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).

Jun 282012
 

Rosters for the 2012 Eastern League All-Star Game were announced today, and for the second straight year, five Harrisburg Senators made the squad:
• LHP Danny Rosenbaum

• RHP Kevin Pucetas

• 2B Jeff Kobernus

• OF Eury Perez

• OF Chris Rahl

The 2012 game, officially known as the Baseballtown All-Star Classic, will be played at the Reading Phillies home stadium on Wednesday, July 11th.

For the 28-year-old Rahl, this is his third All-Star game nomination, having represented Mobile in the 2009 Southern League All-Star game and Lancaster in the 2006 California-Carolina League All-Star game while a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.

This the second staight All-Star nod for Kobernus, who was named as an alternate to Destin Hood for the 2011 California-Carolina League All-Star game. Rosenbaum is also making his second trip to a midseason exhibition, having represented Hagerstown in the 2010 South Atlantic League All-Star game. Likewise, this appears to be the second All-Star nod for Pucetas, who represented San Jose in the 2008 California-Carolina League All-Star game as a member of the San Francisco Giants organization.

Finally, this is the first All-Star honors for Eury Perez since coming to the United States in 2009 (note: the GCL has no All-Star Game).

Jun 012012
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 25-28, 5th place I.L. North, 8 games behind

Good Zach Duke 5-1, 3.08 ERA, 1.24 WHIP in May
Bad Seth Bynum .189/.241/.297 in May
Interesting Pat Lehman 0.00ERA, 0.75WHIP in May

HARRISBURG SENATORS 28-25, 2nd place E.L. West, 5 games behind

Good Jose Lozada .313/.378/.448 in May
Bad Ryan Tatusko 7.80 ERA, 1.87 WHIP
Interesting Eury Perez 13SBs in last 14 attempts

POTOMAC NATIONALS 21-29, 3rd place C.L. North Division, 6½ games behind

Good Cameron Selik 26K in last 12 appearances (1-0, 7SV)
Bad Blake Kelso .146/.186/.146 in last 10G
Interesting Top 9 Batters by AB at Home .269BA, .419SLG
Top 9 Batters by AB on Road .172BA, .276SLG

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 31-22, 2nd place Sally League North Divison, 7½ games behind

Good Nathan Karns 61K in 44⅓ IP
Bad Hendry Jimenez .162/.238/.189 in May
Interesting Jason Martinson 52RBI (2nd in SAL), 37BB (3rd), 68K (1st)
May 182012
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 19-22, 5th place I.L. North, 7½ games behind

Good Corey Brown .361/.480/.656 in May
Bad John Lannan 6.63 ERA, 1.79 WHIP, 4HR in last 3 starts
Interesting Xavier Paul .380/.436/.780 in May

HARRISBURG SENATORS 22-17, 2nd place E.L. West, 2 games behind

Good Eury Perez .316/.328/.386, 4SB in May
Bad Paul Demny 8.29ERA at home (2.57 on road)
Interesting Christian Garcia 5SV, 3H, 19K in last 10 appearances

POTOMAC NATIONALS 16-21, 3rd place C.L. North Division, 5½ games behind

Good Cameron Selik 3SV, 13K in last 5 appearances
Bad Shane McCatty 19H, 9BB in 9⅔IP, 13.03ERA, 2.90WHIP
Interesting Kevin Keyes 22H, 22RBI (.191/.271/.417)

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 22-15, 2nd place Sally League North Divison, 6 games behind

Good Cutter Dykstra .340/.429/.454 in 23G
Bad Brian Dupra 10.98ERA, 2.31WHIP in May (4 appearances)
Interesting Steve Souza 7HR in 13G
May 042012
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 10-17, 6th place I.L. North, 6 games behind

Good Austin Bibens-Dirkx 1.38 FIP
Bad Jason Michaels .549 OPS
Interesting Carlos Rivero .343/.378/.514 in last 10G

HARRISBURG SENATORS 15-12, 2nd place E.L. West, 3½ games behind

Good Danny Rosenbaum 3-0, 0.76ERA, 0.70WHIP
Bad Eury Perez .130/.130/.152 last 10G
Interesting Sandy Leon .796 OPS

