AFL Update: Oct. 14, 2016

osvaldo-abreu-10-12-16Osvaldo Abreu connected for a two-run double in the 9th (how novel) for 5-4 Desert Dogs walkoff win over the Scorpions.

Abreu (pictured from earlier this week) drove in three total with an RBI single in the 7th and finished the game 2-for-4. He started and batted eighth, but did make an error at shortstop on a missed catch.

To his right (on the field), Drew Ward played third base and and singled twice in four trips to the plate. He was caught stealing and fanned once, but made two assists (Abreu had three).

Two Nats relievers appeared in the game. Ryan Brinley came on with one out in the 5th and retired all five batters he faced over the next inning and 2/3rds, including two by way of the K.

Jake Johansen followed Brinley in the 7th and worked around a two-out single. He was not as fortunate in the 8th, as he loaded the bases with three singles and let in the fourth Surprise run with a sacrifice fly. He finished with a line of one run allowed on four hits over two innings with no walks and two whiffs.

The two teams play again tonight, with Glendale playing host. The Desert Dogs are now 2-1 and are tied for 1st place in the AFL west, percentage points behind the unbeaten (but twice tied) Peoria Javelinas (yeah, that does sound weird).

AFL Update: Oct. 12, 2016

drew-ward-10-11-16The 2016 AFL campaign begun on down note as the Scottsdale Scorpions scored in each of the first three innings against Austin Voth en route to a 9-6 win over the Glendale Desert Dogs.

Voth was stung for five runs on five hits and two walks over two and 2/3rds innings. He threw 58 pitches, 33 for strikes and struck out two.

Drew Ward (pictured) was the sole National position player to see game action. He started at 3B and batted seventh and went 1-for-3 with a strikeout. He was lifted in the top of the 8th but made no errors on defense and had two assists.

In obligatory SEO news, ESPN mancrush Tim Tebow went 0-for-3 for Scottsdale and did not hit the ball out of the infield.

Glendale visits Mesa this afternoon before returning home for a night game on Thursday.

AFL Begins Play

10-8-16-drew-wardThe minors beat picks back up with the start of the Arizona Fall League, which begins today for the Washington contingent as the Glendale Desert Dogs host the Scottsdale Scorpions.

The AFL site is not listing any probables, so we don’t know when the lone starter (Austin Voth) is going to pitch. For the non-diehards: we can probably expect one or two Nats to start each day and for one of the relievers to appear every other day.

I know there’s not as many of you stopping by each day, but for a little we can have a semblance of the morning routine back for a few weeks.
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For those who are fans of the most local Nats affiliate (*ahem*), we’re starting to get some idea as to how the new world order will shake out, thanks to the Frederick Keys’ press release yesterday.

While we still don’t know the name of the team that will play in Kinston—though we do know we might be looking at one of the worst names since the New Hampshire Primaries—and where the Fayetteville-area team will play in 2017, it would appear the Carolina League is finally going to have an unbalanced schedule.

Granted, this may be a one-year exception due to the Fayetteville entry perhaps functioning as a traveling team for 2017 – the bevy of games between Frederick, Potomac, and Wilmington is not unlike Hagerstown, Delmarva, and Lakewood in the Sally League. It would appear that there will be a similar cluster with Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, and (*ugh*) Down East

One of my pet peeves about the balanced schedule (relatively, it’s been a little unbalanced lately, but for years it was ten home and ten away each half) and two four-team divisions is that it has not always produced the four best playoff teams. There have been third-place teams with better records than the wildcard entry (e.g. Potomac in 2009) and in some instances, the division winner (e.g. Myrtle Beach in 2006). We can only hope that when it all shakes out, it’ll be 20 games vs. each divisional opponent (80 games) and 12 against the opposite division’s teams (60).

Nats Contingent to AFL Named

I can’t remember such little fanfare for the release of usually routine information related to a baseball club. Enter the 2016 Washington Nationals AFL contingent, which is as follows:

  • Ryan Brinley, RHP
  • Nick Lee, LHP
  • Austin Voth, RHP
  • Osvaldo Abreu, SS
  • Drew Ward, 3B
  • Andrew Stevenson, OF

This seems to be one of the youngest group to be sent – if memory serves, my late father always said it was the second thing to go – with the trio of Abreu, Stevenson, and Ward (22, 22, 21) along with 23-y.o. Ryan Brinley. But, the practice of using the Arizona Fall League to guage a Rule 5 eligible pitcher (Voth) and a 40-man guy on the cusp (Lee) has returned.

This year, the Nationals will be filling out the roster of the Glendale Desert Dogs. Play begins in the six-team AFL on Tuesday, Oct. 11 and runs through Nov. 17 with a one-game championship on Saturday, November 19th.

Feel free to discuss in the comments.

AFL/Offseason Update: Nov. 20, 2015

Drew-Ward-11-20-15The Salt River Rafters scored single runs in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 7th innings and withstood a late rally from the Scottsdale Scorpions finish the 2015 campaign with a 4-2 win.

As you might have guessed, just one National got into yesterday’s game: Drew Ward (pictured).

The turns-21-next-week Oklahoman was the designated hitter but did not get a hit. He struck out three times in four plate appearances, but did draw his 11th walk in 12 games this fall (versus nine K’s). He finished with an average of just .097 (3-for-31), but had a respectable on-base percentage of .326.

Salt River finished the year 16-13, 1½ games behind Scottsdale. With that the 2015 season — the sixth this site has covered — officially comes to a close.

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In what now seems rather anticlimactic, last night the Nationals added three from this year’s AFL contingent to the 40-man roster: Christopher Bostick, Spencer Kieboom, and Nick Lee.

