Oct 282011
 

Ho hum. Another day, another four RBIs for Bryce Harper.

Granted, the last three did come on a walkoff home run that turned a 7-5 deficit into an 8-7 win for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Harper went 2-for-5 overall while once again playing left field. Defensively, he was charged with his third error of the fall on an errant throw but made three putouts.

The news was not all good though as Matt Purke had yet another rough outing, giving up three runs on four hits in the 5th inning. He walked none but struck out one and also threw a wild pitch. As the old saw goes, you know things are going bad when such an outing lowers a pitcher’s ERA — from 30.86 to 29.70

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Brad Peacock was chosen the best AA starter in the 2011 MiLBYs, minor-league baseball’s desperate attempt to feed the PR beast postseason awards. It’s the second award given to a Nationals farmhand since its inception in 2005, when it was known as “This Year in Minor League Baseball Awards,” with Tyler Moore named the best Class-A Advanced hitter last season.

In transaction news, the Nationals have released Johan Rodriguez (GCL) while resigning veterans Chris McConnell and Chris Rahl. Rodriguez appeared in 66 games over two years in Viera, but posted an OPS of just .510 while committing 20 errors on defense. McConnell and Rahl were both key cogs for the Senators in 2011 and will likely be asked to be role players in either Harrisburg in Syracuse in 2012.

Oct 272011
 

Bryce Harper drove in four of the five Scorpions runs, but it wasn’t enough to prevent another Scottsdale loss, this one by a 10-5 count to Mesa.

Harper connected for his second AFL longball, a three-run shot in the top of the fourth that sliced the Solar Sox lead to 8-3, and singled in the sixth. He drove in Derek Norris for his fourth RBI with a sacrifice fly in the eighth. Harper once again was in left, and made three putouts.

Norris, however, was not as adept defensively yesterday with two errors and a passed ball (though he did catch a runner stealing). But like Harper, Norris has found his groove at the plate and was also 2-for-3 with a run scored. He drove in none, but walked once and struck out once.

Conversely, Zach Walters still appears to be overmatched, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout while playing third base (one assist). The 22-year-old is 1-for-17 over his last four games with six strikeouts and no walks.

Rafael Martin made his fourth appearance, tossing two scoreless innings while allowing just one hit. He walked none and struck out one, lowering his ERA for the AFL to 1.50.

Scottsdale plays host as the two teams rematch this afternoon, then Scorpions hit the road to face the Rafters tomorrow night, then return home for another matchup against Salt River to finish out the week on Saturday.

Oct 252011
 

This has not been a good fall for Pat Lehman. The 25-year-old was charged with his third loss and first blown save in an 8-4 loss by the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Lehman was greeted with a single and an RBI double in the sixth before he got his first out, a grounder to short. A stolen base and another singled plated the second run of the inning and turned the Scorpions’ 3-2 lead into a 4-3 deficit. Lehman finished with two runs allowed on three hits with no walks and no strikeouts.

Sammy Solis put in his longest outing this October with five innings pitched. He walked just one while giving up two runs on four hits, throwing 44 of his 63 pitches for strikes — an encouraging sign after a 37-for-67 outing last Tuesday.

Derek Norris continues to swing a hot bat, doubling and homering while drawing a walk. He also drove in a run via a sacrifice fly. His 2-for-2 afternoon moves his batting average to .333 for the fall, his three times on base has lifted his OBP to .429, and the six total bases moves his slugging percentage to .576.

Finally, Zach Walters was the designated hitter but went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Oct 232011
 

Zach Walters’ two-run shot in the top of the 8th broke a 4-4 tie as the Scottsdale Scorpions scored five times over the final two innings for a 9-4 win over the Phoenix Desert Dogs.

Walters had been 0-for-4 for the afternoon and finished 1-for-5 with a run scored and two RBI. Defensively, he played third base and had a putout, an assist, but made his second error.

Derek Norris went 1-for-3 and walked twice and had 11 putouts (all Ks) while playing catcher. Phoenix did not attempt to steal a base.

With the win, Scottsdale’s record stands at 5-11. This week it’s home-and-home games against Peoria, Mesa and Salt River with night games on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.

Oct 222011
 

Friday was not a good day for the Nats pitchers in the AFL, as they gave up 12 runs in a 13-8 loss by Scottsdale to Surprise.

Matt Purke made his first AFL start but, as the pic suggests, was knocked around and retired just one of the eight batters he faced. The final damages: a third of inning pitched, seven runs, one walk, no strikeouts, and five hits given up, including a two-run homer.

Pat Lehman took the loss, his second of the AFL campaign, with five runs charged to him in one and a third innings. He pitched a scoreless sixth, but gave up all five hits in a stretch of six batters in the seventh, suffering one error behind him but also committing a balk.

