Sep 122012
 

As noted yesterday in the comments, the Nationals have released their 2012 Instructional League Roster. Here’s a quick look at the pitchers. Next post will be on the position players.

Player Pos. Age 2012 Team(s) 2011 Invite Notes
Dixon Anderson RHSP 23 GCL, HAG N Missed all of ’11 with surgery, struggled with control in brief stint w/ the Suns
Aaron Barrett RHRP 24 HAG, POT N Fine-tuning before going to the AFL. Decent showing in Potomac late in the season.
Joel Barrientos LHRP 19 GCL N Added to 2012 Watchlist after strong rookie season in DSL, no soph./stateside slump.
Robert Benincasa RHRP 22 AUB N 7th Rd. Pick in ’12 with low-90s sinking FB/SL combo, likely working on split or changeup.
Michael Boyden RHRP 22 GCL, AUB N 31st Rd. pick in ’12 out of U Md. Like Anderson, struggled with BB rate after bump from GCL.
Pedro Encarnacion RHSP 21 HAG, AUB Y Challenged with Low-A but fell back to SS-A, the 2nd straight season he’s dropped down a level.
Wirkin Estevez RHSP 20 HAG, GCL Y Time is still on his side, but 2012 was a definite step backwards.
Robert Gilliam RHSP 24 HBG, POT N The oldest pitcher in instrux, still best known as the “other guy the Nats got” in the Gio Gonzalez trade.
Leonard Hollins RHRP 21 GCL, HAG N 29th Rd. Pick in ’12 out of FL JuCo but not much else to write (here) about
Taylor Jordan RHSP 23 AUB, HAG Y Innings limited by T.J. surgery last summer, Jordan is straddling the line between prospect and project.
Nick Lee LHSP 21 AUB N Not hard thrower, but he’s lefthanded and scouts love his changeup.
Brett Mooneyham LHSP 22 AUB N 3rd Rd. ’12 Pick out of Stanford that nearly every prospect guru has a “yeah, but” thanks to inconsistency with his mechanics.
Elisaul Gomez LHP 20 DSL N DSL guys have been rare the past couple of years, so an invite tends to carry more weight.
Emmanuel De La Cruz RHP 20 DSL N On the flip side, about all there is to know is what you can infer from tiny samples of states.
Ronald Pena RHRP 20 GCL, AUB N 16th Rd. Pick out of Palm Beach St. JuCo (pitched for College of Charleston in ’11), Pena is a big (6-4, 210) hard-throwing (mid-90s) project.
Ivan Pineyro RHSP 20 GCL, AUB Y 2012 Watchlist player that’s easing up the ladder, though it looks like he may repeat Auburn
Brian Rauh RHSP 21 AUB, HAG N 11th Rd. Pick in ’12 out of Chapman Univ. (D-3, CA) was one of two ’12 picks to make it to Low-A.
Robbie Ray LHSP 20 POT Y He’s still young and lefthanded, but a slight fade late in 2011 and free fall from mid-July 2012 on has to have folks wondering.
Jefry Rodriguez RHRP 19 DSL N The youngest player on the roster, having just turned 19 in July and put up LaLoosh-
like nos. in the DSL (43IP/33BB/35K).
Blake Schwartz RHSP 22 GCL, HAG N 17th Rd. Pick in ’12 out of Okla. City Univ. (NAIA) Schwartz’s hallmark is control (2.0BB/9IP), which, of course, you probably already know means that he doesn’t throw in the mid-90s (88-92).
Derek Self RHRP 22 AUB N 9th Rd. Pick in ’12 out of Univ. of Louisville, Self does throw hard (92-95) but doesn’t get the K’s (6.8/9IP) or miss the bats (33IP/32H) the way you’d expect with that kind of velocity.
Casey Selsor LHP 22 GCL N A two-way player drafted in the 23rd Rd. out of Univ. of Texas-San Antonio, Selsor split time between starting and relieving and even got
a couple of starts as a position player.
Kylin Turnbull LHSP 23 GCL, HAG Y Turnbull was effectively sent down to the GCL in mid-July to presumably work on mechanics after 17 uneven starts, returning to Hagerstown for one Sept. relief appearance.
Deion Williams RHP 19 GCL Y Williams is a convert to pitching after failing as an infielder (.147BA, 11E in 30G) and made two scoreless appearances late in the season.

