Oct 162011
 

Make that five straight losses for Scottsdale, as Pat Lehman surrendered a two-run homer in the bottom of the 8th that snapped a 6-6 tie. Derek Norris hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the 9th but the Scorpions rally fell short for the eventual 8-7 score.

Running down the individual performances…

  • Norris went 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI, but also grounded into two double plays
  • Zach Walters went 1-for-5 with with double but struck out three times and committed an error
  • Matt Purke threw two innings and gave up an earned run on a hit and walk and had one strikeout
  • Lehman pitched the final two innings and gave up two runs (one earned) on two hits and a walk while striking out two

Bryce Harper did not play. Today is his 19th birthday.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the AFL stats to date. The Scorpions host Phoenix on Monday, visit the Desert Dogs on Tuesday, host the Solar Sox on Wednesday, then finish out the week with visits to Mesa, Surprise, and Phoenix on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday respectively. It’s afternoon games on every day this week but Tuesday.

Oct 132011
 

Scottsdale was doubled up 10-5 for its second straight loss.

Sammy Solis was knocked around for four runs on six hits and a walk over his four innings of work, giving up a pair of runs in the first and third innings. He threw 63 pitches, 42 for strikes while getting six outs on the ground and three flyouts.

Derek Norris was the designated hitter and went 0-for-2 with a run scored. He walked twice and struck out once.
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As mentioned earlier this week, winter leagues in Mexico, Venezuela, and the Dominican are starting up this week. The editorial plan is to feature the AFL on a daily basis, but check in on the other Nats on a weekly basis. As expected, just one Nat farmhand is playing in the Mexican League (Pat McCoy) while roughly a dozen or so are in the Venezuelan League.

Oct 122011
 

A much busier day than usual for the Nats prospects in yesterday’s 3-2 loss by the Scottsdale Scorpions. The highlights:

  • Bryce Harper went 0-for-3 with a walk while playing RF, where he made two putouts and had a triple go off his glove. On his walk he stole second but was caught trying to steal third with one out and the Scorpions trailing 3-1
  • Derek Norris caught and went 1-for-3 with a run scored, but committed an error while attempting to throw out a runner at second
  • Zach Walters went 2-for-3 with an RBI while playing 3B, where he had one assist
  • Rafael Martin made his first appearance, tossing a scoreless inning while issuing a walk and striking out one
  • Pat Lehman suffered through two innings, giving up two runs on four hits, including a solo HR

Scottsdale returns to .500 (3-3) with the loss. Sammy Solis is slated to start tonight’s game against the Salt River Rafters.

Oct 102011
 

Here’s a look at how the Nationals fared over the weekend in the Arizona Fall League…

FRIDAY
Scottsdale broke into the win column with a 7-3 decision over the Phoenix Desert Dogs.

  • Derek Norris was the DH and went 1-for-4 with an RBI and 2K
  • Pat Lehman pitched the 9th and allowed a hit and a walk but struck out two

SATURDAY
The Scorpions evened their record with another win over the Desert Dogs, 5-4.

  • Zach Walters played 3B and doubled in five at-bats, making one assist
  • Bryce Harper played RF struck out twice while going 0-for-5
  • Norris caught and went 1-for-4 with a stolen base. No baserunners attempted to steal against him.

This week features home-and-home series with Mesa, Salt River, and Peoria with afternoon games on Tuesday and Saturday.

Winter leagues also start up in Mexico (tomorrow), Venezuela (Wednesday) and the Dominican Republic (Friday). Roster information is not yet available, though Syracuse pitcher Ryan Tatusko has announced via Twitter that he’ll be starting on Thursday. I’ll pass along info as I come across it, but most likely it will be on an ad-hoc basis.

Oct 062011
 


The 2011 campaign started with a whimper as the Scottsdale Scorpions were pounded for a 10-1 loss. Four Nats saw game action…

  • Zach Walters played 3B and went 1-for-3, one of the two hits the Scorpions managed for the game
  • Bryce Harper played LF and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout
  • Derek Norris played C and went 0-for-3, but picked a runner off 1st
  • Pat Lehman got the last out of the 7th, but also threw a wild pitch


Sammy Solis gets the start today
, according to MASN’s Byron Kerr, who also had a feature on Lehman yesterday morning.

Oct 042011
 

If you think that’s a contrived headline that does a disservice to Brad Peacock and Derek Norris while attempting to leverage a certain prospect’s “juice” to get more attention… you got me!

But it’s been done before, you know.

Harper, of course, was ranked as the #1 Prospect in the Eastern League by virtue of the .256/.329/.395 line he put up in 147 plate appearances with the Harrisburg Senators. As aforementioned, Brad Peacock (#4) and Derek Norris (#12) were the other two Sens to make the list. Will, however, Peacock be another two-fer with the International League’s Top 20? We’ll find out on Friday (unless BA flip-flops its schedule for a third time).

