Jul 262013
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 45-59, 6th place I.L. North, 11½ games behind

Good Mike Crotta 0HR in 43⅓ IP
Bad Kelly Shoppach .179/.324/.179 in first nine games
Interesting 271 batting BB dead last in I.L.



HARRISBURG SENATORS 58-48, 1st place E.L. West, 3 games ahead

Good Matt Swynenberg 1-0, 0.87 ERA, 1.16 WHIP in July (5 appearances)
Bad Jason Martinson .176BA, 16K in last 10 games
Interesting Taylor Hill 1.82/3.40/1.16 in six AA starts



POTOMAC NATIONALS 18-14, 1st place C.L. North, 4 games ahead (60-40 overall)

Good Billy Burns .364/.440/.489, 13SB in July
Bad Matt Purke 0-3, 8.34/4.70/1.99 in first five A+ starts
Interesting David Fischer 2-0, 2.08 ERA, 0.923 WHIP in July (6 appearances)



HAGERSTOWN SUNS 20-13, T1st place Sally North, .007 W% behind (58-42 overall)

Good Narciso Mesa .309/.397/.364 in 29G
Bad Ian Dickson 6HR in 28⅔ IP (9 appearances)
Interesting 37% CS rate by Suns catchers 2nd best in Sally League



AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 12-25, 6th place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 11½ games behind

Good L.J. Hollins 1.35/3.20/1.20 in 13 appearances
Bad Cody Gunter 11E in 30G
Interesting Back-to-back wins thus far: 0



GCL NATIONALS 24-5, 1st place East Division, Gulf Coast League, 9 games ahead

Good Drew Ward .330/.435/.440 in 27G
Bad Travis Ott 8.31/6.20/1.85 in four appearances
Interesting Team Pitching No. 1 in GCL for ERA, Runs Allowed, and WHIP



DSL NATIONALS 21-17, 4th place Boca Chica South, 5&fra12; games behind

Good 18-y.o. Maximo Valerio 3-2, 1.39/2.78/0.93 in nine starts
Bad 19-y.o. Dionicio Rosario .146/.212/.188 in July
Interesting 18-y.o. Luis Reyes 8HBP in 36⅔ IP, 3.19 BB/9, 10.8 K/9
Jul 052013
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 36-51, 6th place I.L. North, 16½ games behind

Good Jeff Kobernus .375BA, Chris Marrero .333BA since return from MLB
Bad Jeff Mandel 0-4, 7.45ERA, 1.69 WHIP in last five starts
Interesting Mike Broadway four saves in last four appearances since June 26



HARRISBURG SENATORS 45-40, 1st place E.L. West, 1½ games ahead

Good Jason Martinson .333/.417/.429 in 7G since promotion
Bad Blake Treinen 110H in 97⅓IP
Interesting 50 team HBP, most in E.L.



POTOMAC NATIONALS 9-3, 1st place C.L. North, 2½ games ahead (51-30 overall)

Good Greg Holt 2-0, 2.57ERA in last 10 appearances (14IP)
Bad Adrian Sanchez .143/.216/.147 in last 10 games
Interesting 22 saves, T1st in Carolina League (19 blown saves)


HAGERSTOWN SUNS 10-5, 1st place Sally North, 1 game ahead (48-34 overall)

Good Gilberto Mendez 1-0, 0.68 ERA / 0.68 WHIP in first eight appearances
Bad Pedro Severino 8BB in 52 games (.275 OBP)
Interesting 11 shutouts, 2nd best in Sally League


AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 6-10, 6th place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League

Good Jean Valdez .326/.383/.535, 2HR, 8RBI in 16 games
Bad Joel Barrientos 12BB in 11⅔ IP
Interesting James Yezzo .333/.367/.421 in 14 games


GCL NATIONALS 9-3, 1st place East Division, Gulf Coast League

Good Philips Valdez 2-0, 1.13ERA, 0.75WHIP in 8IP
Bad Osvaldo Abreu .293 OPS in 10G
Interesting 1.18 WHIP 2nd best in GCL


DSL NATIONALS 15-12, 2nd place Boca Chica South, 3 games behind

Good 20-y.o. Yermin Mercedes .318/.423/.432 in 16 games
Bad 18-y.o. Yefri Pena 1-1, 5.52 ERA, 1.98 WHIP in 14⅔ IP
Interesting 17-y.o. Israel Mota .264/.406/.340 in 19 games
May 112013
 

For the third straight game, Potomac won in its final at-bat. This time, however, it was the reclamation of a lead lost and a swift finish as Jason Martinson led off the bottom of the 9th with a solo HR for a 5-4 win over the Winston-Salem Dash.

