Jul 012011
 

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

SYRACUSE 33-45, 5th place I.L. North, 12 games behind

Good Ross Detwiler 3-1, 2.45 ERA, 1.06WHIP in June
Bad Jeff Frazier .182/.248/.311 in 68G
Interesting Jesus Valdez .286/.333/.441 in 43G

HARRISBURG 45-32, 1st place E.L. West Division, 4 games ahead

Good Bill Rhinehart .294 GPA, .894OPS
Bad Erik Davis 30BB in 62⅔ IP
Interesting Shairon Martis 5-3, 2.37ERA in last 10 starts

POTOMAC 4-4, T1st place C.L. North Division, 1 game ahead (33-44, overall)

Good Danny Rosenbaum 2-0, 1.63 ERA, 1.08WHIP in June
Bad Eury Perez .243/.254/.288 in June; .333/.337/.409 in May
Interesting Sandy Leon .307/.350/.387 in June; .165/.214/.203 in May

HAGERSTOWN 5-3, T1st place Sally League Northern Division, 1 game ahead (45-33 overall)

Good Kevin Keyes .306, 7HR, 16RBI in June
Bad Ben Graham 2-2, 5.54ERA, 1.69WHIP in June
Interesting Cole Leonida .385OBP in 27G as backup C

AUBURN 8-6, T2nd place, Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 2 games behind

Good Ryan Demmin 3-0, 1.69ERA, 0.94WHIP in three starts
Bad Rick Hughes .154/.195/.231 in 9G
Interesting Hendry Jimenez, Russell Moldenhauer, Matt Skole – each with an 11G hit streak

GCL NATIONALS 5-4, T2nd place, GCL East, ½ game back

Good Nathan Karns 3G – 9┼ IP, 2H, 0R, 3BB, 14K
Bad Pedro Severino .087/.125/.130 in 23AB
Interesting Wander Ramos .314/.415/.714 in 35AB

DSL NATIONALS 12-16, 6th place, Boca Chica South Division of Dominican Summer League, 6½ games behind

Good Gilberto Mendez (Age 18) 2-0, 1.88ERA, 1.25WHIP, 24K in 24IP
Bad Wilman Rodriguez (Age 19) .132/.277/.170 in 53AB
Interesting Ivan Pineyro (Age 19) 38K in 27⅔ IP
Jun 102011
 

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

SYRACUSE 25-33, 5th place I.L. North, 12 games behind

Good Matt Antonelli .421/.463/.543 in last 10G
Bad J.D. Martin 9HR in 42IP
Interesting Corey Brown 25BB in 53G

HARRISBURG 30-21, 1st place E.L. West Division, 3 games ahead

Good Brad Peacock 0.84WHIP, 91K in 67IP
Bad Jonathan Tucker .148 in last 10G
Interesting Bill Rhinehart .368 OBP, career-best since 2007 (.377 for Vermont)

POTOMAC 23-37, 5th place C.L. North Division, 14 games behind

Good Justin Bloxom .385/.381/.641 in last 10G
Bad Dean Weaver .305 OBA, 4HR, 5BB, 18H in 14IP
Interesting 6-16 at home, 17-21 on the road

HAGERSTOWN 36-24, 1st place Sally League Northern Division, 1½ games ahead

Good Robbie Ray 0.67 WHIP, 0.30 ERA in 30IP
Bad Left-side IFs: 38Es
Interesting Neil Holland 18K, 0BB, 2HR in 18⅔ IP

DSL NATIONALS 6-4, Tied for 3rd, Boca Chica South Division of Dominican Summer League

Good Wilmer Difo (Age 19) .355/.556/.516, 8SB in 10G
Bad Daury Vasquez (Age 18) 2.20 WHIP in 3G
Interesting Ivan Pineyro (Age 19) 19K in 13IP
May 272011
 

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

SYRACUSE 16-22, 5th place I.L. North, 7 games behind

Good Chris Marrero .294/.362/.365 in May
Bad Ross Detwiler 1-4, 9.38 ERA, 2.17 WHIP in May
Interesting Josh Wilkie 1.75 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 10.89 K/9

HARRISBURG 23-20, 1st place E.L. West Division, 1 game ahead

Good Brad Peacock 7-1, 2.13 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 75K in 55IP
Bad Jimmy Barthmaier 1.90 WHIP, 4HR in 23⅔ IP
Interesting Bill Rhinehart 8HR, 17RBI

