Mar 042011
 

Thanks to NatsNQ, we get a little vicarious visual while the rest of us are peering at the MLB.com GameDay app and our Twitter Feeds to follow the game today, which was a good one until the 9th inning when Atlanta broke open a 3-3 tie with three runs off Drew Storen to go up 6-3, eventually winning 6-4 over the Nationals.

As the headline suggests, what struck me today was the number of tweets mentioning Chris Marrero, who went 2-for-2 with a double to LF and an RBI single to RF, and praising him for more than just his bat. Put down your beverage before you spray your monitor…

Chris Marrero doesn’t look half bad at first base. He’s made a couple nice plays on unassisted grounders.

That’s MASN’s Ben Goessling, who also noted Marrero’s leaner/meaner physique by virtue of seeing a nutritionist this offseason. For the spring, Marrero is a perfect 4-for-4. Sure, it’s early, and it’s just a couple of games, but it’s good news nevertheless.

Other notable prospects…

  • Wilson Ramos got the start at catcher and went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
  • Danny Espinosa started again at 2B and went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. He also helped turn a 4-6-3 DP.
  • Bryce Harper came off the bench and went 0-for-1 with a strikeout. Defensively, he threw out a runner at 2B but also misplayed a ball during the 9th.
  • Brian Broderick was the first man out of the bullpen, throwing two scoreless innings and striking out two while allowing one hit.

With the loss, the Nats fall to 3-2 for the Grapefruit campaign and travel tomorrow to Tampa to face the New York Yankees.

Nov 292010
 

The people have spoken, so here’s our obligatory Top 10 list of the Nationals batting prospects. Next will be the Top 10 Arms, and then a revisit to the watchlist. I don’t have the chutzpah to do letter graders or stars, so this is just my opinion on the ten hitting prospects that folks are watching and talking about. I’ll even throw in my Nigel Tufnel to answer the usual question, “Who just missed the list?”

Without further ado…

  1. Bryce Harper — Biggest question: How will he handle the adjustments that will be made to him, especially if he gets the Barry Bonds treatment.
  2. Derek Norris — Complaints about his defense are overblown because he can readily shift to another position if need be, but made significant improvements despite being hurt.
  3. Danny Espinosa — Two spring-training questions: Will the parent club tolerate his strikeouts? Will he get a chance to win the SS job?
  4. Wilson Ramos — Let’s hope he’s given the chance to win the job outright from Rodriguez, but a platoon is probably more likely.
  5. Chris Marrero — Rated this high because I think he’s viable trade bait and appears to be capable of hitting at the MLB level.
  6. Steve Lombardozzi — Steady, solid and reliable. Capable of leading off, but more likely to hit second or eighth.
  7. Michael Burgess — Will probably never hit for average, but the power potential, the OF arm, and the option to platoon him is something to consider
  8. J.P. Ramirez — Concerns about his foot speed, but both our Hagerstown contributors liked his power potential and I liked his tendency to post a good month following bad month all season long.
  9. Eury Perez — It’s no secret that I like the guys that can run and play small ball, and there are doubts about him being able to hit at the upper levels, but he’s the youngest of that prototype in full-season minors.
  10. Tyler Moore — Like Sickels, I’m concerned about what AA pitchers will do to him once they find his weaknesses, but his power is undeniable.

And, the Nigel Tufnel goes to… Rick Hague. That’s who I’d rank #11.

I’m sure folks will have lots to say in the comments…

Nov 202010
 

Too much to report before Monday, so it’s a weekend offseason special. Let’s dish on the Nats News…

RULE 5 DRAFT
As expected, the Nationals protected Chris Marrero. A little less expected, both Adam Carr and Cole Kimball were added to the 40-man. A mild shock: Brad Peacock was not. While the folks at NationalsArmRace overlooked Carr and favored Jeff Mandel and Brad Meyers, their rundown (linked) is still worth a look.

AFL CHAMPIONSHIP
This afternoon at 3 p.m. is the Arizona Fall League Championship. Michael Burgess is expected to start in RF, while Bryce Harper is slated to come off the bench — I’d expect Harper to pinch-hit for Burgess after he gets two at-bats, unless there’s a rally in the middle innings where Harper could come up and deliver a killshot. Sammy Solis will be the starting pitcher. Yours truly has set the DVR and will write up what he sees.

