Apr 222013
 

On the strength of their Saturday night performances, Nathan Karns and Taylor Hill were named the Pitchers of the Week for the Eastern and Carolina Leagues respectively while Jason Martinson repeated as the Player of the Week for the Carolina League for the period of April 15-21.

Nathan KarnsKarns pitched just once during the week, but was masterful: In a 7-inning complete game to open Harrisburg’s doubleheader, Karns settled down from giving up back-to-back doubles with two outs in the first to retire 19 of 20 and the last 15 batters straight while racking up a career-high 13 strikeouts. For the season, the Franklin, PA native is a modest 1-1 with an ERA of 4.60 ERA but has an FIP of 2.94 and a WHIP of 1.09 despite giving up seven runs and seven hits in his first outing.

Taylor HillHill pitched twice during the week, allowing one run on four hits to in a win against Salem last Monday and a one-hit, seven-inning shutout in the opening game of Potomac’s doubleheader on Saturday night. Hill struck out seven and walked none in his masterpiece. The Vanderbilt alum is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA, 0.79WHIP (second-best in the Carolina League) and a 2.52 FIP (fifth-best) in three starts and one relief appearance.

Jason MartinsonMartinson took home player of the week honors for the second straight week, punishing opposing pitchers for a .400 average (10-for-25) including a double, a home run and four RBI in a 12-inning game last Thursday. The 24-year-old Texan is batting .328/.425/.656 overall and is tied for the league lead in HRs with five and leads the Carolina circuit with 15RBI.

Apr 222013
 

The Hagerstown Suns have announced that RHP Blake Schwartz has been promoted to the Potomac Nationals.

Schwartz was 2-0 with an ERA of 1.26 and a WHIP of 0.49 in four appearances (one start) for Hagerstown, with 21 strikeouts and two walks. He is one the “Notables” on the 2013 Watchlist, in large part because he made the rare jump from the GCL to the Suns last summer. Schwartz was a 17th-Round pick in the 2012 Draft with Oklahoma City University(NAIA).

Taking his place on the Suns roster is LHP Kylin Turnbull, who was routed this past Saturday in the nightcap of a doubleheader by Frederick and roughed up twice by Salem for a total of three losses in three starts, a 14.81ERA, a 2.71WHIP in 10⅓ innings, with eight walks and just three strikeouts. Turnbull was previously drafted (2011 30th Round, White Sox) before signing with the Nationals as a fourth round pick out of Santa Barbara City College (Santa Barbara, CA) in 2011, but did not pitch until last season with Hagerstown.

Schwartz last pitched on April 19th (four perfect innings against West Virginia) and if he’s assuming Turnbull’s spot in the Potomac rotation, he’ll mostly likely make his High-A debut on Wednesday against the Carolina Mudcats in Zebulon, NC.

Apr 222013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 5-1 @ Scranton/WB,
6:35 p.m.
Ohlendorf (2-1, 3.45) vs.
Bootcheck (1-0, 0.00)
Harrisburg Lost, 4-1 vs. Reading,
7:00 p.m.
Demny (1-1, 4.32) vs.
Biddle (1-1, 3.00)
Potomac Won, 3-1 @ Carolina,
7:05 p.m.
Jordan (1-0, 0.95) vs.
Lee (0-1, 4.41)
Hagerstown Lost, 11-2 OFF DAY N/A

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 5 Syracuse 1
• Rosenbaum (L, 1-1) 5⅔ IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 4BB, 1K
• Mandel 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, 2-0 IR-S
• Roark 1IP, 3H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, 0K (Appears he’s been sent to the ‘pen; Tuesday was to be his next start)
• Kobernus 2-4, RBI
• Marrero 2-4, E(4)

Danny Rosenbaum has been pitching especially well, but he can’t throw a shutout every time out. One run of support wasn’t going to cut it as the Chiefs fell for the seventh time in nine games, 5-1 to the Railriders. Rosenbaum gave up two runs on seven hits and four walks with one whiff, getting nine of his 17 outs on the ground, including two double plays. Jeff Kobernus and Chris Marrero both went 2-for-4 in the loss as Syracuse mustered just six hits total. Zach Walters left the game in the 7th after an apparent injury incurred while sliding back into first base. No further details could be found; best guess is a jammed hand.

