Nov 012015
Abel-De-Los-Santos-2015-2 Nick-Lee-AFL-10-31-15

Just two Nationals relievers appeared in Salt River’s 6-5 win over Surprise — Abel De Los Santos and Nick Lee.

The clean outing continues to elude De Los Santos as he gave up a run on a triple and a sacrifice fly during his lone inning of work in the 7th. In four appearances, he’s been strafed for nine runs on 10 hits over four innings.

Lee was dinged for a leadoff HR in the 8th but then retired the next three batters on a flyout and two grounders.

After three straight wins, Salt River is tied with Scottsdale at 9-6 in the AFL East. It’s a five-game slate before next Saturday’s “Fall Stars” game (rosters to be announced tomorrow), which will be held in Salt River.

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Just a couple of items to tack on to the AFL dispatch…

Not sure if this is the 2015 postseason or the 2016 preseason edition or just Baseball America trying to make its October online pageviews, but the latest BA Top 10 for the Nationals is out. Without stealing the thunder of Byron Kerr, I’ll reveal that Trea Turner is the No. 2 prospect.

The 2015 edition couldn’t help but be better than the 2014 disaster, though that’s a lot like having better hair than Mike Rizzo. (Thanks, I’m here all week). Due in large part to the injury shuffle from the big club, the rotation was in flux all season long, with only Austin Voth making more than 15 starts. The pitching was a shade better than league average (4.06 R/G vs. 4.08) and the offense was a little worse than that (4.00), hence the eight-games-below .500 mark of 67-75 that missed its pythaogeran projection of 70-72.

As has been the case since 2012, it’s a combined Top 5 for the ancillary purpose of generating the 2016 Watchlist:

1. Austin Voth, RHP — 2.92/3.07/1.11, 148K in 157⅓ IP
2. Wilmer Difo, IF — .279/.312/.387, 26SB, 79K in 87G
3. Abel De Los Santos, RHP — 3.43/3.39/1.13, 4.59 K:BB ratio
4. Matt Skole, 1B — .232/.332/.398, 12HR in 90G
5. Isaac Ballou, OF — .304/.383/.494 in 49G

Obviously, I’m excluding Joe Ross because he’s lost his rookie status and Lucas Gioltio because he’s already appeared on a Top 5 list. Skole and Ballou are included mainly because the organization is starved for power and outfielders at the upper levels. Even then, I’m not sure (De Los Santos getting lit like a Christmas tree isn’t terribly convincing, SSS or not). This next watch list may be the smallest yet.

As always, folks who’d like to see the full stats can find them here.

Oct 312015

Salt River snapped a 1-1 tie with two in the 5th and added one in the 7th to take this one, 4-1.

The usual suspects — Spencer Kieboom and Christopher Bostick — started for the Rafters.

  • Kieboom batted fifth and was the Salt River backstop. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Defensively, he had a passed ball and was unsuccessful throwing out two basestealers.
  • Bostick batted ninth and was the DH. He doubled (pictured above), walked, and scored a run to go 1-for-2.

Dakota Bacus was the third National to appear, coming in during the 9th inning. He allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base with a single and a walk.

A stolen base took away the double play but the “White Ninja” high-wired out of the threat with a lineout sandwiched between two strikeouts to garner the save, his first for the fall campaign.

Salt River visits Surprise this afternoon to finish the week and the month of October.

Oct 302015

John-Simms-AFL-10-29-15aSalt River paddled Peoria for three runs in the 6th to break a 2-2 tie and bounce back, for a 5-2 win.

John Simms (pictured) got the start and pitched four innings, giving up an unearned run on four hits, two walks, and one raspberry. He struck out three and threw 79 pitches, 45 for strikes.

In three appearances this fall, Simms has a 1.64 ERA and a 1.272 WHIP over 11 innings.

Christopher Bostick continues to get plenty of playing time, batting second last night. He singled, tripled, scored a run, and struck out in four at-bats. Defensively, he committed his second error but also took part in two twin killings, finishing with four assists total.