The roster is heavily tilted towards the 2012 draft with three DSL guys versus one last year. It’s tempting to talk about how young this group is, but let’s not forget how these guys collectively fared in their first go ’round as pros. The Auburn Doubledays finished 12th in runs allowed and 13th in ERA. The GCL Nationals weren’t much better, finishing 10th in runs allowed, 9th in ERA. The usual caveat of small sample size obviously applies (hey, that rhymes!) as well the notation that these guys were among the best of those staffs, but it shouldn’t be glossed over, either.

As for the concept of omission, I don’t believe too much should be read into who wasn’t invited. This isn’t necessarily the analog to accelerated minor-league camp. Most of the notables that weren’t can be categorized — been shut down (e.g. Nathan Karns, Alex Meyer), suffered in-season injury (e.g. Matt Swynenberg, Chris McKenzie), had surgery (e.g. Lucas Giolito, Sammy Solis), under witness protection (e.g. Manny Rodriguez, Matt Purke)*.

Take it for what it’s worth: The next wave of pitchers that the front office wants to spend some more time with before they’re dismissed for the winter.
*That’s a joke, folks

Sep 112012
 

Five runs in the 7th and six in the 8th turned a 6-5 ballgame into a 16-7 Tri-City beatdown as Auburn lost Game Three of the New York-Penn League Semifinals and was eliminated 2-1 in the best-of-three series.

If there’s a single number that tells the story, it’s 14 — the number of walks issued by the Doubledays pitchers on the night. Seven of them would eventually score. The Auburn moundsmen would also give up 14 hits, six coming in the final two fateful frames.

Despite the eventual outcome, the Doubledays would take the lead three times, scoring two in the top of the 1st for a 2-0 lead, one in the 3rd for a 3-2 lead, and one in the seventh to take a 6-5 lead. Auburn actually outhit Tri-City 15-14, with every batter in the lineup getting a hit. Tony Renda led the charge with a 4-for-5 night, followed by Wander Ramos at 3-for-5, and Mike McQuillan went 2-for-5 with two doubles.

Six Auburn pitchers threw last night, with each of them issuing at least one walk, hit, and a run. Cody Davis, the only one to set down a batter on strikes, was charged with the loss, giving up four runs on two hits, a walk, and a hit batsman over two and 2/3rds innings.

The loss ends Auburn’s 2012 season while Tri-City advances to the NYPL Finals against Hudson Valley, which eliminated Brooklyn with 2-0 one-hitter.

Sep 102012
 

Three first-inning runs would prove to be enough, but it never felt that way as the Auburn bullpen worked its way in and out of trouble in each of the last five innings in a 5-2 triumph over Tri-City, taking the New York Penn League Semifinal series to the limit of a deciding Game Three.

Travis Henke would get credit for the win by stranding the two runners he inherited with one out in the 5th inning, thanks in large part to a nifty double play turned by left-fielder Estarlin Martinez, but gave up a run in 6th on a walk and two singles. Robert Benincasa would follow with two high-wire innings, allowing a pair of one-out singles in the 7th before righting the ship with a popup and a flyout, then walking two in the 8th before getting another IF pop and a groundout. Derek Self seemed poised to stop the circus act before he, too, put on two with two outs before retiring Tri-City’s .320-hitting DH for the final out and the save.

Offensively, the Doubledays collected nine hits — same as the ValleyCats — but it was spread across just five hitters, of which just two were back-to-back in the lineup. Those two, Brandon Miller and Wander Ramos, would drive in four of the five runs and hit both Auburn doubles. Miller’s two-run two-bagger opened up the scoring in the 1st while Ramos’s keystone hit plated the final Doubleday run in the 8th. Miller, Ramos, Mike McQuillan, and Shawn Pleffner each hit safely twice.

Starter David Fischer walked four and gave up three hits over four and a 1/3rd innings for the no-decision.