POTOMAC 18-27, 3rd place C.L. North Division, 10 games behind

Good Destin Hood .287/.333/.532 in May
Bad Joe Testa 2.04WHIP
Interesting Hector Nelo, spotted throwing 98mph

HAGERSTOWN 28-18, 1st place Sally League Northern Division, 1 game ahead

Good David Freitas .289/.392/.458
Bad Michael Taylor .280 OBP, 39K in 42G
Interesting Christopher Manno 6SV, 0.54WHIP, 33K in 17G
May 062011
 

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

SYRACUSE 9-17, 6th place I.L. North, 7 games behind

Good Yunesky Maya 2.57ERA last 3 starts
Bad Ross Detwiler 2.06WHIP last 3 starts
Interesting Roger Bernadina 7SB in last 10G

HARRISBURG 14-12, 1st place E.L. West Division, ½ game ahead

Good Cory VanAllen 1-1, 0.64 in 10G
Bad Shairon Martis, 23H in 13.1IP in 3 starts
Interesting Bill Rhinehart .310/.375/.655 in last 10G

POTOMAC 10-16, 4th place C.L. North Division, six games behind

Good Sandy Leon .303 last 10G, 4CS last 5SB attempts
Bad Ryan Demmin 6HR allowed in 11.2IP
Interesting Carolina League leaders with 44 steals

HAGERSTOWN 18-9, 2nd place Sally League Northern Division, ½ game behind

Good Cameron Selik 3-0, 0.31ERA (makes his High-A debut tonight)
Bad Jason Martinson 9E in 26G
Interesting Blake Kelso .361/.400/.454
Sep 172010
 

The action came early, but the suspense lasted all night long as the Potomac Nationals edged the Winston-Salem Dash 2-1 to win the 2010 Carolina League Championship.

Facing the most potent lineup in the Carolina League, nobody (*ahem*) thought that a pitcher’s duel could be possible in this series, much less the deciding game. But baseball is a game that both defies and fulfills expectations in ways that can be sensed, but never predicted.

Francisco Soriano led off the bottom of the first with a walk, took second on a grounder to third, took third on a grounder to second. Up came Tyler Moore, who drove in Soriano with Texas-Leaguer to left field for the first run of the game. Two innings later, Soriano would triple down the right field line and score on a tapper to first off the bat of Bill Rhinehart for a 2-0 lead that Potomac would build on methodically as the night would progress.

They did not.

There were baserunners in every single inning from the 4th to the 8th, most notably a one-out bomb by Tyler Moore to deep right-center, but against the most potent lineup in the Carolina League (or at least the most potent that they could face) the 2-0 lead seemed far too close for comfort.

Sure enough, Winston-Salem answered the second Potomac run in inglorious fashion, a tapper back to the mound that starter (and winner) Marcos Frias bounced off the shoulder of Jon Gilmore for a two-base error. Cleanup hitter Seth Loman cashed in the opportunity with a sharp single to left that cut the deficit to 2-1 — what you know to be final score, but the crowd of nearly 2,000 did not.

Frias would pitch five innings total, allowing the lone, unearned Winston-Salem run, on four hits and no walks, while striking out four. Joe Testa would follow him with a 2⅔ innings of hitless and scoreless relief, walking one and striking out two. Zach Dials would follow for a four-out save, finishing the 2010 postseason with his second save and a 1.29 ERA.

The win secured Potomac its second championship in three seasons, but one that was far more satisfying to see than the previous because it was so unforeseen and so unlikely, given the offensive struggles in the first half and the tendency of the front office to demote rather than promote to replenish the roster.

And for a few, there’s the hope of more… heading to Harrisburg next season, and perhaps Syracuse the year after. But for some, this is the pinnacle of their professional baseball career, if not the end of it in affiliated baseball. As they did in 2008, some will snort and sniff about the advanced age of this team and dismiss their success. And those folks… well, you can just kiss my ass because damn, it was fun to watch.

Sep 172010
 

The error that started the sixth drew a collective groan from the hundreds that braved the wet weather in Woodbridge. Though the Potomac nine were ahead 3-2, these diehards knew that the Dash can bang even when they start with a whimper. Sure enough, a sharp single to left and perfectly placed bunt loaded the bases with nobody out.

