AFL Update: Nov. 4, 2016

osvaldo-abreu-11-4-16It’s now a winning streak as Glendale took its third straight, 2-1 over Scottsdale, yesterday afternoon.

Austin Voth turned in a more Voth-like outing — 5IP, 3H, 0R, 2BB, 2K — to win for the frst time in five fall starts. He threw 65 pitches, 37 for strikes.

All three Nats position players got the start in their usual defensive positions.

Andrew Stevenson led off and went 1-for-3 with a walk and had one putout in center.

Drew Ward batted second and was hitless for the first time this fall. He combined with Voth on a 1-5 DP in the 3rd and started a 5-4-3 DP in the 6th.

Osvaldo Abreu singled twice and scored a run while batting from the No. 7 slot in the lineup. He also took park in double play (there were four total) taking a relay from left field to gun down a runner at the plate.

Jake Johansen also appeared in the game, retiring the only batter he faced to get the last out in the 7th.

The last-place Desert Dogs finish the shortened week with a trip to Peoria this afternoon to visit the first-place Javelinas.

AFL/Offseason Update: Oct. 29, 2016

austin-voth-10-29-16The Desert Dogs avoided the shutout with a second-inning run but not the loss, as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Rafters yesterday afternoon.

Austin Voth (pictured) made his fourth start this fall for Glendale. He gave up four runs on just two hits, but both were home runs – a two-run shot in the 1st, then another in the 4th. Both longballs were preceded by a hit batsman.

Voth threw 74 pitches, 41 for strikes, over five innings. He walked two and struck out two while suffering his second loss, but actually lowered his ERA to 10.43 for the AFL campaign.

The two teams switch venues for this afternoon’s game to finish out the third week of the 2016 AFL season.

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TRANSACTION UPDATES
• Fans of “The Onion” need not shed any tears, as the Nationals have re-signed C Jhonatan Solano.
• RHP Aaron Barrett was outrighted to Syracuse on Tuesday and he elected to become a free agent
• OF Yadiel Hernandez was placed on the Hagerstown Suns roster, which means… well, nothing since this is the offseason
• Likewise for P Thony Amoroso, though it’s nice to think that the recently signed IFA from Venezuela may bypass the DSL in 2017

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS FOR SALE
While this isn’t news per se — minor-league teams are bought and sold all the time — what is unusual is that both the Doubledays and their facility are city-owned. And like many businesses in upstate New York, they’re losing money. Thus, Auburn is looking to sell.

This is the fiscally right thing to do, as the local media notes in an Op-Ed that urges the city government to be transparent as it does so — unlike their counterparts in Northern Virginia.

THE HARRISBURG SENATORS
A lot of folks obsess over how a farm system is ranked relative to the other 29 teams in MLB, but where it really matters can be boiled down to two questions: (1) Does it produce players that can play? (2) Is there enough depth to sustain injuries?

Obviously, we know the answer to both of those questions. But what’s less obvious is the effect that has on the minor-league teams, especially in the upper minors where there’s not a half system. The 2016 Harrisburg Senators were an example of the roster churn that ensues as 50 players suited up (not counting MLB rehabs) and a dozen pitchers made five or more starts.

Indeed, it was that pitching that carried the team as the E.L.’s third-best staff (4.16 R/G vs. 4.34 Lg. Avg.) was able to withstand the E.L.’s second-worst offense (4.01 R/G) and nearly made the playoffs anyway. Though it should be noted that the Eastern League was similar to the Carolina League in that just six of the 12 teams had winning records and two teams were over the .600 mark.

For the fifth straight season, however, the Senators list is combined into a single Top 5:

1. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP – 3.18/3.03/1.23, 100K in 76⅓ IP
2. Lucas Giolito, RHP – 3.17/3.30/1.42, 72K in 71IP
3. Christopher Bostick, IF – .290/.356/.462 in 71G
4. John Simms, RHP – 3.30/3.84/1.08 in 29 appearances, 11GS
5. Rafael Bautista, OF – .282/.344/.341, 56SB

OK, before you rip into me about Tyler Mapes, who’d probably #6 if I were to go further, take a look at his K rate (4.53). That’s more than two full whiffs per 9IP than the league average. Coupled with nearly a hit per IP for his career… that’s just too much contact to succeed long-term at AAA or higher. And I’ve seen it before.

To be honest, after Lopez and Giolito, it’s pretty dicey. Bostick didn’t exactly light it up at AAA and is no longer a National. Simms, like Mapes, will be entering 2017 at age 25 (though he’s six months younger). Bautista, despite all that speed, had just 20 extra-base hits and just 12 doubles.

As always, folks who wish to see the full team stats can find ’em here.

