Sep 092011
 

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Postponed @ Richmond,
7:05 p.m.
Erik Arnesen (8-4, 2.43) vs.
Daryl Maday (4-10, 4.47)
Potomac Postponed @ Frederick,
7:00 p.m.
Sammy Solis (6-2, 2.72) vs.
Richard Zagone (4-2, 2.97)
Auburn Won, 3-2 vs. Vermont,
7:05 p.m.
Brian Dupra (4-4, 3.46) vs.
Seth Frankoff (6-3, 2.34)

Well, if you haven’t seen Tim Pahuta’s twitpic of Metro Bank Park (above) by now… According to CBSSPorts.com’s C. Trent Rosecrans, Eastern League officials will meet tomorrow to determine if MBP will be playable. If not, Rosencrans reports that the rest of the series will be played in Richmond with a doubleheader on Saturday followed by games on Sunday and Monday (if necessary).

Meanwhile, Game Two of the Carolina League’s Divisional Series was postponed to tonight. You have to wonder if the series might just stay at Harry Grove in Frederick if officials decide that the Pfitz is unplayable tomorrow. And that’s presuming that a game gets played tonight in Frederick. There is, after all, more rain in the forecast.

Finally, the Doubledays won 3-2 to force a deciding game in Auburn tonight against the Vermont Lake Monsters. Wilfri Pena made good on his shot at redemption, hitting a solo home run in the 7th, just a half-inning after giving up two passed balls that enabled Vermont to tie the score at 2-2. Pena doubled earlier as part of his 2-for-3 night while Billy Burns drove in the first two runs with a double in the bottom of the 2nd. Manny Rivera got the win in relief of Taylor Hill, who struck out eight and allowed just one hit over the first five innings. Aaron Barrett weathered a hit and a walk in the 9th but got the three outs he needed for the save.

Sep 042011
 

It wasn’t exactly too little, but it was definitely too late as the P-Nats rallied for four in the bottom of the 9th, but came up short, 9-8 to the Kinston Indians.

The bottom of the 9th started innocently enough as Eury Perez singled for the third time, which is hardly a surprise with Perez on a hot streak which has seen him raise his batting average from .259 to .279 since August 11th. He then stole his 45th base, also not much of a shock since he’s swiped nine straight bags this week.

Soriano moved him over with a grounder to second and Kobernus moved him in with an infield single. Kobernus took second uncontested and Justin Bloxom walked. This brought up Steve Souza, who had already stranded four runners with two out. Apparently, having one out seems to suit him, as he clubbed his 11th home run to bring Potomac within one. It was his first home run since July 23, and the first one at the Pfitz since May 24.

If there’s a hotter hitter than Perez right now, it’s Zach Walters, who singled after Souza’s blast to restart the rally. Walters’ two hits pushed his Potomac batting average to .302, precisely what it was for South Bend when he was acquired for Jason Marquis in late July. Walters took second on a Sandy Leon groundout but was stranded there following a Jose Lozada walk and Brian Peacock’s game-ending flyout.

Erik Davis took the loss (his fifth in six starts) in what may very well be his final appearance for the Nationals organization. Once again, he struggled with his control, walking four batters over six and 2/3rds innings and striking out just three batters. He gave up six hits and was charged with six runs. Simply put: He looked more like a Low-A pitcher in his first High-A start than a AA pitcher that had been dropped down.

Davis is believed to be ineligible for the playoffs, but there is cause for concern with the first man out of the ‘pen. Josh Smoker let in the two runners he inherited from Davis in grand fashion with a slam over the LF wall, the second straight outing he had given up a homer. Perhaps its fatigue — Smoker leads the team in appearances with 46 — but it’s definitely something to be concerned because the heater wasn’t so hot last night (well, except on the way back out), flat, uneven and and elevated. That’s the classic recipe for getting knocked around.

Unfortunately, not only did the loss end the P-Nats’ four-game win streak, it was a missed opportunity to take first place as the Keys fell to the Blue Rocks, 3-2. The elimination number remains at three, but Potomac still can win the division regardless of what Frederick does; they just have to win the rest of their games. Conversely, a doubleheader loss combined with a Keys win today clinches the division for Frederick.

Sep 012011
 


The Carolina League has announced its postseason All-Star team, which includes three Potomac Nationals players: Sandy Leon, Jeff Kobernus and Destin Hood.

Just 13 players are named to the squad, with the eight defensive positions, a DH, a utility player, left- and right-handed starters and a reliever. The lineup is voted on by league managers, sportswriters, broadcasters and other media members.