Altoona 4 Harrisburg 1
• Treinen (L, 1-3) 7IP, 7H, 4R, 2ER, 0BB, 8K, HR
• Krol 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Johnson 2-3, 2B
• Goodwin 1-4, R, HR

It was a few degrees warmer in Harrisburg than in Moosic, but the Senators bats were just as cold in a 4-1 loss to Altoona. Blake Treinen was the hard-luck loser, tossing seven full innings but giving up four runs, two of them unearned “thanks” to three Senators errors, as he struck out eight and walked none. Brian Goodwin’s solo shot in the 6th was one just five hits Harrisburg managed on the afternoon, with veteran Josh Johnson the only multihit Senator at 2-for-3. Andy Sandrik of the Patriot-News reports that Rendon’s spot on the Harrisburg roster will remain open in the short term, quoting manager Matt LeCroy.

Potomac 3 Frederick 1
• Ray 6+ IP, 2H, R, ER, 4BB, 10K
• Grace (BS, 2; W, 2-0) 2IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 4K
• Mirowski (SV, 1) 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• Burns 2-4, 2R, SB
• Martinson 2-3, BB, K, CS

Adrian Nieto’s two-out, two-run single saved the Sunday Afternoon In Woodbridge.

West Virginia 11 Hagerstown 2
• Dupra (L, 1-1) 4+ IP, 7H, 5R, 5ER, 4BB, 2K, HR
• Rauh 1⅔ IP, 4H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, K, 2-1 IR-S
• E. Martinez 3-4, 2B
• Ramos 1-4, R, HR, 2RBI, 2K

After losing the previous two by a combined 27-6, West Virginia exacted a small measure of revenge with an 11-2 win and series split with Hagerstown. Starting in place of injured Ivan Pineyro, Brian Dupra was jolted for three in the 3rd and knocked from the box after the first three batter reached in the 5th. Brian Rauh received a similar shock with all five runs, um, charged to him in the Power 6th. Both Suns runs came in on “Help Me” Wander Ramos’s two-run homer in the 4th. Estarlin Martinez singled twice and doubled once to lead the hit column for Hagerstown.

Apr 212013
 

Adrian Nieto’s flare to shallow left with two outs in the 8th plated two to break a 1-1 tie and help the P-Nats return to .500 with a 3-1 win over Frederick.

Three Potomac pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts, though they also walked six. Starter Robbie Ray went six-plus innings allowing one run on two hits, with four walks and ten strikeouts — four of them looking. He was working with slightly lower velocity, but his command (the four free passes not withstanding) was significantly better as he worked with well with the fastball, curve, and change.

Indeed, the “plus” was the one time Ray did not retire a leadoff batter in seven innings. Matt Grace, the first man out of the Potomac ‘pen, was greeted with by Frederick’s Travis Adair with a single that first-year first baseman Kevin Keyes couldn’t snare and which pushed the runner Grace inherited to third.

Though it won’t show up in the box score, Billy Burns snagged the next batter’s liner on the run for a sacrifice fly that tied things up at 1-1. Grace stranded his runner with a groundout and the first of his four K’s over two innings.

Potomac got on the board first in the fourth with a near repeat of yesterday’s game one, leading off with a single and trotting home on Michael Taylor double as the 22-year-old again waited on a curve and served it down the left field line for an RBI double.

The gamewinner came in dramatic, almost bipolar fashion in the last if the 8th for what we like to call a “sportswriter’s win.” Pinch-hitter Caleb Ramsey led off with a walk and was pushed to second on a picture-perfect bunt by Burns that went justpast the pitcher and died on the grass before the second baseman, who could see it coming… but couldn’t stop it.