Nick Lee (3-1, 3.77) is the announced Auburn starter for tonight’s deciding game, with Brian Holmes (7-2, 2.57) set to pitch for Tri-City. Both 21-year-olds last pitched a week ago. The winner of tonight’s contest will advance against the winner of the Hudson Valley-Brooklyn matchup tonight, a Game Three in that series forced by an 8-1 Renegade win over the Cyclones 98 miles down the road in West Fishkill.

Sep 092012
 

The series of storms that forced a two and a half hour delay yesterday afternoon at Nationals park also postponed Game Two of the New York Penn League Semifinals between the Auburn Doubledays and the Tri-City ValleyCats in Troy, NY.

The Doubledays are down 1-0 in the best-of-three series, needing to win to force a deciding Game Three tomorrow night for chance to advance to the New York Penn League finals for the second straight season. David Fischer (3-3, 4.96) is the announced Game Two starter for Auburn, opposed by Brady Rodgers (7-2, 2.89).

In the meantime, I’d recommend folks read the four-part season review by Geoff Morrow, detailing the highs and lows, on and off the field by the 2012 edition of the Harrisburg Senators.

Sep 082012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Auburn Lost, 5-4 @ Tri-City,
7:05 p.m.
Fischer (3-3, 4.96) vs.
Rodgers (7-2, 2.89)
Hagerstown Lost, 7-5 ELIMINATED N/A

Tri-City 5 Auburn 4
• Mooneyham 5IP, 4H, 4R, 2ER, 3BB, K
• Boyden (L, 0-1) 3IP, 3H, R, ER, BB, K
• Renda 2-4, SB
• Ramos 1-3, R, 3B, BB, OF assist at 3B
• Kieboom 1-4, 2B, 2RBI

A pinch-hit double by the league’s oldest player put the tying run for Auburn in the bottom of the 9th, but despite a pair of walks and three pitching changes, the clutch hit eluded the Doubledays for a 5-4 loss to Tri-City. Auburn scored a first-inning run but gave it back in the 3rd and fell behind with three in the 4th, a pair of errors turning might have been one-run frame into a crooked number. The Doubledays got a couple back with a two-run double off the bat of Spencer Kieboom, then had the miscues evened out with an error and a balk in the 5th to plate the tying run.

The ValleyCats got the go-ahead run in the 7th with three singles, the only hits that Michael Boyden gave up, but it stood up for the win. Boyden took the loss with one run over three innings, while starter Brett Mooneyham gave up four runs (two earned) on four hits and three walks over the first five innings. Auburn outhit TriCity 8-7, with Tony Renda leading the hit column with a 2-for-4 effort.

The series shifts to Troy, NY for Game Two tonight with Auburn needing to win to force a deciding Game Three in the best-of-three format.

Greensboro 7 Hagerstown 5
• Estevez 2⅓ IP, 3H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 3K, 2HR
• Turnbull (L, 0-1) ⅔ IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 0K
• Hawkins 2⅓ IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 0K, 3-0 IR-S
• Burns 2-3, R, BB, SB
• Ramsey 2-4, R

Two big innings powered Greensboro to a 7-5 win to eliminate Hagerstown and advance to Sally League Finals to defend their 2011 title. The Grasshoppers went deep twice against Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez for all four runs scored in the 3rd inning to chase the 20-year-old from the game. The Suns responded with four of their own in the top of the 5th to tie the game, only to see Greensboro take the lead right back with two in the bottom of the inning. Hagerstown got within one with a run in the 8th, but gave it right back with a run in the 8th and went in order in the 9th.

Estevez got the no-decision with the four runs allowed over two and a 1/3rd innings on three hits (a double and two home runs) and a walk while striking out three. Kylin Turnbull took the loss with two runs given up on four hits and a walk in 2/3rds of an inning in the 6th. Richie Mirowski and Ben Hawkins combined for four scoreless innings of relief following Estevez and Turnbull. Billy Burns and Caleb Ramsey both singled twice and scored a run as Hagerstown made the most of its chances with a 4-for-6 night with RISP and just two runners left on base.

