Apr 112012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Losing, 2-0
(Susp., 4 inn.)
@ Lehigh Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Roark (0-1, 1.50) vs.
Hyatt (0-0, 3.18)
Harrisburg Won, 7-2 @ New Britain,
10:35 a.m.
Demny (0-0, 0.00) vs.
Albers (0-0, 0.00)
Potomac Won, 6-4 @ Myrtle Beach,
7:05 p.m.
Swynenberg (0-0, 9.00) vs.
Font (0-0, 0.00)
Hagerstown Won, 16-8 vs. Lexington,
10:35 a.m.
Dupra (0-1, 8.10) vs.
Foltynewicz (0-0, 6.75)

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 2 Syracuse 0 — SUSP. (4 inn.)
• Atkins 4IP, 4H, 2R, 0ER, 4BB, 2K
• Teahen 1-1
• Harper 0-2, 0R, 0BB, 0K, 0RBI, 0E

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was leading 2-0 when the rains came in upstate New York. The game will be resumed on Saturday, followed by a 7-inning game.

Harrisburg 7 New Britain 2
• Gilliam (W, 1-1) 7IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 5K, HR
• McCoy (H, 1) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Kobernus 3-5, R, 2B, 2RBI, CS
• Leon 3-4, R, RBI
• Perez 2-5, R, RBI

After six innings, it looked rather bleak: Down 2-0, outhit 7-1. But Harrisburg racked up 11 hits and dialed up Dallas (214) over the last three innings to run away with a 7-2 win over New Britain. H/T to Geoff Morrow for pointing out Eury Perez, along with Jeff Kobernus, also has hit safely in every game. Combined the 1-2 batters in the Sens lineup are .411 (23-for-56) with 10 runs scored, six bases stolen, and eight RBI. Both are riding six-game hit streaks. Rob Gilliam got the win with seven strong innings, both Rock Cat runs allowed on seven hits (one HR) and no walks while striking out five. The Pats McCoy and Lehman finished out the game with two 1-2-3 innings.

Potomac 6 Myrtle Beach 4
• Grace (W, 1-0) 5IP, 5H, 2R, ER, 2BB, 2K, HR
• Selik (SV, 1) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Taylor 2-3, 2B, BB, 3RBI, CS(3)
• Freitas 3-5, 2B

Michael Taylor’s bases-clearing double in the top of the 2nd capped off a four-run rally as Potomac finally got a win, 6-4 over Myrtle Beach. Matt Grace got the win with five innings pitched, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks. He struck out two and allowed a solo HR. Cameron Selik pitched a three-up, three-down 9th for the save. Following the game, the P-Nats formally announced that 3B Anthony Rendon has been placed on the DL, replaced by minor-league FA Brent Greer, a native of Manassas, VA, who had been released at the end of spring training by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Hagerstown 16 Lexington 8
• Estevez (W, 1-0) 5IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 7K, 2HR
• Martinson 3-3, 2R, 2B, 2HR, 2BB, 6RBI, E
• Ramirez 4-5, 2R, RBI, SB
• Nieto 3-5, 2R, 2B, HR, RBI
• Newsome 1-1, R, HR, 4RBI

Pitching and defense took a back seat to slugging as the Suns debunked the Legends, 16-8. Jason Martinson would not settle for a single, doubling once and homering twice, including a grand slam in the 2nd inning that turned an early 3-2 Lexington lead into a 6-3 Hagerstown advantage. Martinson drove in six runs altogether. Wirkin “For the Weekend” Estevez got the rulebook win with five innings pitched, four runs allowed on five hits and three walks, though he did strike out seven. The 20-year-old has an ERA of 10.00 with just three scoreless innings out of nine thus far. Rehabbing Rick Ankiel was a mere 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI. OF Brian Goodwin has been placed on the DL with what’s being called an “upper leg injury” — groin, quadricep, or hamstring was not specified; Bill Belichek would be proud. OF Angel Montilla was also placed on the DL. Replacing Goodwin and Montilla on the Suns roster are OFs Narciso Mesa and Billy Burns. Both are on our watchlist. UPDATE: Byron Kerr once again has the nitty-gritty, reporting that Montilla is out with a broken hamate bone in his left hand.

