Jun 292014
 

Potomac got the big hits, but it was the little things that cost them game as Frederick took the series opener, 7-6.

The P-Nats were also coming off a long eight-hour bus trip from South Carolina, which is also a recipe for flat play.

For example, Dakota Bacus, who has shown a knack for getting guys out even when his command is wavering, couldn’t do it last night as he walked three and seemingly fell behind each and every Keys batter, which limited him to four innings. He would give up four runs (three earned) on four hits as he suffered his first loss.

Backup backstop Cole Leonida, who has been the counterpoint to passed-ball woes of the #1 catchers the past two seasons, gave up his first of the season in the first. While it was Oscar Tejeda’s bullfighter imitation that rendered the one of the Keys three first-inning runs unearned, without the misplay, things might have been different.

Tejeda would redeem himself with a two-run home run in the bottom of the 1st to pull Potomac within one at 3-2. Justin Miller drilled a solo shot in the 2nd to tie things up at 3-3 in the 2nd.

The momentum was lost immediate in the top of the third, when McQuillan LF Mike McQuillan lost a ball in the twilight that might have been the third out. Instead, it went for a double and was followed by single that gave the lead back to Frederick at 4-3.

Like Tejeda, Leonida and McQuillan would both acquit themselves with a leadoff double in the 5th and a two-run homer in the 8th, respectively, but it was just that kind of night where the P-Nats couldn’t get over the hump as they stranded six runners over the final five at-bats.

The two teams rematch tonight with Austin Voth (1-0, 0.00) making his second start for Potomac, opposed by Mark Blackmar (4-1, 4.25).

Mar 032014
 

MartinsonGrab3314Ross Detwiler’s campaign to retain his No. 5 slot in the rotation got off on the wrong foot as the Yankees tagged the 2007 1st Rd. pick for four runs in the second inning in a 4-2 win over the Nationals.

Detwiler retired the side in order in the 1st, but couldn’t get out of the second as New York singled three times and doubled twice in the space of six batters, with a two-run error by Zach Walters interrupting the streak of base hits. Detwiler would be lifted with one out and two runners on and charged with all four runs (three earned).

Danny Rosenbaum ended the threat as efficiently as possible, getting future Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play and strand two runners. Tanner Roark, another possible #5 SP, followed Rosenbaum with two goose eggs and two hits allowed, no walks and no strikeouts.

Walters, Matt Skole, and Eury Perez were the starters at SS, 1B, and RF, respectively, with Walters atoning for his miscue to a certain degree with a solo shot in the 5th and break up New York’s shutout bid. Walters and Perez would finish with a 1-for-2 mark while Skole went 0-for-2 with a strijkeout.

Christian Garcia and Aaron Barrett both made their second spring appearances, and both allowed a pair of baserunners but worked around them for scoreless innings.

Other notable minor-leaguers to appear in the game:

• Michael Taylor relieved Denard Span in CF and was 0-for-1 with a strikeout
• Brian Goodwin subbed for Tyler Moore in LF and and went 0-for-1
• Sandy Leon got an AB as the PH from the DH spot and struck out in his lone PA
• Destin Hood followed Leon but was also 0-for-1
• Jason Martinson replaced Walters at SS and was 0-for-1 but (pictured) made a nice catch to end the Yankees 8th inning
• Cutter Dykstra replaced Will Rhymes at 3B and went 0-for-1
• Steve Souza subbed for Perez in RF and singled to raise his spring BA to .500

The Nats stay on the road and visit the Braves at the House of Mouse Spring Training Facility tomorrow afternoon. Stephen Strasburg is slated to make his spring debut. The game can be heard on MLB Radio.

Dec 242013
 


With the blitz of retailers trying to “make up” for the shortened holiday season, let’s hope that by the time you read this, you’re done with all your shopping and are somewhere safe and away from the throngs, enjoying the company of whomever you choose (or not) while celebrating in moderation.

And as you should each and every day, be grateful for what you have, spare what you don’t need to those who do, and just be kind to others (even if they’re related to you ;-)

Sep 092013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg OFF DAY OFF DAY N/A
Potomac Lost, 4-0 OFF DAY N/A
Hagerstown OFF DAY vs. Savannah,
7:05 p.m.
Voth (1-0, 3.38) vs. TBD



Harrisburg — OFF DAY
With neither Eastern League Division Series going the distance, it’s an extra day off for both teams, who will meet in Trenton for Games One & Two before shifting to Harrisburg for the remainder of the Finals.

Salem 4 Potomac 0
• Mooneyham (L, 0-1) 4IP, 1H, 2R, 2ER, 4BB, 3K, WP
• Henke 1⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K
• Oduber 2-3
• Dykstra 2-4

Another loss Last Night In Woodbridge.

Hagerstown — OFF DAY
One of the more curious aspects of this championship series (Savannah vs. Hagerstown) is not only did these two teams not meet in the regular season… they haven’t played each other since 2004. The Hagerstown Suns Fan Club has the explanation. Officially, Austin Voth gets the ball in Game One, however local beat writer Bob Parasiliti is reporting that Jake Johansen will be activated and make the start.

