Apr 122015
 

Three pitchers combined on a five-hit shutout while the offense awoke as the P-Nats downed the Hillcats, 5-0 to earn a series split and return to .500.

Excluding an error-aided 9th on Thursday, Potomac had managed just two runs and nine hits in the previous 22 innings — even with MLB rehab Jayson Werth.

Today, Potomac threatened in every inning and connected for nine hits, including solo HRs from Isaac Ballou and Khayyan Norfork. They also drew eight walks, which with a little more continuity, could have resulted in three or four more runs.

The offensive outburst was highlighted by a three-run 3rd. Wilmer Difo walked with one out, took second on Chris Bostick’s subsequent single, then scored from second base on a flyout to center to steal a run and give John Wooten an RBI by way of a sacrifice fly. Spencer Kieboom and Brandon Miller capped off the inning with two-out RBI singles with Ballou drawing a walk in between them.

Meanwhile, Wander Suero’s return to High-A was a six scoreless innings with just three hits and one walk allowed. However, he did not strike out a batter, which is always cause for concern — especially for a pitcher who does not have mid-90s heat.

Manny Rodriguez picked up where he left off in the 2014 postseason by striking out three of the first four batters he faced in the 7th and 8th innings before putting a pair of runners on with two outs. He escaped the jam with a popup to Craig Manuel.

Brian Dupra finished the game with a scoreless ninth, working around a two-out walk.

Potomac continue its season-opening homestand with a three-game set against Winston-Salem tomorrow through Wednesday. Matt Spann is scheduled to take the hill for the P-Nats, opposed by Matt Heidenreich for the Dash.

Apr 122015
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 4-2 @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
1:05 p.m.
McGregor (2-8, 5.68 in ’14) vs.
Whitley (3-2, 2.01 in ’14)
Harrisburg Won, 4-1 vs. Altoona,
1:30 p.m.
Alderson (2-4, 6.01 @ AAA in ’14) vs.
Kuhl (13-5, 3.46 @ A+ in ’14)
Potomac Won, 1-0; Lost, 2-1 vs. Lynchburg,
1:05 p.m.
Suero (2-1, 7.57 in ’14) vs.
Brown (8-8, 3.31 @ A- in ’14)
Hagerstown Lost, 2-1 @ Hickory,
5:00 p.m.
Van Orden (2-3, 4.39 @ SS-A in ’14) vs.
Martin (1-4, 5.40 @ AZL in ’14)


Syracuse 4 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 2
• T. Hill 6IP, 6H, 2R, 0ER, BB, K
• R. Hill (W, 1-0) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Martin (SV, 1) 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Minicozzi 3-4, R, 2-2B, RBI
• D. Robinson 3-4, R

It wasn’t pretty — an error, two bunts, and a hit batsman that “drove in” the go-ahead run — but the Chiefs rallied for three in the 8th to double up the RailRiders, 4-2. Taylor Hill started and went the first six innings, letting in two unearned runs on six hits and a walk while striking out one. Rich Hill got the win in relief while Rafael Martin worked around hits in both the 8th and 9th innings with four whiffs to nail down the save. Mark Minicozzi and Derek Robinson both went 3-for-4 with a run scored to pace the Syracuse offense.

Harrisburg 4 Altoona 1
• Espino 6IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 4K
• Mendez (W, 1-0) 2IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 3K, HR
• De Los Santos (SV, 1) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Renda 2-3, R, 2B, BB, 2E
• Skole 1-4, R, 2B, RBI, 3K

Likewise for Harrisburg, which scored all four of its runs in the bottom of the 8th with the help of two errors to send Altoona to another defeat, 4-1. Paolo Espino took a no-no into the 6th before Curve leadoff man Keon Broxton doubled with one out in the sixth. The veteran Venezuelan stranded Broxton to finish with one hit over six innings with one walk and four strikeouts. Gilberto Mendez gave up a home run to pitcher-turned-slugger Stetson Allie in the 7th but turned in a scoreless 8th and got the win. Abel De Los Santos held off the Curve in the 9th for the save. Tony Renda reached base three times with a single, double, and a walk as the Sens were held to just four hits total.