Apr 102012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 6-5 vs. Scranton/WB,
6:00 p.m.
Mitch Atkins (0-1, 0.00) vs.
Craig Heyer (0-0, 0.00)
Harrisburg Lost, 6-3 @ New Britain,
6:35 p.m.
Rob Gilliam (0-1, 5.40) vs.
Luke French (1-0, 0.00)
Potomac OFF DAY @ Myrtle Beach,
7:05 p.m.
Matt Grace (12-7, 5.17
in ’11 @ A-) vs.
Kyle Hendricks (2-2, 1.93
in ’11 @ SS-A)
Hagerstown Won, 8-7
(11 inn.)
vs. Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Wirkin Estevez (0-1, 13.50) vs.
Carlos Quevedo (0-0, 6.75)

Syracuse 6 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 5
• Duke (W, 1-0) 6IP, 4H, R, ER, BB, 4K, HR
• Wilkie (H, 1) ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K, 2-0 IR-S
• Rivero 2-4
• Brown 1-3, 2R, 3B, 2BB, E, OF assist
• Moore 1-3, R, HR, 3RBI, SF

Tyler Moore drove in three runs, including a two-run blast in the second, as the Chiefs built a 6-0 lead early and held on for a 6-5 win. Corey Brown drew two walks and tripled, while Carlos Rivero singled twice to lead the nine-hit attack. Zach Duke gave up just one run on a homer, and four hits total over six innings to earn the win. Three of the four Syracuse errors came in the Yankees’ three-run 7th inning, including one on CF Bryce Harper after colliding with Xavier Paul in RF, a ball that was Paul’s. Harper got some measure of redemption by throwing out Scranton backstop trying for two after driving in a run (who got on base by doubling over Harper’s head) in the 9th inning. Ryan Perry was credited with the save, but the reliever of the night was Josh Wilkie, who stranded two runners with one out in the 8th for his first hold of the season.

New Britain 6 Harrisburg 3
• Ballard (L, 0-1) 4⅔ IP, 10H, 6R, 6ER, BB, 2K, HR
• Pucetas 2⅓ IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Johnson 3-4, R, HR, RBI
• Kobernus 2-5, 2B — five-game hit streak (.409)

A three-run shot with two out in the 3rd capped a four-run rally as the Rock Cats cruised to 6-3 win over Harrisburg. The Senators were a respectable 4-for-11 with RISP, stranding eight runners, but the turning point came in the 5th when they loaded the bases with three straight singles with nobody out and only came away with one run as New Britain got a comebacker to the mound for one out and double play after Tim Pahuta singled in the lone run. Mike Ballard took the loss with all six Rock Cats runs allowed on 10 hits and a walk. The loss snapped a three-game win streak for Harrisburg, but Jeff Kobernus’s first-inning double extended his hit streak to five games.

Potomac — OFF DAY
For whatever reason, the Potomac Nationals and slow starts seem to be synonymous. It’s 0-3 so far in ’12, 2-6 in both ’10 and ’11 and 2-4 in ’09. In years past, it’s been cold and rainy, but with temps in the 60s and sunshine expected for the long-range forecast, the weather (e.g. cold or rain) can’t be blamed… Anthony Rendon has not been officially placed on the DL just yet, as multiple online reports are stating that team officials are waiting for the swelling to subside in order to further evaluate the extent of the ligament damage. Thus far, the only “known” is that the ankle is not fractured.

Hagerstown 8 Lexington 7 (11 inn.)
• McKenzie 4IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 5K
• Simko 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 3K, 1-0 IR-S
• Skole 2-5, R, HR, 4RBI (GS)
• Ramsey 1-2, RBI
• Goodwin 1-2

A Matt Skole grand slam gave the Suns an early 4-1 lead, but a bullpen meltdown sent the game into extras, where Caleb Ramsey stroked a two-out walkoff single to give the Suns an 8-7 win in 11 innings. Two errors (including one my Michael Morse, who also failed to throw out the first Lexington run in the first on a flyout to medium left field) sandwiched around a single, double, and another single fueled the Lexington rally that tied the game at 7-7 in the 7th. Todd Simko put out the fire with a grounder and two strikeouts. Morse and Rick Ankiel were 4-for-7 combined with Ankiel connecting on a two-run homer and drawing two walks. Brian Goodwin left the game in the second inning after beating out an infield hit to the first baseman. Officially, it’s a leg injury, but unofficially it appeared to be the usual turned ankle that comes with hitting the bag awkwardly. Like Rendon, no word yet on the extent of (or timetable for the return from) the injury. UPDATE: Byron Kerr is reporting that it’s an upper leg injury, not the ankle or knee. I was was watching the game via MiLB.tv when the injury occurred but was unable to see what Kerr describes due to the stationary nature of the video (i.e. he limped out of camera range).

