Apr 062014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Postponed vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
1:00 p.m.(DH)
Hill (1-0, 4.22 in ’13) and
Tatusko (5-8, 4.33 in ’13) vs.
Whitley (3-2, 3.06 in ’13) and
Stoneburner (4-6, 4.57 in ’13)
Harrisburg Lost, 4-3 (11 inn.) @ Bowie,
6:35 p.m.
Purke (5-3, 4.43 @ A+ in ’13) vs.
Davies (7-9, 3.69 @ A+ in ’13)
Potomac Lost, 3-1 @ Carolina,
2:00 p.m.
Encarnacion (10-9, 3.58 @ A- in ’13) vs.
Sulser (3-2, 1.83 @ SS-A)
Hagerstown Lost, 9-8 vs. Rome,
5:05 p.m.
Silvestre (7-0, 1.82 @ Rk. in ’13) vs.
Dettmann (2-4, 2.49 @ Adv. Rk. in ’13)


Scranton/Wilkes-Barre vs. Syracuse — PPD
For the second straight day, officials pulled the plug on this one before folks could come to the ballpark (how novel) as Steve Souza showed us via Twitter the wintry mix at the ballpark. They’ll try again this afternoon with a doubleheader, with another twinbill scheduled for 6 p.m. on June 26.

Bowie 4 Harrisburg 3 (11 inn.)
• Gilliam 1IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 1K
• Jackson 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Holland (L, 0-1) 2⅔ IP, 2H, R, ER, 2BB, 2K
• Taylor 2-4, R, BB, 2SB
• Ramsey 2-3, R, BB, CS

The Senators rallied from an early 3-0 deficit but fell to the Baysox, 4-3 in 11 innings. Starter Rob Gilliam was lifted after one inning, giving up the first three Bowie runs on three hits and three walks while throwing 38 pitches. Zack Jackson, Matt Grace, and Tyler Herron combined for seven scoreless innings. Neil Holland extended that streak to nine before giving up the gamewinner in the 11th. Michael Taylor and Caleb Ramsey both reached base three times as the Harrisburg offense notched eight hits and two walks for the contest.
For a fan’s take on the game, frequent commenter SoulDrummer takes us to “Last Night In Bowie”

Carolina 3 Potomac 1
• Mooneyham (L, 0-1) 2⅓ IP, 1H, 2R, 2ER, 6BB, 1K, 3HBP
• Bacus 4⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 7K, 3-0 IR-S
• Piwnica-Worms 1-3, BB
• Perez 1-3, BB, SB, CS

Brett Mooneyham and the strike zone remain estranged as the former Stanford southpaw walked six and hit three batters in two and a 1/3rd innings to suffer his fourth loss in four career starts at High-A. He left with a 2-0 deficit with the bases loaded and one out in the third. Dakota Bacus continued the string of sensational relief, stranding those three runners and fanning seven over four and 2/3rds innings. Derek Self whiffed two more in his lone inning of work to bring the tally to 22 K’s in 12 relief innings the past two games. Alas, the Carolina pitchers were just as good, limiting the P-Nats bats to just one run on six hits and three walks.

Rome 9 Hagerstown 8
• Giolito 3IP, 6H, 4R, 3ER, 2BB, 3K, HR
• Thomas (BS, 1; L, 0-1) 1IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, K, 2-2 IR-S
• Ballou 2-4, 2R, HR(GS), BB, 4RBI
• W. Rodriguez 2-4, 2R, 2B
• Bautista 2-3, 2R, RBI, BB

Youth was indeed served on Saturday night in Hagerstown… on platter as both teams skewered the other’s 19-y.o. starter for nine of the game’s 17 runs, as the R-Braves outslugged the Suns, 9-8. Lucas Giolito was spanked for four runs (three earned) on six hits, including a two-run homer in the 1st. The Nats #1 prospect walked two and struck out three in his Low-A debut. He did not suffer the loss, thanks to a grand slam by Isaac Ballou that capped off Hagerstown’s five-run 3rd and gave the Suns a brief 8-4 lead. Rome chipped away with single runs in the 5th and 7th innings before rallying for three in the top of the 9th. Ballou, Wilman Rodriguez, and Rafael Bautista each had two hits and two runs to power the Suns offense.

