Mar 132011
 

Former prospect Jordan Zimmermann threw five scoreless innings as the Nationals pitchers, save for one, stifled the Marlins for a 5-1 win on Sunday afternoon.

Danny Espinosa was the sole prospect to start, but was once again hitless in three at-bats with a strikeout. He was also hit by a pitch, taking a spun-away shot to the helmet but remained in the game. Wilson Ramos came off the bench but struck out in his only at-bat.

Other notable prospects…

  • Eury Perez was 0-for-1 and got two putouts in the bottom of the ninth.
  • Chris Marrero was caught looking in his lone at-bat and played three error-free innings at first base.
  • Brian Broderick came on in relief of Henry Rodriguez (more later) and pitched 1⅔ innings with no hits, walks or strikeouts.
  • Steve Lombardozzi played the last two innings at 2B and had an assist.
  • Cole Kimball pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with two flyouts and a groundout to second base.

As aforementioned, Rodriguez came on in relief of Zimmermann and had trouble finding the plate, walking three in ⅓ of an inning and was charged for the sole Marlin run. He threw 23 pitches during the outing, and 15 were balls. The velocity was there but the command was not, as the pitches off the plate were in the high 90s while the pitches over the plate were in the low 90s.

With the loss, the Nats improve to 10-5 for the Spring. They return to Viera to host the Tigers tomorrow afternoon, a game which will only be “seen” via MLB Gameday.

Mar 072011
 

Bryce Harper came to bat twice in the eighth inning and twice he delivered a double to right field as part of a nine-run eighth as the Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros 14-9 this afternoon.

The second double of the inning gave Harper his two RBI and extended the Nationals lead from 11-8 to 13-8. He would attempt to steal third with two outs on the very first pitch to the next batter, coming around to score after a wild pitch and Kevin Barker double. Harper is now batting .308 for the spring.

Other notable prospects…

  • Danny Espinosa once again got the start at second base and went 2-for-5 with 3 RBI and a strikeout.
  • Derek Norris struck out in his lone plate appearance.
  • Yunesky Maya started, but struggled in his 2⅔ innings, allowing a run on a home run (five hits total), walking one and striking out one.
  • Cole Kimball went 2 innings and allowed a hit but struck out three
  • Ryan Mattheus allowed a run on two hits while pitching the ninth inning. He struck out one.

With the win, the Nationals improve to 5-3 and travel to Port St. Lucie tomorrow to face a split-squad Mets team. Brian Broderick, Atahualpa Severino & Adam Carr are expected to pitch in relief.

Mar 012011
 

The beauty (and agony) of baseball is that every day is a new chance to forget yesterday. After striking out twice yesterday, Bryce Harper buried his inglorious two-K debut and served up an opposite-field single in his first at-bat today as the Nationals escaped a shaky 9th to beat the New York Mets, 5-3. Harper went 1-for-2 overall and fielded two doubles, the second of which was not fielded cleanly according to NatsNQ (via Twitter).

Danny Espinosa started again at second base, with Chris Marrero at first base, filling in for DH Adam LaRoche (shoulder soreness). Espinosa knocked in two with a two-run HR in the bottom of the Nats’ four-run fourth inning and laid down the tag on a strike-em-out-throw-em-out DP in the previous half-inning. Marrero singled twice in two at-bats out of the #9 hole and did not make an error.

Other notable prospects…

  • Corey Brown once again spelled Nyjer Morgan in CF, rapping an RBI single in the bottom of the 7th, but left the game after a collision at home plate while trying to score on an grounder to 1B by Harper.
  • Derek Norris replaced Ivan Rodriguez and went 1-for-2, popping to short in his first at-bat and singling to 3B in his second AB
  • Cole Kimball pitched a scoreless sixth inning, walking one and striking out one. The stadium’s radar gun was inoperative so no word on how hard he was throwing.

The Nationals remain in Viera tomorrow for an afternoon tilt against the Florida Marlins.

Dec 012010
 

This is a more difficult list to compile because, as noted in the comments recently, this system does not have much in the way of front-line starters poised for the near term. Of course, I’ve just described at least half the other organizations in MLB. That may not be much comfort, but the lament is common one. There’s a reason why you rarely see a position player traded for a starting pitcher, one for one.

What the Nationals do appear to have is a group of relievers that could make the jump in the next year or so. There’s something to be said for that. Some of you may have seen the MLB Network’s Prime 9 episode “The Most Lopsided Trades in MLB History.” Two of those nine involved relievers (oddly enough both trades involved the Red Sox) and it’s not hard to recall other past trades, particularly in late July, that involve uneven swaps of relievers for prospects.

Last year, the Nats appeared to have pulled off just such a trade (though in fairness to Minnesota, Wilson Ramos was blocked by a perennial All-Star). If just a couple of these prospects pan out, it could give Washington G.M. Mike Rizzo the chips to make another deal… or better yet make one of the team’s few strengths even stronger.