Apr 092012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probables (’11 #s at Level)
Syracuse Lost, 10-0 vs. Scranton/WB,
6:00
Zach Duke (1-0, 8.44) vs.
Adam Warren (6-8, 3.60)
Harrisburg Won, 5-2 @ New Britain,
6:35 p.m.
Mike Ballard (8-3, 3.33) vs.
Alex Wimmers (2-3, 4.20 @ A+)
Potomac Lost, 3-2 OFF DAY n/a
Hagerstown Won, 8-6 vs. Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Chris McKenzie (4-7, 6.97) vs.
Kyle Hallock (3-4, 2.63 @ NYPL)

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 10 Syracuse 0
• Lannan (L, 0-1) 2IP, 6H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 1K, 0HR
• Arnesen 4IP, 4H, 0R, 3BB, 0K
• Martin ⅔ IP, 5H, 5R, 5ER, 1BB, 0K, 0HR
• Teahen 1-3
• Brown 0-2, 2BB

John Lannan did not make his case for being traded, instead getting pounded for five runs over two innings. Meanwhile, the Syracuse bats were held silent by the Yankees #16 prospect, D.J. Mitchell, and two veteran relievers. Mark Teahen’s fifth-inning single was the sole base hit for the Chiefs, who managed just six total baserunners. Erik Arnesen was solid in relief, throwing four scoreless innings, but Rafael Martin was not, giving up five hits and a walk over two-thirds of an inning as the Yankees doubled up their 5-0 lead to the eventual 10-0 final in the 7th. Bryce Harper’s defensive struggles continued with a fielding error and an offline throw that enabled a runner to move up.

Harrisburg 5 Bowie 2
• Rosenbaum (W, 1-0) 6IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 1K, 1HR
• Lehman (SV, 2) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Perez 2-4, R, 3B, BB, RBI
• Kobernus 1-3, R, BB, SB (5)

Danny Rosenbaum turned in a quality start for his first win of the season, allowing just a run on four hits and no walks over six innings. Rehabbing Michael Morse drove in the first three Harrisburg runs on an RBI groundout and a two-run double while Eury Perez led the rest of the lineup with a single, triple, walk and a run scored. Jeff Kobernus had his mutlihit game streak snapped with a mere 1-for-3 effort and his 5th stolen base in four games. Pat Lehman notched his second save with a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out the last two batters he faced. Harrisburg heads up I-95 to visit the New Britain Rockcats for three games before returning to Metro Bank Park on Thursday for the home opener.

Lynchburg 3, Potomac 2
• Oblrychowski (L, 0-1) 5IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 1K, 1HR
• Wort 2IP, 1H, 0R, 1BB, 1K
• Skelton 2-3, 2RBI
• W. Moore 1-3, R, 2B

Make that three straight losses for Potomac, as the P-Nats could only muster six hits against the Hillcats in a 3-2 loss. Adam Olbrychowski took the loss, giving up three runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings, including a two-run shot in the bottom of the first. Veteran backstop James Skelton paced the offense with a two-out, two-run single in the top of the 2nd and went 2-for-3 overall. Monday is an off day as the P-Nats head south to Myrtle Beach for three games before heading back to Woodbridge for the home opener on Friday night.

Hagerstown 8 West Virginia 6
• Turnbull (ND) 4IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 1K
• Hill (W, 1-0) 4⅓ IP 5H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 1K
• Meza (SV, 1) ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Goodwin 2-5, HR, 3RBI, E (2)
• Martinson 1-3, 2R, 2BB, 3SB (5)
• Skole 1-2, R, 2B, 2RBI, 2BB

Kylin Turnbull didn’t fare so well in his pro debut, giving up three runs on five hits with no walks and just one strikeout, but a pair of three-run rallies gave him the no-decision as the Suns held off a late Power surge for an 8-6 victory and a 3-1 series win. Brian Goodwin connected for a three-run shot in the bottom of the third, taking the sting off his second error in four games. Jason Martinson stole third twice and second once to push his total to five steals in four games. Taylor Hill got the win in long relief, tiring in the 9th as West Virginia rallied for two runs before southpaw Christian Meza got the last two outs for his first save of 2012.