Sep 072012
 

Our final 2012 look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues. Repeats from 2011 are in italics.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS
70-74, 5th place International League North Division, 14 games behind

Good Bat: Corey Brown .285/.365/.523, 25HR, 18SB in 126G
Arm: Zach Duke 15-5, 3.51 ERA, 26 starts, 164⅓ IP
Bad Bat: Koyie Hill .163/.226/.231 in 31G
Arm: Austin Bibens-Dirkx 0-3, 5.59ERA, 1.56WHIP in 29G, 46⅓ IP
Interesting Bat: Carlos Rivero .303/.347/.435 in 126G
Arms: Jeff Mandel 6-5, 2.58ERA, 1.12WHIP in 19G, 11GS
          Christian Garcia 1-1, 0.56ERA, 14SV in 27G

HARRISBURG SENATORS
64-78, 5th place Eastern League Western Division, 18½ games behind

Good Bat: Eury Perez .299/.325/.342, 26SB in 82G
Arm: Ryan Perry 2-4, 2.84 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
Bad Bat: Stephen King .185/.215/.218 in 47G
Arm: Chien-Ming Wang 1-5, 6.75ERA, 9HR in 9 starts, 45⅓ IP
Interesting Bat: Zach Walters .293/.326/.518 in 43G
Arm: Erik Davis 7-3, 2.52 ERA, 1.23 WHIP

POTOMAC NATIONALS
33-36 in 2nd half, 3rd place Carolina League Northern Division, 3½ games behind
31-39 in 1st half, 2nd place, 8 games behind
64-75 overall

Good Bat*: Justin Bloxom .259/.331/.478 in 65G
Arm: Nathan Karns 8-4, 2.26ERA, 1.02WHIP, 87K in 13 starts
*David Freitas was on track for this honor prior to his trade to Oakland
Bad Bat: Jeff Howell .225/.276/.282 in 20G after dropping down from AAA
Arm: Robbie Ray 6-12, 6.56 ERA, 1.62 WHIP in 105⅔ IP
Interesting Bat: Francisco Soriano .338/.430/.452 in 2nd half
Arm: Rob Wort 95K in 56⅔ IP (15.08/9IP)

HAGERSTOWN SUNS
40-28 in 2nd half, 1st place South Atlantic League Northern Division, 3 games ahead
42-27 in 1st half, 2nd place, 3½ games behind
84-55 overall

Good Bat: Matt Skole .286/.438/.574, 27HR in 101G
Arm: Alex Meyer 7-4, 3.10ERA, 1.13WHIP in 18 starts
Bad Bat: Hendry Jimenez .205/.259/.321 in 65G
Arm: Chris McKenzie 2-3, 8.64ERA, 2.05WHIP in 50IP
Interesting Bat: Steve Souza Jr. .290/.346/.576, 17HR in 70G
Arm: Christian Meza 8-1, 2.97ERA, 1.16WHIP in 88IP

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS
46-30, 1st Place Pinckney Division of New York-Penn League, 2 games ahead

Good Bats: Estarlin Martinez .319/.385/.455 in 66G
         Shawn Pleffner .329/.394/.458 in 55G
Arm: Brett Mooneyham 2-2, 2.55ERA, 1.23WHIP in 10G/9GS
Bad Bat: Jordan Poole .196/.256/.299, 47K in 31G
Arm: Ivan Pineyro 3-2, 5.50ERA, 1.66WHIP in 8GS
Interesting Bat: Wander Ramos .275/.377/.449 in 67G
Arm: Nick Lee 3-1, 3.77ERA, 1.35ERA in 13G/11GS

GCL NATIONALS
27-33, 4th place Gulf Coast League East Dvision, 8 games behind

Good Bat: Matt Foat .333/.404/.401 in 43G
Arm: Will Hudgins 4-3, 2.21 ERA, 1.04WHIP in 36⅔ IP
Bad Bat: Hayden Jennings .192/.254/.231, 70K in 47G
Arm: Adalberto Mieses 1-5, 5.05ERA, 1.61WHIP in 41IP
Interesting Bat: Mike McQuillan .375/.478/.429 in 19G (promoted to Auburn)
Arm: Joel Barrientos 4-1, 3.00ERA, 42K in 45IP (turned 19 in Aug.)

