Apr 172014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 6-5 vs. Lehigh Valley,
5:00 p.m.
Tatusko (0-1, 2.08) and Laffey (1st start of ’14) vs.
Smith (0-0, 5.79) and Lincoln (1-0, 0.00)
Harrisburg Lost, 5-2 OFF DAY N/A
Potomac Won, 7-3;
Won, 3-1
@ Myrtle Beach,
6:05 p.m.
Encarnacion (1-0, 2.00) vs.
Wolff (1-1, 0.79)
Hagerstown Lost, 1-0 (15 inn.) vs. Lakewood,
6:35 p.m.
Voth (0-1, 3.72) vs.
Arteaga (1-1, 4.91)


Syracuse 6 Lehigh Valley 5
• Rosenbaum 5⅔ IP, 8H, 4R, 4ER, BB, K
• Garcia (W, 1-0) 2IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 3K, HR
• Mattheus (SV, 2) 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• Peterson 2-3, 2R, BB
• Perez 2-5, R, 3B

Syracuse weathered a four-run, six-hit 1st and came back for 6-5 win over Lehigh Valley. Danny Rosenbaum shook off the bad inning to retire 14 of the next 15 batters and finish the night with four runs on eight hits and a walk over five and 2/3rds innings pitched. Three walks and a wild pitch tied it for the Chiefs in the 7th while the gamewinner came on Emmannuel Burriss sac fly following a one-out triple by Eury Perez. Ryan Mattheus worked around a walk in the 9th to earn the save, his second for the season.

Altoona 5 Harrisburg 2
• Rivero (L, 0-3) 5IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 5K
• Holland 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Bloxom 2-3, 2B, BB
• Taylor 2-4, 2B, BB, RBI, CS

A starting temperature of 32 degrees didn’t cool the Curve as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one and chugged to a 5-2 win in the series finale. Felipe Rivero lost for the third time in as many starts despite hanging a decent line of two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out five. The Sens couldn’t take advantage of six bases-on-ballsas they struggled to a 1-for-11 mark with RISP. Michael Taylor and Justin Bloxom both reached base three times with a walk, single, and a double.
Roster moves: OF Drew Vettleson placed on the 7-Day DL; OF Quincy Latimore assigned from Washington.

Potomac 7 Myrtle Beach 3 — GAME ONE
• Pena 2IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 0K, HR
• Dupra (W, 2-0) 4IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 7K, BK
• Benincasa (SV, 4) 1⅔ IP, 2H, 0R, BB, K
• Norfork 2-4, BB, RBI, 2SB
• S. Perez 2-4, R, 2B, 2RBI

The P-Nats picked up where they left off on Tuesday night and took advantage of sloppy defense to score three unearned runs in the top of the 9th to put it away. Brian Dupra got the win in relief with four scoreless innings of relief, with just two hits and a walk surrendered while striking out seven. Robert Benincasa came on in the 8th and got the last five outs for his fourth save of the season.

Potomac 3 Myrtle Beach 1 — GAME TWO
• Mooneyham (W, 1-1) 5IP, 3H, R, ER, 3BB, 1K, WP, PO
• Mendez (SV, 2) 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Leonida 3-3, 2R, 2-2B, HR, RBI
• Oduber 2-4, RBI

Brett Mooneyham walked a season-low three batters over five innings while batterymate Cole Leonida racked up eight total bases as Potomac took the nightcap, 3-1. Mooneyham allowed the lone Myrtle Beach run on three hits while earning his first win at High-A. Leonida doubled twice and homered once to lead the P-Nats offense, which racked up nine hits in just seven innings. Gilberto Mendez closed out the game with two scoreless for his second save of the year.

