May 032012
 

With three and a 2/3rd scoreless innings of relief from Trevor Holder and three RBI from Justin Bloxom, the Potomac Nationals rallied from a 4-1 deficit to take a 6-5 win from the Winston-Salem Dash, splitting the four-game series.

The game also marked the 2012 debut for Robbie Ray, and early on, it looked like the reinforcement that the fans had been hoping more. Ray set down the first seven batters straight, including four strikeouts, before the Dash began to figure him out.

Bear in mind, this is a 21-y.o. pitching against the #1 offense in the Carolina League. Ray wasn’t wild in the sense that he was working long counts or issuing walks, but it’s something we see every year: High-A hitters have just that much more of an idea of the strike zone… and when a fastball is left up, they almost always do something with it.

Ray would give up a pair of runs in the 3rd on four straight hits, with Michael Taylor gunning down one runner on one of two throws to the plate during the inning. Both throws were strong, but neither were terribly accurate — both missing the cutoff man and the second making it all the way to the backstop.

The Dash would tack on two more in the 4th, with Dan Black singling to lead off the inning and Brady Shoemaker following with a two-run shot to left-center.

Ray would leave with one out in the 5th and runners on the corners. Holder would come in but couldn’t hold on to the throw on a would-be 3-6-1 double play. Still, the veteran righthander stranded one of the two and got 11 outs in 11 batters faced, giving Potomac the chance to come back.

With two out in the bottom of the 5th, Justin Bloxom delivered his second and third RBI, courtesy of a two-run shot to right field to tie the game at 5-5. It would be his seventh hit in the last seven games, improving his home splits to .268/.354/.463.

After threatening in the 6th and 7th innings, the P-Nats delivered the gamewinner in the 8th with a little help from the Dash. Zach Walters led off with a opposite-field flare to left-center and stole second. Blake Kelso sacrificed him to third to bring up the big man Kevin Keyes.

With one out, the Dash elected to draw in the infield to cut down a runner at the plate. Against most any other hitter, that would make sense. But Keyes grounds out about twice a week because soft contact isn’t part of his game. When he connects, it’s usually a moonshot, and if it happens to go on the ground, it usually gets to the outfield on the third hop.

Sure enough, Keyes was able to ground one just past the reach of the second baseman, who might have had a chance to snag it on the first hop if he’d played it halfway.

With Cameron Selik unavailable, Rob Wort got the call to close the game and worked around a one-out double by striking out the side for his second save of the season.

The ten-game homestand finishes over the weekend with a three-game series against the second-place Blue Rocks, one of two teams the P-Nats only play two series against in the first half (the other being the Carolina Mudcats). Matt Swynenberg (2-1, 3.24) gets the start, the first since his complete game on Sunday, opposed by Wilmington’s Yordano Ventura (0-2, 4.43).

Apr 202012
 

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.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 3-11, 6th place I.L. North, 7½ games behind

Good Tyler Moore .296/.361/.611, 5HR, 14 RBI in 14G
Bad Corey VanAllen 7BB in 7⅔ IP over 5 appearances
Interesting Mitch Atkins 0.75ERA in 1st two starts despite 7BB

HARRISBURG SENATORS 10-5, 1st place E.L. West, ½ game ahead

Good Danny Rosenbaum 2-0, 1.25 ERA, 0.65WHIP in 3 starts
Bad Chris McConnell 0-for-15, 2E since reassignment from AAA
Interesting Jeff Kobernus .403 OBP (.313 in ’11)

POTOMAC NATIONALS 6-6, 2nd place C.L. North Division, 2½ games behind

Good David Freitas .333/.419/.611, 8RBI (tied for team lead)
Bad Justin Bloxom .159/.255/.205, 5E in 12G
Interesting Kyle Winters 17K in 17IP

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 7-8, 4th place Sally League North Divison, 3 games behind

Good Jason Martinson .319/.437/.534, 8SB in 15G
Bad Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez 1.53 WHIP, 8.16 ERA in 3 starts
Interesting Taylor Hill 2-0, 2.45 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 1.93 FIP in 3 appearances
Oct 262011
 

There are some parallels to the 2010 season and the 2011 season for the Potomac Nationals. Both teams started slowly…VERY slowly, getting into offensive funks that saw both teams get shut out seven times. The 2010 edition finished the first half at 31-39, ten games behind Frederick; the ’11 guys were 29-40 and twelve games behind the Keys at the break.

Given that the core of the team was the 2010 Hagerstown Suns that faded fast in the second half, it was natural to think that a second-half rally was unlikely, particularly since it seemed rather unlikely that much come in the way of reinforcements. The whispers that Bryce Harper would skip the level turned out to be true, but what the team really needed at that point was pitching.

Oddly enough, both the hitting and the pitching did improve in the second half with basically just one starter (Solis) and one reliever (Holland) added to the mix. But while 2010 was largely the hitting getting much better down the stretch, the story of the 2011 second half was the stabilizing of the pitching. Essentially, it went from league worst (5.01 team ERA on June 1st) to slightly higher than league average (3.79 vs. 3.77) the rest of the way.