An errant pickoff throw took away the need for Taylor to bunt, and instead he walked to load the bases with nobody out. Cutter Dykstra flew out to shallow right, then Jason Martinson, who had two infield hits on a 2-for-3 afternoon, struck out. But before folks could lament the missed opportunity, Nieto saved the day — none too late after striking four times in his last six at-bats.

Richie Mirowski came on in the top of the 9th to close things out and issued a two-out walk but got pinch-hitter Brenden Webb to ground out to short to end it.

It’s a swing down 95 to Zebulon and Myrtle Beach this week for the 8-8 Potomac squad, as they play four against the Mudcats and three against the Pelicans before returning home to face the same two teams for the same number of games next week.

Apr 212013
 

It was the best of pitching and the worst of pitching all in one night, as Taylor Hill spun a one-hit shutout for a 6-0 win in the opening game while Kylin Turnbull couldn’t make it out of the second as Potomac fell 8-2 in the nightcap.

Hill was sensational — hitting his spots, changing speeds, mixing it up, and working fast to keep the Frederick lineup off-kilter for the first 14 batters before switch-hitting first baseman Connor Narron steered a grounder past the dive of Adrian Sanchez with two outs in the 5th.

The 23-year-old Vanderbilt product has a reputation for getting groundballs and inducing contact, but instead struck out seven and got seven flyouts to the outfield. For the season, he’s now 3-0 in as many starts with a 1.42ERA and 0.79WHIP with 16K in 19 innings.

On offense, Potomac got things started in classic fashion as leadoff man Billy Burns walked and stole second and trotted in to score when the P-Nats #2 batter put a coat on a hanger for a double. You might even say it was a Taylor made.

A wild pitch sent Michael to third and came around when Cutter Dykstra got the first of his two RBI groundouts, sacrificing average to fulfill his mission of scoring runs.

Justin Miller’s Potomac debut was highlighted by a leadoff single in the third and an RBI double in the fifth. He would come around to score on a balk

Kevin Keyes was the second P-Nat with multiple hits, and scored the 6th and final run in the sixth on sacrifice fly by Caleb Ramsey.
                                          #                                     #                                     #
It wasn’t so pretty in the second game. Starter Kylin Turnbull lost for the third time in as many starts, turning in his shortest outing with more walks (five) than outs (four), including four straight in the 2nd.

Relievers Christian Meza and Tyler Herron showed their Mr. Hyde side after Dr. Jeckyll outings in Salem, with Meza giving up five hits and two walks in an inning and 2/3rds and Herron hitting a batter and walking two while striking out the side in the 4th. Colin Bates settled things down with three scoreless innings, allowing just a single.

Frederick opted to have its bullpen cover the game, pushing the originally scheduled starter Eduardo Rodriguez to this afternoon. Potomac actually outhit the Keys 9-8 but couldn’t get the big hit when they needed it, the four-single, one-run 4th emblematic of their struggles. Will Piwinica-Worms and Cole Leonida both went 2-for-3, with Leonida doubling and Piwinica-Worms collecting an RBI.

With the doubleheader split, the P-Nats remain in the Carolina League cellar, albeit with a 7-8 mark. Robbie Ray (1-1, 2.12) gets the start this afternoon as the P-Nats aim for .500 and a series split.

Apr 212013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 5-3;
Won, 4-3
@ Scranton/WB,
1:05 p.m.
Rosenbaum (1-0, 0.82) vs.
Nuno (1-0, 1.53)
Harrisburg Won, 4-1;
Lost, 9-7
(11 inn.)
vs. Altoona,
2:00 p.m.
Treinen (1-2, 7.98) vs.
Bromberg (0-1, 3.60)
Potomac Won, 6-0;
Lost, 8-2
vs. Frederick,
1:05 p.m.
Ray (1-1, 2.12) vs.
Wilson (0-0, 6.46)
Hagerstown Won, 14-4 @ West Virginia,
2:05 p.m.
Dupra (1-0, 0.73) vs.
Castro (1-1, 1.17)

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 5 Syracuse 3 — GAME ONE
• Maya (L, 0-2) 6IP, 9H, 5R, 5ER, 3BB, 5K, 2HR
• Kobernus 3-4, 2RBI, CS
• Rhymes 2-3, RBI
• Rivero 2-3, 2B

Yunesky Maya went the distance in a complete-game loss, while the Chiefs rallied for three runs in their last “ups” but still fell, 5-3. Syracuse strung together four straight singles with one out before Mike Costanzo lined into a double play to end it. Maya gave up nine hits including two solo shots, walked three and struck out five in six innings.