The blast, which was the Texan’s seventh, took Richie Mirowski off the hook and “earned” the reliever the dreaded blown-save-win as he gave up the lead with two-out, two-run shot to dead center off the bat of Chris Curley. It was the fourth home run Mirowski has surrendered in just 14⅓ innings.

Early on, this was an exercise in frustration for the opposing offenses. It’s tempting to call a 1-1 game a pitcher’s duel, but the combined 15 baserunners left on through the first five innings beg to differ.

Both A.J. Cole and the Dash’s Chris Bassitt got themselves into and out of jams. Cole walked three, hit a batter, and balked a baserunner but got the final batter out with the strikeout four innings out of five. The lone run he allowed was by no means “cheap,” as Kevan “Don’t Call Me Silent Bob” Smith led off the 4th with triple to the right-center gap and scored on a sacrifice fly.

Twice Bassitt let up back-to-back singles with two outs, but twice the P-Nats were unable to hound him for a third hit as Adrian Nieto tapped out to short in the 1st and Cutter Dykstra popped out with the bases loaded in the 4th.

Potomac needed a couple of miscues to score against Bassitt as Kevin Keyes stole third as part of a double steal with two out and chugged home with the run when toss to first on the dropped third strike was botched for an error.

Both starters were done after five, with Cole finishing his night with one run on five hits and striking out seven. Bassitt gave up seven hits, but just one unearned run with five K’s.

After leaving on nine runners through five, Michael Taylor ended that streak with a two-run home run off the left field foul pole to give Potomac a 3-1 lead. Colin Bates, who set ‘em down in order in the 6th, was touched for a run in the 7th as he was unable to strand a one-out triple, giving up a two-out double to plate the second Winston-Salem run.

Potomac got it back in the 8th as Francisco Soriano led off with a triple and came around to score after Billy Burns walked and stole second (no, I don’t have that on autofill, but I maybe I ought to). The double play taken away, Michael Taylor got the RBI on a fielder’s choice as Soriano sacmpered home with the fourth Potomac run.

Christian Meza, who had pitched a scoreless 8th following Bates to earn the hold, gave way to Mirowski in the 9th. The 24-year-old got the first two on a whiff and a grounder to first but issued a two-out walk that set up Curley for the game-tying blast.

With the win, Potomac improves to 18-16 but remains a game behind Frederick and percentage points behind Lynchburg in the Carolina League North. Weather permitting, game two of the four-game series will feature a matchup RHP Taylor Hill (3-1, 2.21) for the P-Nats and RHP Chris Beck (2-4, 1.50) for the Dash.

Apr 222013
 

On the strength of their Saturday night performances, Nathan Karns and Taylor Hill were named the Pitchers of the Week for the Eastern and Carolina Leagues respectively while Jason Martinson repeated as the Player of the Week for the Carolina League for the period of April 15-21.

Nathan KarnsKarns pitched just once during the week, but was masterful: In a 7-inning complete game to open Harrisburg’s doubleheader, Karns settled down from giving up back-to-back doubles with two outs in the first to retire 19 of 20 and the last 15 batters straight while racking up a career-high 13 strikeouts. For the season, the Franklin, PA native is a modest 1-1 with an ERA of 4.60 ERA but has an FIP of 2.94 and a WHIP of 1.09 despite giving up seven runs and seven hits in his first outing.