Delmarva 1 Hagerstown 0 (15 inn.) — GAME ONE
• Giolito 5IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 6K
• Cooper 5IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 6K, HBP
• Thomas (L, 0-2) 2⅔ IP, 3H, R, ER, 3BB, K wit
• Yezzo 2-5, BB, CS

The two teams knew they were going to be playing 14 innings last night. Turns out it was 15 innings, but just one game as the Shorebirds won the battle of who could score first with a 1-0 walkoff win. Lucas Giolito and Hunter Harvey both put on a show, with Giolito allowing two hits and two walks over five innings. Jake Walsh, Andrew Cooper, and Justin Thomas combined for nine scoreless innings before Delmarva scored on a two-out rally of two singles sandwiched around of walk, with Thomas putting on the first two baserunners and L.J. Hollins giving up the game-winning hit to the sole batter he faced. Due to the length of the game, Game Two of the doubleheader was postponed. It will most likely be made up during the next series between the two teams, in Delmarva, on May 26-28.

Feb 202014
 

lucas-giolito-2
The lovefest for the Nationals’ top pick in 2012 continues as Lucas Giolito was named as the No. 21 prospect on Baseball America’s 2014 Top 100 Prospects List.

As you might have already guessed, Giolito was the sole National to make the list. Last year, it was three as Anthony Rendon (30), Giolito (67), and Brian Goodwin (70). In 2012, Bryce Harper topped the list for the second time with Rendon coming in at No. 19.

The 19-year-old Californian returned to action last summer after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2012, struggling with his command early on, getting lifted twice in the first inning in his first four starts. After bottoming out with a four-run outing to the GCL Mets in his fifth appearance, resulting in a loss, Giolito got his bearings and strung together three solid starts to earn a bump up to the New York-Penn League in mid-August.

Giolito went 1-0 with 14K in 14IP in three starts for the Auburn Doubledays, giving up his only HR of the season in his last start against the Batavia Muckdogs. BA broke from its previous pattern of double-dipping and only named him to one (1) of its postseason league Top 20 lists, the Gulf Coast League’s No. 2 prospect.

MASN’s Byron Kerr has reported that Giolito will begin 2014 in Low-A Hagerstown, insisting in the comments that he’ll be there for Opening Day. History strongly suggests otherwise as previous HS pitchers (A.J. Cole, Robbie Ray) were held back until May, though there is the counter example of Taylor Jordan, who underwent TJ in July 2011, came back to action with Auburn and Hagerstown in the June 2012, and was sent to Potomac in April 2013.(Can we both be wrong and have him debut in Woodbridge in mid-May? ;-)

Giolito features a 80-grade fastball that can hit triple digits from a high arm angle created in part by his 6’6″ frame, though scouts noted he tended to work best when it was around 95 to 97 mph. He also boasts a 12-6 curve (clocked in the 84-86 range) that could reach the 80 mark, but alas his changeup only figures to reach 70 mark, making it merely plus, not plus-plus (for the velo whores, it comes in around 82-83).

With less than 39 innings total as a pro, the folks at BA believe this season will be a matter of demonstrating he can handle the workload of full-season ball and peg his MLB debut at possibly late 2015 but more likely in 2016.

Jan 242014
 

Mayo 2Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has released the 2014 edition of his Top 100 prospects with two Nationals making the cut.

Coming in at #44, it’s a kid from Southern California, and the Nats’ #1 pick in the 2012 Draft, Lucas Giolito(sorry for the Casey Kasem lead-in; kids have been watching Scooby Doo a lot lately)
He was ranked #74 last year despite having thrown just two innings and was in recovery from Tommy John surgery. As reported by MASN’s Byron Kerr earlier this month, Giolito is expected to begin 2014 in Hagerstown, though it’s less clear that he’ll pitch immediately. Previous HS picks Robbie Ray and the next guy were held back until May at the same age/stage without having had surgery. Taylor Jordan did start his second season after TJ surgery in April 2013 though he was much older (24 vs. 19) and much more experienced (248⅔ IP vs. 38⅔ IP).

