Saturday’s News & Notes

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.

Friday’s News & Notes

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.

Opening Day!


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

Leon Recalled To Replace Ramos (Again)

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.

Harrisburg Announces Its 2014 Opening Day Roster

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…

Minors Pitching Staff Analysis, Part Two

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.

Nats Trade Karns For Lobaton, et al

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.

Guessing The Rosters, Part Three


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.

Two Down, Three To Go (Maybe)

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.

Season Review: 2013 Harrisburg Senators

It was predicted to be the roster to watch for this season, and for the most part, it lived up to that. Top prospect Anthony Rendon began here, as did Nathan Karns, the Nats’ 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, and the single-A guys from the 2012 AFL team that lost in the playoffs. Overall, there were 13 names from the 2013 Watchlist on the Opening Day roster, which is not unusual since AA is where the best prospects play the most nowadays.

But… roughly half the team was also the one that went belly-up in the second half of 2012, so if any Sens fans were worried that history would repeat itself, they couldn’t be blamed. Indeed, the team played .500 ball until nearly mid-June before edging into contention. Fortified by several pitchers from Potomac during the season, all of whom seemingly made the transition with hardly a hiccup, Harrisburg made its run in late June and survived an August swoon to edge Erie for the E.L. West title by one game.

After taking three of four from the Seawolves to advance to the Finals, Harrisburg would be swept by the Trenton Thunder, who, much like the Salem Red Sox in the Carolina League, also got hot down the stretch and swept both division leaders for the League Championship. A disappointing finish, but far from a failure as the team produced two pitchers and an infielder who finished their seasons in D.C. — and not as September call-ups.

Let’s take a closer look at how the Senators stacked up against the Eastern League…

HITTING AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA* SB
Harrisburg 4585 602 1110 101 521 1090 .242 .324 .372 .239 89
Lg. Avg. 4689 628 1195 104 482 1068 .255 .330 .387 .245 107

* GPA = Gross Production Average

PITCHING IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
Harrisburg 1237 3.43 3.75 1.237 101 391 1168 8.3 2.8 8.5 2.99
Lg. Avg. 1230⅔ 4.01 4.44 1.363 104 482 1068 8.7 3.5 7.8 2.21


If there are two things that have been the trademark of Harrisburg teams over the fast few seasons, it’s been outstanding pitching and suboptimal hitting. This past season was no different — they gave up the fewest run and walks and were second in pitching strikeouts, producing the best ratios for K:BB and WHIP. At the plate, they were dead-last in batting average, second-from-last in slugging percentage, and third-from-last in OBP (thanks to finishing second in walks drawn) and runs scored.

Defensively, the team was middle-of-the-pack — a .976 FA that was right at the league average. They allowed the second-fewest stolen bases (with fewer opportunities to steal, thanks to the pitchers) with a slightly above-average (33% vs. 31%) rate of catching would-be basethieves, which would have been higher if Sandy Leon (38%) had caught more than 91 games (the backups were 25%).

Given the organization’s proclivity towards athleticism and defense in the draft (and obviously pitching), this trend will likely continue. As noted in 2011, the lack of power has been offset with increased speed and patience as three of the previous five affiliates were above their league averages for either steals or walks, if not both (Potomac and Hagerstown). This is not inherently bad as power is considered to be a skill that develops later (and can be acquired more cheaply), but I’m sure folks on City Island wouldn’t mind seeing more than one or two boppers in the lineup at the same time, either.

Now is when we danc…er, take a look at the Top 14’s for the hitters and pitchers — expanded from 12 to capture a couple of notables (and help pay the bills, *ahem*). Full statistics for the team can be found here.

Name Age PA Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err GPA ISO
Justin Bloxom 25 544 1B/3B/LF 105/18/3 .981 17 .247 .104
Brian Goodwin 22 533 CF 116 .982 5 .262 .155
Ricky Hague 24 479 2B/SS 117/7 .970 16 .226 .117
Destin Hood 23 429 RF/LF 61/44 .979 4 .207 .103
Jerad Head 30 426 LF/1B/RF/CF 50/14/8/4 .981 4 .242 .153
Sandy Leon 24 361 C 93 .993 6 .194 .075
Sean Nicol 26 324 3B/SS/LF/2B/1B 42/17/17/13/2 .960 10 .237 .079
Steve Souza 24 323 RF/CF 72/5 .979 3 .317 .257
Jimmy Van Ostrand 28 283 LF/1B 23/6 .990 2 .259 .193
Jose Lozada 27 230 SS/3B/2B/LF/1B/RF/CF 29/17/10/5/4/3/2 .955 11 .188 .050
Carlos Rivero 25 199 3B 49 .961 5 .225 .129
Jason Martinson 24 196 SS 53 .944 12 .199 .121
Josh Johnson 27 196 SS/2B 42/3 .932 13 .271 .186
Anthony Rendon 23 152 3B/2B/SS 24/5/1 .958 4 .358 .284


Looking at the column for isolated power, you can see what I mean by the lack of big boppers. Just five of these 14 were above the league average of .132 and you can see from the distribution of the playing time that there rarely more than one or two in the lineup at the same time. Steve Souza, who’s ripping up the AFL in limited playing time as of this writing recently added to the Nationals 40-man roster, was a force… when he was healthy. It would have been nice to see what he could have done had he played 50 more games, especially coupled with Rendon for another month.