DSL NATIONALS
38-32, 3rd place, Boca Chica South Division of Dominican Summer League, 11 games behind

Good Bat: 19-y.o. Rafael Bautista .329/.419/.395, 47SB in 67G
Arm: 19-y.o. Hector Silvestre 5-3, 3.20 ERA, 1.20 WHIP in 76IP
Bad Bat: 17-y.o. Wester Suarez .130/.322/.152 in 24G
Arm: 20-y.o. Philips Valdez 2-2, 5.40 ERA, 1.97 WHIP in 48⅓ IP
Interesting Bat: 19-y.o. Jose “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz .298/.362/.490 in 69G
Arm: 17-y.o. Maximo Valerio 3-5, 3.55 ERA, 1.25 WHIP in 63⅓ IP
Sep 062012
 
Team Yesterday Tomorrow Announced Starters
Auburn Lost, 8-4 vs. Tri-City,
7:05 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD
Hagerstown Lost, 3-1 @ Greensboro,
7:05 p.m.
Estevez (5-2, 5.76) vs.
Esch (1-3, 3.13)

Williamsport 8 Auburn 4
• Pineyro (L, 3-2) 2⅔ IP, 9H, 7R, 7ER, BB, K, 0HR
• Hudgins 2⅓ IP, H, 0R, BB, K
• McQuillan 2-3, 2R, 3B, RBI
• Ramos 1-3, R, BB, RBI

A six-run 3rd put this one away early for Williamsport as they doubled up Auburn, 8-4 in the regular-season finale. Ivan Pineyro gave up seven of the eight Crosscutter runs, allowing nine hits and a walk with just one strikeout over two and 2/3rds. Mike McQuillan singled and tripled and scored twice to lead the Doubleday offense. It’s an off day today as Auburn learned its first-round opponent: The Tri-City Valleycats, which became the No. 2 seed after losing to the Hudson Valley Renegades, 3-2. In case folks missed the correction to yesterday’s story, Auburn hosts Game One tomorrow before heading east across the Thruway for Games Two and Three (if necessary) on Saturday and Sunday in Troy, NY.
Roster moves: LHP Blake Monar placed on the DL; LHP Andrew Wall activated from the DL.

Greensboro 3 Hagerstown 1
• Schwartz (L, 0-1) 5IP, 7H, R, ER, 0BB, 0K
• Meza 1IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 2K, WP
• Ortega 2-2, R, BB, SB
• Burns 2-4, SB, CS

Greensboro’s Andrew Heaney shut down Hagerstown for seven scoreless innings as the Grasshoppers took Game One of the Sally League Northern Division Series, 3-1. The Suns mustered just four singles against the 21-year-old southpaw, Miami’s No. 1 draft pick this past June, and drew one walk one while whiffing eight times. Blake Schwartz took the loss with a first-inning run that came when Hagerstown botched a rundown play after a two-out single enabled the Grasshoppers to score a runner from first base. Schwartz gave up seven singles total with no walks and no K’s over five innings.

Christian Meza was touched for two runs on three hits in the 6th, only one of which left the infield as a drag bunt, a single to right, and a single to second base combined with a throwing error sent in the first run, while a wild pitch two batters later sent in the insurance run. All three Grasshopper runs scored with two outs and without an RBI.

Gregory Holt and Colin Bates combined for three innings of scoreless relief, but the Hagerstown offense didn’t have as much pluck, scoring just once in the bottom of the eighth as Bryce Ortega and Billy Burns, who combined for four of the five Suns hits, got on base to start the inning but needed a wild pitch and Cutter Dykstra to beat out a double-play ball to break up the shutout.

The two teams will rematch on Friday night in Greensboro, as the defending Sally League Champions will have two chances to win once and advance to the Finals. Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez (5-2, 5.76), who tossed four scoreless against the Grasshoppers last week, is the announced starter for Hagerstown, with Jake Esch (1-3, 3.13) scheduled to take the hill for Greensboro.