PROPS FROM MAYO
That would be from Jonathan Mayo from MLB.com, not the clinic. Harper, Derek Norris and Solis made the cut. And to shift away from the AFL momentarily, here’s a story about Danny Espinosa in case folks may have missed it.

Nov 092010
 

In the upper minors, there is no half system, which makes the 2010 Harrisburg Senators playoff run even more impressive. At the halfway mark, their record stood at 34-37, more than a dozen games back and in fourth place. Down the stretch, they would go 43-28 and shave that lead to five games to earn the Eastern League’s Western Division wild card, beating out Bowie and Akron by a game and two games respectively.

The Senators would lose to the eventual Eastern League champions, the Altoona Curve — a team that featured several players with playoff experience in winning the 2009 Carolina League championship with the Lynchburg Hillcats. Like Potomac, this team gelled at just the right time, and got some significant help with the addition of two starters — Ryan Tatusko and Tanner — that would become known as “The Guz Two” because they were acquired from Texas in the Christian Guzman trade.

You know the drill: Let’s look at how the Senators compared to the Eastern League…

HITTING

TEAM AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA SB
Harrisburg 4726 598 1188 121 398 948 .251 .314 .390 .239 86
Lg. Avg. 4755 656 1232 113 470 1008 .259 .332 .397 .249 97

Italics = League Trailer

PITCHING

TEAM IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
Harrisburg 1252.0 3.51 3.94 1.255 102 400 1108 8.4 2.9 8.0 2.77
Lg. Avg. 1244.0 4.21 4.63 1.370 113 470 1008 8.9 3.4 7.3 2.14

Bold = League Leader

As we just saw from our most recent World Champions, great pitching can carry mediocre-to-poor hitting and the Senators were no different. Offensively, the Sens were in the bottom third of the league for runs scored, hits, doubles, RBI, SBs, walks, OBP, and SLG percentage. They were middle of the pack for HRs and triples, and surprisingly for a team that was dead-last in BBs, they stuck out the third-fewest.

What this team could do well, however, was pitch. They managed to lead the league in ERA despite their #2 pitcher (in terms of IP, of course) sporting a 5.80 ERA. Seven of the Top 16 pitchers had ERAs below 3.00. As you can see from the bolded categories, they led the league in some of the most important ones: runs allowed, earned runs allowed, and ratio, and were second in baserunners allowed (WHIP) and walks, and third in strikeouts. In fact, we almost had a microcosm of Harrisburg vs. the Eastern League on the same staff, with Jeff Mandel as the former and Jason Jones as the latter.

In terms of batters, the stalwarts of the 2009 Potomac Nationals — Chris Marrero, Danny Espinosa and Jesus Valdez — were the top three batters in terms of plate appearances, runs, and RBIs. But beyond that it was the usual mix of formers, might-haves, were-it-nots (whatever euphemism you’d prefer for the “other guys” on the team) that were complementary parts, of which the best can be said is that they played league-average defense, with the exception of the catchers, who led the league in baserunners caught and worked with the pitchers to tie for the fewest stolen bases allowed.

As in previous season reviews, let’s look at the Top 16 (in terms of Plate Appearances or Innings Pitched) which puts the cutoff at 100PA and 32⅓ IP. The full team statistics can be found here.

Name Age Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err PA GPA
Chris Marrero 21 1B 129 .984 18 577 .270
Jesus Valdez 25 RF/LF 67/58 .990 2 569 .242
Danny Espinosa 23 SS 98 .964 15 434 .266
Brad Coon 27 CF 107 .996 1 413 .232
Michael Martinez 27 2B/OF/SS 83/17/3 .969 14 387 .234
Marvin Lowrance 25 LF 61 .978 2 357 .283
Jhontan Solano 24 C 89 .993 5 345 .225
Tim Pahuta 27 3B/1B 50/12 .956 9 303 .208
Edgardo Baez 24 RF/CF/LF 52/22/7 .983 3 300 .235
Josh Johnson 24 SS/2B/3B 35/19/17 .977 6 258 .280
Ofilio Castro 26 3B/2B 57/10 .981 3 225 .197
Adam Fox 28 3B/2B/LF 36/5/1 .875 13 171 .175
Leonard Davis 26 OF/IF 27/8 .952 4 123 .243
Steve Lombardozzi 21 2B 27 .971 3 118 .299
Sean Rooney 24 C 30 .982 14 109 .165
Devin Ivany 27 C/1B 24/1 .988 3 100 .297