Potomac 1 Lynchburg 0 — GAME ONE
• Rauh (W, 1-0) 5IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Bacus (SV, 1) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Werth 1-2, R, BB, HR, RBI

Jayson Werth’s 4th-inning HR was the difference in a 1-0 shutout for Potomac vs. Lynchburg in Game One. The two teams combined for just five hits and one walk. Brian Rauh got the win with five innings of two-hit ball with no walks and two K’s. Dakota Bacus worked around a dropped flyball in the 7th for the second of two scoreless innings to earn the save. John Wooten and Drew Ward accounted for the other two P-Nats hits.

Lynchburg 2 Potomac 1 — GAME TWO
• Schwartz (L, 0-1) 6IP, 2H, 2R, 1ER, BB, 4K, HR
• Lee 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Ward 1-2, BB, RBI

The Potomac offense remained AWOL in Game Two, unable to capitalize on four walks and hindered by some questionable umpiring for a 2-1 loss to Lynchburg in Game Two. The Hillcats smacked a long solo HR in the 1st and used a two-out double to cash in a Wilmer Difo throwing error for its two runs. The P-Nats broke up the shutout bid in the 6th as Difo reached on a throwing error, took second on a wild pitch, and, following a Jayson Werth walk, went to third on a passed ball. Chris Bostick tapped to third, holding Difo, and threw over to 2nd to throw out pinch-runner Isaac Ballou, who slid hard into the Lynchburg second baseman standing on the bag to break up the double play. Umpire Chase Eade ruled the legal slide illegal and awarded the second out to the Hillcats. Drew Ward singled to send in Difo, but instead of 1st and 2nd and one out, it was Ward on first and two down. James Yezzo struck out to end the rally, and the P-Nats went in order in the 7th.

Hickory 2 Hagerstown 1
• Reyes 5IP, 3H, 0R, BB, 7K, WP
• Ramos (BS, 1; L, 0-1) ⅓ IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 0K
• Mesa 1-3, BB, SB
• Reistetter 2-3, RBI, SB

David Ramos wasted no time in registering his first blown save of the season (ninth of his career) as the Suns were eclipsed with two runs in the bottom of the 9th for a 2-1 loss to Hickory. A double, groundout, triple, and single got the job done for Hickory. Luis Reyes started and went the first five, striking out seven against one walk in three hits. Hagerstown managed just five hits on the night, with Matt Reistetter driving in the lone run with a single in the 5th.

Trea Turner Update
Turner walked, stole a base and scored a run but remains hitless (0-for-10) in three games for AA San Antonio.

Apr 112015
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 6-0 @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
4:05 p.m.
Hill (11-7, 2.81 in ’14) vs.
Tracy (1-6, 4.45 in ’14)
Harrisburg Won, 3-2 (11 inn.) vs. Altoona,
6:00 p.m.
Espino (6-5, 3.98 in ’14) vs.
Glasnow (12-5, 1.74 @ Hi-A in ’14)
Potomac Postponed vs. Lynchburg,
2:05 p.m.
Rauh (2-4, 4.39 in ’14) and
Schwartz (2-1, 4.40 in ’14) vs.
Plutko (4-9, 4.08 in ’14) and TBD
Hagerstown Won, 14-4 @ Hickory,
6:00 p.m.
Reyes (0-1, 2.62 @ SS-A) vs.
Garrett (6-1, 4.06 @ SS-A)


Syracuse 6 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 0
• Jordan (W, 1-0) 6IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 5K
• Grace 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Ramsey 3-3, R, SF, 3RBI
• Martinson 2-3, 2R, BB, RBI, OF assist at 2B
• Gwynn 2-5, R

Caleb Ramsey had three hits and drove in three while three Chiefs pitchers combined on a… wait for it… three-hit shutout for 6-0 triumph over the RailRiders. Taylor Jordan allowed just, um, three baserunners as he gave up two hits and a walk over six innings to earn the win. Jason Martinson went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored and threw out a runner trying to stretch a single into a double to end the 2nd inning. Tony Gwynn Jr. also notched multiple hits as Syracuse racked up 11 total.

