Jul 202012
 

For the second straight year, an outfielder from Hagerstown is poised to skip Potomac and head to Harrisburg instead.

Multiple online sources are reporting that Hagerstown CF Brian Goodwin will be promoted from the Suns to the Sens, with Harrisburg CF Eury Perez heading to Syracuse to make room. Steven Souza Jr. is also in line for a return to Woodbridge, according to Kerr.

As the headline notes, this means that Potomac CF Michael Taylor is staying put, and according to Geoff Morrow of the Patriot-News, J.R. Higley will be reassigned to Potomac, indicating that more moves are coming since the Potomac roster was at the roster limit of 25 following the additions of Alex Meyer and Aaron Barrett yesterday as well as MiLB.com indicating that Sam Palace had been transferred from the Suns to the P-Nats as well.

Goodwin had posted a line of .324/.438/.542 in 58 games while missing five weeks with a hamstring injury, and gets the bump that went to Bryce Harper last July in 39 fewer PAs and 14 fewer games played.

UPDATE: Potomac has officially announced the placement of OF Jayson Werth and IF Chad Tracy to the roster as rehab assignments, the promotion of OF Steve Souza Jr. from Hagerstown and the placement of OF Randolph Oduber onto the 7-day DL. C Sam Palace has been transferred from the Suns, but he is listed as on the DL as well.

UPDATE #2: Harrisburg has officially announced the promotion of OF Eury Perez to Syracuse, the promotion of OF Brian Goodwin from Hagerstown, and the transfer of OF J.R. Higley to Hagerstown (not Potomac as initially reported).

Apr 272012
 

It’s the news you’ve been whining waiting to see: Bryce Harper will be recalled from Syracuse and make his major-league debut tomorrow in Dodger Stadium.

The move will come in conjunction with Ryan Zimmerman’s placement on the 15-Day DL for an inflammation of the AC joint. The move will be retroactive to April 21.

“We thought that we needed to bring in an impactful[sic] left-handed bat,” Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo told reporters at a press conference this afternoon. Rizzo also noted that Harper will initially play left field, and admitted the move was out of need due to injuries to Zimmerman and Michael Morse.

“This wasn’t the coming out party for Bryce we had in mind,” Rizzo said.

With the retroactive placement on the DL, Ryan Zimmerman could be activated on May 6th, which could also mean that Harper will return to AAA. In the meantime, Rizzo said that Harper will likely be the everyday left fielder, the position he played yesterday in the first game of the doubleheader.

While previously Rizzo had remarked that once Harper was recalled he would stay, this afternoon he backpedaled from that assertion, citing OF Mike Trout, who was recalled from AA to the Los Angeles Angels for 40 games last summer.

“(There’s) a possibility that this might not be his breakout moment. This could be a step sideways to take a leap forward,” Rizzo said.

Perhaps coincidentally, Stephen Strasburg will be the starting pitcher tomorrow in Los Angeles. Perhaps not coincidentally, Harper’s 20+ days of AAA service ensures that the 19-year-old phenom will not become a free agent until after the 2018 season.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Quotes were taken from Nationals beat writers on Twitter as this was written in real time to meet a personal deadline of filing something before leaving to attend tonight’s Potomac Nationals game. I mention this in the spirit of professionalism and disclosure.

Apr 272012
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 7-13, 6th place I.L. North, 7½ games behind

Good Bryce Harper .290/.421/.419 in last 10G
Bad Bryce Harper vs. LHPs .190/.261/.238
Interesting Erik Arnesen 0.64ERA, 0.93WHIP in 14IP

HARRISBURG SENATORS 13-7, 1st place E.L. West, ½ game ahead

Good Chris Rahl .339/.379/.629, 7SB in 19G
Bad Kevin Pucetas 2.21WHIP, 5.68ERA in 5 appearances
Interesting Jeff Mandel 1.09ERA, 1.05 WHIP in 4 starts