Believe it or not, the average age of the batters (24.7) wasn’t that far off from the league average (24.3) nor were they the oldest in the league. With three 22-year-olds (Norris, Lombardozzi, and Burgess) expected to begin the season in 2011, that number may trend downward unless more than one of them gets the bump to Syracuse. Just six of these sixteen were above the league-average for GPA, as you’d expect for team as a whole being in the bottom third of the league. But the good news was the pitching…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HBP WP
Tom Milone 23 27/27 12-5 2.85 158 161 23 155 1.165 4 7
Aaron Thompson 23 26/26 4-13, 0 5.80 136⅔ 164 53 95 1.588 5 5
Andrew Kown 27 15/15 6-4, 0 3.83 84⅔ 83 19 47 1.205 3 1
Hassan Pena 25 48/0 2-2, 1 4.29 71⅓ 73 30 64 1.444 6 8
Rafael Martin 26 21/14 5-4, 0 3.61 67⅓ 55 26 58 1.203 1 6
Cole Kimball 24 38/10 5-1, 12 2.33 54 33 31 75 1.185 5 13
Jack Spradlin 25 39/1 1-1, 1 4.09 50⅔ 51 18 49 1.362 4 2
Adam Carr 26 36/0 6-1, 5 3.04 50⅓ 43 14 48 1.132 1 3
Chuck James 28 21/2 8-0, 2 1.59 45⅓ 28 7 50 0.772 6 3
Erik Arnesen 26 13/5 2-2, 2 2.81 41⅔ 36 7 35 1.032 1 1
John Lannan 25 7/7 1-4, 0 4.20 40⅔ 49 10 28 1.451 4 0
Jeff Mandel 25 7/7 1-4, 0 3.82 40 37 13 27 1.250 2 1
Brad Peacock 22 7/7 2-2, 0 4.66 38⅔ 33 22 30 1.422 0 0
Ryan Tatusko 25 6/6 3-1, 0 1.72 36⅔ 30 13 36 1.173 1 1
Tanner Roark 23 6/6 1-1, 0 2.50 36 35 9 33 1.222 0 0
Ross Detwiler 24 7/7 2-2, 0 2.48 32⅔ 38 7 31 1.378 2 1

There’s not much that I haven’t said already about the top dog on the pitching staff, Tom Milone. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how Sickels, BA, and the scouts at MLBA rate him this time around, now that he’s put up the numbers at the level that commands attention outside the prospect universe. Aaron Thompson was his counterweight in terms of affecting the team’s numbers as a group, and is likely to repeat this level in ’11, along with Brad Peacock and Tanner Roark.

Ryan Tatusko is the best candidate to join Milone at Syracuse next season, but beyond that is guessing game. Given the modern usage of AAA as a taxi squad, much will depend on the FAs that get signed between now and this spring. As mentioned in the comments, we’re still not at the point where the AA team has more prospects than organizational guys. While that will improve next year with the influx from Potomac, I expect to look over the ’11 Opening Day Roster and see a fair number of ’84s and ’85s in the DOB column.

Obviously, there’s some overlap with Potomac and some AFL bias in these lists. And like last week, naming a fifth bat is perfunctory. Johnson gets the nod because he’s versatile and handles the bat well. It’s no secret that next week will be even more of a, um, crapshoot when it comes to this part of the review.

OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS

Batters
1. Danny Espinosa
2. Chris Marrero
3. Steve Lombardozzi
4. Michael Burgess
5. Josh Johnson

Pitchers
1. Tom Milone
2. Cole Kimball
3. Brad Peacock
4. Adam Carr
5. Tanner Roark

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 102010
 

Harrisburg was unable to avoid the split, while Potomac earned it, as both teams head home tonight with their playoff series tied at 1-1.

Aaron Thompson last pitched against last night’s opponent in a 3-2 loss on September 2nd, but the familiarity outpaced the extra rest as the Curve touched him for three runs over four innings en route to a 6-4 loss in Altoona. First man out of the bullpen, Adrian Alaniz, was also ineffective in pitching a three-run bottom of the fifth that followed a Senator rally in the top of the inning that had tied the game at 3-3.

The 7-8-9 batters paced the offense for the Potomac Nationals, combining eight of the 11 hits the P-Nats collected, including a double and two triples.
Zach Dials was perfect in relief, retiring all nine batters he faced to earn the save. Trevor Holder started and went the first five innings allowing four runs (one earned) on six hits while walking one and striking out four. Rob Wort pitched a scoreless sixth to get the win.