Bostick, who was originally drafted in the 44th Rd. by the Oakland A’s as a HS pick in 2011, and Kieboom (5th Rd., 2012) were both in their first year of Rule 5 eligibility. Lee, however, was in his second year of eligibility as an 18th Rd. 2011 pick (and drafted 38th but did not sign in 2010).

A common thread through all three picks is the shoring up organizational depth. With the departure of Ian Desmond and the continued fragility of Anthony Rendon, the Nationals will need a backup to the backup of Wilmer Difo for 2016.

Kieboom is also an addition to a catching corps that has been thinned by trades and the Rule 5 draft over the past few years. Like Bostick, he’s the backup to Pedro Severino.

Lee, of course, is a bit of a surprise given that he’s already been passed over for the Rule 5 and a good but not great 2015 regular season. But he’s still lefthanded and throws strikes (though he has yet to tame his tendency to issue walks) and will be the backup to Matt Grace as a situational southpaw.

As for projections, it might be safe to say that this trio will be teammates in Harrisburg next season with the players in front of them moving up (or returning) to Syracuse. But there’s a long offseason to go and Washington has a GM that “kinda, sorta” likes to make trades.

AFL Update: Nov. 19, 2015

Christopher-Bostick-11-19-1The Solar Sox posted a picket fence to take a 3-1 lead in the middle innings, then put the game away with a three-spot in 6th for a 6-1 win over the Rafters.

It may seem like all Christopher Bostick, all the time, but when he’s the only National to appear in the game…

Bostick once again batted second and played second base. At the plate, he was 0-for-2 two with two walks drawn and stole a base, his sixth of the fall. In the field (pictured), he had a putout and three assists, including the pivot on a 6-4-3 double play.

The 2015 AFL season concludes for the Salt River Rafters with an afternoon game against the AFL East champion Scottsdale Scorpions.

AFL Update: Nov. 18, 2015

Christopher-Bostick-11-18-1Salt River scored twice in the 1st and held on to the lead for a 4-2 win over Mesa to stave off elimination.

Two Nationals appeared in the game.

John Simms got the start and went three innings, allowing one run on four hits and a walk while striking out two. He threw 45 pitches, 33 for strikes. He was credited with the win, his fourth in five starts for Salt River, and has posted an ERA of 1.88 and a WHIP of 1.21.

Christopher Bostick had another strong game. Batting second and playing 2B, the 22-y.o. walked, doubled, and homered in four plate appearances. In 19 games this fall, he’s posted a line of .275/.324/.565 with four HR’s, five SB’s, and 12 RBI.

The two teams switch venues for this afternoon’s game. Scottsdale, which must lose for Salt River to have a shot at the title game, hosts Peoria tonight. The Rafters and Scorpions close out the fall season with a game tomorrow afternoon.

AFL Update: Nov. 17, 2015

For the second time this fall, inclement weather canceled a game for the Salt River Rafters. Meanwhile, the Surprise Saguaros beat the Scottsdale Scorpions to clinch a spot in Saturday’s AFL Title game, which could be a rematch of yesteray’s game unless Scottsdale continues to lose and Salt River starts to win. The Scorpions and Rafters play each other on Thursday.

John Simms is the listed starter for Salt River for this afternoon’s game against Mesa.

AFL/Offseason Update: Nov. 15, 2015

Christopher-Bostick-11-14-1After battling back from 5-1 down to tie it in the bottom of the 9th, the Rafters coughed up the lead in the 10th and couldn’t respond for a 6-5 loss in extra innings.

Christopher Bostick (pictured) was the only Nationals player to appear in the game. As per usual, the 22-year-old batted second and played 2B for Salt River. He was 1-for-5 with a double and three strikeouts at the plate and on defense he had a putout, an error, and two assists.

Salt River has an off day today before entering the final week of the Arizona Fall League. They have four games left and train Scottsdale by two, with a tragic number of three.

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Last week, BA released its list of the 2016 minor-league free agents, a day after noting that player-coach Andruth Ramirez, RHP Scott McGregor, and UT Jose Lozada had re-signed. Without further ado, the rest of the former Nationals:

RHP – Rob Gilliam, Jeff Howell, Connor Overton, Kevin Perez, and Sam Runion
LHP – Matt Purke
C – Brian Jeroloman, Steven Lerud
IF – Mario Lisson, Scott Sizemore, Josh Johnson
OF – Darin Mastroianni, Derrick Robinson

Obviously, the the most notable name among those is Matt Purke, who the Nationals gambled would be healthy after being beaten like a rented mule by TCU in his freshman year, and never regained that promise. Otherwise, it’s the usual suspects in terms of minor-league veterans who’ve been serving as organizational soldiers.

AFL Update: Nov. 14, 2015

Kieboom-HR-11-13-15Salt River scored four times with two out in the top of the 1st, capped off by an Earl Weaver special by Spencer Kieboom (pictured) en route to a 5-3 win over Surprise.

Kieboom was one of three Nationals to see game action yesterday afternoon. The 24-year-old batted sixth and caught, going 1-for-4 overall with a run, a HR, and three RBI. Defensively, he threw out one of two baserunners attempting to steal and finished with the two assists and seven putouts (all by way of the K).

Drew Ward was the Rafters’ DH and reached base twice via the base-on-balls but was 0-for-2 otherwise.

Dakota Bacus also appeared in the game, getting the last out for Salt River in the 6th and stranding two runners. In the 7th, he sandwiched a balk between two balks before being lifted but was bailed out when his successor, Kyle Regnault, got two groundballs and a whiff to stifle the would-be rally.

The Scorpions lost their second straight but still lead the Rafters by two games with five left to play. Tonight, Salt River hosts Surprise in the AFL’s 2015 Military Appreciation Game.