Apr 082012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probables (’11 #s at Level)
Syracuse Lost, 3-1 vs. Scranton/WB,
5:00 p.m.
John Lannan (10-13, 3.70 @ MLB) vs.
D.J. Mitchell (13-9, 3.18)
Harrisburg Won, 13-3 @ Bowie,
2:05 p.m.
Danny Rosenbaum (3-1, 2.29) vs.
Cole McCurry (4-0, 0.80)
Potomac Lost, 7-2 @ Lynchburg,
2:05 p.m.
Adam Olbrychowski (5-7, 4.16 @ A+) vs.
J.R. Graham (5-2, 1.72 @ Adv. Rk.)
Hagerstown Won, 4-3 vs. West Virginia,
1:05 p.m.
Kylin Turnbull (pro debut) vs.
Zach Fuesser (3-6, 3.74)

Syracuse 4 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 0
• Maya (W, 1-0) 6IP, 4H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Bibens-Dirkx (SV, 1) 3IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 4K
• Moore 3-4, R, RBI
• Bynum 1-4, R, HR, BB, RBI
• Harper 1-3, BB, K

Yunesky Maya and Austin Bibens-Dirkx combined on a six-hit shutout while every Chief in the lineup got a hit, as the Chiefs won their first game, 4-0. Tyler Moore led the 11-hit effort with a 3-for-4 game, while Seth Bynum homered. Bryce Harper shifted to RF for the game, with Corey Brown manning CF.

Harrisburg 13 Bowie 3
• Mandel (ND) 5⅔ IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, BB, K, HR
• Nelo 1⅔ 0H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Perez 3-6, R, RBI
• Johnson 2-5, R, 3B, 3RBI
• Lozada 2-5, 2R, 2RBI

My first in-person game of 2012 was a Saturday Afternoon In Bowie.

Lynchburg 7 Potomac 2
• Hansen (L, 0-1) 2IP, 5H, 4R, 3ER, 2BB, 0K, HR
• Applebee 3IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Nicol 2-2, 2RBI
• Rendon 1-1, 2B, BB

The pain of losing a second straight game pales in comparison to the possibility of losing Anthony Rendon to a leg injury for an extended period of time. Multiple online reports are stating that it was his left leg (he has fractured his right ankle twice), but Nationals officials are mum on the severity. Rendon slipped after rounding third, attempting to score on a Justin Blxom single. He had doubled toe lead off the inning and was attempting to score with just one out. Sean Nicol filled in admirably, going 2-for-2 and driving in both Potomac runs. Bobby Hansen took the loss, giving up a pair of runs in the first two innings on five hits (one HR) and two walks.

Hagerstown 4 West Virginia 3
• Meyer (W, 1-0) 5IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Barrett (SV, 1) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Skole 3-4, R, RBI
• Martinson 2-3, R, BB, RBI

Alex Meyer threw five shutout innings, allowing just two hits and no walks while fanning four to win his professional debut. Matt Skole and Jason Martinson combined for five of the Suns seven hits and each drove in a run. Hendry Jimenez made two costly errors in errors in the eighth, giving away the third Power run but also turned a double play to end the inning, helping Aaron Barrett notch his first save of the 2012 campaign.

Apr 072012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 3-1 vs. Scranton/WB,
4:00 p.m.
Yunesky Maya (4-9, 5.00) vs.
Manny Banuelos (2-2, 4.19)
Harrisburg Won, 5-2 @ Bowie,
2:05 p.m.
Jeff Mandel (0-0, 2.25) vs.
Jacob Pettit (7-0, 1.62 @ A+)
Potomac Lost, 9-3 @ Lynchburg,
6:05 p.m.
Bobby Hansen (5-1, 4.10 @ A) vs.
Ronan Pacheco (5-9, 5.00 @ A)
Hagerstown Lost, 5-3 vs. West Virginia,
7:05 p.m.
Alex Meyer (pro debut) vs.
Matt Benedict (5-3, 3.79 @ SS-A)

Rochester 3 Syracuse 1
• Roark (L, 0-1) 6IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 3K
• Severino ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K, 2-0 IR-S
• Brown 3-4, R, 3B,
• Bynum 2-4, 2B, RBI
• Moore 0-4, 2K, 2GIDP

The clutch hit eluded the Syracuse batters, as they stranded seven runners and hit into three double plays as the Chiefs dropped their second straight, 3-1. Tanner Roark turned in six strong innings in his AAA debut, allowing just a run on three hits and three walks. Corey Brown went 3-for-4 and scored the only run as he tripled and Seth Bynum doubled with two outs in the 8th. Bryce Harper went 0-for-3 in his first three ABs against LHP Scott Diamond before singling to lead off the 9th.