Harrisburg 3 Altoona 2 — 11 inn.
• Ross 4IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 6K
• Demny (W, 1-0) 2IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Renda 3-5, R
• Skole 1-4, R, BB, HR, RBI

Matt Skole’s leadoff walkoff home run ended this one after 11 innings as the Senators straightened the Curve, 3-2. Joe Ross struggled early, giving up single runs in the 1st and 2nd innings and finished with six hits and two walks allowed over four innings (78 pitches). Derek Self, Robert Benincasa, and Paul Demny combined for eight shutout innings of relief, with Demny getting the win. Tony Renda singled three times in five trips to the plate but the rest of the lineup was just 3-for-29 with three walks as Harrisburg had just five RISP chances and left six runners on over eleven turns at bat.

Lynchburg vs. Potomac — PPD
Wet grounds were cited for the postponement of Game Two of the Lynchburg-Potomac series. It will be made up today with a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m.

Hagerstown 14 Hickory 4
• Bach 4IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 3K, HR, WP, HBP
• Ullmann (W, 1-0) 4IP, 2H, R, ER, 2BB, 4K
• Masters 3-3, 2R, 3B, 2BB, 3RBI
• Read 2-4, 4R, 2BB, HR, 2RBI, SB
• DeBruin 3-5, 2R, 2B, 3RBI

Hagerstown went to town on Hickory in the middle innings, scoring 10 runs in the 4th, 5th, and 6th combined in a 14-4 win. Connor Bach got the start and went the first four innings, letting in two runs on five hits and two walks. Ryan Ullmann earned the win with four innings of one-run relief, allowing two hits and two walks. Raudy Read capped off the scoring with a two-run shot in the 9th and was 2-for-4 with four runs scored while David Masters and Grant DeBruin both registered three hits and three RBI to pace the Suns’ 16-hit attack.

Trea Turner Update
Turner went 0-for-4 in a 1-0 San Antonio Missions win, which he helped preserve on defense by throwing out a runner at home to end the 2nd.

Apr 102015
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 8-3 @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
7:05 p.m.
Jordan (0-2, 4.06 in ’14) vs.
Long (7-2, 2.35 @ AA in ’14)
Harrisburg Lost, 1-0 vs. Altoona,
6:30 p.m.
Ross (2-0, 3.60 in ’14) vs.
Creasy (8-9, 3.93 @ A+ in ’14)
Potomac Lost, 8-6 vs. Lynchburg,
7:05 p.m.
Rauh (2-4, 4.39 in ’14) vs.
Plutko (4-9, 4.08 in ’14)
Hagerstown Lost, 5-2 @ Hickory,
7:00 p.m.
Bach (0-0, 3.52 in ’14) vs.
L. Ortiz (0-0, 1.29 in ’14)


Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 8 Syracuse 3
• Cole 5IP, 8H, 2R, ER, 0BB, 3K, HR, WP
• Rivero (BS, 1; L, 0-1) 1⅓ IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, BB, K
• Burriss 2-4, R, BB, RBI, E
• D. Robinson 0-2, 2R, 2BB, SB

The wheels came off the bus in the 7th and 8th innings as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre put up three-spots in both frames to turn a 3-2 deficit into an 8-3 win over Syracuse. Felipe Rivero took the loss, retiring just one of six batters in the 7th after a 1-2-3 sixth. A.J. Cole started and gave up two runs, one earned, on eight hits over five innings. Emmanuel Burris was the sole Chief to notch multiple hits as Syracuse managed just six singles but did draw seven walks on the night.
Roster moves: C Jeff Howell, IF Jose Lozada, OF Brian Goodwin activated from XST, placed on 7-Day DL