Sep 052012
 

With a pair of two-run rallies in the 8th and 9th innings, the Auburn Doubledays defeated the Williamsport Crosscutters, 9-7 to clinch the Pinckney Division title for the second straight year. They will the No. 3 seed in the New York-Penn League playoffs, awaiting their travel plans to their first-round opponent pending the results of tonight’s games in Batavia and Brooklyn.

Auburn had leads of 2-0 and 5-3 before the bullpen coughed up four runs in the bottom of the 7th to put the Doubledays in a 7-5 deficit. Brandon Miller led off the 8th with a double and Craig Manuel drew a walk to put the tying runs. After pinch-hitting and pinch-running change, the former (Carlos Alvarez) tapping out to third to move up Miller and the latter, Narciso Mesa. Spencer Kieboom delivered the clutch hit with a two-run single to tie it at 7-7.

Tony Renda and Estarlin Martinez both singled to center to set up the go-ahead and insurance runs in the 9th, with a pair of infield singles scoring Renda and pushing Martinez to third. Mesa, who scored the tying run, sent in the final run with a sacrifice fly.

Travis Henke, who had let in two inherited runners in the four-run 7th, finished the game for the dreaded blown-save-win. He was charged with one run of his own on two hits and a walk and struck out two. Blake Monar, who had come off the DL to make start (LHP Jack McGeary was placed back on the DL), was lifted in 4th after suffering an unspecified injury. The Hoosier southpaw gave up three runs on four hits and two walks and struck out three.

Renda and Martinez led the 12-hit attack by going 3-for-5, with Renda scoring three runs and Martinez driving in two.

Auburn finishes out the regular season with another game in Williamsport. Batavia was rained out and will play a doubleheader against Jamestown. The Muckdogs, who trail the Doubledays by 1½ games, must win both games while Brooklyn, which lost to Lowell last night, lose again as the Cyclones hold the tiebreaker in the event of a tie.

Auburn hosts the loser of tonight’s contest between Tri-City and Hudson Valley (the winner will play the wild card) in Game One, then hits the road for Games Two and Three (if necessary).

Sep 042012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-4 END OF SEASON N/A
Harrisburg Lost, 7-2 END OF SEASON N/A
Potomac Won, 3-0
(5½ inn.)
END OF SEASON N/A
Hagerstown Lost, 3-2 END OF SEASON N/A
Auburn Won, 5-3 @ Williamsport,
7:05 p.m.
Monar (2-3, 2.96) vs.
Joaquin (1-4, 4.14)

Rochester 6 Syracuse 4
• Maya (L, 11-10) 7⅓ IP, 11H, 6R, 6ER, 2BB, 2K, HR
• MacDougal ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Brown 2-4, R, HR(25), 2RBI
• Carroll 2-3, RBI

Rochester opened up a 4-0 lead early with a pair of runs in each of the first two innings and held off Syracuse late for a 6-4 win. Yunesky Maya gave up all six runs on 11 hits over seven and a 1/3rd innings, walking two and striking out two. Corey Brown smacked his 25th home run and drove in two (nos. 70, 71), both of which led the Chiefs in 2012. Syracuse finished the season 70-74, 14½ games off the pace in 5th place in the I.L. North.

Bowie 7 Harrisburg 2
• Olbrychowski (L, 0-1) 4⅔ IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 5K
• Rendon 2-3, R, HR, RBI
• Bloxom 1-4, R, HR, RBI

The Baysox got three runs early off recently promoted Adam Olbrychowski and pounded the Sens late for a 7-2 win. Adam Olbrychowski allowed three runs on five hits and two walks and struck out five in his first career AA start, but suffered the loss. Anthony Rendon and Justin Bloxom hit back-to-back home runs with two out in the 9th to break up the shutout. Harrisburg dropped 36 of its last 52 games to fall from 1st to 5th, ending the season at 64-78 and 18½ games behind.

Potomac 3 Wilmington 0 (5frac12; inn.)
• Hill (W, 1-1) 5IP, 3H, 0R, BB, 6K
• Keyes 1-3, R, HR(21), 2RBI

Rain shortened this one to five and a 1/2 innings, with Potomac shutting out Wilmington for the second straight game, 3-0. Taylor Hill got the win in his third Carolina League start, allowing just one walk and three hits while striking out six. Kevin Keyes drove in two with his 21st HR in the 4th to lead the P-Nats offense. Potomac won six of its last ten but finished the second half 33-36 and went 64-75 overall.