Jun 272013
 

Moving On Up for NPP
The Harrisburg Senators have announced that Potomac SS Jason Martinson has been promoted from Potomac, while SS Josh Johnson returns to Syracuse to make room on the AA roster.

Martinson had been hitting .268/.374/.484 with a team-leading 12 home runs and 53 RBIs for the P-Nats and had played in 73 of 75 games, which is also the most for the team. He was the Carolina League Player of the Week twice in April.

A corresponding move has yet to be announced, as the activation of Colin Bates from the DL more closely resembles the move in reaction to Brian Broderick going onto the DL, as feared from his aborted relief outing last night.

Martinson was drafted by the Nationals in 2010 out of Texas State University and has risen slowly through the A-ball ranks, splitting time between Low-A and High-A 2012 after spending all of 2011 in Hagerstown. He was a taxi squad player on the 2012 AFL team batting .189 with a HR and 8RBI in 11 games.

Like Zach Walters ahead him on the ladder, Martinson represents the next wave of infielders that could potentially back up incumbents Ian Desmond and (let’s face it) Anthony Rendon. Two things have held him back thus far: his penchant for strikeouts, and shaky defense.

The K’s may be something he never quite tames, and in today’s game, that seems to be tolerated as the price for such power, which he has in spades for middle infielder. Of late, he’s been drawing more walks, and all season long he’s grinded out the at-bats, which I’d be willing to bet is one of the reasons he’s getting the bump.

Defensively, he’s made great strides just in the parts of two seasons I’ve seen him, learning to play within his range and making better decisions. Does it mean he’s a highlight reel? No, but he can pretty much be counted to make the routine plays and no longer makes youthful mistakes. That may sound like faint praise, so to put it more concretely – he made 33 errors in 113 games at SS in ’11. He’s on pace in ’13 to make roughly 15 errors over that same number of games.

Jun 242013
 

It wasn’t pretty, but the Potomac Nationals completed the sweep of the Carolina Mudcats with a 7-5 win on Sunday evening.

Kevin Keyes’s three-run blast in the bottom of the fifth broke open a 4-4 game and made a winner out Robbie Ray despite his pitching poorly for the second time in as many starts.

Ray walked a season-high five batters and could have easily walked more, as the southpaw rarely got to two strikes without two balls in the count as his pitches drifted up or nosedived. He got the leadoff batter just once in five frames and put runners on in every inning.

In short, Ray looked more like the 2012 edition than the 2013 All-Star, particularly as he surrendered a long home run in the 3rd. Five of the seven he’s given up this season have come in his last three starts. Perhaps it’s just an anomaly, but it’s something worth noting, as these two trends combined — walks and homers — cannot continue if he’s going to make it Harrisburg this summer (yes, there have been whispers).

Perhaps more curious is the resurgence of the bullpen. For the second straight night they were asked to pitch four or more innings, and for the second straight night they got the job done. Brian Dupra, David Fischer, and Rob Wort combined to give up five hits and three walks, but just one run — the first in 10⅓ innings the bullpen logged for the series.

It’s something to hope for because if there’s one thing that’s been constant this season, it’s the offense. The 15 runs scored in the series to open the second half has brought Potomac to within eight of the league lead, held by the Winston-Salem Dash. The team has been scoring 5-6 runs a game for quite some time now, without hitting a lot of extra-base hits (7th in doubles, 4th in HRs) and is middle-of-the-pack when it comes to strikeouts and walks (4th on both)

Next up, a better chance to see how they measure up as they play four against Myrtle Beach Pelicans, which feature the league’s best pitching and were the Southern Division’s first-half champs. A.J. Cole (4-2, 4.16) gets the opening-game assignment, opposed by Nick Martinez (5-4, 2.84).

Jun 102013
 

It’s that time of year again, as I hit the road for some minor-league baseball while experiencing the sights, sounds, and small towns… on a low budget!

North Carolina is the destination this year, with stops in Zebulon (vs. the P-Nats, weather permitting), Winston-Salem, Kannapolis, Hickory, Greensboro, and Durham over the next six days.

I’ll also be researching the great debate of Eastern-style (vinegar-based) vs. Western-style (tomato-based) Carolina barbecue along with visits to museums and other tourist traps.

The goal, as always, is to keep the site running as best as I can from the free WiFi of cheap inexpensive motels, but there’s always the chance that the News & Notes might be abbreviated, and responses to queries and comments a bit more sporadic.

For folks interested in seeing some of the places I’ve been before, the “Road Trips” page has been rebuilt.

May 142013
 

About the only thing colder than the weather were the P-Nats bats, held to just six hits in a 7-0 shutout by the Dash.

Coming into the game, Potomac was riding a five-game win streak and attempting its first four-game sweep at the Pfitz since 2007. With a matching of a low-2′s ERA prospect versus a high-6′s ERA journeyman, the odds seemed stacked in Potomac’s favor.

After Robbie Ray struck out the side — all three times looking — in the first, and two more in the second, the odds looked even better. Unfortunately, these were not nine-pitch innings so all those K’s came at a cost.