AFL Update: Oct. 23, 2016

drew-ward-afl-10-22-16The Desert Dogs rallied from 7-1 to take an 8-7 lead but couldn’t answer the Saguaros in a 10-8 loss on Saturday.

Austin Voth got the start but was lit up for seven runs on six hits (one home run) and three walks over three-plus innings. He struck out four and threw 51 pitches, 31 for strikes, excluing an errant pickoff throw for an error.

Nick Lee also made an appearance, pitching a 1-2-3 eighth on 14 pitches (eight for strikes).

All three Washington position players appeared in the game:

  • Osvaldo Abreu batted second, played short, and went 1-for-4 with an RBI, a stolen base, and two strikeouts
  • Drew Ward (pictured) batted third, played 3B, and was 3-for-5 with an an RBI and a run scored
  • Andrew Stevenson batted fifth, played LF, reached base twice with a single and a walk, and scored a run

Glendale remains on the road with a night game tomorrow in Scottsdale.

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.

Good, Bad, Interesting – Vol. 1


In keeping with my motto of doing what I can when I can, I’ve decided to cut back the GBI to something more manageable this year — every three weeks. This will still give us eight editions, and to compensate for the lower frequency, I will double up each section. My apologies in advance to for the disappointment, but the alternative was to scrap it altogether.

For the newcomers…. this a silly little thing I began a few years ago on a lark. It’s somehow become one of the site’s staples. Stolen from Named after comedian Demetri Martin’s segment of the same name from his too-brief (2009-2010) run on Comedy Central, it’s my way of taking a look at who’s doing well, poorly, or pointing out something unexpected.

Invariably, it seems that whenever a player makes this list — good or bad — his fortune turns. Of course, that’s merely coincidence, but as much as we embrace science and statistics, superstition will always be a part of baseball. Thus, the effect known as “the curse of the GBI.”

Now, for the usual disclaimers… it’s early in the season, small sample sizes, stats in the minors are misleading, void where prohibited, valid only at participating locations, employees must wash hands after using the bathroom, etc.

And the usual reminder: The guys, their friends, families, and agents reading this, so keep it clean in the comments. This is just for fun.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 7-8, 4th place I.L. North, 2½ games behind

Good Trea Turner .357/.446/.500, 6SB in 15G
Sammy Solis 1.00/1.08/0.89, 14K in 9IP
Bad Matt Skole .122/.214/.184, 12K in 14G
Taylor Hill 8BB in 15⅔ IP
Interesting Caleb Ramsey .932 OPS, .390 BA in 13G
Austin Voth 0BB in 12IP


HARRISBURG SENATORS 6-8, 4th place E.L. West, 3½ games behind

Good Rafael Bautista 8SB, 11BB, .443 OBP in 14G
Tyler Mapes 3-0, 3.18/3.85/0.94 in 3GS
Bad Zach Collier .405 OPS in 12G
Reynaldo Lopez 4HR in 16IP
Interesting Stephen Perez .320/.414/.360 in 11G
John Simms 14K in 16IP


POTOMAC NATIONALS 9-7, 2nd place C.L. North, 4 games behind

Good Jose “The Orange” Marmolejos .298/.437/.561 in 16G
Mario Sanchez 1.59 ERA, 80.9 LOB% in 11⅓ IP
Bad 11CS in 30SB attempts
Starters 5.60/4.30/1.47 in 16G
Interesting Drew Ward .333/.412/.550, 11RBI in 16G
R.C. Orlan 1.93 ERA, 1.18WHIP, 8BB, 9K in 9#8531; IP


HAGERSTOWN SUNS 11-5, T2nd place Sally North, 2 games behind

Good Victor Robles .327/.465/.582, 7SB, 2HR in 16G
Andrew Lee 1-0, 1.80/3.50/1.27 in 3GS
Bad Ryan Ripken .496OPS in 14G
Joan Baez 0-2, 6.75 ERA, 1.67 WHIP in 3GS
Interesting Max Schrock .344/.403/.4, 6SB in 15G
Jefry Rodriguez 2.70/2.07/1.20 in 3GS

The NationalsProspects.com Top 10 Pitchers

 


For the fourth straight, Lucas Giolito snagged the top spot in this (quite) unscientific poll for the fourth straight year and was the unanimous choice for the second. With that suspense ruined….

  1. Lucas Giolito
  2. Reynaldo Lopez
  3. Erick Fedde
  4. Austin Voth
  5. A.J. Cole
  6. Austen Williams
  7. Koda Glover
  8. John Simms
  9. Andrew Lee
  10. Abel De Los Santos

Others receiving votes: Taylor Hearn, Phillips Valdez, Nick Lee, Mariano Rivera, Tyler Mapes, Dakota Bacus, Jefry Rodriguez, Tyler Watson, Maximo Valerio, Robbie Dickey, Joan Baez, Sammy Solis, Rafael Martin

Now, for the thoughts, as threat…er, promised:

• If the only questions regarding Giolito are his health and service time, then expect a Strasburg-esque recall from the minors in June. It’s not like Rizzo could have been just playing to the crowd with the recent “invite to spring training” comments.