POTOMAC NATIONALS 6-11, 4th place C.L. North Division, 3½ games behind

Good Rob Wort 14K in 8⅔ IP over 6 appearances
Bad Starting Pitchers: 1.78WHIP, 6.59ERA, 12HBP, 11HR in 83⅓ IP
Interesting Blake Kelso 8SB, 0CS in 16G

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 10-9, 4th place Sally League North Divison, 3½ games behind

Good Nathan Karns 1.93ERA, 1.21WHIP, 19K in 14IP
Bad Justin Miller .172/.194/.219, 20K in 17G
Interesting 30 for 35 SB attempts as a team (85.7% leads Sally League; total is 3rd)
Apr 202012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 11-7 vs. Buffalo,
7:00 p.m.
Atkins (1-1, 0.75) vs.
Harvey (0-1, 7.62)
Harrisburg Won, 6-2 @ Trenton,
7:05 p.m.
Gilliam (1-2, 5.82) vs.
Heyer (1-1, 1.69)
Potomac Won, 10-4 vs. Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Olbrychowski (0-2, 6.97) vs.
Workman (6-7, 3.71 @ A- in ’11)
Hagerstown Won, 11-9
(10 inn.)
vs. Lakewood,
7:05 p.m.
Estevez (1-0, 8.16) vs.
Martinez (2-0, 3.78)

Pawtucket 11 Syracuse 7
• Duke (ND) 4IP, 8H, 6R, 5ER, 2BB, 2K, HR
• Martin 3IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• Moore 3-4, 2B, 3RBI, BB
• Brown 2-6, 2R, 2B, HR, 2RBI, 4K
• Harper 1-2, 3BB, K

A four-run 5th inning put the PawSox ahead for good as they completed a four-game sweep of the Chiefs with an 11-7 pounding yesterday afternoon. Austin Bibens-Dirkx took the loss, letting in both runners he inherited and surrendering three straight doubles. Rafael Martin put out the fire and turned in his best outing of the season with a run given up on one hit over three innings. Tyler Moore led the 11-hit attack with a 3-for-4 afternoon, including a double and a walk. Speaking of which, Bryce Harper may have just discovered the value of the base on balls by drawing three walks, doubling his season total to six.

Harrisburg 6 Trenton 2
• Ballard (W, 1-1) 6⅔ IP, 4H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 8K
• Garcia (H, 3) 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Valdez 3-4, 2R, 2B, BB, SB, 2RBI, OF assist (2B)
• Hood 3-5, R, RBI, SB
• Kobernus 3-5, 2R, 2SB (10, 11)

With a four-run first, the Sens put the hurt on the Thunder early and cruised to a 6-2 win, their third straight. Mike Ballard kept up the string of strong pitching, tossing six and 2/3rds innings with one unearned run on four hits and two walks for his first “W.” Jesus Valdez, Destin Hood, and Jeff Kobernus combined for nine of the 14 Harrisburg hits, with Kobernus swiping two more bases to increase his SB total to 11. Christian Garcia struck out three of the five batters he faced for the hold, his third of the season.

Potomac 10 Salem 4
• Hansen (ND) 5IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 5K
• Applebee (W, 1-0) 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Sanchez 3-4, 2R, 2RBI
• Bloxom 2-3, 2R, 2B, BB, RBI
• Soriano 1-3, 2R, BB, 3B, 3RBI

A five-run 6th broke open a 2-2 game as the P-Nats cruised to a 10-4 win Last Night In Woodbridge.