Indeed, the bill came due in third when Winston-Salem sent seven men to the plate, beginning with a walk and ending with, yes, another strikeout. In between, however, was a double, a strikeout, another walk, and a single. While Ray was able to minimize the damage to just two runs, the inning took its toll as Christian Meza was spotted warming up before Ray registered the third and final out.

With long counts on every man, Ray easily cracked 30 pitches and may have hit the 40-pitches-in-one-inning limit that famously shortened several Ross Detwiler outings in 2008. (Sorry, tracking pitches is the line between fun and work when it comes to keeping score). Thus, he was done after just three innings with two runs allowed on two hits and two walks with nine strikeouts.

Meza was no more effective than Ray, giving up three over the next three on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Colin Bates followed with two scoreless innings while Derek Self coughed up a two-out, two-run homer in the 9th to erase any doubt of the eventual outcome.

Of course, as aforementioned the offense was frigid and flat. Except for a leadoff double by Adrian Nieto in the 2nd, there was hardly a hard-hit ball on the night. Billy Burns’s one-out bunt single followed by Michael Taylor’s slap through the 3/4 hole in the 3rd were the only consecutive base knocks, which gave fleeting hopes of tying the game when it was only 2-0.

The chance to answer the Dash was, um, dashed with a 5-C-3 double play off the bat of Cutter Dykstra, who reached based three times with a walk and two singles. It was the first of two double plays turned by Winston Salem, as Dykstra’s leadoff walk was erased in the 6th with a 6-4-3 DP.

Kevin Keyes was the last leadoff man to reach, as the big man drew his sixth walk of the series (and ninth for the year) in the 7th as the next three batters went down in order with a pair of grounders and a popup to end Dash starter Bryan Blough’s winning night with seven strong innings that lowered his ERA from 6.94 to 5.82.

The loss drops Potomac into second place, one game behind Lynchburg in the Carolina League North. Rob Gilliam is scheduled to make his 2013 season debut tonight against Wilmington’s Aaron Brooks (0-3, 4.99) as the last-place Blue Rocks come to Woodbridge for a three-game series.

Apr 252013
 

Transactions for NPP 3It took a couple of days, but another series of moves necessitated by the activations of RHP Chris Young and OFs Eury Perez and J.R. Higley along with the waiver claim of Xavier Cedeno were revealed this afternoon:

HARRISBURG

  • LHP Pat McCoy assigned from Syracuse

HAGERSTOWN

  • OF Estarlin Martinez placed on the 7-Day DL
  • OF Will Piwinica-Worms assigned from XST

This leaves the Harrisburg roster one over the limit. With an off day today, it’s quite possible that the player removed from the Senators won’t be announced until tomorrow. For folks wondering about the Suns move, there is no indication that Martinez was hurt in Tuesday’s game. Given that Piwinica-Worms has been moved around four times in 11 days, it’s likely that Martinez is a procedural move, too.

Dec 142012
 

The Washington Nationals announced the 2013 lineup for their affiliates’ coaching staffs today:
(changes in red.)

SYRACUSE
Manager – Tony Beasley (returning)
Pitching Coach – Greg Booker (returning)
Hitting Coach – Troy Gingrich (returning)

HARRISBURG
Manager – Matt LeCroy (returning)
Pitching Coach – Paul Menhart (returning)
Hitting Coach – Eric Fox (returning)

POTOMAC
Manager – Brian Daubach (promoted from Hagerstown)
Pitching Coach – Chris Michalak (returning)
Hitting Coach – Mark Harris (promoted from Hagerstown)

HAGERSTOWN
Manager – Tripp Keister (promoted from GCL)
Pitching Coach – Franklin Bravo (returning)
Hitting Coach – Brian Rupp (reassigned from Potomac)

AUBURN
Manager – Gary Cathcart (returning)
Pitching Coach – Sam Narron (returning)
Hitting Coach – Luis Ordaz (returning)

GCL
Manager – Patrick Anderson (new hire)
Pitching coach – Michael Tejera (returning)
Hitting coach – Amaury Garcia (promoted from DSL)

DSL
Manager – Sandy Martinez (returning)
Pitching Coach – Pablo Frias (returning)
Hitting Coach – Jorge Mejia (returning)

With the exception of Gary Thurman, who is replacing Tony Tarasco (the parent club’s new first base coach) as the Outfield/Baserunning coordinator, the rest of the minor-league staff remains intact. (Full list can be seen here). There is no word, official or unofficial, as to why Marlon Anderson has left the organization.

Aside from the shuffle between Hagerstown and Potomac, this is largely an uneventful announcement. To me, it’s a mild surprise that Eric Fox wasn’t reassigned or otherwise sanctioned in response to the Senators offensive collapse in the second half this summer. “Mild” only because as a fan, I might expect such a move but can understand otherwise that while MLB hitting coaches are fall guys, this is not the case in the minors.

I’ve not heard any whispers regarding Rupp’s reassignment, only previously that Daubauch was on his way to Woodbridge from Hagerstown. That Mark Harris has gone back and forth from the two affiliates the past two years could lead to the inference that this is not a demotion but a reassignment that avoids hiring an inexperienced/unfamiliar face. Note the italics.