So with that in mind, I’m presenting our Top 10 List of Pitching prospects, a.k.a. “arms”…

  1. Sammy Solis — Struggled some in the AFL, but scouts are nearly in agreement that he can and will rise rapidly.
  2. A.J. Cole  — Tall (6’5″) wiry (190lbs) H.S. RHP but said to possess a plus FB (91-94, top 96) that will likely gain velocity as he gains weight and grows into his frame.
  3. Robbie Ray — A “pitchability” lefty that is projected to command three pitches for strikes (FB, CU, CH).
  4. Adam Carr — Hard-throwing RHRP that had strong finish in AAA and a good AFL and has proven he can throw multiple innings regularly.
  5. Cole Kimball — The surprise of the AFL with outstanding numbers and an improved fastball but lack of AAA track record gives Carr the higher ranking.
  6. A.J. Morris — Noticeable increase in velocity, sharpness, and effectiveness after converting from starting to relief in the last month of the season.
  7. Tom Milone — Outstanding control and plus breaking pitch, but scouts worry it won’t translate to the next level. This has been the refrain since 2008.
  8. Brad Peacock — Hard-throwing RHP that needs to have his changeup working to succeed. When it is, he’s very effective. When it’s not, he can and will get hit hard.
  9. Brad Meyers — 2010 was a lost cause, but folks much more experienced and knowledgeable than I am in prospect-rating still believe in him, so he gets the nod.
  10. Danny Rosenbaum — The sizable gap between his ERA (2.09) and FIP (3.27) is a cause for concern, but like Milone, has a good feel for pitching and can survive on the nights when his breaking ball isn’t working.

The “Nigel Tufnel” goes to Rob Wort. This is a pure “gut” pick based on what I saw down the stretch from him in Potomac: A tendency to pitch remarkably better with runners on base versus the bases empty.

Honorable Mentions go to Tanner Roark and Ryan Tatusko. If I had done Top 10s for both relievers and starters, there’s no doubt they both would have been mentioned. I decided not to include Yunesky Maya because of his advanced age, his international experience, and the small sample size of work, which was less than stellar (e.g. 21BB, 4HR in 46⅓ IP majors and minors combined). All three will be on the watchlist.

Nov 222010
 

First, the stats…

BATTERS

PLAYER G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Lombardozzi 21 82 16 24 8 2 0 4 10 8 .293 .385 .439 2
Burgess 18 65 8 16 3 3 2 20 4 20 .246 .286 .477 1
Norris 16 54 10 15 5 2 4 19 11 18 .278 .403 .667 2
Harper 9 35 6 12 3 2 1 7 4 11 .343 .410 .629 1

PITCHERS

PLAYER W L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO WHIP HLD GF
Solis 1 0 0 3.80 6 23⅔ 22 13 10 7 12 1.225 0 0
Carr 1 0 1 2.08 10 13 6 3 3 3 8 0.692 1 4
Peacock 0 0 0 4.50 9 12 10 6 6 3 17 1.083 2 1
Kimball 0 0 1 0.82 11 12 8 1 1 2 15 0.833 0 11

Now, the thoughts…

  • Bryce Harper managed to make his mark despite only playing twice a week. Now, we will wonder for the next four and a half months where Rizzo will have him start. Hagerstown is the official word, but I can’t see him starting there unless he has a terrible spring, or unless the plan is to have Harper make a tour of the full-season minors no matter what.
  • Lombardozzi did nothing to dissuade our opinion of him, but now we’ll have to wait until the prospect guides to come out whether or not he changed anyone else’s minds. I suspect not because even in our own Natmosphere his game-winning double in the AFL title game was barely mentioned.
  • Derek Norris has shown that much of his “struggles” this season were because he was hurting, finishing the AFL with the third-highest slugging pct. and the fourth-highest OPS. His defensive deficiencies were also displayed but a full season under the tutelage of Randy Knorr in Harrisburg ought to help immensely.
  • Michael Burgess also did nothing to dissuade the growing perception that his prospect days are behind him. He’ll start as the Harrisburg RF in 2011, but how long he’ll stay is the question. The signal may just be when he starts playing LF and DH more often than RF.
  • Brad Peacock showed flashes of brilliance as a reliever, leading to some speculation that he was auditioning for a midseason ’11 callup, but by the end of the AFL season it was clear that this was done to limit his innings. Possible Opening Day starter for the Senators.
  • Sammy Solis got a baptism by fire, but nothing that one couldn’t attribute to his lack of pro experience or the long layoffs between the draft and after the end of the regular season. Some question as to whether he’ll start in Hagerstown or Potomac, but given Rizzo’s track record, I’d bet on Potomac until late June, then Harrisburg through late August.
  • Cole Kimball is probably the biggest surprise of the AFL, at least relative to the success shown in twelve appearances. I’m not entirely sold that he’s for real, but hopeful that he can continue to contribute and assist the parent club in its quest to build middle relievers from within and not overpay for FA relievers. Could make the parent club with a strong spring.
  • Adam Carr has come a long way in just a year. In November ’09, he was finishing up his first season as a starting pitcher, including an August in which he posted a 7.34ERA and walked more batters than he struck out. He returned to Senator ‘pen and found his niche as the two-inning man, then had success as a closer for Syracuse. Like Kimball, he’s a dark horse to make 25-man roster by March 31, the day before his 27th birthday.
Nov 202010
 

The Scottsdale Scorpions survived three errors to capture the 2010 Arizona Fall League Championship with a 3-2 win over the Peoria Javelinas.