Syracuse 4 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 3 — GAME TWO
• Perry 3⅔ IP, 3H, 3R, 2ER, 3BB, 7K, HR
• Crotta 1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Marrero 2-3, 2R, 2HR, BB, 3RBI
• Walters 2-4, SB

Chris Marrero went deep twice and drove in three of the four Syracuse runs as the Chiefs took the nightcap, 4-3, and snapped a five-game losing streak. Ryan Perry struck out seven but walked three in his three and 2/3rds innings of work, and was lifted after 86 pitches. Mike Crotta got the win in relief by retiring all five batters he faced while Erik Davis threw a scoreless seventh to earn his first save of the season.

Harrisburg 4 Altoona 1 — GAME ONE
• Karns (W, 1-1) 7IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 13K
• Bloxom 2-2, R, BB, RBI
• Leon 2-3, R, 2B
• Oduber 1-3, R, HR, 3RBI

After a rough first inning in which Altoona knocked the Senators starter for back-to-back doubles, Nathan Karns flattened the Curve with a career-high 13 strikeouts. The Groovin’ Aruban gave him all the offense he would need with a three-run shot in the bottom of the 2nd, which was just as well because the Senators would only collect five hits total with Justin Bloxom (2-for-2) and Sandy Leon (2-for-3) the other two batters to hit safely.

Altoona 9 Harrisburg 7 (11 inn.) — GAME TWO
• Broderick 3IP, 9H, 6R, 6ER, BB, 6K, HR
• Lehman 2IP, H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Holland 2IP, 2H, 0R, BB, K
• Bloxom 2-5, 2-2B, BB, 5RBI
• Lozaca 2-5, R, RBI

In theory, minor-league doubleheaders are supposed to be easier on the bullpen because there are four less innings to cover. That, of course, goes out the door when the games goes four innings longer, which is what happened in the nightcap as the Senators fell in 11 frames, 9-7. Brian Broderick was knocked for six runs on nine hits, including a three-run blast in the first. Five Harrisubrg relievers combined for just one unearned run over seven innings before Altoona broke through for two in the top of the 11th against Marcos Frias in his second inning of work. Justin Bloxom led the offense with a pair of doubles and five RBI, but as a unit the Senators continue to flail in the clutch, going just 2-for-14 and leaving on 10 men.

Potomac 6 Frederick 0 — GAME ONE
• Hill 7IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 7K
• Keyes 2-3, R
• Miller 2-3, 2R, 2B, RBI
• Taylor 1-3, R, 2B, RBI

Frederick 8 Potomac 2 — GAME TWO
• Turnbull (L, 0-3) 1⅓ IP, 2H, 5R, 5ER, 5BB, K, 0HR
• Meza 1⅔ IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 3K, 2-2 IR-S, WP
• Bates 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Piwnica-Worms 2-3, R, RBI
• Leonida 2-3, 2B

It was a Charles Dickens kind of night Last Night In Woodbridge

Hagerstown 14 West Virginia 4
• Anderson 4⅓ IP, 5H, 3R, 1ER, BB, 4K
• Hudgins (W, 2-0) 2⅔ IP, H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 2K
• Miller 3-5, 3R, 2B, 2HR, 3RBI
• Pleffner 3-5, 2R, BB, RBI
• Severino 3-4, BB, 2RBI

After posting a picket fence in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, Hagerstown crashed through the gates for a three-run 5th then a seven-run 6th en route another big win over West Virginia. Every starter got a hit, six of ’em had multiple safeties, with Brandon Miller reversing the curse of the GBI with 10 total bases on a double and two HRs to lead the way. Will Hudgins got the win in relief with an unearned run allowed on one hit over two and a 2/3rds innings pitched. Starter Dixon Anderson went the first four and 1/3rd and gave up five hits, three runs (one earned), one walk, and struck out four.