Altoona 1 Harrisburg 0
• Voth 6IP, 3H, 0R, BB, 7K, WP
• De Los Santos (L, 0-1) 1IP, 1H, R, ER, 2BB, K
• Vettleson 1-4, 2B
• Keyes 1-3, BB

It was a Star Trek convention on the Metro Bank scoreboard (all zeroes) until the 9th inning when Altoona scored the game’s only run to shut out Harrisburg, 1-0. Austin Voth threw six scoreless innings and allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out seven. A walk, sacrifice, and an intentional walk set up the game-winning single off Abel De Los Santos in the 9th. Drew Vettleson doubled to lead off the 5th (and break up the no-hitter) and took third on Shawn Pleffner’s subsequent single but a 5-3 lineout DP off the bat of Pedro Severino killed the only true threat of the night. The Sens were held to just five hits and two walks total.
Roster move: Player-coach Andruth Ramirez reassigned to Potomac.

Lynchburg 8 Potomac 6
• Pivetta (L, 0-1) 5IP, 3H, R, ER, 2BB, 7K
• Johansen 2⅔ IP, 2H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 4K, HR
• Bostick 1-3, R, BB
• Wooten 1-4, R, 2RBI, 3K

Potomac scored six times in the 9th with two outs. On any other night, that would probably be a walkoff, but down 8-0 it was merely prolonging the agony as Lynchburg held on for an 8-6 win. Early on, it was a pitcher’s duel as Nick Pivetta matched goose eggs with Dylan Baker, who no-hit the P-Nats for five innings. Pivetta would take the loss on just one run allowed over five innings on three hits and two walks while fanning seven. Four of the five Potomac hits and three of five walks came in the 9th, with Chris Bostick the sole P-Nat to reach base twice. Roster moves: RHPs Ian Dickson and Ronald Pena, LHPs Kylin Turnbull and Hector Silvestre activated from XST and placed on the 7-Day DL; OF Jayson Werth assigned from Washington for MLB rehab.

Hickory 5 Hagerstown 2
• Williams (L, 0-1) 4IP, 6H, 3R, 1ER, 0BB, 2K, WP
• Johns 2IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 0K, WP
• Carey 1-4, R, HR, RBI, 3K
• Marmolejos-Diaz 1-3, R, HR, 2K

The scoring difficulties extended all the way to Low-A, as the Suns could only manage just three hits in a 5-2 loss to the Crawdads. Two of them left the yard with “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz homered in the 2nd and D.K. Carey left the band yard and went solo in the 4th. Austen Williams was dinged for three runs, one earned, on six hits over for innings and was charged with the loss.
Roster moves: LHP Brett Mooneyham, RHP Wirkin Estevez, 3B Jake Mayers activated from XST and placed on the 7-Day DL

Trea Turner Update
Turner went 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts in a 10-4 San Antonio Missions loss.

Apr 092015
 


It’s a full slate today for minor-league Opening Day for the second straight season as the Chiefs visit the RailRiders, the Senators host the Curve, the P-Nats host the Hillcats, and the Suns visit the Crawdads.

Well, weather permitting. Again. The first-pitch forecast is 47 degrees and a 50% chance of rain in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; 50 and 45% in Harrisburg, 55 and 35% chance in Woodbridge, and 75 and 85% in Zebulon, NC.

Team Today’s Game Pitching Matchup (’14 Stats at Level)
Syracuse @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
7:05 p.m.
Cole (6-3, 2.92) vs.
Mitchell (4-2, 3.67)
Harrisburg vs. Altoona,
6:30 p.m.
Voth (1-3, 6.52) vs.
A. Sanchez (0-2, 4.32)
Potomac vs. Lynchburg,
7:05 p.m.
Pivetta (13-8, 4.22 @ Low-A) vs.
Baker (3-3, 4.05)
Hagerstown @ Hickory,
7:00 p.m.
A. Williams (4-3, 4.66 @ SS-A) vs.
Jurado (2-1, 1.62 @ AZL)


Just the annual reminder: These pitchers are not necessarily the team’s #1 starter. They are, within a slot or two, how the Nationals would like the starters to align from Low-A to MLB in the event of promotions or injuries.