Veteran pitcher Jimmy Barthmaier had been struggling with his control, walking three in the previous five innings when he had walked just seven in nine regular-season appearances. Carlos Martinez started throwing in the bullpen and the fans were calling for Cathcart to put him in.

A popup to short got the first out, but the fans still wanted Carlos. Drew Garcia, who had singled twice in the previous two at-bats, got caught looking on an inside fastball. With the long, lean Dominican standing in the bullpen, hands on his hips, Barthmaier induced a popup to shallow right field. In the fourth, that flare found grass, but this time it landed in second-baseman Francisco Soriano’s glove for the third out. Barthmaier strode off the mound in triumph.

The energy carried into the bottom of the sixth, where Potomac rallied for three runs on two singles, two sacrifices, two wild pitches, and two stolen bases to take a 6-2 lead. It would prove to be enough, as the P-Nats would go on to win by a 10-2 count and take the series lead at 2-1, one win away from their second Mills Cup in three seasons.

Solo home runs by Bill Rhinehart and Jose Lozada in the first and second innings respectively gave the P-Nats an early 2-0 lead. The rain, light but steady, was enough to make folks worry if these longballs would eventually count. It had delayed the game 27 minutes and was quite visible on any ball skipping on the grass, an eight-inch plume of water spinning above it.

Rhinehart would lead all hitters with three RBIs on his homer and an eighth-inning double. Lozada would score three times while walking twice and Sean Rooney was the third P-Nat to collect multiple hits, including a fourth-inning triple to the wall in right-center that sent in Tyler Moore, who had been hit by pitches twice, to give the P-Nats the 3-2 lead.

Marcos Frias takes the hill tonight with the hopes of clinching his second playoff series in as many starts, opposed by Nathan Jones for the Winston-Salem Dash. Frias is 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA in his last three starts (17⅔ IP, 15H, 4BB, 14K) while Jones is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA (16⅔ IP, 11H, 9BB, 11K) over the same stretch.

Sep 152010
 

The tables were turned on the Winston-Salem Dash as the Potomac Nationals used both the long ball and the big inning to twice overcome one-run deficits for a 5-3 victory. The win evened the Carolina League championship series at 1-1, which will resume tomorrow night in Woodbridge.

Trevor Holder was the stopper for the second time in as many starts with 5⅓ innings pitched, with two runs allowed on eight hits, no walks, and five strikeouts. Zach Dials got the win in relief, allowing hits to the first two batters he faced in the sixth but then retiring the side in the seventh.

Early on, the P-Nat lumber was still in a slumber as Winston-Salem’s Dylan Axelrod faced 10 batters before Derek Norris led off the fourth with a double. After Bill Rhinehart popped put and Tyler Moore struck out, it appeared that he would be stranded until Jamar Walton launched a two-run blast to left to give Potomac its first lead at 2-1.

Dash cleanup hitter Seth Loman chased Holder with a one-out solo shot in the sixth, tying the game at 2-2, and Ozzie Lewis greeted Dials with a triple to center. Jose Martinez followed with a single to left to send in Lewis and return the lead to Winston-Salem at 3-2.

Axelrod was lifted after seven innings in favor of journeyman Brandon Kloess. Francisco Soriano walked and stole second second base. After Nick Moresi struck out, Soriano would score after Dan Lyons and Norris hit back-to-back singles, chasing Kloess. Lefthander Hector Santiago came on to face Bill Rhinehart. Santiago got the out, but the flyball was deep enough for Lyons to score the go-ahead run. Tyler Moore singled to complete the rally.

With a 5-3 lead, Patrick McCoy took the ball in the eighth and let up a leadoff single to Brandon Gilmore, giving the crowd of 4,009 hope for another rally. But the burly lefty crushed any hopes of that by retiring the next six batters to notch the save and send the two teams back to Virginia, in what now amounts to a best-of-three with Potomac as the host.

Sep 122010
 

A four-run 3rd by the Altoona Curve broke open a 3-2 lead and sent the Senators to a 10-5 loss to end their 2010 season. But the beat goes on in Potomac with a 10-3 win over the Frederick Keys, as the P-Nats advance to the Mills Cup finals for the second time in three seasons.

Tanner Roark was taken deep three times in less than three innings, accounting for all seven runs he surrendered, as the 23-year-old also struggled with his command in walking three over 2⅓ innings. Five relievers followed but only Rafael Martin and Cole Kimball would go scoreless as the Curve put 12 hits on the board.

