF: Zach Collier

I’ve hyperlinked the “new guys” so folks can look them up (and because time is short this morning).

Most of these FAs will fill out the rosters of Harrisburg or Syracuse; it’s folly to project to one destination or the other because GM Mike Rizzo seems to plug and play these types on an as-needed basis. But I know that won’t stop some of you from trying 😉