Based on what I’ve been able to gather (or been told, H/T Mayflies’ Mick Reinhard), here’s how the rest of the starting rotations will round out:

TEAM Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5
Syracuse Jordan Hill McGregor Billings
Harrisburg Ross Espino Alderson Swynenberg
Potomac Rauh Schwartz TBD TBD
Hagerstown Bach L. Reyes TBD TBD


Obviously, there’s some intrigue as to who will start Games 4 and 5 for the “A” teams. Potomac, for example, has Nick Lee, Matthew Spann, Dakota Bacus, and Wander Suero as candidates while Hagerstown has R.C. Orlan, Drew Van Orden, and Andrew Cooper. As the press release cycle starts up, we’ll know more.

And another reminder: These rotations are very likely to be short-lived, especially with the likes of Reynaldo Lopez, Robbie Dickey, Jefry Rodriguez, and some other guy expected to arrive within three weeks or so.

Apr 082015
 

Yesterday, the Washington Nationals affiliates officially announced the 2015 Opening Day rosters. Let’s take a look at who landed where to begin the season.

SYRACUSE
Watchlist Pitchers — A.J. Cole, Felipe Rivero, Taylor Hill, Matt Grace
Watchlist Position Players — Cutter Dykstra

HARRISBURG
Watchlist Pitchers — Abel de Los Santos, Bryan Harper, Gilberto Mendez, Joe Ross, Austin Voth
Watchlist Position Players — Pedro Severino, Stephen Perez, Tony Renda, Matt Skole, Shawn Pleffner, Drew Vettleson

POTOMAC
Watchlist Pitchers — Jake Johansen, Nick Pivetta, Matt Spann, Wander Suero, Justin Thomas, Jake Walsh
Watchlist Position Players — Spencer Kieboom, Chris Bostick, Wilmer Difo, Drew Ward, John Wooten, James Yezzo, Isaac Ballou, Rafael Bautista

HAGERSTOWN
Watchlist Pitchers — None
Watchlist Position Players — Raudy Read, Austin Davidson, Jose Marmolejos-Diaz, D.K. Carey

M.I.A. — Robbie Dickey, Ian Dickson, Lucas Giolito, Cody Gunter, Brian Goodwin, Reynaldo Lopez, Jefry Rodriguez, Hector Silvestre, Sammy Solis, John Simms, Kylin Turnbull.

Obviously, there are more that fall into that last batch… but for the sake of expediency, I’m limiting my analysis to the watchlist.

• For those of you who haven’t heard, Giolito and Lopez are both being held back in XST, and that’s presumably the case with most of the other pitchers.

• If indeed Lopez and Giolito are activated in late April, the best bet is for them to debut at the Pfitz during the midweek games of the first homestand in May.

• That Brian Goodwin isn’t ready is in line with our suspicion that he’s much further behind in his recovery than team officials have stated, which is hardly a shock given the amount of time it took for them to divulge that he had labrum surgery at all.

• It’s interesting that players on the DL have not yet been identified. While not a surefire indicator, it’s a least a hint as to where they might end up.

• Folks shouldn’t read too much into Hagerstown having no watchlist pitchers — they do have five 2014 draft picks, and one of the flaws of the watchlist is that short-season guys can (and do) get shortchanged if they don’t succeed right away in the GCL or the NYPL.

• It’s tough to make out what the plans are for Matt Skole with his placement at Harrisburg, but it may be more of a comment on the club’s wanting Ian Stewart and Kila Ka‘aihue in Syracuse and available as replacements for Ryan Zimmerman and/or Anthony Rendon.

• Felipe Rivero is not starting for Syracuse; the team announced a rotation of Cole-Jordan-Hill-McGregor-Billings.