Harrisburg 5 Bowie 2
• Demny (ND) 4IP, 5H, 0R, 3BB, 3K
• Lehman (SV, 1) 1IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Kobernus 2-5, R, SB
• Perez 2-5, R, SB, RBI
• Rahl 1-2, RBI

Rick Ankiel and Michael Morse both homered in a 5-2 win over the Baysox. Eury Perez and Jeff Kobernus both went 2-for-5 with a steal, but the clutch hit was few and far between as the Sens were just 2-for-12 with RISP. Paul Demny labored through four innings, throwing 84 pitches. Erik Davis got the win in relief but was touched for a two-run HR. For the second game in row, Chris Rahl got an RBI in the 9th, giving Pat Lehman plenty of cushion for his first save of the year.

Lynchburg 9, Potomac 3

• Winters (L, 0-1) 5IP, 6H, 5R, 5ER, BB, 4K, 2HR
• Freitas 1-3, R, HR, 3RBI, SF
• Rendon 1-3, R, 3B, BB

A three-run 5th by the Hillcats, with three extra-base hits (double, homer, triple) busted open a 2-1 game as Lynchburg pounded Potomac, 9-3 in the season opener. David Freitas drove in all three P-Nat runs, hitting a sac fly in the 4th, an RBI groundout in the 7th, and a solo shot in the 9th. Anthony Rendon tripled and scored in his regular-season debut. Kyle Winters took the loss, allowing five runs on six hits (including two home runs) over five innings while walking one and striking out four.

West Virginia 5 Hagerstown 3
• Dupra (L, 0-1) 3⅓ IP, 6H, 4R, 3ER, 2BB, 2K
• Karns 4IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 6K
• Goodwin 0-1, 4BB, SB
• Skole 0-3, 2BB, RBI
• Ramirez 0-3, BB, RBI

Hagerstown had more errors than hits… or runs, losing to West Virginia, 5-3. The Suns actually led the game 3-0 early, scoring twice in the first and once in the second without a base hit or an error as the Power throwers walked five, hit a batter, and unleashed three wild pitches in the first two innings. The Suns would draw 10 walks overall (four by leadoff man Brian Goodwin), but with just two bases-empty singles in the 6th and 8th, Hagerstown would lay eight goose eggs on the scoreboard the rest of the way. Starter Brian Dupra got knocked from the box in the fourth as the Power scored three times to take a 4-3 lead. Todd Simko stranded two runners and gave way to Nathan Karns, who gave up a run over the last four innings but struck out six and walked none — the only pitcher to do so on either team.
UPDATE: My man in Hagerstown wrote about the first inning in “A night with Nuke..Err Stetson Allie”

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.

Apr 052012
 

Filing from the remote office in Chicopee, MA… it’s the day we’ve all been waiting for: Opening Day!

Three of the four full-season affiliates start up today, with Syracuse hosting Rochester this afternoon, Harrisburg visiting Bowie, and Hagerstown hosting West Virginia.

Team Today’s Game Pitching Matchup (’11 Stats at Level)
Syracuse vs. Rochester,
2:00 p.m.
Mitch Atkins (3-7, 5.44) vs.
P.J. Walters (8-7, 5.17)
Harrisburg @ Bowie,
7:05 p.m.
Robert Gilliam (12-7, 5.04 in Cal. Lg.) vs. TBD
Hagerstown vs. West Virginia,
7:05 p.m.
Wirkin Estevez (6-3, 4.01 in NYPL) vs.
Nicholas Kingham (6-2, 2.15 in in NYPL)

A reminder from last year: The order in which the starters begin is not an indication of #1, #2, etc. but how the organization wants to align starters in the minors when it comes time for promotions. This is even more important to keep in mind with the notable names in XST. I think a look at the first starters illustrates this point.