Coupled with an improved offense (4.00 R/G before July 1, 4.44 after), the P-Nats turned in a 39-31 second half that became good enough to win second-half Northern Division title when the Keys lost the last three regular-season games (and eight of the last ten). Thanks to league bylaws, Frederick’s 39-31 mark down the stretch still earned them the home-field advantage in the first round of the Mills Cup playoffs. That turned out to be the difference as the Keys beat the P-Nats 3-2 for the fifth game and 3-2 for the series to send Potomac packing and end any hopes of defending the 2010 title.

So let’s take a look at how the 2011 edition stacked up against the rest of Carolina League…
HITTING

PITCHING

Having watched these guys day in and day out, I was bit surprised to see that the team finished third in walks drawn — in my mind, there were only a handful of players that seemed willing to take the walk, and too many that weren’t. But those that did walk, walked a lot (Francisco Soriano and Steve Souza were 2nd and 3rd in walk rate for players with 200+ PA in the Carolina League).

That 215 steals led the league by 63 and was the most by the team in its affiliation with Washington and the most in the league since the 2008 Wilmington Blue Rocks. They were only caught 66 times, which works out to an efficiency rate of 76.5 percent. Yes, Eury Perez and Jeff Kobernus accounted for the bulk of it (88 steals combined) but even big men such as Souza (25) and Destin Hood (21) stole 20+ bases. The thievery helped offset the team’s lack of doubles, but otherwise, this squad was mostly right around league averages. Not bad when you consider the position players were the second-youngest in the league.

As aforementioned, the pitching went from horrid early to serviceable late. They still finished last in nearly every rate or total statistic, but let’s not forget that the Carolina League tends to be a pitcher’s league despite the launching pads in Frederick and the Salems. For those that may have missed it or were wondering, the Pfitz usually comes out neutral in ballpark-effect studies.

You can argue over how much of it came from reshuffling the deck and removing failed starters from the rotation (Mitchell Clegg, Marcos Frias, Trevor Holder) or how the unsung work of swingmen (Adam Olbrychowski, Evan Bronson) filled in the gaps, or how the team’s top two starters improved over the course of the season — one steadily (Danny Rosenbaum), the other in fits (Paul Demny) — but the bottom line: it did get better.

Now, in our little dance, we take a look at the Top 12′s for the batters and pitchers in terms of PAs and IPs.
Full statistics for the team can be found here. (* 2009 Draft Pick, ** DSL Graduate).

I chose to highlight the ’09 picks and DSL grads to illustrate the counterpoint to drafting ‘em young: It takes time. In this subset, there are four ’08 picks (Hood, Higley, Lozada, and Ramirez) and fifth that was traded for (Dykstra). Only one 2010 position-player draft pick saw playing time, and that was four games before his shoulder went out (Rick Hague) — two, if you want to count Zach Walters.

What I personally like about High-A is that it’s the true litmus test for a prospect. I’ve seen varying percentages that break down once a prospect plays at level X, his chances of ever playing in MLB are now Y, but almost all of them jump from single digits to double digits when it comes to High-A vs. AA. Anecdotally, I can tell you that this where many players stall: The bridge over the Susquehannah in Harrisburg may as well be the bridge over the Rhine in Arnhem, so to speak. Seems like every April I fill in the lineups and think to myself “This guy is still here?” — and the thought occurs on both sides of the scorebook.

So while some folks have expressed great dismay over the lack of development of some guys, it bears repeating that this happens all the time. And in my mind, that disappointment is offset by guys breaking out (Hood) and/or shaking off the proverbial primates (Kobernus). Not to mention my personal favorite: seeing a pitcher start to “get it.”

How’s that for a segue?
Just to expand upon what I wrote earlier, Olbrychowski was terrible as a reliever but found his groove as a starter (5.63 vs. 3.71 ERA) and the reverse was true for Frias (1.67 vs. 5.06). Bronson was actually better as a reliever when you look at the season as a whole, but unlike Olbrychowski and Frias, kept bouncing between roles (and levels) until he was given a spot in the rotation in mid-August and turned in quality starts in two of his four starts down the stretch.

Demny, as aforementioned, improved over the course of the season but take a look at the ERAs by month:
April – 2.08, May – 6.93, June – 2.55, July – 8.42, Aug/Sep – 2.72. He’s young (22 in August), throws hard (~93-95), and durable (100+ IP the past three seasons). Clearly, he made his adjustments and the league adjusted back, but you have to like that he was able to rebound not once but twice from rough patches of pitching.

OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS
The upside to rating Potomac is that I’ve seen these guys the most. The downside to rating Potomac is that I’ve seen these guys so much. Looking over last year’s season review I can see that invariably, I’m either going to overvalue some guys as a fan (e.g. Chris Curran), and undervalue others in an effort to overcompensate for being a fan (e.g. Tyler Moore last year). So bear that in mind as I fire from the hip and make the lists that folks love so much…

Batters
1. Destin Hood
2. Jeff Kobernus
3. Eury Perez
4. Steve Souza
5. Justin Bloxom
HM: Zach Walters

Pitchers
1. Danny Rosenbaum
2. Sammy Solis
3. Paul Demny
4. Josh Smoker
5. Marcos Frias

Jul 152011
 

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

SYRACUSE 39-51, 4th place I.L. North, 14 games behind

Good Atahualpa Severino 1-0, 2.70 ERA in last 10G
Bad Ryan Tatusko 2.28WHIP
Interesting Michael Aubrey .429/.455/.905 in July

HARRISBURG 54-36, 1st place E.L. West Division, 5½ games ahead

Good Archie Gilbert .305/.387/.474
Bad Tanner Roark 6.45 ERA, 1.58 WHIP
Interesting Pat Lehman 0.37WHIP, 4SV in 12G

POTOMAC 11-8, 1st place C.L. North Division, 1½ games ahead (40-48 overall)

Good Hector Nelo 10SV, 22K in 23⅓ IP
Bad Sandy Leon .179/.294/.357 in July
Interesting Justin Bloxom .320/.388/.547, 18RBI in 19G since All-Star Break

HAGERSTOWN 12-7, 2nd place Sally League Northern Division, 1 game behind (52-37 overall)

Good David Freitas .300/.414/.473
Bad Dean Weaver 10.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP (9.37, 1.78 @ Potomac)
Interesting Kevin Keyes .504 SLG (leads team)

AUBURN 15-12, 3rd place, Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 1 game behind

Good Colin Bates 2-1, 1.93 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
Bad Hendry Jimenez, 8E in 22G
Interesting Richie Mirowski 1.32 ERA, 13K in 13⅔ IP

GCL NATIONALS 8-13, 4th place, GCL East, 6 games back

Good Estarlin Martinez .324/.420/.606 in 21G
Bad Inocencio Heredia 10.29 ERA, 2.86 WHIP
Interesting Wes Schill 6SB in 17G

DSL NATIONALS 18-21, 5th place, Boca Chica South Division of Dominican Summer League, 6 games behind

Good Gilberto Mendez 3-0, 2.32 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
Bad Diomedes Eusbio 12E in 32G
Interesting Dionicio Rosario 5A, 3E, 2DP in 34G as an OF
Jun 102011
 

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

SYRACUSE 25-33, 5th place I.L. North, 12 games behind

Good Matt Antonelli .421/.463/.543 in last 10G
Bad J.D. Martin 9HR in 42IP
Interesting Corey Brown 25BB in 53G

HARRISBURG 30-21, 1st place E.L. West Division, 3 games ahead

Good Brad Peacock 0.84WHIP, 91K in 67IP
Bad Jonathan Tucker .148 in last 10G
Interesting Bill Rhinehart .368 OBP, career-best since 2007 (.377 for Vermont)

POTOMAC 23-37, 5th place C.L. North Division, 14 games behind

Good Justin Bloxom .385/.381/.641 in last 10G
Bad Dean Weaver .305 OBA, 4HR, 5BB, 18H in 14IP
Interesting 6-16 at home, 17-21 on the road

HAGERSTOWN 36-24, 1st place Sally League Northern Division, 1½ games ahead

Good Robbie Ray 0.67 WHIP, 0.30 ERA in 30IP
Bad Left-side IFs: 38Es
Interesting Neil Holland 18K, 0BB, 2HR in 18⅔ IP

DSL NATIONALS 6-4, Tied for 3rd, Boca Chica South Division of Dominican Summer League

Good Wilmer Difo (Age 19) .355/.556/.516, 8SB in 10G
Bad Daury Vasquez (Age 18) 2.20 WHIP in 3G
Interesting Ivan Pineyro (Age 19) 19K in 13IP
May 022011
 

Earlier today in the comments, it was mentioned that Justin Bloxom is Woodbridge-bound. This morning, Stephen King was promoted to Harrisburg and a very reliable source is telling me that Kyle Morrison has been released to make room. This appears to be a chain reaction to the placement of Michael Aubrey on the 7-Day DL late last week, as Adam Fox has been assigned from Harrisburg to Syracuse.

So to recap:

SYRACUSE
Michael Aubrey to DL

HARRISBURG
Adam Fox promoted to Syracuse

POTOMAC
Stephen King promoted to Harrisburg
Kyle Morrison released

EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING
Justin Bloxom assigend to Potomac

KNEE BONE
Connected to the thigh bone.
Just making sure you’re paying attention

Not reported last week because it was implicit, but when Roger Bernadina was returned to Syracuse when filling in for Ian Desmond, Erik Arnesen was likewise sent back to Harrisburg. As always, if/when I get official word on the moves, this space will be updated.