• Austen Williams is the only other Opening Day starter that’s been announced.

• Finally, longtime Nats/Expos farmhand Devin Ivany is listed as a coach for the Senators.

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments. Opening Night — weather permitting :-( — is tomorrow!

Apr 062015
 

Catching Up On Transactions
While others were hitting refresh on the Washington MLB.com 40-man roster yesterday, confirming that the Michael Taylor era has begun (as well as yet another Rizzo-era Arizona draftee making the cut), we were scanning the wires for the latest moves in the minors…

SYRACUSE
• Released C Omir Santos

GCL Nationals
• Released RHP John Costa

DSL Nationals
• LHP Isaias Silfa retired

Admittedly, it’s not much. Santos hadn’t been more than a backup since 2009 and played just 11 games in 2014. Costa was drafted in the 13th round in June 2013 as a TJS gamble that didn’t pan out (yes, it happens). Silfa appeared in one (1) DSL game last summer as a 20-y.o. lefthander and finishes with a career 0.00 ERA (and a 9.00 BB, K, and HBP per 9IP).

Should the Baseball America weekly dispatch include others not listed here, this space will be updated. Otherwise, we await the release of the rosters tomorrow and Wednesday.

Apr 032015
 

Morning Reading
We’re still here, just waiting out the rest of spring training. As is my offseason custom to keep the site from going stale, here are some stories to read.

Games start up on Thursday in the minors and I’m anticipating rosters to be released on the 7th. With a shorter window to work with in the mornings, I may not be able to write them up with much or any commentary, so my apologies in advance.

John Sickels has released his rankings of the MLB farm systems, with the Nationals coming in at No. 16, up from No. 22 last year. That’s what’s more important: not the ranking, but the acknowledgement that the system has improved.

Washington also came in at No. 16 on BA’s 2014 International Spending By Team. Be sure to read the caveats for they are significant, particularly as they relate to Cuban FAs.

Lastly, I’d like to give some play to a blog by San Francisco minor-leaguer Matt Paré called “Homeless Minor Leaguer,” recently featured on NBC Sports’ HardballTalk. I’m hyperlinking there because I think it’s the best place to start.

I’m always fascinated by these kinds of first-person accounts, even if many of them don’t live up to the standard set by Dirk Hayhurst. Sadly, the Nationals once had such a player but basically ordered him to stop.

That’s all for now. Next up (most likely) another transaction update.

Mar 282015
 

So Long
Yesterday, there was another round of cuts in spring training… the big one that usually comes earlier in March, but was most likely delayed this year due to the bevy of injuries. In the latest transaction post from Baseball America today, we learned the following Nationals minor-leaguers have been released:

  • OF Garrett Gordon (Auburn)
  • RHP D.J. Jauss (GCL)
  • RHP Jean Ramirez (GCL)
  • UT Mike McQuillan (Potomac)
  • LHP Brandon Sisk (Offseason pickup)

The closest thing to a surprise was the release of Jean Ramirez, but that’s primarily because of his age (20). This is the flip side to the free-agent signings in the offseason — to make room, some guys are going to be let go, which for most means their days as a pro baseball player are over.

Mar 242015
 

Shifting-GearsOrdinarily, the decision to stop spring-training coverage is based on a large set of cuts or the manager stating he’ll be playing the regulars, but this year, I’m simply making the call based on a gut reaction: It’s time to step back and wait for the minor-league seasons to start.

Thanks to injuries, it does seem rather obvious that Michael Taylor has a good chance to make the big club. Aside from that, there’s not as much intrigue or enough of an excuse to continue writing every day. I’ve gotten back into the rhythm, and feel like I’ll be ready to go in a couple weeks (and a couple of days) from now.

This is where I might remind folks about what to expect in the coming months, but what hasn’t changed is that I have less time than in years past. Some features will go away, others will be shifted to the weekend, and some coverage will be reduced, if not eliminated.
All I can promise is to deliver what I can, when I can, and the best that I can in the time that I do have.