Mitch Atkins is the listed starter for Syracuse per MiLB.com, as many of may have heard that John Lannan was supposed to start but has been shifted from today to Sunday. Robert Gilliam, a.k.a. the Other Guy We Got From Oakland, is scheduled for Harrisburg. Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez is slated for Hagerstown. Kyle Winters appears to be getting the assignment for Potomac tomorrow night.

None of these guys would be considered the ace of the staff in the traditional sense. But this isn’t “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain,” either. We all like results, but the goal is getting the work in and making progress. Some guys are going to be on pitch counts, for example, so keep that in mind before asking why did so-and-so only go five innings.

News & Notes starts back up tomorrow, and perhaps this afternoon we’ll find out the last of the spring releases.

Apr 032012
 

Okay, so it’s not Bryce Harper, but the second of the four full-season rosters to be announced ain’t too shabby. In terms of the watchlist, that’s 15 of the remaining 65 players. In terms of the draft, it’s nine 2011 picks.

Naturally, expectations will be high for this group, as they’re the bulk of the 2011 Auburn Doubledays — winners of the N.Y.-Penn League’s Pinckney Division and runners-up for the championship.

As noted earlier today, the “pushdown” continues with OF J.P. Ramirez and IF Cutter Dykstra dropping down from Potomac and five others repeating from last season.

Without further ado…

PITCHERS
Aaron Barrett
Brian Dupra
Wirkin Estevez
Taylor Hill
Greg Holt
Nathan Karns
Alex Kreis
Bobby Lucas
Christopher McKenzie
Alex Meyer
Christian Meza
Todd Simko
Kylin Turnbull

CATCHERS
Cole Leonida
Adrian Nieto

INFIELDERS
Cutter Dykstra
Jason Martinson
Justin Miller
Brett Newsome
Bryce Ortega
Matt Skole

OUTFIELDERS
Brian Goodwin
Angelbirth Montilla
Caleb Ramsey
J.P. Ramirez

According to the press release on the team site, the starting five will be Meyer, McKenzie, Estevez, Dupra, and Turnbull, which, if true, could signal the predicted conversion of Karns to closer.

The presence of 1Bs Miller and Newsome is most likely a sign that Skole will remain at third base, with Martinson and Ortega likely to fill the middle infield.

Caleb Ramsey, Brian Goodwin and Angel Montilla are most likely to man the OF from LF to CF to RF, respectively, but it will be interesting to see how the Ramirez and Dykstra are used defensively, if at all; both were often used at DH in Potomac.

Finally, the catching tandem of Nieto and Leonida are both back, and both likely to return to their last-season roles of starting and backup catcher.

Hagerstown opens at home with a four-game set against the West Virginia, followed by a three-game series against the Lexington Legends.

Dec 182011
 

It’s mostly quiet on the minor-league front, but since our last post there have a been a few signings:

  • UT Andres Blanco (Texas)
  • RHP Jeff Fulchino (Houston/San Diego)
  • 2B Manny Mayorson (Toronto)
  • OF Jason Michaels (Houston)
  • 1B/3B Tim Pahuta (re-signed)
  • RHP Luis Chirinos (McAllen, NAL)
  • RHP Marcel Prado (Margarita, VWL)
  • IF-OF Chad Tracy (Japan, ’11; Cubs/Marlins, ’10)
  • OF Xavier Paul (L.A. Dodgers, Pittsburgh)

As you can see, most of these moves fall into either the category of roster-filling or spring-training competition. Unfortunately, I am also awaiting the inevitable BA transaction post in which we’ll learn about some of the releases and retirements.

In other news…

Byron Kerr has tweeted that he expects an announcement regarding the minor-league coaching staffs early next week. I’ve heard nothing definitive elsewhere.

Lastly, there are rumblings from Hagerstown about upgrading Municipal Stadium (or else). Our favorite Hagerstown blogger makes some very good points in his latest post (and open letter) to the county officials.

UPDATE: Baseball America has issued its latest transaction update, and in red are two names that were added. Both pitched in the Venezuela Winter League on the same pitching staff as Ryan Tatusko this offseason. Chirinos pitched in the independent North American League this past summer, while Prado pitched in the Golden Baseball League in 2010.

UPDATE #2: A few more minor-league signings in blue, with the requisite invite to spring training (plus Brett Carroll), which was also extended to Sandy Leon, Cory Brown, and Rafael Martin.

Oct 202011
 

The 2011 season was the first winning season in the five years that Washington has been affiliated with Hagerstown. The 75-64 record was a 10½ game improvement over the 2010 season. But ultimately, the curse of high expectations that surrounds all things Bryce Harper made the 2011 season a disappointment in many fans’ eyes.