Washington’s Sammy Solis got credit for the win, allowing both runs (one unearned) on three hits and a walk while striking out three over his four innings of work. Cole Kimball was the last of five relievers to follow, tossing a 1-2-3 ninth with a strikeout to earn the save.

Bryce Harper, who started and played right field, drove in the Scorpions’ second run of the ballgame in the second inning with a first-pitch, opposite-field line drive to left but struck out twice to finish 1-for-4. Harper caught three fly balls and handled both singles hit to right.

Derek Norris, who caught and batted cleanup, legged out an infield single earlier in the second and scored on a sacrifice fly one batter before Harper, and went 1-for-3 for the game. No baserunners attempted to steal against him.

Steve Lombardozzi got the nod at shortstop and drove in the gamewinner in the fourth inning with a double to right for his 1-for-4 afternoon. He handled both chances he got before being lifted for defense in the seventh.

Michael Burgess pinch-hit for the DH in the bottom of the eighth and drew walk after balling behind 1-and-2.

Quick hits…

…Solis had moments of brilliance and moments where it looked like he was about to get clobbered, leaving pitches up in the zone. It’s not hard to imagine how in the second turn through the lineup that hitters would be looking for something up and if it’s a game in which his offspeed stuff isn’t working, he’ll get hit hard as he has at times this fall. Nice, smooth delivery.

…Harper is definitely old-school a la Pete Rose in terms of his hustle and intensity. What worries me is that that will be perceived as dirty pool by some opponents, particularly on double-play balls during blowouts. He can be had with elite heat and straight changes, but I suspect very strongly that he will learn to adjust to that very quickly because this kid’s got the Motts, as it were.

…Norris and Lombardozzi turned in the effort and produced the results I’d seen all season long. The announcers prattled about Norris being “too patient” and then said nothing when he worked the count to his favor and got a leg hit. Lombardozzi got the “well, I remember his Dad in the ’87 Series” treatment that seems to be de rigeur. The fault must be mine for expecting more.

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 182010
 

The Scottsdale Scorpions got back on the winning track with a 6-0 shutout of the Mesa Solar Sox. Two pitchers and two position players got into the game…

  • Derek Norris was the DH and batted cleanup, going 2-for-4 with a triple and a strikeout
  • Bryce Harper played RF and batted 6th, smacking an RBI double in a 2-for-4 effort
  • Adam Carr pitched a scoreless eighth, allowing a hit, but striking out one while earning a hold
  • Cole Kimball pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and also struck out one

As reported yesterday, today’s game will be a seven-inning affair to reduce pitcher workloads entering the final week of play. Sammy Solis will indeed start on Saturday for the AFL Championship and it’s widely expected that Bryce Harper will also play.

Nov 152010
 

Here’s a look at how the Nats fared over the weekend in the AFL…

FRIDAY
A five-run fourth carried the Scottsdale Scorpions to their third straight win by a 6-4 count

  • Michael Burgess, batting seventh and playing RF, went 0-for-1 with a walk and a strikeout
  • Adam Carr earned the save with a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out the final batter

SATURDAY
The Surprise Rafters edged the Scorpions 4-3

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off and played 2B and went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. He was also caught stealing
  • Bryce Harper batted fifth and played RF, walking once, scoring a run, and was caught stealing. He also committed an error (fielding)./li>

Statistics through 28 games…

BATTERS

PLAYER G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Lombardozzi 18 69 15 19 6 2 0 4 10 5 .275 .386 .420 2
Burgess 16 58 7 14 3 2 1 11 4 18 .241 .286 .414 1
Norris 14 47 9 13 5 1 4 19 11 17 .277 .417 .649 2
Harper 8 31 6 10 2 2 1 6 4 10 .323 .400 .613 1

PITCHERS

PLAYER W L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO WHIP HLD GF
Solis 1 0 0 4.35 5 20⅔ 21 13 10 7 10 1.355 0 0
Carr 1 0 1 2.25 9 12 5 3 3 3 7 0.667 0 4
Peacock 0 0 0 4.91 8 11 9 6 6 3 16 1.091 2 0
Kimball 0 0 1 0.82 10 11 8 1 1 2 14 0.909 0 10
Nov 122010
 

The Scottsdale Scorpions took their second straight with a 5-1 decision over the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Highlights from the Nats included…

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off, played 2B, and went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base
  • Michael Burgess tripled and drove in two for is 1-for-4, playing RF and batting seventh
  • Cole Kimball closed out the game with a scoreless inning, allowing a hit, a walk, but striking out one

The win combined with a loss by the Mesa Solar Sox extends the Scottsdale lead to four games with six to play. They host the Peoria Saguaros tonight, then visit the Surprise Rafters tomorrow. Check back on Monday to see how they did, plus our weekly review of the AFL stats. Plus, the last of the affiliate season reviews is on tap for Tuesday.