May 272011
 

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

SYRACUSE 16-22, 5th place I.L. North, 7 games behind

Good Chris Marrero .294/.362/.365 in May
Bad Ross Detwiler 1-4, 9.38 ERA, 2.17 WHIP in May
Interesting Josh Wilkie 1.75 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 10.89 K/9

HARRISBURG 23-20, 1st place E.L. West Division, 1 game ahead

Good Brad Peacock 7-1, 2.13 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 75K in 55IP
Bad Jimmy Barthmaier 1.90 WHIP, 4HR in 23⅔ IP
Interesting Bill Rhinehart 8HR, 17RBI

POTOMAC 18-27, 3rd place C.L. North Division, 10 games behind

Good Destin Hood .287/.333/.532 in May
Bad Joe Testa 2.04WHIP
Interesting Hector Nelo, spotted throwing 98mph

HAGERSTOWN 28-18, 1st place Sally League Northern Division, 1 game ahead

Good David Freitas .289/.392/.458
Bad Michael Taylor .280 OBP, 39K in 42G
Interesting Christopher Manno 6SV, 0.54WHIP, 33K in 17G
Sep 172010
 

The action came early, but the suspense lasted all night long as the Potomac Nationals edged the Winston-Salem Dash 2-1 to win the 2010 Carolina League Championship.

Facing the most potent lineup in the Carolina League, nobody (*ahem*) thought that a pitcher’s duel could be possible in this series, much less the deciding game. But baseball is a game that both defies and fulfills expectations in ways that can be sensed, but never predicted.

Francisco Soriano led off the bottom of the first with a walk, took second on a grounder to third, took third on a grounder to second. Up came Tyler Moore, who drove in Soriano with Texas-Leaguer to left field for the first run of the game. Two innings later, Soriano would triple down the right field line and score on a tapper to first off the bat of Bill Rhinehart for a 2-0 lead that Potomac would build on methodically as the night would progress.

They did not.

There were baserunners in every single inning from the 4th to the 8th, most notably a one-out bomb by Tyler Moore to deep right-center, but against the most potent lineup in the Carolina League (or at least the most potent that they could face) the 2-0 lead seemed far too close for comfort.

Sure enough, Winston-Salem answered the second Potomac run in inglorious fashion, a tapper back to the mound that starter (and winner) Marcos Frias bounced off the shoulder of Jon Gilmore for a two-base error. Cleanup hitter Seth Loman cashed in the opportunity with a sharp single to left that cut the deficit to 2-1 — what you know to be final score, but the crowd of nearly 2,000 did not.

Frias would pitch five innings total, allowing the lone, unearned Winston-Salem run, on four hits and no walks, while striking out four. Joe Testa would follow him with a 2⅔ innings of hitless and scoreless relief, walking one and striking out two. Zach Dials would follow for a four-out save, finishing the 2010 postseason with his second save and a 1.29 ERA.

The win secured Potomac its second championship in three seasons, but one that was far more satisfying to see than the previous because it was so unforeseen and so unlikely, given the offensive struggles in the first half and the tendency of the front office to demote rather than promote to replenish the roster.

And for a few, there’s the hope of more… heading to Harrisburg next season, and perhaps Syracuse the year after. But for some, this is the pinnacle of their professional baseball career, if not the end of it in affiliated baseball. As they did in 2008, some will snort and sniff about the advanced age of this team and dismiss their success. And those folks… well, you can just kiss my ass because damn, it was fun to watch.