It may also surprise you to learn that for all for the rehab stints (Strasburg, Zimmerman, Wang, the immortal Doug Slaten) and the presence of Bryce Harper, attendance still fell by 126 per game over 2010 (2,057 vs. 1,931). Times are hard in Washington County, no doubt, but that’s still a bit of a shock to me. So I’ll leave it to you as to whether we should blame it on the economy, the rain, or the bossa nova.

Considering that, as a team, the Suns were mostly middle of the pack in the 14-team South Atlantic League — 6th in offense, 8th in pitching, 7th in defense — to have been in contention in both halves for most of the way should be considered a success. As we’ve done the past three weeks, let’s take a look at how Hagerstown compared to the rest of the league…
HITTING

PITCHING

The most encouraging thing to take away from the 2011 Suns is that this team was not afraid to take a walk or give up a walk — second in the league on both counts. It was also a team that could run (3rd), but unlike last season, they did it without a single 30-steal player and were successful 73.5% of the time. That’s encouraging if you’re a proponent of having a team that’s capable of playing it both big and small.

The pitching was a mixed bag. The starter that gave up the most hits had the most wins (Matt Grace). There were a couple of relievers with ERAs in the 1′s (Chris Manno, Neil Holland)… and a couple of relievers with ERAs in the 6′s (Shane McCatty, Greg Holt), while the team’s two swingmen (Paul Applebee and Matt Swynenberg) gave up the second- and third-most HRs on the team, yet were among the team’s more effective pitchers. Finally, two pitchers had their season cut short by unspecified injuries (Taylor Jordan and Bobby Hansen), and a third (Chris McKenzie) spent six weeks on the DL midseason and more than two months away from the Suns total.

Now it’s time to drill down to look at the top 12′s for the hitters. The full statistics for the team can be found here. (* = 2010 Draft Pick ** = DSL Graduate)
Bryce Harper’s numbers speak for themselves, with his rate statistics close to 100 points above the league average despite being barely old enough to vote. His removal from the lineup on the 4th of July, however, was largely covered by the emergence of Kevin Keyes, who hit .281/.355/.528 after the Sally League All-Star break. As you can see, the cluster of 2010 draft picks were the heart of this team. What remains to be seen is how they’ll develop. Thankfully, one of my spies in Hagerstown wrote about the Suns batters earlier this month, and I encourage folks to click on over to see what he had to say.

Next up, the pitchers, which I’m expanding to the top 15 to include three notables…
Eleven different pitchers made at least five starts for the Suns, thanks in part to the injuries to Jordan, Hansen and McKenzie and the delayed debuts of Cole and Ray, both of whom were held back until the first full weekend in May. Injury also delayed the start of Sammy Solis’s season until Memorial Day Weekend, which kept his inning count down and is arguably the primary reason why he’s repeating the AFL as a starter.

If Auburn is a barometer for the 2011 draft, then Hagerstown might be the same for 2010 (and to a certain extent, 2009). If the expression is that there three kinds of pitchers — young, old, and hurt — well, that pretty much sums up the draft class thus far.

The ground on the “young” Cole and Ray has been pretty much covered (though again, I point folks to my friend Shawn’s take). Old, of course is a relative term, but Grace and Solis will enter the 2012 campaign as 23-year-olds and the latter was touted as being ready for prime time in ’12. The same is true for ’09ers Swynenberg and Jordan. And of course, the “hurt” applies to Jordan, Solis and McKenzie (Hansen was an ’08 pick). Solis and McKenzie have since recovered from their injuries, but the outcome for Jordan, who appeared to be headed for Potomac a la Danny Rosenbuam in 2010, won’t be known until next spring.

OBLIGATORY TOP FIVE LISTS
We’re into crossover territory and I’m trying to avoid double-listing guys. Thus, a couple of honorable mentions to answer the question “Well, who would make it onto the list if X were rated at the next level instead of this level?”

Hitters
1. Bryce Harper
2. David Freitas
3. Kevin Keyes
4. Michael Taylor
5. Adrian Sanchez
HM: Jason Martinson

Pitchers
1. A.J. Cole
2. Robbie Ray
3. Taylor Jordan
4. Sammy Solis
5. Matt Swynenberg
HM: Matt Grace