Chris Marrero (2-for-5) and Jhonatan Solano (3-for-4) were the heart of the Harrisburg offense, each homering while combining for five of the seven Senator hits and four of the five runs driven in. Micahel Burgess contributed the other RBI and threw out a runner at third, but went an abysmal 0-for-13 with three walks and five strikeouts during the series. Josh Johnson only reached base twice but was the offensive MVP for the Sens in the series, batting .417 with seven walks and four runs scored.

For the bullet-point folks…

Team Pitching Star Hitting Star #1 Hitting Star #2
Harrisburg Senators
L, 10-5
(Eliminated 3-1)
Rafael Martin
1IP 0H 0R 0BB 1K
Jhonatan Solano
3-4, R, HR, 3RBI
Chris Marrero
2-5, 2R, HR, RBI
Potomac Nationals
W, 10-3
(Advances 3-1)
Rob Wort
1IP 1H 0R 1BB 0K
Chris Curran
3-4, 2R, 3B, 2RBI
Bill Rhinehart
2-4, R, 2B, 3RBI
Sep 112010
 

Four big innings on offense and four innings of solid bullpen work were the, um, keys to beating Frederick as Potomac would go on to 10-3 win and return to Carolina League’s Mills Cup championship for the second time in three seasons.

Seven batters would combine for 11 hits, led by Chris Curran who tripled and singled twice for a 3-for-4 night, finishing the series at 7-for-12. Bill Rhinehart would drive in three for the second straight night, his six RBIs leading the team in the series. Potomac would score twice in the second, twice in the third, and three times in the fourth to build a 7-1 lead through four innings.

Marcos Frias would go five-plus innings to log the win, charged with three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three. The first man out of the bullpen, Carlos Martinez, was greeted with a single to load the bases with no outs in the sixth, and then gave up a double, but Chris Curran and Jose Lozada combined to gun out the last runner by a healthy margin to get the first out. Martinez struck out the next batter and got a tapper back to the mound to end the inning, the lead cut to 7-3.

Potomac’s response would come in the bottom of the seventh, plating three runs on two hits and a groundout and took advantage of three walks — the seventh, eighth and ninth that the Keys would issue — to stretch the lead to 10-3.

Zach Dials and Rob Wort would follow Martinez, each tossing a scoreless inning to seal the deal. For the series, the bullpen would pitch 15⅔ innings, allow four runs, one earned, on 18 hits and three walks, and strike out 11.

As expected, the P-Nats’ opponent will be the Winston-Salem Dash. The double-half winner swept the Kinston Indians in the other half of the playoff bracket and will host Potomac for Games 1 and 2 on Monday and Tuesday. The series finishes at Potomac, resuming for Game 3 on Thursday, with Games 4 and 5 (if necessary) slated for Friday and Saturday.

Sep 112010
 

While Potomac took the 2-1 lead it was seeking with a decisive 7-1 win over Frederick, the news was not so good from Harrisburg, as the Senators dropped a 7-2 decision to the Altoona Curve.

Curve prospect Justin Wilson battled with his control (five walks in six innings pitched) but the Senators could not solve the 23-year-old, who allowed just two hits and struck out seven. Meanwhile, Ryan Tatusko was touched for three runs in the third as he gave up eight hits and two walks total over six innings. For the second straight night, the Senator bullpen was ineffective, surrendering four runs in three innings.

But you can’t win if you don’t score, and the string of goose eggs on the board wasn’t broken until the bottom of the ninth, as Adam Fox homered to break up the shutout. Harrisburg would collect just six hits total and strand eight base runners, going 1-for-10 with RISP.

Tanner Roark (1-1, 2.50) takes the hill late this afternoon, opposed by Tony Watson (6-4, 2.67), as Harrisburg looks to force a Game 5 tomorrow afternoon in Altoona.

For the bullet-point folks…

Team Pitching Star Hitting Star #1 Hitting Star #2
Harrisburg Senators
L, 7-2
Cory VanAllen
1IP 0H 0R 0BB 0K
Josh Johnson
1-1, 3BB
Steve Lombardozzi
2-4, BB
Potomac Nationals
W, 7-1
Jimmy Barthmaier (W, 1-0)
5⅔IP 2H 0R 1BB 7K
Bill Rhinehart
2-3, R, BB, HR, 3RBI
Tyler Moore
2-4, R, HR, RBI