Apr 052014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Postponed vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
2:00 p.m.(DH)
Hill (1-0, 4.22 in ’13) and Tatusko (5-8, 4.33 in ’13) vs.
Whitley (3-2, 3.06 in ’13) and Stoneburner (4-6, 4.57 in ’13)
Harrisburg Lost, 9-0 @ Bowie, 6:35 p.m. Gilliam (3-6, 4.40 in ’13) vs. Berry (11-7, 3.85 @ A+ in ’13)
Potomac Won, 10-5 @ Carolina, 6:00 p.m. Mooneyham (0-3, 13.50 in ’13) vs. Merritt (0-0, 5.00 in ’13)
Hagerstown Won, 2-1 vs. Rome, 5:05 p.m. Giolito (1-0, 0.64 @ SS-A in ’13) vs. Salazar (0-3, 6.92 @ Rk. in ’13)


Scranton/Wilkes-Barre vs. Syracuse — PPD
With rain in the forecast and temps in the low 40s, officials pulled the plug on the Chiefs-RailRiders game approximately 90 minutes before gametime yesterday afternoon. It will be made up today with a doubleheader, um, weather permitting.

Bowie 9 Harrisburg 0
• Rivero (L, 0-1) 3+IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 2K
• Perry 3IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• Skole 0-3, BB, 2K
• Taylor 0-4, 4K

The BaySox jumped on Felipe Rivero for three runs in the 1st and never trailed as they shut out the Sens, 9-0. The Harrisburg southpaw settled down to hold off Bowie for two innings before getting lifted with no outs in the 4th after allowing his seventh and final hit. He walked one and struck out two. Ryan Perry stranded that runner and pitched two scoreless before getting knocked for four runs in the 5th. The lack of pitching was only exceeded by the dearth of hitting as the Senators managed just four hits and struck out 10 times (led by Michael Taylor with four) and walked just once (Matt Skole).

Potomac 10 Carolina 5
• Pena 3⅔ IP, 5H, 5R, 5ER, 4BB, 0K, WP
• Dupra (W, 1-0) 2⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 6K, 2-0 IR-S, 2WP
• Lee (H, 1) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 5K
• S. Perez 2-4, 2R, 2B
• Keyes 2-4, R, 2B, BB
• Renda 2-5, 2R, 2RBI, SB

Beginning with a three-run shot by backstop Pedro Severino, the P-Nats rallied from 5-0 to score ten unanswered runs and double up the Mudcats, 10-5. Potomac capitalized on seven walks issued to score ten times on just nine hits, with Stephen Perez, Kevin Keyes, and Tony Renda each having multiple hits. Mike McQuillan led the free-pass brigade with three BB’s. P-Nats starter Ronald Pena was roughed up for all five Carolina runs on five hits and four walks over three and 2/3rds innings. He fanned no one. Brian Dupra got the win in relief as the Potomac ‘pen struck out 13 (of 19 batters faced) while locking down Carolina for five and 1/3rd shutout innings.

Hagerstown 2 Rome 1
• Voth 5IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 7K
• Hollins (W, 1-0) 1⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K, 2-1 IR-S
• Bautista 2-4, 2B, 2RBI
• Difo 2-4, 2SB

Rafael Bautista’s two-out, two-run double to the right-center gap was the one moment that decided the game as the Suns walked off in the 9th with a 2-1 victory over the R-Braves. Austin Voth started and went the first five, tossing five shutout frames with just two hits and two walks allowed while striking out seven, matching Nick Pivetta’s line from the night before. L.J. Hollins got the win in relief by getting the last five outs, though he gave up the hit that plated the sole Rome run to score in the 8th. Bautista and Wilmer Difo both went 2-for-4 to lead the Hagerstown hit parade of seven, with Difo swiping two bases.