UPDATE: MiLB.com is now officially reporting the addition of Bloxom and release of Kyle Morrison

Oct 262010
 

Like the ’10 G-Nats, the 2010 Hagerstown Suns were a team that could mash the ball, leading the South Atlantic League in hits, runs scored, batting average and OPS. Unfortunately, they also led the league in runs allowed, hits allowed, and WHIP. Like adding insult to injury, salt to the wound, or a baby to a family sitcom, the defense did not help matters; it was second-worst in the league. That they even came close to the playoffs in the first half (36-34, 6GB) is a minor miracle.

Injuries, suspensions, and losing three-fifths of the starting rotation doomed the team to its sixth-place finish in the second half. Overall, the team went 65-75, three games behind its pythagorean projection. But there were some bright spots, too, most notably the possible resurrection of hope for a ’07 high-school pick that appeared to be on the path towards doing what a ’06 h.s. pick did in May: retire in ignominy (Colton Willems).

As we’ve done before, let’s take a look at Hagerstown’s hitters as a group compared to the rest of the Sally League…

HITTING

TEAM AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA SB
Hagerstown 4764 710 1289 72 398 1052 .271 .333 .389 .247 161
Lg. Avg. 4702 632 1204 81 412 1074 .256 .323 .377 .240 146

Bold = League Leader

PITCHING

TEAM IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
Hagerstown 1227.1 4.50 5.23 1.418 98 424 998 .7 3.1 7.3 2.35
Lg. Avg. 1229.1 3.82 4.54 1.315 81 412 1074 8.8 3.0 7.9 2.61

Three Suns (Bloxom, Ramirez, Perez) placed in the Top 10 of the Sally League for batting average, offsetting below-average on-base and slugging rates. While it’s tempting to say that this is a team of plodders when you subtract Eury Perez’s league-leading 64 steals, but this was also a team that led the league in triples (Perez had 5). The big inning was this team’s calling card, frequently scoring 3, 4, or 5 runs in single frame.

On the other side of the ledger scorebook, the lead was just as thick. Early on, the starting pitching was good — the aforementioned top three starters of Mitchell Clegg, Danny Rosenbaum, and Trevor Holder combined for a 13-6 record and an ERA of 2.63 in the first half — but in the second half, those marks would be 7-18 and 4.82 for the second-half triumvirate of Paul Applebee, Paul Demny and Graham Hicks.

But the relief pitching was horrid all year long, with just three full-time relievers (Rob Wort, Dean Weaver, Luis Garcia) posting sub-4.00 ERAs and only two falling below the league average for WHIP. Middle relievers Shane Erb, Wanel Vasquez, and Kyle Morrison appeared in 114 games and were 7-12 combined with six saves, an ERA of 6.06, and a WHIP of 1.69 over 175 innings.

I’m expanding to the Top 16 hitters and pitchers in terms of plate appearances and innings pitched because there are notables outside the Top 12. The full statistics for the team can be found here.

Name Age Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err PA GPA
J.P. Ramirez 20 LF 73 .922 10 551 .275
Destin Hood 20 RF/LF 69/60 .960 9 537 .247
Eury Perez 20 CF/RF/LF 113/16/3 .962 9 491 .251
Justin Bloxom 22 1B/3B/RF/LF 81/13/11/7 .983 14 454 .279
Francisco Soriano 23 SS/2B 68/24 .925 32 414 .252
Sandy Leon 21 C 91 .975 19 385 .239
Brett Newsome 23 1B 64 .994 3 366 .264
Steven Souza 21 3B/SS/RF 75/2/1 .890 27 344 .246
Jeff Kobernus 22 2B 71 .959 12 343 .229
Justino Cuevas 21 IF/OF 60/2 .931 14 216 .227
Adrian Nieto 20 C/1B 50/1 .967 13 203 .194
Marcus Jones 23 RF/CF/LF 36/7/2 .948 4 197 .196
Rick Hague 21 SS 29 .879 16 176 .304
J.R. Higley 22 CF/RF 22/13 1.000 0 133 .225
Stephen King 22 3B 29 .878 9 119 .219
Adrian Sanchez 19 2B/3B 24/1 .940 8 107 .238