Taylor HillHill pitched twice during the week, allowing one run on four hits to in a win against Salem last Monday and a one-hit, seven-inning shutout in the opening game of Potomac’s doubleheader on Saturday night. Hill struck out seven and walked none in his masterpiece. The Vanderbilt alum is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA, 0.79WHIP (second-best in the Carolina League) and a 2.52 FIP (fifth-best) in three starts and one relief appearance.

Jason MartinsonMartinson took home player of the week honors for the second straight week, punishing opposing pitchers for a .400 average (10-for-25) including a double, a home run and four RBI in a 12-inning game last Thursday. The 24-year-old Texan is batting .328/.425/.656 overall and is tied for the league lead in HRs with five and leads the Carolina circuit with 15RBI.

Apr 192013
 

It’s back! Our weekly look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues. For the newcomers, this is a ripoff of tribute to comedian Demetri Martin’s segment from his old show on Comedy Central.

And of course, the obligatory caveats: sample sizes are here small, it’s early in the season, minors stats aren’t as meaningful as we think, past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance, etc.

Nevertheless, a reminder: the players, their families, and their agents are reading, so let’s not get carried away in the comments. It’s just for fun.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 6-7, 4th place I.L. North, 3½ games behind

Good Jeff Kobernus .463/.521/.659, 6SB in 12G
Bad Ryan Tatusko 7.11 ERA, 9BB, 2.84 WHIP in 6⅓ IP
Interesting Decision to not use a position player to pitch in a 27-9 smackdown, the day after a doubleheader

HARRISBURG SENATORS 8-6, T1st place E.L. West, ½ game ahead

Good Caleb Clay 2-0, 1.00WHIP, 14K in 17IP
Bad Justin Bloxom .503OPS, 23K in 14G
Interesting Trevor Holder 0.00 ERA, 0.78WHIP in 3G, 9IP

POTOMAC NATIONALS 6-7, 4th place C.L. North, 2 games behind

Good Jason Martinson 1.140 OPS, 15RBI in 13G
Bad Relievers – 5.82ERA, 1.42WHIP
Interesting Michael Taylor 10RBI, 13H, .228BA

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 8-7, T2nd place Sally North, 2 games behind

Good Dixon Anderson 0.68WHIP, 18K in 17⅔ IP
Bad Brandon Miller .172/.172/.345, 22K in 14G
Interesting Mike McQuillan 14-game on-base streak, 6SB
Apr 192013
 

Allan de San Miguel’s second home run of the night put an end to nearly four hours of not-so-pretty baseball as the Frederick Keys defeated the Potomac Nationals, 9-8 in 12 innings.

The two teams combined for 27 hits and 16 men left on base and five errors — four by the Keys, which rendered four of the last five P-Nats runs scored as unearned.

Early on, this looked like it would be a laugher. A.J. Cole struck out two in the top of the first, then Billy Burns led off the Potomac half with an opposite-field single and easily scored on a Michael Taylor double to the left-center gap. Jason Martinson doubled with one out. Kevin Keyes singled with two out.

After one inning it was three runs in on five hits. Cole would set down the next six straight, though his command was shaky and five of the outs were flies to the outfield. Meanwhile, Frederick starter Zach Petersime settled down to retire nine of eleven.

As is often the case, the middle innings are where a starter should really be evaluated and on their second look at Cole the Keys broke up both the perfecto and the shutout in the space of two batters with a leadoff triple and an RBI groundout in the 4th. In the 5th, Cole got four grounders and three outs and appeared en route to emerge from an uneven start with a decent line, if not a win, after a strikeout and a popup in the 6th.

Instead, with two outs Cole issued a walk, unleashed a wild pitch, and gave up the first of de San Miguel’s circle clouts to turn a 3-1 Potomac lead into a 4-3 advantage. He was lifted for a reliever and finished with a disappointing four runs on four hits and two walks over five and 2/3rds.

After that, things got ugly. A double, a dropped infield pop for an error extended the Keys lead to 5-3. Frederick returned the favor in the 7th with an error on a sacrifice that extended the inning and enabled Martinson to smack a three-run shot that gave the P-Nats their final lead of the night at 7-5.