Harper, Norris, and Peacock were all teammates on the 2010 Scottsdale Scorpions, who begin their title defense tonight against Surprise. No, really: They’re playing the Saguaros.

Norris and Harper are back, along with 2010 teammate Sammy Solis, 2011 draftees Matt Purke and Anthony Rendon, and fellow Senators Rafael Martin and Pat Lehman. Zach Walters is listed on the roster without a number, a strong indicator that he is — as commenter Ernie Salazar first noted (H/T) — on the taxi squad.

As before, some highlights from the BA scouting reports…
Harper has excellent strength and bat speed and near-legendary power. He refined his two-strike mindset and learned to spread out and let balls travel deeper, an approach that culminated with a game-winning, 450-foot homer over the batter’s eye in center field against Trenton on Aug. 12. He does have some excessive movement in his swing that gives scouts and managers pause while grading his hit tool, though his fearsome presence ensures that he’ll draw plenty of walks.

Using a fastball that sat at 91-94 mph and touched 97, Peacock was leading the league in strikeouts when he departed for Triple-A in mid-July. He commanded the pitch much better this year than he had in a seven-game EL trial in 2010, thanks in part to working with Harrisburg pitching coach Randy Tomlin on keeping his front shoulder closed longer. The adjustment also added to his deception.


Though scouts still consider Norris an offensive catcher, he has improved defensively, so much so that his bat doesn’t completely have to carry the load. His receiving still needs polish, as evidenced by his 15 passed balls, but he doesn’t box nearly as many pitches as he used to. He’s refined his throwing technique and used his average arm strength to throw out a league-best 40 percent of basestealers.


Harper, of course, skipped Potomac so I have nothing to add or detract to the BA report. Methinks there are few other folks that might have an opinion that’s been written elsewhere.

Having watched Peacock last summer and in his September callups, I still maintain that his success as a starter will hinge upon his breaking pitches, particularly the changeup. Next spring should be fun as he, Tommy Milone and Ross Detwiler will be battling for a spot in the rotation.

As we’ve seen in the comments here and on Nats Insider, Norris inspires strong opinions on his future as a catcher, with his supporters pointing to his OBP and SLG and his detractors pointing to his PB and BA. I personally suspect that most of the Norris naysayers have never seen him for more than a game or two (if at all), but would also argue that most of his fans (disclosure: myself included) have seen him a lot and simply like his cut of his jib, as it were. He’ll be 23 in mid-February so time is still on his side, but the “should he shift to first base” question will be with us all winter long, I suspect.

UPDATE: As noted in the comments, Purke has replaced Rendon on the AFL roster per Adam Kilgore’s post this morning in Nationals Journal.

UPDATE #2: A couple of tidbits from the BA chat, which speak to some of the comments thus far:

Q: [JC (VT)] How much of Derek Norris’s contact issues can be traced to lingering effects of his wrist injury?
A: [John Manuel] Not sure we can blame that anymore, we have a two-year sample size of Norris not hitting for average, and the scouts and managers I talked too attributed it more to not knowing when to be aggressive and when to be selective. I ranked him as high as I did because they all like his swing, athletic ability and improved defensive ability behind the plate. He went from being an American League player to a legit option at C, though his defense is still such that he’s going to have to be an offensive catcher. He’ll never be a plus defender, it seems.

To repeat for the folks that haven’t been reading all along… Norris moves extremely well for his size and IMO, a switch to 1B would not take nearly as long as it did for Marrero.

Q: [Matt (West Chester, PA)]: I was surprised to see Peacock get grouped together with Turner and Banuelos, let alone rank ahead of both. Considering Peacock’s year and development, has his ceiling jumped from #3 to #2?
A: I really like Peacock a lot, and gave him the edge because of my single-minded (probably to a fault) emphasis of guys pitching off their fastball. Peacock went through lineups three times using mostly his heater. I like his fastball command…[it's] electric… and he’s a good athlete. I like him as a future No. 3 starter, which is convenient as he slots in behind Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman[sic].

Manuel goes on to say that Peacock has “average” fastball command, but I believe he meant it in terms of MLB average, not AA prospect.

Last but not least…

Q: [@Jaypers413 (IL)] If you’re Nats management, do you start Harper back at Harrisburg come April, or bump him to Syracuse?
A: I’m not sure why you wouldn’t include Washington as an option there. He’s probably the best CF in the organization, and I bet they are tempted to put him there. More likely they get a CF this offseason (they made a run at Denard Span in July), keep Harper on the corners and start him back at Harrisburg.