Apr 042014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-1 vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
5:00 p.m.
Hill (1-0, 4.22 in ’13) vs.
Whitley (3-2, 3.06 in ’13)
Harrisburg Lost, 12-6 @ Bowie,
6:35 p.m.
Rivero (9-7, 3.40 @ A+ in ’13)
vs. Wilson (7-5, 3.83 in ’13)
Potomac Lost, 6-3 @ Carolina,
7:00 p.m.
Pena (4-3, 3.48 @ A- in ’13) vs.
Peoples (1-4, 5.27 in ’13)
Hagerstown Won, 4-0 vs. Rome,
6:35 p.m.
Voth (1-0, 3.38 in ’13) vs.
Buchanan (0-0, 3.00 @ Adv-Rk. in ’13)


Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 4 Syracuse 1
• Rosenbaum (L, 0-1) 5IP, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 2K
• Stange 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• Solano 2-3, 2-2B,
• Walters 2-4, CS

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre scored in three of the first five innings to build a 4-0 lead over Syracuse and cruised to a 4-1 win. Danny Rosenbaum suffered the loss, giving up nine hits with four going for extra bases (three doubles, one triple) but walked one and struck out two. The Chiefs ‘pen uncoupled the RailRiders for four scoreless innings, led by newcomer Daniel Stange with two goose eggs. Jhonatan Solano doubled twice in three at-bats, while Eury Perez and Zach Walter both singled twice to lead the Syracuse offense.

Bowie 12 Harrisburg 6
• Schwartz (L, 0-1) 3⅓ IP, 8H, 8R, 6ER, 2BB, 0K, HR
• Holland 1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K, 2-1 IR-S
• Dykstra 3-5, R, E
• Taylor 2-4, 2R, BB, SB
• Canham 1-3, R, HR, RBI

A six-run 4th proved to be the difference as Bowie doubled up Harrisburg, 12-6. Blake Schwartz was charged with a career-worst eight runs over three and a 1/3rd inning on eight hits, including three-run bomb by Garabez Rosa, while walking two. The 24-y.o. Minnesota native struck out none. Michael Taylor and Cutter Dykstra picked up where they left off at the end of the 2013 regular season, reaching base six times and scoring three runs combined. Mitch Canham also homered as seven of the nine regulars hit safely for 11 hits as a team.

Carolina 6 Potomac 3
• Rauh 5IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 3K
• Dickson (L, 0-1) ⅔ IP, 2H, 4R, 4ER, BB, K, 2HBP
• Henke 1⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 2K, 3-2 IR-S
• Renda 2-4, R, 3B

Carolina snapped a 2-2 tie with a four-run 6th to hand Potomac and Ian Dickson the “L” by 6-3 tally. Brian Rauh got the start and gave up two runs on six hits and two walks while fanning three. Dickson retired two of the first three batters he faced before putting on four straight baserunners, leaving the game after a second hit by pitch that gave Carolina’s Ollie Linton the Homer Simpson RBI. Travis Henke was greeted with two-run double to complete the big inning. Tony Renda went 2-for-4 as the P-Nats registered eight hits, including triples by Randolph Oduber and Kevin Keyes.

Hagerstown 4 Rome 0
• Pivetta (W, 1-0) 5IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 7K
• Simms (SV, 1) 4IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Kieboom 3-3, 2R
• Ward 2-4, 2B, 3B, 2RBI

Nick Pivetta and John Simms combined for a five-hit shutout as Hagerstown got the sole minors win for Washington on Opening Day with a 4-0 shutout of Rome. Pivetta went the first five frames and gave up two hits and two walks and while striking out seven. Simms finished the game, allowing three singles, no walks, and set down four on strikes. Drew Ward would not settle for one, as the 19-y.o. doubled and tripled and drove in two while Spencer Kieboom scored twice and hit safely in all three ABs.

Apr 032014
 


It’s a full slate today for minor-league Opening Day — first time since 2010 — as the Chiefs host the RailRiders, the Senators visit the BaySox, the P-Nats visit the Mudcats, and the Suns host the R-Braves.

Well, weather permitting. As of this writing, it’s 27 degrees in Central NY with a first-pitch forecast of 44 degrees. There’s a 30% chance of rain in the late afternoon in Zebulon, a 40% chance at gametime in Bowie, and a 60% chance in Hagerstown.