Hagerstown 11 Lakewood 9 (10 inn.)
• McKenzie ⅓ IP, 3H, 6R, 5ER, 3BB, HR, HBP
• Meza 3⅔ IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• Barrett (W, 1-0) 1⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Martinson 3-6, 3R, 2RBI
• Skole 2-3, 3R, 3BB, HR, 2RBI
• Nieto 1-5, R, HR, 4RBI (GS)

Matt Skole’s two-run shot in the bottom of the 10th gave the Hagerstown Suns an improbably 11-9 walkoff win in extras. Hagerstown pounded out 15 hits in the contest, but not before taking a beating early. Chris McKenzie got knocked from the box in the 1st, giving up three hits and three walks to the eight batters he faced to put the Suns in 6-0 early. Christian Meza put the kibosh on the BlueClaws and led the quartet of Suns relievers, who combined for eight and 2/3rds relief with three runs allowed. Adrian Nieto’s grand slam in the bottom of the third launched the comeback bid as the two teams eventually fought to a 9-9 tie after six and half innings. Aaron Barrett got the win with three strikeouts over the last inning and a 1/3rd. Prior to the game, Cutter Dykstra was activated from Extended Spring Training, and went 2-for-6 while playing 3B. Narciso Mesa was taken off the roster and assigned to XST to make room for Dykstra.

Apr 062012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 7-4 vs. Rochester,
4:05 p.m.
Tanner Roark (9-9, 4.69 @ AA) vs.
Scott Diamond (4-14, 5.56)
Harrisburg Lost, 4-2 @ Bowie,
7:05 p.m.
Paul Demny (10-10, 4.32 @ A+) vs.
Robert Bundy (1-3, 9.60)
Potomac OFF DAY @ Lynchburg,
6:05 p.m.
Kyle Winters (8-3, 4.10 @ A-) vs.
Gus Schlosser (2-0, 1.82 @ A-)
Hagerstown Won, 11-9 vs. West Virginia,
7:05 p.m.
Brian Dupra (4-4, 3.46 @ A-) vs.
Stetson Allie (0-2, 6.58 @ A-)

Rochester 7 Syracuse 4
• Atkins (L, 0-1) 5IP, 4H, 1R, 0ER, 5BB, 6K
• VanAllen 1IP, 4H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 0K, HR
• Harper 2-4, 2B, SB, K
• Paul 1-3, 2B, BB, 2RBI

Bryce Harper did not disappoint in his AAA debut, singling, doubling, and stealing a base while playing error-free CF, but the Syracuse firemen were torched for six runs, including five runs in the 7th as the Chiefs fell to the Redwings, 7-4. Starter Mitch Atkins struggled with his control, but managed to give up just one unearned run over five innings despite issuing five free passes. The Chiefs plated all four runs in the 7th, aided by an error for the first run, an RBI single by Seth Bynum for the second tally, and a two-run double by Xavier Paul to finish the scoring.

Bowie 4 Harrisburg 2
• Gilliam (L, 0-1) 5IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 4k, HR
• Frias 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Kobernus 2-4, 2SB
• Johnson 1-2, R, 2B, BB

Despite having both Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel in the lineup on rehab assignments, the Harrisburg Senators could only muster six hits and fell to the Bowie Baysox, 4-2. Jeff Kobernus led the Sens with four bases: two singles, and two swipes of second. The MLBers were a combined 0-for-5 with a walk and two strikeouts. As a team, Harrisburg went just 1-for-8 with RISP and left six runners on base.

Hagerstown 11 West Virginia 9
• Estevez (ND) 4IP, 9H, 6R, 6ER, 0BB, 3K, 0HR
• Meza (W, 1-0) 2IP, 3H, 0R, BB, K
• Kreis (SV, 1) 1IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Goodwin 2-4, 2R, HR, BB, 4RBI, OF assist at 3B
• Skole 2-5, 2B, 3RBI

It was a slugfest at the Muni, with the Suns putting up three crooked numbers and 16 hits total, shorting the West Virginia Power, 11-9. Brian Goodwin led the hit parade with a 2-for-4 night, including a two-run homer in the three-run sixth that tied the game at 9-9. He also gunned down a runner at third. Wirkin “For The Weekend” couldn’t hold an early 6-1 lead, giving up runs in three of his four innings pitched. Christian Meza got the win in relief while Alex Kreis pitched around two singles in the ninth to earn the save.