Before doing this review, it would have been easy to say that the suspensions of Souza and Higley hurt the team offensively, but it’s pretty clear that the additions of Hague and the second-half emergence Eury Perez more than made up for their loss from the lineup. Hitting was not this team’s problem. Defense, as you can see rather clearly with nine of 16 batters in double digits for errors committed, most assuredly was a weakness. As was pitching…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HBP WP
Paul Demny 20 27/27 6-10, 0 4.23 129⅔ 128 47 106 1.350 16 13
Paul Applebee 22 29/11 6-6, 1 4.10 107⅔ 119 27 67 1.356 5 5
Daniel Rosenbaum 22 18/18 2-5, 0 2.32 101 95 28 84 1.218 7 4
Mitchell Clegg 23 20/13 9-3, 2 3.48 93 95 22 55 1.258 2 1
Josh Smoker 21 30/19 3-10, 3 6.50 91⅓ 106 56 92 1.774 4 8
Kyle Morrison 22 37/0 3-6, 2 5.30 73 86 29 88 1.575 5 13
Graham Hicks 20 15/15 1-5, 0 5.26 66⅔ 84 25 58 1.635 4 4
Trevor Holder 23 12/12 4-3, 0 3.15 65⅔ 68 7 50 1.142 4 4
Wanel Vasquez 23 19/0 2-4, 3 7.00 54 66 25 32 1.685 4 8
Luis Garcia 23 26/0 4-4, 0 3.88 51 48 17 43 1.275 5 10
Dean Weaver 22 42/0 1-3, 16 3.04 50⅓ 49 18 36 1.331 4 4
Shane Erb 23 39/0 2-2, 1 6.19 48 53 37 30 1.875 4 9
Patrick Arnold 21 26/0 2-3, 1 4.28 46⅓ 56 16 33 1.554 2 4
Rob Wort 21 33/0 5-0, 8 2.08 43⅓ 28 16 33 0.854 2 3
Evan Bronson 23 8/8 4-2, 0 5.40 43⅓ 59 6 24 1.500 3 4
Jack McGeary 21 8/8 4-1, 0 4.62 39 38 15 32 1.359 5 4

The ’07 pick referred to earlier was Josh Smoker. As a starter, his ERA was 7.38, his OBA was .319, and his WHIP was 1.872; as a reliever those numbers dropped to 1.35, .174, and 1.200. His walk rate, unfortunately, remained fairly constant (5.54 vs. 5.40) but his strikeout rate went up dramatically (8.19 to 14.17). Granted, it’s a small sample size (13⅓ innings over 11 appearances) but it’s something to look forward to in ’11, when he’ll be just 22 years old and he’ll still be a left-handed.

Next year could be quite unpredictable when it comes to guessing who will be back and who will be going up to Potomac for the Hagerstown pitchers. Smoker and Demny are likely to move up, based on the past offseason pattern of Florida Instructional League invites. Just about every pitcher that deserved a bump up to Potomac got one in-season. In terms of the hitters, it’s probably fair to say that most of the top six or seven guys will be Woodbridge next year, but with strong offensive outings from guys in Vermont and the GCL, it’s not a given.

OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS
Without further ado, here are the watchlists, which may have some repeats next week. Feel free comment on how you think we ought to address that problem (a top 8 for full-season A?).

Batters
1. J.P. Ramirez
2. Rick Hague
3. Eury Perez
4. Destin Hood
5. Justin Bloxom

Pitchers
1. Daniel Rosenbaum
2. Rob Wort
3. Trevor Holder
4. Josh Smoker
5. Dean Weaver

Sep 102010
 

Eyes on the field is the guiding principle here at NationalsProspects.com. Unfortunately, more often than not, those eyes are mine but I’m now fortunate to have a couple of folks in Hagerstown to act in my stead. Shawn, who writes quite prolifically for his own blog Musings about Sports and other important items has written for us before, most recently surveying the landscape in the first half. TBRfan, a commenter from the late, great NFA, offers her take on the prospects she’s seen in the 60-plus games a season-ticket holder plus nine more as a groupie roadtripping fan (kind of like how yours truly has gone to every road stop in the Carolina League). So the two might not agree, but together they give us a better sense of what’s to come. TBRfan is in regular type for the position players; Shawn is in red to follow her remarks; the pitcher’s commentary is all Shawn.

POSITION PLAYERS

Justin Bloxom
Was having a great year at first… smooth fielding both ways, consistent play most all the time… but a total shame that he got hurt and had season-ending surgery.  He was having a great year at the plate and could seeming hit to all fields.  One big month and pedestrian otherwise,Will be 23 early next season and I don’t think he has the power to stay at first long term. If he doesn’t start ’11 at Potomac that shows what the Nats think of his prospect status. Just cannot get past how much he reminds me of former prospect Bill Rhinehart.

Justino Cuevas
Hmmm….he played all sorts of positions after the Souza suspension. I think third base was a better position for him than SS. His first game at 3rd he had some monster plays that saved innings and runs. Could be an interesting player, but I just don’t see the “wow” factor in him like I saw in some 2009 Suns infielders. Finished the season stronger than expected,but I don’t see him as more than an organizational soldier. Doesn’t have the bat for third base or the quickness for SS. Reminds me of less-refined version former Sun Michael Martinez. Those guys find employment in the minors,but aren’t true prospects.

Rick Hague
Has a good bat and could hit for power. Fielding was reasonable, but was becoming error-prone late in the season. In my eyes, he’s surely better than Souza on that side of the infield, but not better than Soriano early in the season. We’ll definitely see him back at the Suns next year. I find his hitting the most intriguing thing of all. Could have nice size to play first base or even third. Hague hit the ball well and with power as well. The fielding—mainly the arm accuracy—is somewhat troubling, but I would like to see him over a full season at SS before giving up on him there, Third base might be a better future fit, but considering that Ryan Zimmerman is a long-term block, Washington will give Hague every chance to prove he can play short. Might be my favorite overall Suns prospect this season.