POTOMAC NATIONALS 10-14, 3rd place C.L. North Division, 3½ games behind

Good David Freitas .377/.457/.609
Bad Wilson Eusebio 9.31ERA, 4HBP, 8BB in 9⅔ IP
Interesting Matt Swynenberg 1ER in last 14⅓ IP

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 14-11, 3rd place Sally League North Divison, 3½ games behind

Good Cutter Dykstra .400/.464/.520, 11G hit streak
Bad Chris McKenzie 12.96ERA, 3.12WHIP in 5 appearances
Interesting Billy Burns 17G on-base streak (.469 OBP)
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.

Oct 262011
 

There are some parallels to the 2010 season and the 2011 season for the Potomac Nationals. Both teams started slowly…VERY slowly, getting into offensive funks that saw both teams get shut out seven times. The 2010 edition finished the first half at 31-39, ten games behind Frederick; the ’11 guys were 29-40 and twelve games behind the Keys at the break.

Given that the core of the team was the 2010 Hagerstown Suns that faded fast in the second half, it was natural to think that a second-half rally was unlikely, particularly since it seemed rather unlikely that much come in the way of reinforcements. The whispers that Bryce Harper would skip the level turned out to be true, but what the team really needed at that point was pitching.

Oddly enough, both the hitting and the pitching did improve in the second half with basically just one starter (Solis) and one reliever (Holland) added to the mix. But while 2010 was largely the hitting getting much better down the stretch, the story of the 2011 second half was the stabilizing of the pitching. Essentially, it went from league worst (5.01 team ERA on June 1st) to slightly higher than league average (3.79 vs. 3.77) the rest of the way.

Coupled with an improved offense (4.00 R/G before July 1, 4.44 after), the P-Nats turned in a 39-31 second half that became good enough to win second-half Northern Division title when the Keys lost the last three regular-season games (and eight of the last ten). Thanks to league bylaws, Frederick’s 39-31 mark down the stretch still earned them the home-field advantage in the first round of the Mills Cup playoffs. That turned out to be the difference as the Keys beat the P-Nats 3-2 for the fifth game and 3-2 for the series to send Potomac packing and end any hopes of defending the 2010 title.

So let’s take a look at how the 2011 edition stacked up against the rest of Carolina League…
HITTING

PITCHING

Having watched these guys day in and day out, I was bit surprised to see that the team finished third in walks drawn — in my mind, there were only a handful of players that seemed willing to take the walk, and too many that weren’t. But those that did walk, walked a lot (Francisco Soriano and Steve Souza were 2nd and 3rd in walk rate for players with 200+ PA in the Carolina League).

That 215 steals led the league by 63 and was the most by the team in its affiliation with Washington and the most in the league since the 2008 Wilmington Blue Rocks. They were only caught 66 times, which works out to an efficiency rate of 76.5 percent. Yes, Eury Perez and Jeff Kobernus accounted for the bulk of it (88 steals combined) but even big men such as Souza (25) and Destin Hood (21) stole 20+ bases. The thievery helped offset the team’s lack of doubles, but otherwise, this squad was mostly right around league averages. Not bad when you consider the position players were the second-youngest in the league.

As aforementioned, the pitching went from horrid early to serviceable late. They still finished last in nearly every rate or total statistic, but let’s not forget that the Carolina League tends to be a pitcher’s league despite the launching pads in Frederick and the Salems. For those that may have missed it or were wondering, the Pfitz usually comes out neutral in ballpark-effect studies.

You can argue over how much of it came from reshuffling the deck and removing failed starters from the rotation (Mitchell Clegg, Marcos Frias, Trevor Holder) or how the unsung work of swingmen (Adam Olbrychowski, Evan Bronson) filled in the gaps, or how the team’s top two starters improved over the course of the season — one steadily (Danny Rosenbaum), the other in fits (Paul Demny) — but the bottom line: it did get better.