Asheville 3 Hagerstown 2
• Jordan (L, 3-4) 4IP, 10H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 3K
• Holt 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Newsome 3-4, 2R, 2-2B
• Dykstra 2-4, SB(32)
• Jimenez 2-4, 2-2B, RBI

Asheville peppered the field with ten hits over the first four innings, scoring three times en route to a 3-2 victory over Hagerstown in the regular-season finale for both playoff-bound teams. Taylor Jordan took the loss, giving up the aforementioned three on ten over four with no walks and three strikeouts. Brett Newsome led the 11-hit Suns attack with a single and two doubles, scoring both Suns runs. Hagerstown won the 2nd half with a 40-28 mark and went 82-55 overall, two games better than 1st-half champion Greensboro and third-best overall in the South Atlantic League.

Auburn 5 Batavia 3
• Lee (W, 3-1) 5⅓ IP, 6H, 2R, 1ER, 3BB, 5K
• Benincasa (H, 3) 2⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K, 2-1 IR-S
• Self (SV, 14) 1IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 0K
• Pleffner 3-4, 2R, HR, BB, RBI
• Ramos 3-4, 2B, RBI

Home runs by Shawn Pleffner and Estarlin Martinez highlighted a three-run 6th, as Auburn stopped Batavia’s nine-game win streak with a 5-3 triumph to put themselves in the driver’s seat for the Pinckney Division title. The win gives the Doubledays the first division-title tiebreaker (head-to-head, 7-5), effectively lowering the magic number to clinch at one. Nick Lee earned the win with two runs allowed on six hits and three walks over five and a 1/3rd. Derek Self withstood a pair of two-out doubles to record his 14th save. Pleffner and Ramos both went 3-for-4 with an RBI to lead the 12-hit Auburn offense. The Doubledays wrap up their 10-game road trip (and the regular season) with a pair of games in Williamsport.

Sep 032012
 

Not sure how much earlier the PR machine can push out the news (September 28th in 2010, September 10th last year), but today it was announced that the Washington Nationals Player and Pitcher of the Year honors will go to 3B Matt Skole and RHP Nathan Karns.

Photo Credit: Potomac Nationals

Both players split time between Hagerstown and Potomac, with a considerable contingent upset that the promotion of Skole came only slightly faster than Mississippi’s ratification of the 13th Amendment.

Skole was named the Sally League’s MVP late last week and 3B for the Postseason All-Star team. He led the Sally League with 27 HRs and a slugging percentage of .574 and has a combined line of .292/.427/.562 and 104 RBI entering play today. Skole was a 2011 fifth-round pick out of Georgia Tech and led the New York Penn League in RBI with 48 in 72 games last summer.

Karns spent too much time in the Sally League to garner either an All-Star nod or postseason honors from the Carolina League, but led the Potomac starters in ERA (2.26), WHIP (1.02), and strikeouts (87). Combined, Karns went 11-4 with a 2.17 ERA, 2.09 FIP, 1.01 WHIP with 47BB (3.65/9) and 148K’s (11.48/9). Karns was 12th-round pick out of Texas Tech but underwent shoulder surgery in 2010 and did not pitch for the Nationals until last summer, when he went 3-2 in 13 starts in the GCL and Auburn.

At 23 (in late July) and 24 (turning 25 in November), Skole and Karns will have high expectations from fans next year to produce similar results at subsequent levels, particularly for Skole, who appears to be playing second fiddle to Anthony Rendon in the 3B depth chart… unless he is converted to another position. Karns, who was shut down after hitting an unspecified innings limit, will represent a more difficult decision for the front office of deciding whether to continue developing him as a starter or, as speculated last offseason, whether he’ll be converted to relief to accelerate his ascent to AAA and/or D.C.

The two are slated to be honored on Friday night in Nationals Park prior to the Nationals game with the Miami Marlins.