A.J. Cole moved up 22 spots from #91 to #69 after the Nationals re-acquired him a year ago in the Michael Morse trade. Cole had gotten lit like a sailor on leave (7.82/4.99/1.84) in the High-A California League the previous summer, forcing a demotion to Low-A Burlington (IA) where he rebounded to a 2.07/2.74/1.01 line and a 6-3 record. Cole fulfilled Washington GM Mike Rizzo’s assertion that the Nats “pitching people will straighten out his delivery” as the 22-y.o. made 18 starts for Potomac and seven for Harrisburg for a combined record of 10-5 with a line of 3.60/2.91/1.12 and peripherals of 2.1 BB/9 and 9.5 K/9. Cole will most likely return to Harrisburg for more seasoning, as scouts believe his secondary offerings (CH, CV) still need further development.

Last year, four Nationals were ranked. Anthony Rendon (#28) graduated to the parent club while Brian Goodwin (#52) fell from the list, which saw 35 new names thanks to injuries, underperformance, and of course, the next wave of draftees.

Dec 112013
 

Like the bats, folks were overwhelmingly in agreement about the top three arms in the Washington Nationals minors. Unlike a year ago, though, the range was smaller — just 22 different pitchers versus 30 — and there were four guys that were named on every ballot.

OK, enough vamping. Let’s rock this, pitch:

                              1. Lucas Giolito
                              2. A.J. Cole
                              3. Sammy Solis
                              4. Nathan Karns
                              5. Jake Johansen
                              6. Aaron Barrett
                              7. Matt Purke
                              8. Austin Voth
                              9. Christian Garcia
                              10. Richie Mirowski

Others receiving votes: Blake Schwartz, Jefry Rodriguez, Taylor Hill, Hector Silvestre, Travis Ott, Erik Davis, Pedro Encarnacion, Brett Mooneyham, Wander Suero, Nick Lee, Neil Holland, Blake Treinen

Now the observations…

• Giolito was the top dog on 12 of the 13 ballots, with Cole getting the other first-place vote. Giolito was the #1 last year, too, despite coming off UCL-replacement surgery in August 2012.

• Cole was the Mary Ann to Ging, er… Giolito on 11 of the possible 12 second-place votes. It would have been interesting to see if that would have been true had Robbie Ray not been traded away.

• Voth and Garcia tied in raw points, but I broke the tie by the pitcher who was named on more ballots (nine vs. seven).

• Two of the top three old maids (i.e. the near misses) were righthanded control artists who don’t throw in the mid-90s. Not sure if the bias is against the lower velocity, the low K rate, or the soap-opera first name (just kidding).

The list continues to skews older (five are 25+) and upper minors (also five), which has been a consistent bias since this experiment in crowdsourcing began in 2011. But like all things hot stove, the point is to pass the time — none of this is really significant, statistically or otherwise — while winter sets its claws in and local schools overreact to snowfall that wouldn’t get a chihuahua’s belly wet.

Next up: The Rule 5 draft, which for the Nationals, has become an exercise of wondering who’s going versus who’s arriving.

Nov 062013
 

Baseball America for NPPNo sense vamping when this list has probably been tweeted dozens of times by now. (Last year’s revised ranking in parentheses.)

1. Lucas Giolio, RHP (2)
2. A.J. Cole, RHP (4)
3. Brian Goodwin, CF (3)
4. Matt Skole, 1B/3B (5)
5. Robbie Ray, LHP (–)
6. Sammy Solis, LHP (9)
7. Michael Taylor, CF (–)
8. Jake Johansen, RHP (’13 Draft Pick)
9. Nathan Karns, RHP (6)
10. Steve Souza, OF (–)

Frankly, I was initially confused as to how an injured position player and a coming-off-surgery pitcher could move up in the rankings. This, of course, is no disrespect to them, but simple logic dictates that getting hurt and/or losing a year of development is the kind of thing that drops your stock, not improves it. This was Fitt’s answer to my question about that rationale for ranking them higher in 2014 than 2013:

I think Skole is in the same No. 4* slot he was last year (and remember that Anthony Rendon graduated to the big leagues). I did not dock Skole for being hurt — it was a fluke injury, and he returned strong this fall. I still think he’s a quality power-hitting prospect, and I ranked him accordingly. As for Solis, I got very encouraging reports on him coming off that surgery, and I expect him to move very quickly next year (assuming he can stay healthy — which is a legitimate question, given his track record). At this point, I think he has a better chance to stick as a big league starter than Karns, who strikes me as more of a power reliever ultimately. So I moved Solis ahead of Karns. I can’t say I’m overly excited about any of those guys — Solis is 25 now and still has yet to reach Double-A, after all. I don’t think this is a great top 10 after the top of the list, although I do like some of the depth in the 11-30 range.
* Skole was initially ranked #4 in December 2012, then moved to #5 when BA revised the list in March 2013

I give Fitt credit answering honestly, particularly in remarking about how the talent thins out rapidly after the first few guys, which has been the case for about two years now. For those wondering, Fitt said that he wrestled with a cluster of Tony Renda, Matt Purke, Billy Burns, and Zach Walters before deciding upon Souza for the #10 spot. There are certainly arguments that can be made for any of those five against the other four and it may be bit revealing of your personal biases, too. Fitt, it appears, likes Souza’s five-tool promise over Burns’s speed, Purke’s LHSP capabilities, Renda’s bat/eye, Walter’s power, etc.

One new wrinkle to this year’s rankings is a list of the Top 15 players under the age of 25, which you can find in the free article along with a list of the best tools, prospects of the year and top draft picks from the past 10 years. And of course, the top bonuses paid, for which Robin Leach Fitt remains enamored of the decision of the Nationals to spend heavily just as they were hitting rock bottom.

The projections for where the 2014 Top 10 will begin (or finish) next season were as follows:
AAA – Cole, Goodwin, Karns, Souza
AA – Skole, Ray, Solis, Taylor
Low-A – Giolito
Not specified – Johansen

I personally believe Cole will probably return to Harrisburg and be moved up in May or June; likewise for Johansen with Hagerstown as his starting point — but lately the Nats have been more aggressive, so it could be Syracuse and Potomac, respectively. As mentioned in the comments, where a prospect starts is not nearly as important as where he finishes.

Sep 242013
 

lucas-giolito
For the first time since 2009 (Destin Hood), a Nationals player has been named the Baseball America Top 20 prospect list for the Gulf Coast League… 2012 1st Rd. pick, Lucas Giolito.

The 19-year-old entered 2013 with the twin burdens of being the team’s top draft pick and proving himself to be healthy after UCL-replacement surgery. Early on, he exhibited the most common side effect of pitchers coming back from TJ: shaky command, which was so bad he was lifted in the first inning. Twice.

However, after allowing nearly two baserunners per inning in his first five appearances, Giolito hit his stride over the next three, as he earned his first win and began hitting the five-inning mark instead of his pitch limit. He was promoted to the New York-Penn League in mid-August and continued to give out donuts for a total of 20 consecutive scoreless innings before giving up a home run in his final start vs. Mahoning Valley.

Scouts clocked the SoCal native in the mid-90s, with some claims of triple-digit velo, with mid-80s speed on his curve that seems to vary between 12-6 and 11-5 action but late bite that earns the “plus-plus” in scout lingo. BattingLeadoff.com had this to say about his mechanics:

Has present stuff, but needs to clean up arm action. His delivery has some effort to it with a long arm circle and pronounced stab. He gets caught with his arm behind his body and arm will drag.

There’s also some disagreement about whether his changeup is back to where it was pre-surgery, but odds are pretty good that it varied from start to start (see above, command).

Of course, the million-dollar question for 2014 is where will Giolito start? The Nats have been careful with healthy HS arms and holding them back from full-season ball until early May, which they did with Robbie Ray in 2011 and 2012. Pitchers coming off surgery or shoulder problems, it’s been more towards Memorial Day (see: Purke, Matthew in 2012 and 2013).