Now, in our little dance, we take a look at the Top 12’s for the batters and pitchers in terms of PAs and IPs.
Full statistics for the team can be found here. (* 2009 Draft Pick, ** DSL Graduate).

I chose to highlight the ’09 picks and DSL grads to illustrate the counterpoint to drafting ‘em young: It takes time. In this subset, there are four ’08 picks (Hood, Higley, Lozada, and Ramirez) and fifth that was traded for (Dykstra). Only one 2010 position-player draft pick saw playing time, and that was four games before his shoulder went out (Rick Hague) — two, if you want to count Zach Walters.

What I personally like about High-A is that it’s the true litmus test for a prospect. I’ve seen varying percentages that break down once a prospect plays at level X, his chances of ever playing in MLB are now Y, but almost all of them jump from single digits to double digits when it comes to High-A vs. AA. Anecdotally, I can tell you that this where many players stall: The bridge over the Susquehannah in Harrisburg may as well be the bridge over the Rhine in Arnhem, so to speak. Seems like every April I fill in the lineups and think to myself “This guy is still here?” — and the thought occurs on both sides of the scorebook.

So while some folks have expressed great dismay over the lack of development of some guys, it bears repeating that this happens all the time. And in my mind, that disappointment is offset by guys breaking out (Hood) and/or shaking off the proverbial primates (Kobernus). Not to mention my personal favorite: seeing a pitcher start to “get it.”

How’s that for a segue?
Just to expand upon what I wrote earlier, Olbrychowski was terrible as a reliever but found his groove as a starter (5.63 vs. 3.71 ERA) and the reverse was true for Frias (1.67 vs. 5.06). Bronson was actually better as a reliever when you look at the season as a whole, but unlike Olbrychowski and Frias, kept bouncing between roles (and levels) until he was given a spot in the rotation in mid-August and turned in quality starts in two of his four starts down the stretch.

Demny, as aforementioned, improved over the course of the season but take a look at the ERAs by month:
April – 2.08, May – 6.93, June – 2.55, July – 8.42, Aug/Sep – 2.72. He’s young (22 in August), throws hard (~93-95), and durable (100+ IP the past three seasons). Clearly, he made his adjustments and the league adjusted back, but you have to like that he was able to rebound not once but twice from rough patches of pitching.

OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS
The upside to rating Potomac is that I’ve seen these guys the most. The downside to rating Potomac is that I’ve seen these guys so much. Looking over last year’s season review I can see that invariably, I’m either going to overvalue some guys as a fan (e.g. Chris Curran), and undervalue others in an effort to overcompensate for being a fan (e.g. Tyler Moore last year). So bear that in mind as I fire from the hip and make the lists that folks love so much…

Batters
1. Destin Hood
2. Jeff Kobernus
3. Eury Perez
4. Steve Souza
5. Justin Bloxom
HM: Zach Walters

Pitchers
1. Danny Rosenbaum
2. Sammy Solis
3. Paul Demny
4. Josh Smoker
5. Marcos Frias

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
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
May 042011
 

First rumored here in the comments, just confirmed through my sources, and now officially announced on MiLB.com — Cameron Selik is coming to Potomac.

As the headline says, this is one of several moves that were made today…

• OF Eury Perez was activated from the disabled list

• OF J.R. Higley was returned to Extended Spring Training (XST)

• RHP Dean Weaver was assigned from XST

• LHP Ryan Demmin was sent to XST

Selik last pitched for Hagerstown on Saturday. With Hagerstown traveling today from Georgia to Maryland, and Potomac headed to Kinston tomorrow night, he’s most likely going to make his first High-A start this weekend in North Carolina. So far, there has been no corresponding move to backfill Selik, but if/when that information comes to light, we’ll update this post.

UPDATE: Jeremy Mayo was activated and played last night with Brian Peacock placed on the DL. Cameron Selik was tracking pitches in Woodbridge so it’s apparent that these moves were made much earlier than announced, particularly as Mayo had been spotted in the bullpen earlier this series (though it’s not unusual for inactive guys to stay with the team).