Mar 182012
 

Tyler Moore homered and doubled and drove in two runs to highlight an otherwise ugly 11-7 loss by the Nats to Detroit on Sunday afternoon. The 25-year-old, who has hit 62 home runs the past two seasons for Potomac and Harrisburg, respectively, is expected to play everyday for the Syracuse Chiefs, but remains in camp thanks in part to the injuries to Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche. Despite talk of him playing in the outfield during the offseason, he has appeared exclusively at 1B and DH, just as he has for the past four seasons in the minors.

Moore’s double came in the bottom of the ninth after Bryce Harper shook off four straight strikeouts for a two-out double. Harper split time on defense between right field and centerfield, but had no defensive chances. Harper’s whiffs came both looking and swinging, with starter Doug Fister (RHP) getting him twice, and relievers Duane Below (LHP) and Jose Ortega (RHP) getting him once apiece. As the parentheticals hint, it’s not just southpaws that are giving the 19-year-old problems; righthanders are figuring out how to work the offspeed stuff against him, too.

Steve Lombardozzi was the only other notable prospect to see time, going 1-for-2 while filling in at shortstop.

With an off day tomorrow, the Nationals are expected to* announced that Harper, Moore, and Jhonatan Solano have been optioned to AAA Syracuse. Joining them in the minor-league camp will be non-roster invitee Mark Teahen. Earlier today, the Nats signed veteran OF-1B Xavier Nady to a minor-league contract, a move no doubt predicated by the decision to hold Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse from game action for the next week. Outfielder Rick Ankiel, who has been nursing a sore hamstring, is expected to return to game action on Tuesday.*Yes, I was checking my Twitter feed while editing/writing

None of these moves are particularly surprising, including Harper. As noted last month, most of the competition for the Opening Day roster is for the bench, the ‘pen, and the No. 5 starter. It’s encouraging to see how well Lombardozzi is playing, but in my tendency towards pessimism (disclosure: I grew up in New England during the ’70s and ’80s), I still lean towards him going back to Syracuse so he can play everyday (and maintain his trade value).

Nov 292011
 

Last year, I wrote “The people have spoken,” referring to the poll for next steps regarding rankings and watchlists. This year, the sentiment’s the same but this time, it’s a little more literal.

That’s because this year’s list is based on the opinions of those that wrote in to my query for submissions, not just my own. Is it scientific? Hell, no — it’s subjective. But the theory is that a bunch of like-minded seamheads are going to produce a better list than this one did last year.

The methodology is pretty simple: I took the submissions, put ‘em in a spreadsheet and then added up the points in reverse (#1 vote = 10 points, #10 vote = 1 point). Top vote getter is #1, second-most is #2, etc. A couple of ballots mixed in pitchers and I tried to count them anyways but that actually produced a couple of ties, so I tossed ‘em and that worked to break the ties.

The sample size isn’t terribly big (19) but it was about what I was hoping for (20). So here are the results, in reverse order with points in parentheses. A perfect score was 190 and I’m sure you’ll be *shocked* to learn that it was achieved.

10. Eury Perez (28)
9. Michael Taylor (33)
8. Tyler Moore (56)
7. Chris Marrero (74)
6. Destin Hood (87)
5. Steve Lombardozzi (95)
4. Brian Goodwin (103)
3. Derek Norris (150)
2. Anthony Rendon (152)
1. Bryce Harper (190)

Others receiving votes: Zach Walters, Jeff Kobernus, Rick Hague, Kevin Keyes, Jason Martinson, Jhonatan Solano, Matt Skole, Chris Curran, David Freitas, Corey Brown, Erik Komatsu, Blake Kelso

That’s 22 players receiving votes. You’ll note that I used “position players” instead of “bats” this year in the headline. Some folks took that to mean strictly hitting prowess, even though I tend to use it as a synonym like “arms” for pitchers. But I stuck with bats because I like the picture, opting against a visual pun (this time; I’ve been saving that one since last winter).