Perhaps more disappointing was the regression of Destin Hood and Sandy Leon. Hood played 18 more games than he did last season, and posted worse numbers in just about every category. Leon fell off a cliff offensively, falling so far, so fast that it makes you wonder if his 2012 season ought to be disregarded as a fluke. Both players had breakthrough seasons in 2011, but that’s a long time ago in the minors when you’re closer to 25 than 20.

It’ll be interesting to see who moves up to AAA among this group, because it may only be two or three guys, max. The Nationals have had no problem plugging in six-year FAs to plug holes or shuffle between Harrisburg and Syracuse (e.g. Johnson, Rivero, Head, Van Ostrand) which is likely to occur again with Potomac having only 2-3 position players destined to move up.

Now for some better news, the pitchers…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HR HBP WP
Nathan Karns 25 23/23 10-6, 0 3.26 132⅔ 109 48 155 1.183 14 7 13
Blake Treinen 25 21/20 6-7, 0 3.64 118⅔ 125 33 86 1.331 9 4 8
Rob Gilliam 25 19/18 3-6, 0 4.40 90 83 38 77 1.344 9 10 4
Paul Demny 23 18/15 5-6, 0 4.95 83⅔ 81 35 86 1.386 10 6 3
Caleb Clay 25 13/13 6-3, 0 3.46 75⅓ 64 17 59 1.075 6 7 3
Matt Swynenberg 24 36/4 4-0, 0 3.16 74 66 30 58 1.297 6 3 5
Taylor Hill 24 11/11 2-7, 0 2.71 69⅔ 67 16 41 1.191 7 1 1
Robbie Ray 21 11/11 5-2, 0 3.72 58 56 21 60 1.328 4 6 1
Taylor Jordan 24 9/8 7-0, 0 0.83 54 37 9 43 0.852 0 5 0
Neil Holland 24 41/0 1-4, 1 2.84 50⅔ 48 11 63 1.164 3 5 1
Aaron Barrett 25 51/0 1-1, 26 2.15 50⅓ 40 15 69 1.093 6 0 5
Tyler Herron 26 33/1 6-2, 5 3.11 46⅓ 45 21 58 1.424 2 1 2
A.J. Cole 21 7/7 4-2, 0 2.18 45⅓ 31 10 49 0.904 3 0 1
Pat McCoy 24 39/0 2-1, 0 4.32 41⅔ 48 12 36 1.440 5 3 2


Much like Hagerstown, the consistency of the league’s top pitching staff was amazing — just two of these starters were above the league average for ERA, two relievers above the circuit norm for WHIP. As aforementioned, it was almost unnatural how well the seven callups from Potomac did. Three of the four starters posted better numbers at AA than at High-A while the three relievers who didn’t do better were still decent if not very good.

None of these were guys could be described as unfairly held back, which would help explain such a phenomenon. In fact, the two youngest success stories — Robbie Ray and A.J. Cole — were coming off terrible 2012 seasons and weren’t exactly dominating the Carolina League when they were promoted (lots of K’s, but also lots of HRs). This, for better or worse, is why the folks who make the sausage will tell you that stats don’t matter as much we the fans might think they do.

Which brings us to Taylor Jordan and Ian Krol. I was fortunate enough to see Jordan in Woodbridge, but naturally missed Krol, who was acquired during the past offseason and seemed like a throw-in, which we’ve come to learn, is where Rizzo, et al seem to really do best at: identifying talent from other organizations and having them do far better than anyone expected.

OBLIGATORY TOP EIGHT LIST
Since I use these to help build the 2014 watchlist, I can’t name Jordan and Rendon — both have exceeded the IP and PA limits for rookie status (50, 130 respectively) that most folks use as a cutoff. I also had to break my rule about not double-dipping by repeating two names because, well, they’re kind of obvious. Likewise, for the second straight year, I’m going to have to combine the bats and arms to form a single list because there’s an uneven distribution (again).

1. A.J. Cole
2. Brian Goodwin
3. Robbie Ray
4. Nathan Karns
5. Steve Souza
6. Aaron Barrett
7. Neil Holland
8. Justin Bloxom