A year ago, I probably would have written — they’ll be conservative and hold him in Viera until the NYPL starts up; he’s only had 14 innings at the level. Now, after a year of semi-aggressive promotions, I’m inclined to think he may actually be challenged to go to Low-A, perhaps even starting up as soon as the third week of April (i.e. the Suns first road trip south of Maryland).

Next possible BA Top 20 mention: Friday, when they rank the NYPL, though I’m not holding my breath…

Aug 162013
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 59-68, 6th place I.L. North, 10 games behind

Good Tyler Moore .366/.449/.653, 6HR, 30RBI since All-Star Break (27G)
Bad Ryan Tatusko 5.78 BB/9IP (64 in 99⅔ IP)
Interesting Josh Johnson .328/.458/.478 in 28G



HARRISBURG SENATORS 66-58, 1st place E.L. West, 1 game ahead

Good Billy Burns .312/.429/.319, 5SB in 12G since promotion
Bad Rob Gilliam 0-4, 5.15 ERA, 1.34 WHIP since All-Star Break
Interesting Tyler Herron 0-1, 3SV, 1.50 ERA in last 10 appearances



POTOMAC NATIONALS 31-20, 1st place C.L. North, 8 games ahead (73-47 overall)

Good Colin Bates 2.10 ERA/3.02 FIP/1.01 WHIP in 30 appearances
Bad Mike Gilmartin, bases empty: .313/.425/.493
Gilmartin, RISP: .167/.258/.241
Interesting Greg Holt 4-0, 2.33 ERA, 1.26 WHIP since All-Star Break (15 appearances)



HAGERSTOWN SUNS 33-20, 2nd place Sally North, ½ game behind (71-49 overall)

Good Nick Lee 10.2K/9 (93K in 82IP)
Bad Wes Schill .160/.323/.160 in last 10G
Interesting 1st in runs scored, T12th in home runs (50, 18 by Brandon Miller)



AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 18-36, 6th place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 15 games behind

Good James Yezzo .294/.306/.412 in August
Bad Mike Mudron 1.75 WHIP, 6.38 ERA in 15 appearances
Interesting 38 of 69E committed by 3B or SS



GCL NATIONALS 41-7, East Division Champions, 20½ games ahead

Good Lucas Giolito 0.64 ERA, 0.86 WHIP in August (3GS, 14IP
Bad Luis Guzman 17-y.o. .219/.281/.257 in 32G
Interesting Need to finish 7-5 to set GCL record for best W% (1994 Royals, 47-12)



DSL NATIONALS 34-28, 4th place Boca Chica South, 10 games behind

Good 17-y.o. Israel Mota .361 OBP
Bad 18-y.o. Jonathan Aquino 1.58 WHIP in 19⅔ IP
Interesting Pitchers T2nd with 8 shutouts in DSL
Mar 272013
 

Baseball America for NPPLike slideshows of cheerleaders and WAGs for Bleacher Report*, Baseball America can’t resist another chance to re-issue a list, which it did today with the 2013 Organizational Talent Rankings.
*Full disclosure: I can’t resist bulldogs or visual puns.

As a system, the Nats came in at #13 — up three spots from the #16 ranking last December — but perhaps of more interest is the “new” Top 10 list, which is as follows:

1. Anthony Rendon, 3B (AA)
2. Lucas Giolito, RHP (XST)
3. Brian Goodwin, OF (AA)
4. A.J. Cole, RHP (A+)
5. Matt Skole, 1B-3B (AA)
6. Nathan Karns, RHP (AA)
7. Christan Garcia, RHP (MLB D.L.)
8. Eury Perez, OF (AAA)
9. Sammy Solis, LHP (XST)
10. Matt Purke, LHP (XST)

In a nutshell, A.J. Cole was inserted at #4 and the “old” nos. 4-9 were moved down one spot. Zach Walters was the “bumped” #10 prospect. My projected destinations for where they’ll be for Opening Day are in parentheses.

The Washington farm was ranked #12 last year in this revision, following a brief moment on paper when the system was rated #1 prior to the Gio Gonzalez trade.