I think you can see from this variety of names that some folks are factoring in defense (e.g. Curran) some give props to knocking on the MLB door (Solano) and some give props to raw tools (Keyes). Three players appeared on all ballots: Harper, Rendon, and Norris. Goodwin was left off one; Moore, two; Lombardozzi, Hood, and Marrero: three; Perez, eight; Taylor, ten. The others receiving votes are in order of points, but it wasn’t close: Walters received 15 points.

The two names that missed that kind of surprised me were David Freitas and Rick Hague. Say what you will about his defense, but an .858 OPS over two years might have gotten a little more respect. Conversely, a season-ending shoulder injury didn’t dissuade folks from voting for Hague, even though as the votes for Martinson and Walters attest, he’s no longer the shortstop in waiting that he was this time last year.

Ultimately, like all things hot stove, this is an exercise that mainly serves to pass the time and the winter. But that’s going to stop me from soliciting votes for the pitchers as my next project ;-)

Editor’s Note: This was largely written prior to the news that Chris Marrero had torn his hamstring. Clearly this is a blow to both the prospect and the organization. It may also open the door for Tyler Moore. But one has to also wonder if this makes Lombardozzi the trade chip in lieu of Marrero, given the interest in Mark DeRosa.

Nov 202011
 

[Ed. Note: Another guest column from frequent commenter BinM]

Here’s an alternative rating to how well (or poorly) the Washington Nationals prospects performed with Scottsdale in the AFL this year, using simple stock market terminology. Did they either gain, lose, or maintain value in your eyes, based on their AFL results (Buy, Sell, or Hold)?

These are solely my opinions, and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and/or its employee

Bryce Harper, OF — 2010 Draft Pick (#1 overall, 19yo)
Coming off an injury out of AA Hagerstown, he delivered as expected in a repeat role for Scottsdale, producing an offensive line of 25GP, .333BA/.400OBP/.634SLG/.338BPA, 14EBH, 4SB with a 16-game hitting streak to boot. His OF errors still show he has room for overall improvement in the field.
Opinion: He’s only 19; still an unquestionable ‘Buy’ player for 2012.

Pat Lehman, RHP —2009 Draft Pick (13th round, 25yo)
Coming off a solid season divided between High-A and AA, this , 25yo) stumbled when presented with a chance to move up in the Nationals RP rankings. His final line of 12GP, 14⅔IP, 1.98WHIP, .382OBA, 4.3:1K-W, 2BS, 0-4 W-L left more than a bit to be desired for a prospect.
Opinion: Sell. This is basically the same kind of results seen from Jeff Mandel and Josh Wilkie in 2009, who also had chances to move up but posted uninspiring AFL results and slid into OG status.

Rafael Martin, RHP — 2010 Int’l Free Agent (27yo)
Signing with Washington just weeks shy of age 26, he entered the 2011 AFL season as a bit of a wildcard, with no real expectations. His season in Scottsdale yielded an overall line of 10GP, 12IP, 1.17WHIP, .200 OBA, 1.3:1K-W, showing both a cut fastball and a sinker.
Opinion: Hedging toward a ‘Buy’ status, but may still cap off at the AAA level.

Derek Norris, C — 2007 draft pick (4th round, 22yo)
Coming off a decent season at Harrisburg, Norris compiled a very good results in his second pass at the AFL, with a 21GP, 90PA, .276BA/.367OBP/.382SLG/.261BPA, 22RP, 4SB offensive line, as well as a 17-game on-base streak. The bat is there for this converted catcher, but the defense still needs work.
Opinion: Buy. His eye at the plate is rock-solid, he’s quicker than you think on the bases, and that bat should play somewhere in the field in the next year or two.