Team Today’s Game Pitching Matchup (’13 Stats at Level)
Syracuse vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
2:00 p.m.
Danny Rosenbaum (7-11, 3.87) vs.
Bruce Billings (13-8, 4.31)
Harrisburg @ Bowie,
6:35 p.m.
Blake Schwartz (11-4, 2.65 at A+) vs.
Ed Rodriguez (4-3, 4.22)
Potomac @ Carolina,
7:00 p.m.
Brian Rauh (4-2, 4.22) vs.
Shawn Morimando (8-13, 3.73)
Hagerstown vs. Rome,
6:35 p.m.
Nick Pivetta (0-1, 3.38 @ SS-A) vs.
Francois Lefreniere (7-13, 5.36)


Just the annual reminder: These pitchers are not necessarily the team’s #1 starter. They are, within a slot or two, how the Nationals would like the starters to align from Low-A to MLB in the event of promotions or injuries.

Based on what I’ve been able to gather, here’s how the rest of the starting rotations will round out:

TEAM Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5
Syracuse Hill Tatusko Treinen Poveda
Harrisburg Rivero Gilliam Purke Cole
Potomac Pena Mooneyham Encarnacion Lee
Hagerstown Voth Giolito Silvestre Johansen


As semi-predicted in the P-Nats roster reveal, Pena and Rauh have indeed returned to starting, with Ian Dickson and Dakota Bacus returning to bullpen roles. It’s natural to speculate as to who “benefited” by Sammy Solis’s latest trip to the DL, but we’ll never know for sure (yes, I can be that certain; there’s no legitimate reason to ever tell anyone outside the organization that information).

As implied in the comments, these rotations are quite likely to be short-lived — if past history holds, four or five turns max before guys are shifted around, which of course, will be tracked in either separate posts like yesterday or in the daily News & Notes, which returns tomorrow

Apr 022014
 

After Sandy Leon was a no-show for the Mayflies Senators media day yesterday, it was no mystery as to which catcher on the Washington 40-man roster would get the call today. This afternoon, the Nationals officially placed C Wilson Ramos on the 15-Day DL and recalled Sandy Leon from Harrisburg.

In a related story, veteran minor-league catcher Brandon Bantz was signed to a minor-league deal today as well. Bantz spent 2013 with the Mariners organization, splitting time between AA Jackson and AAA Tacoma, with a one-game sojourn to Seattle last June 8th, which was his MLB debut. Combined, Bantz hit .219/.282/.307 in 59 minor-league games, but was released at the end of spring training this year.

Rotoworld.com is reporting that Bantz has been assigned to Syracuse, which is in line with previous catcher shuffles. If this turns out to be the case, journeyman Jeff Howell will be reassigned from the Chiefs to the Senators to take Leon’s place on the Harrisburg roster.

As always, if/when the corresponding moves are announced, this space will be updated.

Mar 312014
 

As it has been historically, the Harrisburg Senators were the first of the four full-season affiliates to release their 2014 Opening Day Roster (2014 watchlist players in bold, 2014 notables in italics):

PITCHERS INFIELDERS OUTFIELDERS CATCHERS
Gabriel Alfaro Justin Bloxom Destin Hood Mitch Canham
Colin Bates Cutter Dykstra Caleb Ramsey Sandy Leon
A.J. Cole Ricky Hague Michael Taylor
Rob Gilliam Jason Martinson Drew Vettleson
Matt Grace Sean Nicol
Tyler Herron Matt Skole
Neil Holland
Zach Jackson
Richie Mirowksi
Ryan Perry
Matt Purke
Felipe Rivero
Blake Schwartz


As it should be, this is a roster laden with the organization’s top talent — 17 of the 25 are on this site’s 2014 Watchlist along three of the Baseball America Top 10 prospects (Cole, Skole, & Taylor) and three more that were ranked in the Top 20 for the Nationals (Purke) and Tampa Bay (Rivero & Vettleson).