Stephen King
He came back to the Suns after a suspension and some time in the GCL and Vermont. He went right to 3rd base to replace Souza after a one-game stint by Cuevas. I don’t think 3rd is the spot for him, but I can’t really figure out what base I’d like to see him at, or even in the outfield. Not impressed that much with his bat. He’s a real question in my book – I just don’t see how or where he fits in. Have to agree here for the most part. Rust likely played a part in poor numbers, but should have never been to that point. I would like to see King worked out at second,but his prospect status has faded quickly.

Jeff Kobernus
Here’s another “that’s a shame” player right up there with Bloxom. Was steady and smooth at 2nd. I was also liking his batting style and all-around hustle. I hope we get him back to the Suns, I think he’s going to be a player to watch.  I wrote about Kobernus early in the year about a feeling that he was going to be a guy that always struggled with injuries and for 2010, I was dead on. The skills are there,but will the health ever be there? I think he returns to Hagerstown for at bats and moves to Potomac quickly.

Brett Newsome
One of the steadiest players for the suns this year. He had all sorts of “crap” tossed his way from the far side of the infield and he scooped most of them. He has good size but with a little more bulk could really be a good hitter. An undrafted player – and is getting a little old for low-A. Organizational soldier. Think Tim Pahuta with far less power.

J.P. Ramirez
One of my favorite players for the Suns this year – steady fielder, steady hitter just under .300 for the year. Hit for power, but a little slow on the bases with only 3 stolen. I think that might be a product of coaching, not potential. I know watching the Suns this year, I never got that “uh-oh” feeling when a
ball was hit out there to LF. Ramirez has the bat and catches what is hit to him, but has little range and lacks speed. One “plus” tool is power and that can carry a player a long way, but I still think the glove makes a difference over the long haul. In MLB,there is no hiding a less-than-average mitt and he still makes you think of him being an AL player or worse yet: The dreaded “4A” player. I like Ramirez,but there are concerns.

Mills Rogers
Part of the carousel of shortstops this year. He came to us late in the season and performed admirably. Fielding was steady, though most of his errors where of the type  that, if he took his time, would have made the play. I don’t feel I saw enough batting to get a real feel for any type of power hitting to his game, outside of the home run he hit in Charleston – a mighty fine shot. I think bulking up a few pounds in the weight room would be a real boon to his game. Small sample size, but I liked him in limited time. Need more looks, but should be a starter somewhere for the 2011 Suns.

Adrian Sanchez
He’s listed at SS, but played a lot at 2nd. Very young player just turning 21 – and he looks like he’s 15! He’s fast, he’s a good batter. Send him back to Hagerstown so I can see a full year of him – I’m interested in seeing more as I think he’s got some potential. Liked his contact skills and is pretty fast on the bases (for a guy that didn’t steal a base). I agree, we need more data, but interesting player to keep an eye on.

Stephen Souza
Season tainted by the 50-game suspension. Watching him early season I can tell you after parts of 3 seasons at the low-A level, something has to give. I don’t think he’s a third baseman at all. Makes the hard plays easy, the easy plays hard. Inaccurate throws to first – many souvenirs got into the stands. I think a new team and a new position are needed, or his career is over. Also, needs to check his temper and attitude at the door. Word behind the scenes is that Souza is through and going to college. Might be what is best for all as Souza never seemed to like what he was doing.

Adrian Nieto
Got little-to-no playing time behind Sandy Leon at catcher, which I think, was not the way it was designed at the start of the year. When Adrian got in at the end of the season, he did an okay job. Just more playing time is needed for him. Not the fastest runner, not the best stick. Let him catch the entire year at Hagerstown in 2011 and we’ll see what we have then. Nieto didn’t get the playing time needed and that was a surprise to me as well. Defensively, I thought he was better than advertised, but the stick didnt play. I would bet he bounces back next season and if not,he just isn’t what he was supposed to be.

Sandy Leon
I think he was a surprise to everyone this year. Did an admirable job behind the plate, even when middle relief had him diving all over back there. The bat came around for him this year, and had a .249 average – which I think could be lots better with hitting instruction. He’s the right build for a catcher, but is definitely slower on the bases. He’ll go to Potomac next year and probably platoon. Sandy Leon is a solid minor-league, A-ball catcher. Nothing wrong with that, but not a prospect, either. The bat is not going to play up the ladder and has solid defensive skills that aren’t elite. Works well with young pitchers, which will keep him employed, but not a guy to watch, either. A long-term organizational soldier (e.g. Devin Ivany).