Jan 302013
 

Mayo 2Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has released his 2013 Top 100 list and four Nationals farmhands were among the spread.

At #28, third baseman Anthony Rendon was the highest ranked Washington prospect. He actually moved up from #33 on last year’s list despite an abbreviated 2012 campaign. The 22-year-old is expected to begin the season for AA Harrisburg, but as a member of the team’s 40-man roster, Rendon will being spring training with the big boys in Viera.

Next on the list at #52 is centerfielder Brian Goodwin, who is also due to begin ’13 for the Senators. Such is the capriciousness of prospect ranking that Goodwin, who missed five weeks early in the season but was still jumped from Low-A to AA last July, rose from a #67 ranking in 2012.

The Nationals top pick in the 2012 draft, Lucas Giolito, was ranked #74 but is unlikely to pitch in a competitive game this season, thanks to having Tommy John surgery last August. Prior to suffering an elbow injury in the spring, Giolito was on track to be a “one-one” with a triple-digit fastball and a pair of plus breaking pitches.

Finally, recently re-acquired A.J. Cole was #91, dropping a spot from the 2012 list. While it’s possible for Cole to join Rendon and Goodwin on the AA squad, the smarter money is on Cole beginning ’13 with Potomac, given his struggles in High-A last season as well as Rizzo’s more conservative tendencies. Cole effectively replaces Alex Meyer (ranked #40), who went to Minnesota to acquire CF Denard Span.

Dec 192012
 

Only a couple of surprises here, but let’s cut to the chase before we discuss…

1. Anthony Rendon, 3b
2. Lucas Giolito, rhp
3. Brian Goodwin, of
4. Matt Skole, 3b
5. Nathan Karns, rhp
6. Christian Garcia, rhp
7. Eury Perez, of
8. Sammy Solis, lhp
9. Matt Purke, lhp
10. Zach Walters, ss

For me, the surprises are Christian Garcia, Nathan Karns, Matt Skole and Matt Purke. My bad on overlooking Garcia — in my head, he’s already “graduated” and will be a bullpen fixture; clearly I’m getting ahead of myself — which, along with Skole and Karns, is a bit of a departure from the slavish devotion to youth. Of course, that Skole and Karns have been getting so much virtual ink may also have something to do with it.

Purke surprises me for the same reason I was sure that Solis would make the list: His surgery wouldn’t be held against him. Indeed, BA did not deviate from its norms of hyperbole when selecting Lucas Giolito as having the organization’s “Best Fastball” and “Best Curveball” despite his UCL replacement (yes, TJ surgery has a high success rate, but it’s not 100%). Still, it’s a little odd that Purke fell beneath Solis in the rankings despite having a less invasive procedure done.

The free article focuses on the parent club and how the system produced the talent that fueled the unexpected (for the honest, at least) playoff run in 2012. And of course, BA is effusive in its praise for the selections of Strasburg and Harper in ’09 and ’10 as well as Rendon in ’11 and Giolito in ’12 (as for the rest of the 2012 draft, BA was like the lawyers responding to Billy Ray Valentine’s plea for help in the men’s club in “Trading Places”).

The projections for where the 2013 Top 10 will start the year were as follows:
MLB — Garcia
AAA — Perez, Walters
AA — Rendon, Goodwin, Skole, Karns
Lo-A — Purke
XST/Rehab — Giolito, Solis

Again, no big shocks — though the verb for Skole was “reach,” not “start” and they also qualified his placement with “his hands are sure enough to play at either corner,” which I can’t fault them for since everybody outside the organization sees him as a 1B but the Nationals have yet to fully commit to the position switch. Likewise, they projected Solis to start in XST and then head north on a rehab tour. My guess would be that he goes to Hagerstown for the three-inning stints and then moves up to Potomac for when he’s given the five-inning limit, then moved to Harrisburg if/when the coaches like what they see (that’s my CYA if/when he gets the bump despite poor nos.)