Busy day today, so I’m off to write up the next roster release…

Feb 142014
 

Well, nothing like a trade on the first day of Spring Training to [fudge over] this series of posts.

Anyway, to pick up where we left off yesterday (and staying in format)… the 2014 Senators just got a whole lot more interesting, but before we take a look at this year’s guess, let’s see how well I picked last year’s staff…

STARTERS SWINGMEN RELIEVERS
Nathan Karns Adam Olbrychowski Paul Demny
Trevor Holder Blake Treinen Marcos Frias
Brian Broderick Neil Holland
Rob Gilliam Rob Wort
Tyler Herron Cameron Selik
Matt Grace


Much like Syracuse, I was only completely wrong on one, but missed the roles on several… and was just barely right on a few more (Wort, demoted; Herron and Grace began in Potomac, but spent the lion’s share of 2013 here). I’m not arrogant enough to think that maybe I’m getting good at this, just lucky.

As aforementioned, yesterday’s trade changes things. At least I think it will. In the most optimistic scenario, Taylor Hill benefits by rounding out the Chiefs rotation instead of the Senators. In the most pessimistic, Matt Purke is held back for another few weeks in Potomac. And if you’re cynical, he’ll be put on the DL again for the month of April again (quite frankly, if that were to happen, it would raise some unsettling questions).

Thus, I’ll name six starters to reflect the trade and its uncertainty. Here’s who I think will make up the Nats’ AA pitching staff in 2014 (40-man guys in bold):

STARTERS SWINGMEN RELIEVERS
A.J. Cole Paul Demny Richie Mirowski
Sammy Solis Brian Rauh Tyler Herron
Blake Schwartz Robert Benincasa
Felipe Rivero Matt Grace
Taylor Hill Colin Bates
Matt Purke


I feel fairly confident in getting the starters mostly right, but aside from Mirowski and Benincasa, I don’t feel as good about how I picked the rest of the staff. Mostly because I fear that one or two of these guys will not go to either Potomac or Syracuse.

The P-Nats’ playoff meltdown not withstanding, if this collection of arms does live up to its billing and the hitters don’t start slowly, it should be another contender at City Island this summer.

Feb 132014
 

So Long
RHP Nathan Karns was dealt away today to the Tampa Bay Rays for backup catcher Jose Lobaton, LHP Felipe Rivero, and OF Drew Vettleson. The move is expected to put an end to one of the few position battles this spring and clouding the future for a pair of longtime backstops, Jhonatan Solano and Sandy Leon, who both have one option left.

To make room on the 40-man roster, RHP Erik Davis was placed on the 60-man DL with what Washington officials are calling an elbow sprain.

Karns (2012) also becomes the sixth minors’ player or pitcher of the year to be traded since GM Mike Rizzo assumed the helm in 2009, following Derek Norris (2009), Tommy Milone (2010), Brad Peacock and Steve Lombrdozzi (2011), and Billy Burns (2013). (Perhaps the award should be nicknamed Kemmerich’s Cleats?)

Rivero was signed as an IFA in 2008 out of Venezuela and was ranked as Tampa Bay’s #17 prospect overall in the 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook. He was 9-7 in 23 starts with pitcher’s line of 3.40/3.88/1.37 for High-A Charlotte (FL) in the (usually) pitcher-friendly Florida State League.

He works off a 91-94 FB and features a sharp 12-6 curve and changeup. Both BA and this guy have noted that he has trouble maintaining his speed, which could signal a move to the bullpen. BA was projecting him to pitch for AA Montgomery, so the logical extension is a ticket to Harrisburg this summer.

Vettleson is a 2010 HS pick (1st Rd., supplemental) out of Silverdale, WA and has moved up steadily in his first three years, progressing from advanced rookie Princeton in 2011 to Low-A Bowling Green in 2012 to High-A Charlotte in 2013. He suffered a bit of a power outage in FSL, which both BA and Sickels attributed to issues with plate discipline.

Defensively, Vettleson’s arm is considered above-average but his footwork is considered substandard. Like Rivero, Vettleson was considered on track to play at AA Montgomery, which could force either Caleb Ramsey or Randolph Oduber to repeat Potomac.