Leon has turned up the heat offensively, hitting .278/.350/.411 since the All-Star Break after posting a .219/.275/.290 line prior. The 22-year-old Venezuelan was also recently named the best defensive catcher in a poll by Baseball America.

Kobernus is currently leading the league in steals with 47, quite the surprise after an injury-plagued 2010. Like Leon, Kobernus was cited by Baseball America in its 2011 “Best Tools” survey for High-A.

Hood was originally named as the Potomac’s representative to the 2011 Carolina League All-Star Game (Kobernus was his replacement), but sat with knee problems. Nevertheless, the 21-year-old has still managed to steal 20 bases and is currently third in the league with 82 RBI.

Sep 012011
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitcher
Syracuse Won, 3-1 @ Buffalo,
6:05 p.m.
Yunesky Maya (3-9, 5.09) vs.
Dylan Owen (6-6, 4.18)
Harrisburg Won, 2-1 vs. Portland,
7:00 p.m.
Stephen Strasburg (rehab) vs.
Michael Lee (1-6, 5.12)
Potomac Won, 6-3 @ Lynchburg,
7:05 p.m.
Paul Demny (9-10, 4.54)
vs. Matt Crim (2-7, 5.81)
Hagerstown OFF DAY vs. Lakewood,
7:05 p.m.
Chris McKenzie (4-6, 6.80) vs.
Garett Claypool (4-7, 3.63)
Auburn Lost, 3-2 vs. Jamestown,
7:05 p.m.
Taylor Hill (0-2, 3.25) vs.
Jose Urena (4-7, 4.39)

Syracuse 3 Buffalo 1
• Meyers (W, 6-4) 5⅓ IP, 7H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 5K, HR
• Wilkie (S, 15) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Valdez 2-4, RBI
• Antonelli 0-2, 2RBI, BB, SF

Syracuse took advantage of Buffalo miscues to take their fourth straight game, 3-1. Brad Meyers got his sixth win by scattering seven hits — OK, six; one was a home run — over five and a 1/3rd innings with no walks and five strikeouts. Jesus Valdez was the sole Chief to get multiple hits, driving in the second Syracuse run in the 3rd with an RBI single as part of a 2-for-4 night. Josh Wilkie was the last of five relievers to follow Meyers, pitching a scoreless ninth for his 15th save.

Harrisburg 2 Portland 1
• Arnesen 7IP, 4H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 9K
• VanAllen (W, 5-3) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Martin (S, 13) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• T Moore 2-4, RBI
• Pahuta 2-3, R, HR, RBI

Tyler Moore’s 8th-inning RBI single put the Sens in the playoffs with a 2-1 win over Portland. Moore’s hit gave Cory VanAllen the win for pitching a scoreless 8th. Erik Arnesen got the start and allowed just an unearned run on four hits and no walks over the first seven innings while setting down nine on strikes. Tim Pahuta homered in the 5th to tie the game at 1-1, and went 2-for-3 for the game to lead the offense. Rafael Martin pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for save #13. Harrisburg can clinch the Eastern League West division with a win or a Richmond loss tonight.

Potomac 6 Lynchburg 3
• Olbrychowski (W, 5-7) 7⅓ IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, BB, 6K, HR
• Selik ⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Walters 2-4, R, 2B, RBI, BB
• Bloxom 2-5, R
• Kobernus 2-5, 2RBI, SB

Likewise, Potomac clinched a playoff berth with a win over Lynchburg by a 6-3 count. Adam Olbrychowski pitched a masterful seven and a 1/3rd innings, allowing just two hits, though one was a home run. He walked one and struck out six. Potomac made him a winner by taking advantage of a Hillcats error in the 8th to pile on for four unearned runs. Jeff Kobernus, Justin Bloxom, and Zach Walters each had two hits as the P-Nats collected 11 total. Combined with another Frederick loss, the P-Nats are just 1½ games behind the Keys, the tragic number frozen at five.

Hagerstown — OFF DAY
The Suns finish out 2011 with a five-game set against the Lakewood BlueClaws. They’ll need to win three to avoid a losing second-half record.

Jamestown 3 Auburn 2
• Karns (ND) 5IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 4K
• Kreis (H, 1) 2IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Skole 2-5, 2-2B, RBI
• Ramsey 2-5, 2R

Auburn may have the best winning percentage of any Nats affiliate, but a 3-2 loss to Jamestown has tightened up the race for a playoff spot. Colin Bates was touched for two runs in the top of the 8th to burn a 2-1 lead, handing starter Nathan Karns a no-decision for his five innings of one-run ball. Matt Skole and Caleb Ramsey both went 2-for-5 to lead the Doubledays offense, which struggled in the clutch with a 2-for-9 mark with RISP and 10 men left on base. The loss slices Auburn’s lead over Williamsport to just one game in the Pinckney Division, which is also the same margin they have over the Brooklyn Cyclones in the wild-card chase.