Bostick has a line of .242/.306/.485 in 10 games for Salt River.

The Rafters remain at home for an afternoon game against the Saguaros.

Oct 292015

Drew-Ward-AFL-10-28-15One step up, one step back as the Rafters were shut out on three hits for a 2-0 loss to Peoria on Wednesday afternoon.

Just two Nationals saw game action — Drew Ward and Wirkin Estevez.

Ward (pictured to the right) went 0-for-3 in his first appearance since last Thursday. Ward participated in four double plays, two on offense and two on defense, where he racked four assists total.

Estevez gave up a run on a home run and also walked a batter in one inning. He threw 16 pitches, 10 for strikes but struck out none for the second time in as many outings.

The two teams swap venues with Salt River playing host tonight.

Oct 282015

Spencer-Kieboom-AFL-10-27-1Salt River put up crooked numbers in three straight innings to turn a 1-0 nailbiter into a 9-4 win on Tuesday afternoon.

Spencer Kieboom got things started with a three-run homer with one out in the 6th. The 24-y.o. backstop also walked and was 1-for-4 overall. In seven games this fall, he’s batting .333/.440/.476 with four RBI total.

Chrisopher Bostick followed Kieboom in the Rafters lineup in the six-hole and played second base, where he racked up three assists. He walked in the 7th to “drive” in a run but was otherwise 0-for-4.

Salt River (6-5) will see how it plays in Peoria, where they’ll visit the Javelinas this afternoon.

Oct 272015

Nick-Lee-AFL-10-26-15The Scorpions stung the Rafters for five runs in the first four innings as they cruised to a 10-3 win on Monday afternoon.

Nick Lee provided a break in the barrage as he got the last out in the 4th and set the side down in order in the 5th for his second scoreless outing in three appearances this fall. He needed just 16 pitches to retire the four batters he faced.

Abel De Los Santos, however, was not as effective as he was hit hard again, giving up a three-run HR in the 9th and three hits total to balloon his fall ERA to 24.00 (3IP, 9H, 8ER, 1BB, 3K, 2HR).

Christopher Bostick and Spencer Kieboom both started for Salt River. Kieboom was the DH and batted sixth, going 1-for-3 with a walk. Bostick played 2B and batted ninth, also going 1-for-3 with a walk while scoring a run.

The loss drops the Rafters back to .500 at 5-5. The two teams switch venues with Scottsdale playing host this afternoon.

Oct 252015

SpencerKieboom102415Spencer Kieboom and Christopher Bostick both singled in the bottom of the 9th as Salt River rallied for two in a 5-4 walkoff win over Mesa.

Kieboom, who was lifted for a pinch-runner with one out, led off the final frame with a safety to center for his third hit of a 3-for-4 afternoon. He batted seventh and played catcher and also drove in a run.

Bostick scored the game-winner ahead of Roemen Fields’s two-run triple after he singled to right for his lone hit in a 1-for-4 game. He struck out twice and started a 4-6-3 DP in the 1st, the first of three assists he tallied at second base.

Dakota Bacus made his third appearance in the 6th, retiring two of three batters faced before he was lifted for a southpaw after giving up a single.

Salt River returns to action tomorrow with the first of three home-and-home’s against Scottsdale, Peoria, and Surprise. After two weeks of play, the Rafters are 5-4 and lead the AFL East by one game over Scottsdale.

Oct 242015
Yes, I know Santos pitched Thursday, but folks like Lee's pics!

Yes, I know Santos pitched Thursday, but folks like Lee’s pics!

Four strong innings from John Simms and a pair of two-run rallies early helped the Rafters eclipse the Solar Sox, 5-1 and stop a three-game slide.

Simms allowed the lone Mesa run on a solo shot in the 3rd and three hits total. He walked one and struck out four and threw 57 pitches during the outing, his second for Salt River.