Rafael Martin let in two of those runs charged to Lehman on a two-out double but pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for a line of one and two-thirds innings pitched, one hit, no runs, one walk, and one strikeout.

Just one Nats bat was in the lineup, and yes, it was Bryce Harper. He wowed the scouts by pushing a bunt to second baseman and getting down the line in 3.83 seconds, according to Keith Law (times on bunts are always lower than a full swing, but consider that 4.1 seconds is considered “above average”). It was his sole hit in a 1-for-4 afternoon, in which he also walked and scored a run. Harper played left field and made three putouts.

Oct 212011
 

Another light afternoon for the Nats farmhands in Arizona Fall League as the Scottsdale Scorpions fell for the 10th time by a 4-1 count.

Bryce Harper returned to the lineup and went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout while playing left field, where he made two putouts. After 10 games, Harper is working a .211/.302/.395 line.

Zach Walters was the designated hitter but went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, lowering his triple-slash stats to .200/.250/.267.

Scottsdale finishes out the week with afternoon tilts against Surprise today and Phoenix tomorrow.

Oct 202011
 

Yesterday was Derek Norris’s day to silence the haters doubters. The 22-year-old catcher went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI and even stole a base.

Meanwhile, the Scottsdale Scorpions lost 6-5 on two runs given up in the 9th to stop their one-game win streak and fall to 4-9 for the season. Zach Walters also appeared in the game and went 1-for-2 with two walks while playing third base (one assist).

Norris also threw out two runners, which prompted lightning-rod Keith Law of ESPN to remark/answer:

Q: How has Norris’ receiving looked? Can he catch in the majors?
A: Fine. Yes.

Law also remarked that the HR came on a 96mph fastball that Norris lined over the left-field fence in the 8th inning. The three hits raised Norris’s oft-criticized batting average to .286, his on-base percentage to .364 while the six total bases improved his slugging percentage to .429.

Oct 192011
 

Scottsdale’s skid ends at five with an 11-10 win in 10 innings that featured a breakout performance by Bryce Harper.

Playing left field, Harper was a triple shy of the cycle while going 3-for-4 with a single, double, homer, two walks, two runs scored, and three RBI. Defensively, Harper had no putouts and made a throwing error, his second of the AFL season.

Derek Norris started off slow, striking out twice and flying out to center before drawing two walks and singling in the game-tying run in the top of the ninth. He was the Scorpions’ designated hitter.

Sammy Solis continues to struggle, allowing four runs on five hits (including a home run) and four walks while striking out four over three innings. After three starts, opponents are batting .325 against him and he’s walked eight in 10 innings.

Lastly, in a non-AFL note, the Nationals returned Rule 5 pick Elvin Ramirez to the Mets after spending the season on the D.L. after shoulder surgery.

Oct 182011
 

It’s starting to feel like the GCL in the AFL, as the Scottsdale Scorpions were stung for their fifth straight loss by a 7-4 count.

Just one National farmhand saw game action, as Bryce Harper doubled to lead off the 4th inning in the course of going 1-for-4. He was later thrown out at the plate trying to score on a two-out single.

Harper made two putouts while playing right field. Some folks have contacted me regarding Harper’s defense and let me quote the following replies I got from Dave Gershman via Twitter. Gershman writes for MarlinsDaily and covers the New York-Penn League:

Harper made a few lackluster plays, including one where he rushed a throw and missed the plate…needs to take better routes but the bat is way more important than the glove.

My personal takeaway from this is that this is Harper’s first full year in the outfield and he’s still learning to translate his raw tools into skills. I’d like to see him get more time in center next season, even if it’s merely to serve the purpose of giving him a day where he doesn’t have to worry about angles so much. My only fear is that he’ll take out a teammate trying to make a play that he should defer to the more experienced outfielder.

Oct 172011
 

As was brought up in the comments from yesterday’s post, the early numbers from the Arizona Fall League aren’t pretty. But they’re not quite 9-of-22 with 4 INT, either. So we lift the coffee mug of small sample size and take a look…

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The Domninican Winter League started up on Friday and a handful of Nats players have been spotted in the box scores:

  • Eury Perez – Escogido
  • Wilman Rodriguez – Escogido
  • Jhonatan Solano – Licey
  • Atahualpa Severino – Licey

A couple of other notes…

…Chris Marrero is supposedly on the Licey Tigres as well, but is not listed on the roster and/or has not appeared in a game.

…Wilman Rodriguez played outfield for the D-Nats this past summer, but has appeared as a pitcher thus far. Considering that this was in a game that was 1-1 at the time, and that he is no longer a teenager, the deduction is that a conversion to the mound may be in the process.