Harrisburg would outhit Altoona 10-7 but went an abysmal 1-for-12 with RISP, stranding 10 runners as the Senators couldn’t take advantage of two errors and five walks.

Back-to-back RBI triples by #7 hitter Robby Jacobsen (4-for-4) and #8 hitter Sean Nicol (2-for-3), followed by a sacrfice fly by #9 hitter Chris Curran (2-for-3) would tie the game at 4-4 in the top of the fifth, an immediate response to the three-run rally by the Keys in the bottom of the fourth. Curran would double in Jacobsen in the top of the seventh for the go-ahead (winning) run.

Harrisburg hosts Altoona for the next two nights with the “Guz Two” — Ryan Tatusko (3-1, 1.72) and Tanner Roark (1-1, 2.50) — scheduled to pitch against Justin Wilson (11-8, 3.09) and Tony Watson (6-4, 2.67) respectively. As frequent commenter Souldrummer reminds us, Game 5 (if necessary) would be played in Altoona on Sunday.

Potomac hosts Frederick for at least the next two nights, and possibly on Sunday afternoon. Veterans Jimmy Barthmaier (4-1, 3.62) and Zach Clark (2-3, 5.25) square off tonight, with Marcos Frias (7-5, 5.69) and Luis Noel (3-2, 6.18) scheduled to pitch tomorrow — a matchup that could potentially change with the outcome of tonight’s game, as the P-Nats could opt for Evan Bronson to negate lefties Xavier Avery and Billy Rowell while the Keys could ask the likes of Jose Duran and/or Brett Bordes to start in favor of Noel, who was pounded in his previous outing against them in late July.

Rain is in the forecast for both Altoona and Woodbridge on Sunday afternoon.

For the bullet-point folks…

Team Pitching Star Hitting Star #1 Hitting Star #2
Harrisburg Senators
L, 6-4
Brad Peacock
2IP 0H 0R 1BB 3K
Josh Johnson
2-2, 2R, 2B, 3B, 2BB
Chris Marrero
2-5, R, RBI
Potomac Nationals
W, 5-4
Zach Dials (SV, 1)
3IP 0H 0R 0BB 3K
Robby Jacobsen
4-4, 2R, 3B, RBI
Chris Curran
2-3, 2B, SF, 2RBI
Sep 072010
 

Our final 2010 look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues, with a focus on the level where the prospects shone the brightest, not counting some guy who made a tour for service-time reasons (*ahem*).

SYRACUSE 76-67, 2nd place IL North, 11 games back

Good Bat: Danny Espinosa .295/.349/.463 in 24G
Arm: Josh Wilkie 2.45ERA, 1.13WHIP, 2HR in 69⅔ IP
Bad Bat: Chris Duncan .191/.274/.302 in 82G
Arm: Collin Balester as a starter: 11.57ERA, .385OBA
Interesting Bat: Boomer Whiting .372OBP, 36/48 SB
Arm: Erik Arnesen 1.29WHIP, 3.95ERA in 107IP

HARRISBURG 77-65, 2nd place, 5 games back, E.L. West Division Wild Card

Good Bat: Chris Marrero .294/.350/.450 in 141G
Arm: Tom Milone 12-5, 2.85ERA ( in ’09, 12-5, 2.91ERA), 155K in 158IP
Bad Bat: Sean Rooney .165BA in 31G
Arm: Aaron Thompson 4-13, 5.80ERA, 1.59WHIP
Interesting Bat: Steve Lombardozzi .295/.373/.524 in 27G
Arm: Tanner Roark 1.22WHIP, 2.50ERA in 6 starts since acquisition

POTOMAC
39-30 in 2nd Half, 70-69 overall — 2nd-Half CrL North Division winner by 2½ games

Good Bat: Tyler Moore 31HR, 111RBI, .552SLG
Arm: Dan Leatherman 0.92WHIP, 57K in 46⅔ IP in 31G w/ 11SV
Bad Bat: Chris Curran .226/.293/.305 in 74G
Arm: Justin Phillabaum 0-6, 6.87ERA (13.17 at home), 1.77WHIP in 29 appearances
Interesting Bat: Derek Norris .300/.535/.575 with RISP; .210/.359/.347 bases empty
Arm: Brad Peacock 5.1K/9 at A+ in ’09; 10.27K/9 in ’10