Frederick went back on top in the 8th when a dropped third strike was the, um, key to the three-run rally that reclaimed the lead at 8-7. Potomac tied it at 8-8 in the last of the 9th on a Burns infield single, a Taylor single to left that pushed the P-Nats leadoff man to third, and a sacrifice by Cutter Dykstra.

Taylor stole second and took third on the fourth Frederick error to set up the chance for the win in regulation. Martinson, however, couldn’t repeat his 7th inning heroics and struck out to send the game into extras.

Potomac had a second chance at a walkoff win when Norfork led off the 11th with flare to no man’s land in left center but consecutive popups on bunt attempts by Burns and Taylor killed the rally, which ended with another Martinson whiff.

Following the second de San Miguel shot in the 12th, Potomac went quietly in their half with a popup and two grounders to short as Frederick reliever Eric Beaulac tossed the third of his three scoreless frames to get the “W.”

The series continues tonight, weather permitting, with a matchup of Kylin Turnbull (0-2, 12.00) vs. Zach Davies (1-0, 3.27).

Apr 162013
 

Jason MartinsonWeekly award season has begun for the minor leagues, and Potomac SS Jason Martinson was among the inaugural winners as the Carolina Batter of the Week for the period of April 4-14.

Martinson hammered out a line of .303/.429/.788 with seven extra-base hits, including four HR’s and 11 RBIs. The RBI mark is currently tied for the league lead while his nine runs scored in ten games played is tied for second, one behind teammate Billy Burns.

The 2010 fifth-rounder out of Texas was ranked as the #14 Washington prospect in the 2013 edition of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook and (far less prestigious)is a three-time member of this website’s watchlist.

Apr 062013
 

Ten men came to the plate in the Potomac second, which saw eight straight hits as Potomac crushed Lynchburg for a 12-1 win in the 2013 season opener.

If this were softball, beers were on Kevin Keyes as the big man was the sole P-Nat to not get at hit as the Woodbridge nine pounded out 16 hits total, with Cutter Dykstra and Randolph Oduber both going 3-for-5. Michael Taylor drove in three to lead the RBI column.

Jason Martinson drew three walks and got the hit parade started with an opposite-field home run in the bottom of the first. He narrowly missed a second big fly as his second-inning blast went off the wall for a double. He finished the night 2-for-4 with two walks (the box score is wrong).

Early on, it looked like Robbie Ray had picked up where he left off in 2012 — which, as most folks will remember, wasn’t good. An infield single up the middle and a botched sacrifice put the first two runners. The sole Hillcat run came in on the third batter on a hit & run play that went 6-3 in the books as the leadoff man beat the relay throw home to score the way from second.

Ray picked off the runner at second, which proved to be the key to escaping the inning with minimal damage as the next batter walked, and he gave up another single. A passed ball put runners on second and third with two out but Ray caught the No. 6 hitter David Rohm looking to end the threat.

That would be it for Lynchburg as Ray’s habit of settling down after a rough start also kicked in. The 21-year-old retired the next 10 batters in a row, the streak of 11 straight broken up by the third and final hit off him with one out in the 5th.

He finished with the one run (unearned), one walk, and five strikeouts — four to end the inning, three times looking as Ray flashed a much sharper breaking ball than last season. Before folks get too excited though, his command was still a little spotty, especially in the first frame. Still, after a disappointing finish in 2012, this was a great way to start 2013.

A trio of relievers followed Ray out of the ‘pen, beginning with Taylor Hill for one inning — perhaps a tipoff that Matt Grace is indeed still a starter — followed by Greg Holt for two and Richie Mirowski to close out the game. They combined for three scoreless innings and six strikeouts.

Taylor Jordan is slated to make his High-A debut tonight in Game 2, as will his counterpart for Lynchburg, A.J. Holland.

Dec 022012
 

Compiling these was an interesting exercise this time around. The turnout was a little lighter, which is probably my fault for waiting so late on Friday to make a call for submissions, but I think there’s enough here to go on and make a post.

The No. 1 guy was unanimous: Anthony Rendon. Like fans of Gus Johnson, this was a no-brainer.

Our No. 2 was pretty close, too: Brian Goodwin was named on all the submissions and was #2 on all the ballots but one.