Matt Purke, LHP — 2011 Draft Pick (3rd round, 21yo)
Purke was a slightly suprising addition to the Scottsdale roster who seems to have settled down after a horrid start. His final line of 7GP, 7⅓ IP, 2.05WHIP, 1.2:1K-W, .353BAA shows some additional work is needed.
Opinion: Hold. I’m not yet convinced that he’s completely healthy, and might spend at least a partial season in a minor-league bullpen before returning to a starters’ role. As a result, he could still be a year or two out.

Sammy Solis, LHP — 2010 Draft Pick (2nd round, 23yo)
An up-and-down fall season for the southpaw, following a regular season shortened by minor injuries. His final line of 7GS, 26IP, 4.50ERA, 1.73WHIP, 1.4:1K-W, while still possessing a high-end FB, and the ongoing development of a solid overhand curve bodes well for his future with the organization.
Opinion: Buy, but don’t overcommit. He’s a LH with a likely #3SP role in the majors as his top end, but could still be two years away.

Zach Walters, IF — 2010 Draft Pick by Arizona (9th round, 22yo)
Coming from the Diamondbacks in a July trade for Jason Marquis, Walters was a steady player at SS in Potomac late in 2011. Shifted to 3B by other prospects in Scottsdale, he compiled a less-than-impressive 24GP, 89PA, .205BA/.253OPB/.301SLG/.189BPA, 6EBH, 14RP, 5.3:1 K:W overall line, with a high number of errors (albeit out of position).
Opinion: Hold. He was clearly ‘in over his head’ this fall season, but that doesn’t preclude some growth as a player going forward. A player to watch in 2012.

Nov 182011
 

Bryce Harper singled and tripled in the Arizona Fall League finale, which the Scottsdale Scorpions lost, 6-2.

The 2-for-3 effort pushed the 19-year-old’s batting average to .333, thanks to a 16-game hit streak and a .424 finish (28-for-66) over his last 18 games. Of course, Harper also struck out and was picked off first and made no putouts in left field, but those are nits for the Nats bandwagon, as I’m sure we can expect the drum for Harper to be the next Heyward all winter long (pay no attention to the latter’s .227/.319/.389 sophomore slump and make no correlations, right?).

Derek Norris went 0-for-3 to lower his line to .276/.367/.382 but threw out a baserunner and stole a base himself (#4). Despite the 0-for-13 finish, Norris is still a near-lock to be added to the 40-man roster and start 2012 in Syracuse. He reached base 18 of 21 games.

Zach Walters stayed off the interstate by going 1-for-3 with an RBI double to finish with a .205 mark. Not bad for a kid that began the year as a 21-year-old in Low-A. The signs of Josh Johnson and Chris McConnell above him on the Nats ladder make Potomac his most likely starting point for 2012, not to mention his mere 30 games of High-A experience.

Scottsdale finished the 2011 season with a 14-22 mark, last in the East division of the Arizona Fall League and tied with Phoenix for the circuit’s worst record. Last year, Scottsdale won the AFL championship.

And as if yesterday’s chill rains weren’t a talisman, winter has “officially” begun.

Nov 162011
 

Bryce Harper continued his torrid hitting while Scorpions remain tepid, losing again by a 4-1 count.

Harper went 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a stolen base. Defensively, he caught a foul fly but committed his sixth error on a missed catch.

Derek Norris remained ice-cold with another oh-fer, striking out twice in four at-bats and also committing an error on a throw. That was his seventh miscue of the fall.

Zach Walters wouldn’t be left out of this mistake-fest, committing his sixth error while playing third base. Offensively, he went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.

On the pitching side, Matt Purke turned in another scoreless outing, his fourth straight. He allowed a hit but struck out two, throwing 12 of his 16 pitches for strikes.

Scottsdale hosts Peoria for its final home game tonight, before finishing up the 2011 season tomorrow afternoon. Sammy Solis is not listed as a starter for either game.