Apr 212013
 

No, I Said The White PhoneFirst the straight news…

Washington Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the 15-Day DL today with a strained left hamstring, following an MRI taken this afternoon. Taking his place on the MLB is roster is Anthony Rendon, the team’s top-rated prospect and first-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Rice University.

Rendon had been hitting .292/.462/.500 with two home runs and seven RBI with AA Harrisburg. The 22-year-old Texan is expected to make his major-league debut on Sunday, playing third base and perhaps batting sixth or seventh against the New York Mets, a game that is currently not nationally televised.

Manager Davey Johnson told reporters that doctors said Zimmerman needs roughly 10 days of rest for the injury to heal, thus it’s possible that Zimmerman could be activated as early as May 3rd. GM Mike Rizzo said he expects Rendon to be sent back to the minors upon Zimmerman’s return from the DL, though cited the caveats of “keeping an open mind and letting the situation play out.”

Now, for the opinion…

Folks are excited about this. I get that. This is the team’s No. 1 guy, a talent that might not have gone #1 overall but probably should have, joining another phenom who made the same move almost a year ago.

And that’s what worries me.

People keep asking me when is Player X gonna get promoted, and I keep telling folks that it’s a new world order, that it’s a level a year until guys hit AA with the Rizzo FO.

Then Bryce Harper gets jumped from Low-A to AA in 2011, same for Brian Goodwin in 2012. So those are two exceptions, right? No biggie.

What happens if Rendon doesn’t have success early and often? What if he’s like Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. — who I saw more of than Rendon, for what it’s worth, but was no less convinced of his potential to make it to The Show — and struggles after an initial burst?

We’re told that Rendon will be sent back to further his development, that they don’t like to bring young guys up just to make them sit. Well, which is it?

If this is just a promotion to keep the team from being short-handed, why not just call up Will Rhymes or Carlos Rivero from AAA Syracuse and let them sit the bench while Chad Tracy and Steve Lombardozzi handle third base? They can’t be added to the 40-man roster or risk being lost on waivers?

In short, this doesn’t pass the sniff test — and given how the beat writers were lied to* by unnamed Nats officials when reports of Rendon being scratched from the Senators lineup, folks ought not to take what’s being said as gospel.* Before folks feel too sorry for them, being lied to is part of the job of being a reporter. It sucks, but it happens.

It’s okay to be excited. We’re supposed to be as fans. Even if this is too much, too soon. Rendon (and JBJ) is supposed to have the makeup to be able to endure the failure. But I question taking the risk, except as a PR move.

It pains me to write this, but this is something I’d expect from the previous GM.

Apr 202013
 

With injuries to catchers becoming a thing in the Nationals organization, it should come as no surprise to see that the latest transaction post from Baseball America has Washington signing two of them along with a shortstop:

  • C Kevin Flynn
  • C Robert “Thor” Meeks
  • SS Jose Savinon

Flynn is a product of Hofstra University, where he was a C-DH from 2010 to 2012 and played briefly (i.e. one game) in the American Association (Independent).

Meeks graduated from Marshall University in 2012 but went undrafted, presumably after poor showing in his senior season that saw his line drop from .257/.337/.444 to .227/.349/.325.

Nothing could be found on Savinon, so the logical inference is that he is an international free agent.