Aug 272010
 

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

SYRACUSE 68-63, 3rd place IL North, 11½ games back (5 games behind wild-card leader)

Good Erik Arnesen 2-0, 2.93ERA in August
Bad Seth Bynum .186BA in August
Interesting Adam Carr 5SV, 2.70ERA, 14K in 12 appearances

HARRISBURG 64-59, T3rd place, 7 games back, EL (1 game behind wild-card)

Good Mike Burgess .290/.405/.677 in 9G since promotion
Bad Aaron Thompson 0-2, 10.90ERA in August
Interesting Ryan Tatusko & Tanner Roark: 3-2, 2.23ERA as Senators

POTOMAC
31-26 in 2nd Half, 1st place by ½ game in CrL North

Good Sean Rooney .284/.352/.422 in 30G
Bad Justin Phillabaum 12.91ERA with Runners On, 17.42ERA with RISP
Interesting Joe Testa 1.10WHIP, 11K in 13⅔ IP

HAGERSTOWN
25-35 in 2nd Half, last place in SAL North, 9½ games back (Elimination No. is 1)

Good Eury Perez .341BA, 32/35SB-A since July 1
Bad Mitchell Clegg 1-2, 7.04ERA since return from GCL
Interesting SS’s Rick Hague & Adrian Sanchez, .321BA in 215AB combined

VERMONT
31-30, 1st Place Stedler Division of NY-Penn League, ½ game ahead

Good David Freitas .314/.407/.466 in 53G
Bad Aaron Barrett 16BB in 14⅓ IP
Interesting Ronnie Labrie 37BB in 56G (.390 OBP)

GCL NATIONALS
23-31, 4th place GCL East Division, 12 games back, Eliminated

Good Randolph Oduber .366/.434/.569 in 39G
Bad Gregory Baez 6.55ERA, 1.82WHIP
Interesting 19-y.o. Roberto Perez .314/.402/.419 in 34G
Aug 102010
 

Thunder and lightning suspended this game at 8-2 last week, and Potomac used every bit of that anomaly to come away with an 8-7 score-that-counts-as-a-win in the first game played last night in Woodbridge.

Lynchburg’s three pitchers that took the mound on Monday shut down the Potomac offense, limiting them to just four hits and two walks by (who else?) Derek Norris while striking out nine batters.

Meanwhile, Marcos Frias, who had been pitching last Wednesday, resumed the game and immediately gave up two runs to cut the deficit from 8-2 to 8-4. He would settle down and retire eight of nine before surrendering a solo home run in the sixth, his team- and league-leading 16th of the season. It was now 8-5, Potomac.

Clayton Dill would follow Frias on the mound in the eighth and surrender a double to right, and suffer an error by Jose Lozada before getting a double play ball, which plated another run, shaving the lead to 8-6 for Potomac.

Justin Phillabaum took the ball in the ninth, and also gave up a leadoff double. But like Dill, he got two groundball outs, the first sending the runner to third, the second scoring him on a bullet down the LF line that Dan Lyons snared and fired across the diamond for out #2. After a two-out single, Phillabaum induced a fly to right field and sigh of relief from the stands, with the game in hand for an 8-7 victory.

Garrett Mock took the hill in Game Two, and did little to disprove the NationalsProspects.com mantra that rehab starts are overrated, coughing up a two-out, two-run blast to admittedly red-hot Denis Phipps (home run #8 since being demoted from AA Carolina) in the first inning, hitting two batters and surrendering eight hits over our innings. He also gave up a run in the fourth, his final inning of work.

It could have been worse were it not for a terrific relay on a two-out double to deep CF by Lynchburg’s Justin Greene. Speedsters Chris Curran and Francisco Soriano showed off their arms with a strong throw from the warning track to shallow and a bullet to the plate. Norris blocked the plate, absorbed the hit, and then glared at the baserunner — opposing catcher Jordan Wideman, who broke the catcher’s code by not sliding — before flipping the ball towards the mound, the body language roughly translated as: Is that all you got?

Unfortunately, the great defensive play did not spark the offense, which went down 1-2-3 for the next four innings. Newly acquired reliever Joe Testa worked the final the final three innings, the last of which saw him get roughed up for two runs on three hits.

With the split, Potomac’s lead over second-place Wilmington drops to just one game again. Adrian Alaniz is the scheduled starter for Potomac in today’s noontime barbeque ballgame, opposed by Curtis Partch for Lynchburg.