• Despite a 2015 that paled in comparison to 2014, Reynaldo Lopez’s stock did not drop. Then again, it’s not like the Nats have an abundance of younger-than-the-level pitchers with his potential, either.

• Erick Fedde moved up, with perhaps a lot of folks hoping for his 2015 to equal Giolito’s 2013, which would mean a breakout 2016.

• Austin Voth held steady at #4 despite a strong showing (2.92/3.07/1.11) for a weak Harrisburg team and winning the 2015 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.

• A.J. Cole, who turns 24 next month, might be suffering from prospect fatigue, not to mention less-than-stellar results when he was called up.

• Austen Williams was the last of the on-every-ballot pitchers… as we often lament, after the first few, it’s a free-for-all (freefall?)

Sadly, we’re now at the point of the offsesason where it’s waiting for trades and transactions, both of which have been sparse [insert Billy Beane lost his cellphone joke here]. As per usual, feel free to discuss in the comments.

Good, Bad, Interesting — Vol. 17

GBI for NPP 2Our weekly look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 54-67, 4th place I.L. North, 15 games behind

Good Trea Turner .358/.397/.453, 12R, 6SB in August (12G)
Bad 10E in 44G for Turner
Interesting Chiefs 28-18 since Turner promoted to AAA



HARRISBURG SENATORS 57-62, 5th place E.L. West, 10½ games behind

Good Austin Voth – pitched 5IP or more 17 times in 23 appearances, 12 quality starts/td>
Bad RHB Christopher Bostick .176/.230/.294 vs LHPs
Interesting 58 players used, just four have played all season long (Voth, Mendez, Severino, Pleffner)



POTOMAC NATIONALS 22-25, 3rd place C.L. North, 5½ games behind (55-62 overall)

Good Narciso Mesa .333/.326/.400 in August (11G)
Bad Ian Dickson 23BB in 35⅓ IP (5.86/9IP)
Interesting Fewest batting strikeouts in the eight-team Car. Lg.



HAGERSTOWN SUNS 23-24, T4th place Sally North, 9 games behind (58-57 overall)

Good Connor Bach 87K in 89⅔ IP (8.73 K/9IP)
Bad Raudy Read .167/.167/.333 in August (10G)
Interesting 25-y.o. Justin Amlung, 32-y.o. Jeff Howell combined 6GS since July 27



AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 24-27, 4th place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 9½ games behind

Good Max Schrock .311/.370/.422 in 26G
Bad Luis Torres 11BB, 13K in 23⅔ IP (4.18, 4.94 per 9IP)
Interesting Nine pitchers have recorded at least one save (13 in 51G)



GCL NATIONALS 20-27, 4th place GCL East, 5½ games behind

Good .966 FA 4th best in 16-team GCL
Bad 106BB drawn by batters fewest in the the GCL
Interesting 5 passed balls tied for fewest in the GCL



DSL NATIONALS 29-36, 3rd place Boca Chica North, 18 games behind (eliminated)

Good 20-y.o. Jeyner Baez .314 (11-for-35) in last 10G
Bad 17-y.o. Yelmery Sisnero 1-0, 5.79 ERA, 1.79 WHIP
Interesting 17-y.o. Edwin Ventura .286/.366/.382, 11SB, 15BB in 55G


Editor’s note: GBI will skip next week and return on or around August 29

Good, Bad, Interesting — Vol. 13

Our weekly look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 37-57, 6th place I.L. North, 13½ games behind

Good Trea Turner, 12-game on-base streak
Bad Taylor Hill 0-2, 9.00 ERA, 1.86 WHIP in July (3GS)
Interesting A.J. Cole 16 shutout inning streak



HARRISBURG SENATORS 47-46, 5th place E.L. West, 4 games behind

Good Austin Voth 1-0, 0.45 ERA, 0.80 WHIP in July (3GS)
Bad 37 team HR — fewest in Eastern League
Interesting Pedro Severino .333/.368/.417in July (10G)



POTOMAC NATIONALS 11-9, 1st place C.L. North, ½ game ahead (44-46 overall)

Good Khayyan Norfork .357/.386/.452 in July (12G)
Bad Norfork’s .684 OPS highest on the current roster
Interesting 43 of 338 runs scored without an RBI


HAGERSTOWN SUNS 11-11, T4th place Sally North, 4 games behind (46-44 overall)

Good Connor Bach 2-0, 2.11 ERA, 0.98 WHIP since All-Star break (4G, 3GS)
Bad Diomedes Eusebio .119/.178/.143 since All-Star break (11G)
Interesting Bryan Mejia .943OPS since his callup


AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 11-14, 4th place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 8 games behind

Good Andrew Stevenson .361/.413/.431, 7SB, 11R, 9RBI in 18G
Bad McKenzie Mills 0-2, 11.74 ERA, 2.23 WHIP (11⅔ IP)
Interesting Dalton Dulin 10BB in 14G


GCL NATIONALS 12-11, 2nd place East Division, Gulf Coast League, 1 game behind

Good Maximo Valerio 3-0, 1.52 ERA, 0.97 WHIP in 5G, 3GS
Bad Andres Martinez 5E, .437OPS in 9G
Interesting Philip Diedrick 3HR in 5G


DSL NATIONALS 19-23, T3rd place Boca Chica North, 11 games behind

Good 17-y.o. Juan Evangelista .273/.323/.460, 28RBI in 40G
Bad 18-y.o. Angel Guillen 1-2, 5.87 ERA, 1.70 WHIP in 15⅓ IP
Interesting 19-y.o. Yordani Garcia 3-2, 2.93 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, 5HBP, 8BB in 15IP

Good, Bad, Interesting — Vol. 7

Our weekly look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 17-38, 6th place I.L. North, 14 games behind

Good Tony Gwynn Jr. .316BA (12-for-38) over last 10G
Bad 27 pitching HBP “leads” International League
Interesting Still trail Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (16-39) for worst record in minors



HARRISBURG SENATORS 22-31, 5th place E.L. West, 10½ games behind

Good Austin Voth 3.47/2.51/1.19 in 11 games (59⅔ IP)
Bad Drew Vettleson .488 OPS in 11 games
Interesting 26 of 53 games decided by one run (9-17)



POTOMAC NATIONALS 24-30, 4th place C.L. North, 10 games behind

Good Christopher Bostick .325 BA (13-for-40), HR in last 10G
Bad Kevin Perez 6.32 ERA, 1.53 WHIP in six appearances
Interesting 17-1, 17-0, 16-0 when leading after 6, 7, 8 innings



HAGERSTOWN SUNS 28-26, 3rd place Sally North, 7 games behind

Good Drew Van Orden 2-1, 2.63 ERA as starter; 3-3 SV-SVO as reliever
Bad Cody Dent .481 OPS in 25G
Interesting 11-1 when starter goes six or more innings

Baseball America Ranks The Top 10 Nats Prospects

Baseball America for NPP
Having confirmed the new list via Twitter, here’s the new-and-improved Washington Nationals Top 10 list from Baseball America (Last year’s ranking in parentheses):

1. Lucas Giolito, RHP (1)
2. Michael Taylor, OF (7)
3. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP (–)
4. Erick Fedde, RHP (’14 Draft Pick)
5. A.J. Cole, RHP (2)
6. Wilmer Difo, 2B/SS (–)
7. Drew Ward, 3B (17)
8. Brian Goodwin, OF (3)
9. Nick Pivetta, RHP (22)
10. Austin Voth, RHP (15)

If you’re a TCU an A.J. Cole fan, you’re probably wondering what he did to drop three slots, but I think the better way to look at it is that the three guys ahead of him simply have either more upside (Fedde) or were in stratosphere this past summer (Taylor, Lopez).

Steve Souza was originally the #5 prospect on this list, though I think most most folks already knew this as the top 10 list was leaked (tweeted) earlier this week.

I’m a bit curious as to why Brian Goodwin remains ranked so high, given this tidbit (italics added):

They pushed him to Double-A Harrisburg by the second half of 2012, but he followed a lackluster 2013 with a horrific 2014 campaign at Triple-A Syracuse that ended on July 1 when he tore the labrum in his left shoulder sliding into second base.

Granted, Goodwin throws righthanded, but injury experts have long held that the torn labrum is baseball’s most fearsome injury, not to mention the conventional wisdom that shoulder injuries in general are what ends or alters baseball careers.

Unfortunately, BA did not weigh in on Difo’s defensive prowess so the SS vs. 2B debate will have to wait until the book is released or perhaps John Sickels’s book is released. They did, however, note that Drew Ward may outgrow 3B, pointing to his size-16 cleats and describing his footwork as merely adequate while noting his arm was strong and accurate.

BA’s projections for 2015 were as follows:

AAA –Taylor, Cole, Goodwin
High-A — Giolito, Lopez, Difo, Ward, Pivetta
Not specified — Fedde, Voth

I still believe Giolito will be jumped to AA (and would love to be wrong) because the Nats have not been keen on letting high-profile prospects play at Potomac (see: Strasburg, Harper, Goodwin). Voth is a near-lock to return to Harrisburg, while I’d expect Fedde to follow the track of Giolito and start out at the GCL and perhaps make an appearance with Auburn late in the year.