Apr 202013
 

Rain For NPP

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Postponed @ Scranton/WB,
5:35 p.m.
Maya (0-1, 5.25) and
Perry (0-0, 6.30) vs.
Wang (2-0, 4.35) and
Marshall (0-1, 11.25)
Harrisburg Postponed vs. Altoona,
6:00 p.m.
Karns (0-1, 7.27) and
Broderick (1-0, 3.94) vs.
Liriano (MLB rehab) and
Bromberg (0-1, 3.60)
Potomac Postponed vs. Frederick,
5:30 p.m.
Turnbull (0-2, 12.00) and
Hill (2-0, 2.25) vs.
Davies (1-0, 3.27) and
Rodriguez (1-1, 4.50)
Hagerstown Won, 13-2 @ West Virginia,
7:05 p.m.
Anderson (1-1, 3.06) vs.
Holmes (1-0, 2.57)

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre vs. Syracuse — PPD
Make that four rainouts in 15 days (with a fifth game shortened by rain) for Syracuse. The makeup is tonight in the first visit for the Chiefs at the rebuilt facility in Moosic, PA against the renamed RailRiders. Roster moves: OF Corey Brown placed on the 7-Day DL (oblique); OF Chris Rahl activated from Harrisburg DL, assigned to Syracuse (freed from XST).

Harrisburg vs. Altoona — PPD
Rainout #1 for the Senators, who will make it up tonight with a doubleheader.

Frederick vs. Potomac — PPD
The entire Carolina League was rained out last night, creating a boon in concessions doubleheaders at all four stops tonight.

Hagerstown 13 West Virginia 2
• Encarnacion (W, 1-0) 5IP, 2H, 2R, 1ER, 4BB, 4K
Schwartz (SV, 1) 4IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 7K
• Renda 3-5, R, 2-2B, 3B, 2RBI, BB
• Ramos 1-3, 3R, 3BB
• Severino 2-3, R, 2B, 2RBI

Rain halted play from upstate New York to the Florida panhandle, but perhaps the folks in Charleston might have wished it was there, too, as the Suns shorted the Power, 13-2. Starter Pedro Encarnacion got the win with two runs allowed on two hits and four walks over five innings while setting down four on strikeouts. Even on a full slate, Blake Schwartz would probably have the line of the night with four perfect innings and seven K’s for the save. Tony Renda was home run shy of the cycle with a pair of doubles and a triple, plus a walk to lead the Hagerstown offense, which took full advantage of West Virginia’s miscues (including two from former pitching phenom Stetson Allie at first base) to cash in 13 runs on 12 hits and nine walks. Roster moves: C Craig Manuel placed on the 7-Day DL; C Erick Fernandez assigned from XST

Apr 192013
 

It’s back! Our weekly look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues. For the newcomers, this is a ripoff of tribute to comedian Demetri Martin’s segment from his old show on Comedy Central.

And of course, the obligatory caveats: sample sizes are here small, it’s early in the season, minors stats aren’t as meaningful as we think, past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance, etc.

Nevertheless, a reminder: the players, their families, and their agents are reading, so let’s not get carried away in the comments. It’s just for fun.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 6-7, 4th place I.L. North, 3½ games behind

Good Jeff Kobernus .463/.521/.659, 6SB in 12G
Bad Ryan Tatusko 7.11 ERA, 9BB, 2.84 WHIP in 6⅓ IP
Interesting Decision to not use a position player to pitch in a 27-9 smackdown, the day after a doubleheader

HARRISBURG SENATORS 8-6, T1st place E.L. West, ½ game ahead

Good Caleb Clay 2-0, 1.00WHIP, 14K in 17IP
Bad Justin Bloxom .503OPS, 23K in 14G
Interesting Trevor Holder 0.00 ERA, 0.78WHIP in 3G, 9IP

POTOMAC NATIONALS 6-7, 4th place C.L. North, 2 games behind

Good Jason Martinson 1.140 OPS, 15RBI in 13G
Bad Relievers – 5.82ERA, 1.42WHIP
Interesting Michael Taylor 10RBI, 13H, .228BA

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 8-7, T2nd place Sally North, 2 games behind

Good Dixon Anderson 0.68WHIP, 18K in 17⅔ IP
Bad Brandon Miller .172/.172/.345, 22K in 14G
Interesting Mike McQuillan 14-game on-base streak, 6SB