Eury Perez
Eury was an absolute mystery to me this year. Gave me that “uh-oh” feeling playing center field. I was never really sure if he’d catch the ball or not. Arm I think is average – we’ve had a few other players come through Hagerstown that have had better outfield arms than him. Now on the bases? He’s a regular thief! He doesn’t hit for power, and I liken him to a softball slap hitter. He can bunt, too. Put this all together? He’s an interesting prospect – one that won’t fall off the radar for a while. But I
think there are better fielding CFs out there in our system right now, but not any better when at bat or on the bases. Get ready for that haters… I dont get Eury Perez’s hype. He is fast and will steal bases. That’s it. Contact hitter in the SAL, but his swing screams higher strikeouts as he rises against better pitching. Defensively, he ranges from below-average to terrible. I cannot remember a player here that has been worse in judging flyballs and the arm is nothing to rave about. I am not saying rule Perez out, but I don’t see the ceiling that others seem to.

Right fielders
Destin Hood, et. al. We had such a rotisserie of players here this season, the entire position played weak. Marcus Jones played there for some of the season and got called up. That left RF up to a platoon of players, none of which impressed me enough at all. Destin, I will say, was hot with the bat the first half. After that, he couldn’t hit anything off speed. It was painful to watch him bat at times.  Hood does struggle with breaking stuff and his hesitant late-season attempts at the left field hill at the Muni were pretty laughable, but my main concerns were just five homers over a full season. I expected more power from Hood and I bet the Nats did as well. Hood might be back to start the season, but a fast first month should see him in Potomac… Marcus Jones is just a organization guy, though he did show improvement in his second stint in Hagerstown.

PITCHERS

Paul Applebee – LHP
Applebee split time between the rotation and the pen and strikes me as a non-prospect. I can see his fringy stuff playing as high as AA,but as nothing more than a long reliever. Applebee does throw strikes and being a lefty might help him stay in the game for a few more years than a similar righty, but lack of stuff sends him off the radar.

Mitchell Clegg – LHP
Clegg’s numbers look nice, but they should have as a 23-year-old that turns 24 in December and spending the entire year in the SAL. For a big (6’5″) pitcher, he doesn’t throw all that hard and, as a result, misses very few bats (55 K’s in 93 IP). Clegg’s stats would look even better if not for three awful starts to conclude the season—14 earned runs over 14⅓⃯ innings, but the age concerns me and the late-season swoon makes me wonder even further. The big question is this: If Clegg is thought of as a prospect, why wasn’t he promoted to Potomac for their playoff drive?

Paul Demny – RHP
Demny has the stuff to succeed, but he is frustrating to scout as he seems to show up on occasion and toss a game that makes you think he is a diamond in the rough, but more often than not you get a guy that looks to be on his way from the game. Demny struggles with control more than you think from a guy with 47 walks as he gets behind in counts and forced to make a good pitch that gets hammered. He has a nice arm, but might be a better long-term fit in the bullpen. I wouldn’t give up on him,but wouldn’t bet on him either.

Shane Erb – RHP
UGH. If Erb is still in the organization for 2011,I have questions about the evaluations of talent. Hittable with less-than-sharp control… I cannot think of one reason to recommend Erb to be employed in 2011.

Luis Garcia – RHP
Garcia was dominant in his first month after being demoted from Potomac, but quickly reverted to form and settled in as a less-than-reliable reliever. Garcia throws fairly hard, but to me his fastball lacks movement and his offspeed stuff not only lacks bite, it also lacks location as well; a non-prospect.

Ben Graham – RHP
Graham looked good in the appearances that I saw him in,but look at his splits between the Muni and road games… looks like two different guys. Dominant at home, if you didn’t look at the numbers, I would have given an even higher grade. Graham showed me enough to keep an eye on and should be at Potomac next season.

Graham Hicks – LHP
When I saw the lanky Hicks, he seemed to cruise through a lineup first time through and then get ripped thereafter. Hicks needs to fill out physically and that could happen (just 20) and he does strike out batters, but relies too much on a fastball that really isn’t a plus pitch. Intriguing, but I’d like to see him next year before rendering a verdict on his prospect status.

Shane McCatty – RHP
I didn’t see McCatty much, but I did like that he seemed to have a feel for pitching (makes sense, considering his father) and saw his only home start and was impressed.
Keeps the ball down and more than a soft tosser,McCatty should be the top starter for the Suns starting next year.

Kyle Morrison- RHP
Morrison’s arm belies his numbers as he throws in the mid 90′s and showed dominant SAL stuff at times. Those times were rare though and his fastball is pretty straight.
Chris Michalak is a reasonably inexperienced pitching coach, I would like to see how Morrison might do with a more experienced coach to work on developing not only a side pitch, but better movement/location with the burner.

Josh Smoker – LHP
A late-season move to the ‘pen gave Smoker a chance at rehabbing prospect-level status as he allowed just two runs in August with batters hitting under .200 against him. Smoker showed the power arm that had been missing as a starter and was fanning batters at a high rate. If anyone wants to see him as a starter again,I would have severe questions about them. To me, Smoker starts next season as the closer in Potomac and has revived a career that looked to be in trouble at the mid-season point.

Wanel Vasquez -R HP
See Shane Erb.