Aug 312011
 

It’s almost a little fitting that the very first piece that I did for this site was a scouting report on Tom Milone. Why? Well, I hyperlinked it to show the date it was published: Christmas Eve, 2009.

This is not to gloat (well, maybe just a little). Hell, I’m quite well aware that Milone could get knocked around like a guest on the Jerry Springer show, leaving me feeling like Ralphie on a late Christmas morning. So chances are, I’m just gonna tape record his first start and go to the Potomac game on Saturday — it’s what I’m used to, and besides, it’s been too long since I gave you guys a “Last Night In Woodbridge.”

But I can prove that I’m not some Johnny-come-lately when it comes to Milone, so let’s look at what I had to say back then:

Fastball: An average fastball, but added a cutter in midseason, which seems to explain his ERA dropping from 3.89 to 2.91 over his last 10 starts.

Curveball: Good separation in speed from his fastball/cutter, typically in the mid-70s

Change: Arguably his best pitch, especially with his outstanding command

Control: Terrific control, which has been his hallmark since his days at USC — 2.14/9IP in the Carolina League last season

Strengths: Mixes pitches well and can hit his spots seemingly at will and generally keeps the ball down to prevent HRs (just 9 last season)

Weaknesses: Because he’s always around the plate and doesn’t throw hard, he can be quite hittable (144 in 151IP)

Milone is an under-the-radar kind of prospect because his best assets are between his ears. His champions will compare him to Cliff Lee. His detractors will compare him to Adrian Alaniz, a prospect that shot out of the gate in ’08 then hit a wall at the next level. Milone will likely start 2010 at Harrisburg having just turned 23 in February, the youngest SP to begin the year at that level in three years.

Now before folks start chiming in about Strasburg, remember that at the time he was expected to begin 2010 in Potomac, not Harrisburg, like most turning-22 first-round picks have done the past couple of years (e.g. Alex White, Barrett Loux). But overall, I think I got that one right.

Aug 272011
 


Chris Marrero has become the latest player from our 2011 Watchlist to make it to D.C., as his callup became official this afternoon. He’s in the lineup tonight against the Cincinnati Reds, batting seventh and playing first base. He’ll be wearing #14.

Marrero batted an even .300 for the Syracuse Chiefs, hitting 14 home runs and collecting 69 RBIs in 127 games. He was drafted in 2006 as the Nationals first-round pick at #15 out of Monsignor Pace High School in Miami, Florida. He’s the second player (Cole Kimball) from that (in)famous draft, and the first position player to make the Nationals’ 25-man roster.

Aug 172011
 

In a couple weeks, we should learn who the six or seven guys that will get named to the Arizona Fall League for Washington. Bryce Harper is the no-brainer, especially since Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has made it clear that that’s part of the plan. The one player allowed below AA should be Destin Hood, but his nagging injuries, his age (21) and Rizzo’s proclivity for following the letter of the rules first, the spirit second (don’t get me wrong, there’s value in that mindset, even if it drives me crazy).

It would not surprise me in the least if Rizzo were to send nobody from Potomac or Hagerstown. The single-A exception is just that: an exception, not a requirement. I think if he could get away with it, he’d send Paul Demny (Rule 5 eligible) or, but more likely is that Josh Smoker, along with Pat McCoy, gets sent in much the same way that Adam Carr and Cole Kimball went last fall, since lately the AFL has become a means for GMs to get a last look at Rule 5-eligible guys

After that it gets fuzzy real fast. Most of the Rule 5 candidates are either knocking at the door (e.g. Tom Milone, Brad Peacock, Steve Lombardozzi) or went last year (Derek Norris). The rest are on the margins (Chris Curran, Steve Souza, Stephen King, Jose Lozada, Paul Demny, J.R. Higley) or hurt (Jack McGeary).

No, I’m not forgetting about Tyler Moore. That’s one where I say this is why GMs get paid to make hard decisions. We don’t know where Tyler Moore fits in the long-term plans, and you can certainly make the case Moore is blocked by Marrero, who in turn, is blocked by Mike Morse currently and Adam LaRoche next year.