HAGERSTOWN
29-41 in 2nd Half, 65-75 overall

Good Bat: J.P. Ramirez .296/.341/.470 in 132G
Arm: Danny Rosenbaum 2.32ERA, 1.22WHIP in 18G
Bad Bat: Adrian Nieto .195/.291/.253, 13E in 60G
Arm: Josh Smoker 7.38ERA, .319OBA as starter
Interesting Bat: Justin Bloxom .309/.355/.476 in ’10; .228/.346/.303 in ’09 at Vermont
Arm: Rob Wort 2.08ERA, 185OBA; 3.91ERA, .247OBA in ’09 at GCL

VERMONT
36-38, 3rd Place Stedler Division of NY-Penn League, 2 games back

Good Bat: David Freitas .307/.408/.450 in 62G
Arm: Neil Holland 1.04WHIP, 37K in 32⅔ IP in 19G
Bad Bat: Hendry Jimenez .218/.291/.279 in 51G
Arm: Chris McKenzie 1.97WHIP, 8.54ERA in 26⅓ IP over 8G (6GS)
Interesting Bat: Wade Moore .287/.394/.392, ’10 D-2 draftee
Arm: Mark Herrera 1.18WHIP, .220OBA, ’10 Juco draftee

GCL NATIONALS
24-32, 4th place GCL East Division, 13 games back

Good Bat: Randolph Oduber .366/.434/.569 in 39G
Arm: Nick Serino 1.01WHIP, 3.16ERA in 25⅔ IP
Bad Bat: Rashad Hatcher .200/.241/.218 in 32G
Arm: Mike Gallo 8.38ERA, .291OBA in 19⅓ IP
Interesting Bat: Angel Montilla .285/.350/.383 in 51G
Arm: NDFA Billy Ott 0.83WHIP, 1.17ERA in 23IP

DSL NATIONALS
36-35, 5th Place, Boca Chica East, 10 games back

Good Bat: Victor Chavez .309/.420/.412 in 46G
Arm: Wirkin Estevez 1.04WHIP, .233OBA in 82⅔ IP
Bad Bat: Yamaicol Tejeda .042BA in 48AB over 32G
Arm: Jorge De La Cruz 9.88ERA in 11G
Interesting Bat: 18-y.o. Paul Chacin .281/.355/.336 in 50G
Arm: Adalberto Mieses 1.42WHIP, 33BB, 5HR, 2.98ERA
Jul 162010
 

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

SYRACUSE
51-41, 2nd place IL North, 3 games back

Good Jason Jones 0.99WHIP in 24⅓ innings
Bad Chris Duncan .136BA since May 31
Interesting Atahualpa Severino 1.15ERA vs. LHB

HARRISBURG
45-47, 4th place, 11 games behind

Good Chris Marrero 51K in first 51G, 28K in last 42G
Bad Ross Detwiler 1.69WHIP, .353OBA
Interesting Marvin Lowrance .375/.479/.425 in July

POTOMAC
10-9 2nd Half; 41-48 Overall

Good Derek Norris, 45BB in 51G
Bad Chris Curran, .161BA in July
Interesting Dan Lyons, .395 OBP over last 10G

HAGERSTOWN
8-13 2nd Half; 44-47 Overall

Good Jeff Kobernus .356/.400/.441 in July
Bad Luis Garcia 0-2, 8.53ERA in July
Interesting Justino Cuevas, RHB – .056 vs. LHP, .340 vs. RHP

VERMONT
19-7, 1st Place Stedler Division of NY-Penn League

Good Colin Bates 2-0, 1.62ERA, 0.96WHIP in 6G (1 start)
Bad Backup Catchers: .167BA, .197SLG
Interesting Shane McCatty 5.11ERA as reliever, 0.00ERA as starter

GCL NATIONALS
7-13, 5th place GCL East Division, 5½ games back

Good Randolph Oduber .450/.542/.650 since debut
Bad Mike Gallo, 8.18ERA, 1.73WHIP in 6 appearances
Interesting Jeremy Mayo .297/.435/.514 in 15G

DSL NATIONALS
21-18, 4th place B.C. South Division, 3 games back

Good Edgar Gonzalez 27BB in 35G (.404 OBP)
Bad Jean Valdez’s 2HR leads the team
Interesting 20-y.o. Adalberto Mieses team-highs for BB (23), HRs allowed (4) yet has a 2.72ERA