Christopher Bostick returned the lineup and played second base. He batted ninth and reached base twice with a single in the 6th and drew a walk in the 8th to go 1-for-3 overall. Defenisvely he had a putout and four assists.

Salt River wraps up the week with a day game today at home vs. Mesa.

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It’s a two-fer today, so let’s jump into the usual weekly post…

The following players have appeared in Mexican Pacific League and the Dominican Winter League:

Rafael Bautista, Bruce Billings (Escogido, DWL)
Pedro Severino (Cibao, DWL)
Richard Bleier (Oriente, DWL)
Paul Demny (Culiacan, LMP)

Like the Hagerstown Suns, Potomac went from contender to pretender to post a losing season for the first time since 2012. It’s tempting to compare this team to that team, but there are two key differences: (1) this team did no better on the road than it did at home (2) this team didn’t feel like it had underachieved. Obviously, #1 is objective — to paraphrase the grossly overrated Bill Parcells, your record is your record. And #2 is subjective — part of underachieving is a disconnect between expectation and actual performance, perceived or actual.

Lucas Giolito and Wilmer Difo were “as advertised”; Reynaldo Lopez was not. Drew Ward was a mixed bag. Rafael Bautista was hurt. This can be argued (and probably will be in the comments), but most of the other names either weren’t as highly regarded outside our bubble or there were reservations already about their prospect status.

The 2015 crew felt to me very much like the first couple of seasons I watched this team (2006, 2007): A couple of true prospects and a handful of maybes mixed in with “OGs” (organizational guys). This may be “old world order” returning, and with the parent club now drafting in the lower third, it might not be all that surprising.

And with that, I present the obligatory Top 5’s:

1. Christopher Bostick, 2B, .253 GPA, .344 OBP 1. Lucas Giolito, RHP, 2.71/1.96/1.22, 11.11 K/9IP
2. Spencer Kieboom, C, .241 GPA, .346 SLG% 2. Tyler Mapes, RHP, 2.38/2.78/1.22, 8.54 K/9, 4.18 K:BB
3. Drew Ward, 3B, .237 GPA, 29E in 95G 3. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, 4.09/2.95/1.22, 5HR in 99 IP
4. Estarlin Martinez, OF, .238 GPA, .711 OPS in 2nd half 4. Austen Williams, RHP, 2.59/3.22/1.09, .215 OBA
5. Rafael Bautista, CF, .224 GPA, 23SB in 52G 5. Phillips Valdez, RHP, 3.77/3.26/1.44, 58.1 LOB%

No honorable mentions as we’re now well past the point of ignoring a player’s age or having repeated the level. Folks interested in seeing the entire team’s stats, can find them here.

Oct 232015

Arizona Fall League #6
Salt River suffered its third straight loss, dropping a 7-5 decision to Glendale on Thursday night.

Drew Ward was the sole Nationals position player to appear. He batted eighth and was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and a GIDP. Defensively, he committed two errors and had one assist.

Abel De Lost Santos pitched the 8th but was rocked for three runs on three hits. He walked one and struck out two and was charged with a wild pitch, a blown save, and the loss.

The Rafters head back out on the road for a short ride to Mesa tonight. John Simms is scheduled to make his first AFL start.

Oct 222015

Nick Lee failed to retire a batter in the 9th, giving up the lone run in a 1-0 walkoff by Glendale over Salt River.

A single, walk, and another single was the game-winning sequence as just three of Lee’s eight pitches went for strikes.

Three — yes, three — other Nationals saw game action.

Christopher Bostick led off and played 2B but went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Defensively, he took part in a double play, had three putouts and two assists and committed an error.

Spencer Kieboom was the DH and reached base twice with a single and a walk for an 1-for-3 game that got him off the interstate with a .200BA (2-for-10) in four games thus far.

Finally, Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez made his AFL debut with an inning of relief, though he walked two.

The loss drops Salt River to .500 at 3-3. The two teams switch venues and rematch tonight.