Feb 082014
 


We finish this little exercise in killing time forecasting with a look at the Harrisburg Senators.

But first, let’s review my picks for last year’s 2013 AA squad (mistakes in red, wrong roles in blue, not quite right in purple):

CA – Jeff Howell
1B – Matt Skole
2B – Ricky Hague
SS – Jason Martinson
3B – Anthony Rendon
OF – Destin Hood
OF – Brian Goodwin
OF – Chris Rahl
DH/BIF – Justin Bloxom
BCA – Kris Watts
BIF – Sean Nicol
BIF – Francisco Soriano
BOF – Jimmy Van Ostrand

Even if you count my not-quite-right as wrong (Van Ostrand spent 76 of his 97 games at Harrisburg, but began the season in Syracuse), I got 9 out 13 right on making the team. If you cut me some slack, that’s the same success rate for how these guys were used. That’s quite a bit better than in 2012 where I only got six right without hedging (which I’ll have do this year, too, but for a much more valid reason).

This year’s squad won’t have quite the luster of three BA Top 10 players in the field as they did a year ago, but that should be more than offset by having (spoiler alert!) two Top 10 pitchers (okay, maybe not). Without further vamping, here’s my guess at the 2014 Senators:

CA – Adrian Nieto or Brian Jeroloman
1B – Matt Skole
2B – Ricky Hague
SS – Jason Martinson
3B – Cutter Dykstra
OF – Destin Hood
OF – Michael Taylor
OF – Theo Bowe
DH/1B – Kevin Keyes
BCA – Jeroloman or Cole Leonida
BIF – Adrian Sanchez
BIF – Sean Nicol
BOF – Caleb Ramsey

As you can see, I’m waffling at the catcher slots because, historically, there’s a very good chance that Nieto will be returned to Washington. And even Jeroloman isn’t a sure thing with all the backup catchers the Nats have been stockpiling. I’m presuming Sandy Leon will finally begin the season at AAA (which I won’t pick because it’s just too unpredictable) but it’s not unfathomable for him to come back to City Island, which is my pick (unfortunately, for their sakes) for five players.

Otherwise, I’m fairly confident Brian Goodwin and Steven Souza will move up another level. But for any other position player, I don’t have the answer to “What about __________?” Remember, this is a guessing game.

Unfortunately, as we saw yesterday in the comments, it’s also a realization that some players may have hit the end of their road. Once I get to the bench, it’s trying to divine which of last year’s bench guys will hang it up or go to Syrcause and which of the guys from Potomac will move up but shift into backup roles. The alternatives are being sent to XST, hidden placed on the DL (often the same thing) or getting released.

As always, hope folks enjoyed this little diversion. Judging by the Twitter reaction to the signing of an aging middle reliever, it’s obvious that folks can no longer stand to wait for Spring Training to begin.

Jan 152014
 

The Harrisburg Senators and Washington Nationals have announced a four-year extension of their player development contract through the 2018 season. This is the second affiliate to extend during this offseason, both months in advance of the September deadline to renew before open negotiations (typically the last two weeks of September).

The Senators have been a Nationals affiliate the longest of the five teams located north of Florida, having been an Expos affiliate since 1991, and should effectively quash any idle talk of the Nationals switching to the Richmond Squirrels, which is usually an indication that such folks have never been to both places for a game.

The PDCs of the Nationals’ “A” teams — Auburn (SS), Hagerstown (Low-A), and Potomac (High-A) — expire after the 2014 season. Two years ago, the Nationals extended three* affiliates during spring training, and renewed with Hagerstown in October 2012.
* or four; there’s conflicting information regarding whether the 2010 extension for Potomac was for two or four years

As passed along yesterday, there is turmoil in Hagerstown (plans to relocate to Fredericksburg) and Auburn (five GMs since 2010) which makes their PDC renewals less-than-certain. Potomac, which has been planning to build a new ballpark for more than since last decade, seems a little safer given its proximity to DC and strong attendance despite playing in one of the worst facilities in affiliated baseball.