Dean Weaver – RHP
Solid enough stats, but doesn’t throw overwhelmingly hard and seems to be a a journeyman type that will stick around for a while and rise through the system, but barring a change somewhere doesn’t strike me as a big-leaguer. Looks to be somewhat of an overdraft and despite solid numbers, I was disappointed by the righthander.

Rob Wort – RHP
Wort doesnt have big-time stuff, but just gets guys out. Sometimes you have to look through tools and look at what “is.” Wort gets batters out and strikes out over a batter an inning to boot. Will that play at higher levels? Not sure, but definitely worth keeping tabs on.

Sep 072010
 

Our final 2010 look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues, with a focus on the level where the prospects shone the brightest, not counting some guy who made a tour for service-time reasons (*ahem*).

SYRACUSE 76-67, 2nd place IL North, 11 games back

Good Bat: Danny Espinosa .295/.349/.463 in 24G
Arm: Josh Wilkie 2.45ERA, 1.13WHIP, 2HR in 69⅔ IP
Bad Bat: Chris Duncan .191/.274/.302 in 82G
Arm: Collin Balester as a starter: 11.57ERA, .385OBA
Interesting Bat: Boomer Whiting .372OBP, 36/48 SB
Arm: Erik Arnesen 1.29WHIP, 3.95ERA in 107IP

HARRISBURG 77-65, 2nd place, 5 games back, E.L. West Division Wild Card

Good Bat: Chris Marrero .294/.350/.450 in 141G
Arm: Tom Milone 12-5, 2.85ERA ( in ’09, 12-5, 2.91ERA), 155K in 158IP
Bad Bat: Sean Rooney .165BA in 31G
Arm: Aaron Thompson 4-13, 5.80ERA, 1.59WHIP
Interesting Bat: Steve Lombardozzi .295/.373/.524 in 27G
Arm: Tanner Roark 1.22WHIP, 2.50ERA in 6 starts since acquisition

POTOMAC
39-30 in 2nd Half, 70-69 overall — 2nd-Half CrL North Division winner by 2½ games

Good Bat: Tyler Moore 31HR, 111RBI, .552SLG
Arm: Dan Leatherman 0.92WHIP, 57K in 46⅔ IP in 31G w/ 11SV
Bad Bat: Chris Curran .226/.293/.305 in 74G
Arm: Justin Phillabaum 0-6, 6.87ERA (13.17 at home), 1.77WHIP in 29 appearances
Interesting Bat: Derek Norris .300/.535/.575 with RISP; .210/.359/.347 bases empty
Arm: Brad Peacock 5.1K/9 at A+ in ’09; 10.27K/9 in ’10

HAGERSTOWN
29-41 in 2nd Half, 65-75 overall

Good Bat: J.P. Ramirez .296/.341/.470 in 132G
Arm: Danny Rosenbaum 2.32ERA, 1.22WHIP in 18G
Bad Bat: Adrian Nieto .195/.291/.253, 13E in 60G
Arm: Josh Smoker 7.38ERA, .319OBA as starter
Interesting Bat: Justin Bloxom .309/.355/.476 in ’10; .228/.346/.303 in ’09 at Vermont
Arm: Rob Wort 2.08ERA, 185OBA; 3.91ERA, .247OBA in ’09 at GCL

VERMONT
36-38, 3rd Place Stedler Division of NY-Penn League, 2 games back

Good Bat: David Freitas .307/.408/.450 in 62G
Arm: Neil Holland 1.04WHIP, 37K in 32⅔ IP in 19G
Bad Bat: Hendry Jimenez .218/.291/.279 in 51G
Arm: Chris McKenzie 1.97WHIP, 8.54ERA in 26⅓ IP over 8G (6GS)
Interesting Bat: Wade Moore .287/.394/.392, ’10 D-2 draftee
Arm: Mark Herrera 1.18WHIP, .220OBA, ’10 Juco draftee

GCL NATIONALS
24-32, 4th place GCL East Division, 13 games back

Good Bat: Randolph Oduber .366/.434/.569 in 39G
Arm: Nick Serino 1.01WHIP, 3.16ERA in 25⅔ IP
Bad Bat: Rashad Hatcher .200/.241/.218 in 32G
Arm: Mike Gallo 8.38ERA, .291OBA in 19⅓ IP
Interesting Bat: Angel Montilla .285/.350/.383 in 51G
Arm: NDFA Billy Ott 0.83WHIP, 1.17ERA in 23IP

DSL NATIONALS
36-35, 5th Place, Boca Chica East, 10 games back

Good Bat: Victor Chavez .309/.420/.412 in 46G
Arm: Wirkin Estevez 1.04WHIP, .233OBA in 82⅔ IP
Bad Bat: Yamaicol Tejeda .042BA in 48AB over 32G
Arm: Jorge De La Cruz 9.88ERA in 11G
Interesting Bat: 18-y.o. Paul Chacin .281/.355/.336 in 50G
Arm: Adalberto Mieses 1.42WHIP, 33BB, 5HR, 2.98ERA