The question is whether sending Moore to the AFL makes him more of risk to get taken in the Rule 5 draft. Answer: probably not, but we certainly hope that Moore gets the honor/exposure that he’s earned with his performance this year and last.

Then there’s Danny Rosenbaum, who got the bump in late July and has had two strong starts thus far for Harrisburg. The timing would suggest that that was done to qualify for the AFL, but my gut says “no” because he’s not the prototype to get converted to relief. I also think that if Tom Milone wasn’t sent, neither would Rosenbaum — even if Danny throws harder.

Lastly, the recent draft picks. I’d have to say Alex Meyer and Anthony Rendon are the most likely to get sent. But I’m not convinced that either (or any) will go. The big X factor in all this is that the Nationals aren’t the only organization supplying the roster for this year’s team, the Scottsdale Scorpions. The only thing I’m certain of is that somebody, somewhere will be disappointed in the selections.

Aug 162011
 


Looking over my Twitter feed, I’ve discovered that the site has been nominated for CBS Washington’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011.

So either my 87-year-old Mom has suddenly gotten tech-savvy, or somebody likes what we’re doing here.
But competing against blogs for football, basketball, hockey, and the MMA, we have no chance of winning.

But that’s okay — vote anyway and check out some of the other blogs in the area. And thanks for getting us noticed.

Jul 142011
 


Some old news and some new news this morning while making the sweep of the transaction reports.

First, the old news: Brad Peacock has been promoted from AA Harrisburg to AAA Syracuse, with OF Bryce Harper taking his spot on the Senators roster by virtue of being activated from the Temporary Inactive List. Peacock was 10-2 for Harrisburg with a 2.01 ERA, a 0.86WHIP, and 129Ks in 98⅔ innings, all of which were in the top 5 for the Eastern League this season. He’s expected to make his first start this Saturday against Lehigh Valley.

Now, the new news: As predicted in the comments, Nathan Karns has been freed from Viera and promoted to Auburn. Karns, a 12th-round 2009 draft pick that signed at the deadline, missed the 2010 season with an unspecified injury. This year, he’s made five appearances without a decision in the GCL, pitching 18⅔ innings, allowing two (2) hits, no (0) runs, six walks and compiling 26 strikeouts. He’s expected to join the Doubledays rotation, starting perhaps as soon as Monday, July 18th or Tuesday, July 19th.

In other transactions, RHP Anthony Marcelino was placed in the 60-day DL for the GCL Nationals, a move that typically signifies season-ending surgery.

UPDATE: J.C. Romero has been given his unconditional release, a option that apparently was his if the Nationals weren’t going to activate him by July 15. Minutes later, he signed a minor-league contract with the New York Yankees. Meanwhile, the other predicted move — Oliver Perez being taken off the TIL to take Peacock’s spot in the rotation — has now officially been announced, with Jonathan Tucker going on the DL, retroactive to July 12 (which begs the question: Who’s next?) to keep the Harrisburg roster at 24.

Jul 042011
 

First off, let me say I’m not as disappointed as you might think. But some questions are going be begged, and I fully expect them not to be answered honestly.

The knee-jerk reaction is “The Field! They don’t want our precious Bryce Harper playing in that sinkhole in right field”

Which begs the question: Why is it okay for 21-year-old, Carolina League All-Star Destin Hood to play there?

I don’t expect anyone to officially state that the field was the reason because they don’t want to answer my question, which has some rather uncomfortable inferences.

The more nuanced interpretation:

Cynical side of me thinks Harper bypassed Potomac more to keep him away from local fans longer — MissChatter, a.k.a. Cathy Taylor

There’s a lot more evidence to support this conclusion. Specifically, the treatment of Stephen Strasburg last season. Care to guess how many starts he made in the states of Virginia or Maryland last April, May and June?

Zero.

That’s right. Strasburg was carefully handled to pitch away from greater DC, and it’s fair to infer that they want the same space for Harper. It would not surprise me in the least if he were placed on the 7-Day DL from July 21 to 27 to skip roadtrips to Bowie and Richmond, both of which are the final visits for Harrisburg in the regular season.

Hope I’m wrong about that, but if I’m right, you read it here first.

For my money, I’m the throngs of autograph whores and fanboys will pass us by in Potomac, just as the folks in Hagerstown have already expressed their relief that a return to normality is upon them. There’s a lot more satisfaction in seeing the likes of Tom Milone, Brad Peacock, Tyler Moore, and Hood start to “get it” as they make their way up the chain. Thanks to this move, that experience will continue without the pseudofan excitement.