Just when I was starting to have my love/hate disdain with BA dissipate, that first sentence in Manuel’s answer reminds me that I can both respect them and mock them as I see fit ;-)

Jul 292011
 

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

SYRACUSE 46-58, 4th Place I.L. North, 15 games behind

Good Josh Wilkie 2-0, 3SV, 0ER in last 14⅔ IP (11 appearances)
Bad Craig Stammen 0-2, 6.48 since I.L. All-Star Break
Interesting Tom Milone, Randy Knorr ejected in same game last night

HARRISBURG 60-46, 1st place E.L. West Division, 1½ games ahead

Good Derek Norris .283/.431/.478 since E.L. All Star Break
Bad Erik Davis 1-4, 7.52 ERA, 1.41 WHIP in July
Interesting Six different Ps have 4 or more saves, team is T2nd for league lead with 33

POTOMAC 20-13, 2nd place C.L. North Division, 2 games behind (49-53 overall)

Good Marcos Frias 1-0, 2.12 ERA, 1.06 WHIP since C.L. All-Star Break
Bad Rob Wort 1.60 WHIP, 5.81 FIP
Interesting Steve Souza .427 OBP since C.L. All-Star Break

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 16-16, 4th place Sally North Division, 4½ games behind (56-46 overall)

Good David Freitas 59BB, 58K
Bad Shane McCatty 8.10ERA in July
Interesting Jason Martinson 12HR, 44RBI, 46BB, 106K, 24E

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 22-18, T1st place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 1 game ahead

Good Brian Dupra 1.93 ERA, 0.99 WHIP in July
Bad Connor Rowe .578 OPS, 38K in 29G
Interesting Team SB success rate of 78.33% (47/60), best in NYPL

GCL NATIONALS 12-20, 4th place GCL East, 11 games behind

Good Wander Ramos 1.092 OPS in 24G
Bad Andy Santana 2.65 WHIP, 12.71 ERA
Interesting Silvio Medina 26K in 18⅓ IP (12.76/9IP)

DSL NATIONALS 25-25, 5th place, Boca Chica South Division, 5 games behind

Good Ivan Pineyro 2.22 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 54K in 48⅔ IP
Bad Raudy Read .147/.200/.255, 7E in 30G
Interesting Yermin Mercedes .318/.361/.409, 1E in 32G
May 202011
 

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 Craig Stammen 1.03 WHIP
Bad Collin Balester .318 Opp. BA in May
Interesting Michael Aubrey .364/.464/.879 in May

HARRISBURG 18-19, 2nd place E.L. West Division, ½ game behind

Good Derek Norris .300/.429/.550 in May
Bad Tim Pahuta .173BA, 9E
Interesting Hassan Pena 0.87WHIP, 23K in 20⅔ IP

POTOMAC 16-23, 4th place C.L. North Division, 6½ games behind

Good Eury Perez .485 last 10G, .341BA overall
Bad Cameron Selik 8.71ERA, 1.84WHIP in first two Hi-A starts
Interesting Trevor Holder 4BB in 42IP

HAGERSTOWN 27-13, 1st place Sally League Northern Division, 3 games ahead

Good Robbie Ray 0.00ERA, 13K in two starts over 11 IP
Bad Jason Martinson 40K, 13E in 39G
Interesting Bobby Hansen 1.88ERA, 1.13WHIP in last four starts
Apr 292011
 

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

SYRACUSE 7-14, 6th Place IL North, 7 games back

Good Carlos Maldonado .333/.429/.458 in 9G
Bad Boomer Whiting 2-for-7 in SB attempts, .483OPS
Interesting Josh Wilkie 13K in 10.1IP

HARRISBURG 10-9, 1st place E.L. West, 1/2 game ahead

Good Tyler Moore .326BA, .674SLG last 10G
Bad Derek Norris .154/.303/.192 in 9G
Interesting Ryan Mattheus 1.08ERA, 2SV in 8G

POTOMAC 8-11, 3rd Place C.L. North, 4 games back

Good Jeff Kobernus 9SB, 0CS, 10R in 19G
Bad J.R. Higley .136/.269/.227 in 7G
Interesting Pat Lehman 5SV, 0.58WHIP in 7G

HAGERSTOWN 12-9, T3rd Sally League North, 2½ games back

Good Bryce Harper .323/.425/.645, 5HR in 19G
Bad Chris McKenzie 12.46ERA, 17BB in 13IP
Interesting Chris Manno 0.68WHIP, 17K in 10⅓ IP
Apr 192011
 

The Harrisburg Senators have announced that Derek Norris has been activated from the 7-Day DL, with Brian Peacock returned to Potomac. Consequently, Jeremy Mayo has been returned to the GCL Nationals Roster, a.k.a. Extended Spring Training (XST).

Brian Peacock appeared in three games for Harrisburg, batting .286 (2-for-7) with a double and an RBI. Jeremy Mayo appeared in two games for Potomac, drawing two walks, scoring one run, but going hitless in four at-bats with three strikeouts.

As mentioned in the notes yesterday, over the weekend the Potomac Nationals also placed SS Rick Hague on the 7-Day DL, recalling Jose Lozada from XST.