After that, things get fuzzy. No. 3 (Matt Skole) was significantly ahead of No. 4 (Eury Perez) in terms of weighting (74-53) but was left off one ballot. Perez was omitted from two. Leon, the No. 5 guy, was omitted from four.

In some ways, it’s a microcosm of the system itself: Most folks can agree on the top few, but after that, it’s a free-for-all. That’s why I decided to post now versus waiting one more day (well, that, and years of research that shows that sometimes you can cut through the noise by taking advantage of how slow it can be on a Sunday).

Without further ado, here’s the list:

1. Anthony Rendon
2. Brian Goodwin
3. Matt Skole
4. Eury Perez
5. Sandy Leon
6. Jason Martinson
7. Zach Walters
8. Chris Marrero
9. Corey Brown
10. Tony Renda

Others receiving votes: Michael Taylor, Estarlin Martinez, Destin Hood, Ricky Hague, Jeff Kobernus, Brandon Miller, Wander Ramos, Erik Komatsu, Steve Souza, Carlos Rivero, Spencer Kieboom, Jhonatan Solano

The list certainly tilts towards the upper minors, with the exception of Renda. A lot folks gave props to players on the verge — Nos. 7-9 in particular, Komatsu, Rivero, and Solano in the “Others” — but injuries were punished severely (Kobernus, Hood) and defense, aside from catcher, didn’t seem to carry much weight (Taylor, Hague).

Unlike last year, there really aren’t any surprises about who missed the cut. Renda gets the benefit of the “new car smell,” while [troll]Taylor suffers from the gap between the offseason hype and the in-season performance, regardless of his age.[/troll]

Next up: The pitchers, which should be especially fun now that the best prospect without a sling in his wardrobe has been traded.

Nov 192012
 

First, the stats…
BATTERS

PITCHERS
Now, the thoughts

  • Goodwin’s alleged baserunning gaffe not withstanding, the youngest of the AFL entrants acquitted himself just fine overall. He showed a lot more power than anyone might have expected — hitter-friendly environment or not. I still expect him to return to Harrisburg next year to work on his defense and refine his game.
  • Rendon fulfilled the lofty expectations placed upon him by both the prospect cheerleaders gurus and the casual Nats fans, who are already converting Ryan Zimmerman to first base before he turns 30 to make room for 2011 first-round pick. My inclination is to predict Harrisburg as his 2013 starting point, but can see him in Syracuse next April with a strong spring.
  • The party line is that Skole played first base merely to accommodate Rendon in the AFL, but that seems hard to believe that he’ll go back, given how well he played there and who’s ahead of him on the first-base path to DC (just Bloxom and Marrero). If the knock on his gaudy offensive numbers was that he was playing a level too low, then making him the Senators first baseman can kill two birds with one stone.
  • Martinson started horribly and finished strong. Will it be enough for him to not repeat Potomac? The Zach Walters experience suggests that he’ll sent back but Martinson is much older and played much more High-A ball. Keeping him at Potomac means keeping someone else at Hagerstown, much the way he was made to repeat to make room for Ricky Hague and Walters.
  • Options or not, Perry did not make a strong case to account the hype that he can be the #5 starter for the parent club. He’s likely to stay on the 40-man for now, but don’t be surprised if he’s returned to the bullpen next spring.
  • Demny is a Rule 5 possibility and as much as Rizzo covets hard-throwing righties, the bet here is that he won’t be protected. Demny’s future is in the bullpen and the whispers that the velocity has slipped are other reasons to believe he’ll be exposed.
  • Kimball may still be recovering from injuries, but it’s hard not to see him getting dropped from the 40-man today or tomorrow (if he hasn’t already) in the hopes that he’ll pass through waivers. What we’ll never know is whether that was the plan all along.
  • Barrett came into the AFL with a built-in excuse of inexperience (17 innings of High-A) but instead was used in the 7th and 8th innings and had seven scoreless outings out of ten. Alas, it probably won’t be enough for him to not repeat Potomac in ’13.
  • Next up: A look at the Nationals Rule 5 eligibles.