Oct 162013
 

Arizona-Fall-League-2013-3Sammy Solis won his second start while the Mesa Solar Sox won their fifth straight, taking a 7-4 matinee from the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Solis struck out eight of 15 batters faced while giving up a run on three hits and two walks over four innings. The lone run was a solo shot by Mets farmhand Cory Vaughn (son of Greg, not Mo). The 25-y.o. southpaw threw 68 pitches, 43 for strikes.

Matt Skole got the start at third base, where he fielded a popup in the 2nd and started an inning-ending 5-4-3 DP in the 7th. At the plate, the former Yellow Jacket batted cleanup and went 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored a run while taking a pair of walks.

Robert Benincasa (pictured) pitched the 7th inning and gave up a run on a leadoff walk and two singles before getting the aforementioned twin-killing groundball.

The win improves Mesa to 5-0-1 as the Solar Sox travel to Surprise this afternoon to take on Peoria. Matt Purke, who followed Solis in the Mesa rotation last week, is scheduled to start tomorrow night at home versus the Javelinas.

Oct 112013
 

The Solar Sox scored five in the 9th on Thursday night to float away from the Rafters for an 8-1 victory.

Matt Purke allowed an unearned run on two hits and a walk while striking out two. He threw 46 pitches (30 for strikes) and was awarded the win after his teammates scored twice in the top of the 4th to take a 2-1 lead.

Matt Skole made his first appearance on defense as he played first base, handling all 12 chances without an error. At the plate, he batted eighth and went 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.

Brian Goodwin drove in two on fielder’s choice in the 5th and an RBI single in the 9th, finishing at 1-for-5 with a run scored. He made two putouts as the Mesa centerfielder.

The Solar Sox visit the Saguaros tonight in Surprise to finish their first week of AFL action, as the league will hold the Inaugural Bowman Hitting Challenge on Saturday night in Salt River. Steve Souza is scheduled to take part in the “zany home run derby,” details for which can be found here.

Oct 092013
 

Arizona-Fall-League-2013-1Matt Skole launched a two-run homer in Mesa’s five-run 8th as the Solar Sox and the Glendale Desert Dogs played to an 8-8 tie in 11 innings.

Skole went 2-for-4 with a walk and run scored and three RBI total as the DH, where he’s expected to remain for the time being, though MASN’s Byron Kerr noted that he’ll play more 3B than 1B when he returns to the field.

It was the first live game action for the 24-year-old since injuring his left (non-throwing) elbow on April 5th in a collision at 1B that was initially described as a microfracture of the left wrist, but required Tommy John surgery and ended his 2013 regular season after just two games.

Brian Goodwin also saw game action and went 2-for-5 with a walk while batting second and playing centerfield, where he made two putouts. Former National Alex Meyer picked off Goodwin in the 3rd, but was otherwise hammered for three runs on five hits over three innings.

Neither Robert Benincasa nor Richie Mirowski were used in relief. Sammy Solis is scheduled to make the start today while Matt Purke is tabbed for tomorrow. Steven Souza Jr. will be eligible to play today and Saturday while Adrian Nieto awaits his chance behind the plate. Former Nationals backstop David Freitas went 0-for-4 at the plate and 1-for-4 in throwing out baserunners.

Apr 182013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-3;
Lost, 5-4
(8 inn.)
vs. Buffalo,
12:00 p.m.
Roark (1-1, 3.27) vs.
E.G. Gonzalez (0-0, 5.40)
Harrisburg OFF DAY vs. Altoona Clay (1-0, 3.27) vs.
Pimentel (0-0, 0.00)
Potomac Won, 4-2 vs. Frederick,
7:05 p.m.
Cole (0-0, 3.97) vs.
Petersime (0-1, 13.50)
Hagerstown Won, 3-1 @ West Virginia,
7:05 p.m.
Pena (0-1, 9.00) vs.
Glasnow (0-0, 2.35)

Buffalo 4 Syracuse 3 — GAME ONE
• Ohlendorf (L, 2-1) 4⅔ IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 4BB, 6K
• J.C. Romero 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, 2-0 IR-S
• Kobernus 1-3, R, 2B, RBI
• Costanzo 1-3, 2RBI

It was too little, too late as Syracuse fell in the opener, 4-3. Starter Ross Ohlendorf gave up all four runs in the Buffalo 5th, as the veteran was pulled with two outs after five hits and four walks given up, though he did strike out six. Down 4-0, Chris Marrero broke up Justin Germano’s no-hit bid with a leadoff single, but the Chiefs couldn’t get in gear until the 6th. The Chiefs got four straight hits with one out in the sixth, with Jeff Kobernus (RBI double) and Mike Costanzo (two-run single) cashing in back-to-back singles by Carlos Maldonado and Will Rhymes but a double play killed the rally and the Chiefs went quietly in the 7th.

Buffalo 5 Syracuse 4 (8 inn.) — GAME TWO
• Tatusko 3IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, BB, K
• Crotta (L, 0-1) 2IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, BB, 3K
• Van Ostrand 2-4, R
• Rivero 2-4, R

In the nightcap, Syracuse lost a 3-1 lead, rallied to tie at 4-4 but fell in the “extra” eighth inning for a 5-4 loss and a doubleheader sweep for Buffalo. Ryan Tatusko got the spot start but was ineffective, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk over three innings. Mike Crotta took the loss when an error led to the gamewinning run in the 8th. Eight of the nine Chiefs reached base, with four batters going 2-for-4, but two baserunners were cut down from the outfield and two double plays blunted the 11 hits collected and five walks drawn.

Harrisburg Senators — OFF DAY
The news yesterday wasn’t about a lucky man who made the grade, but rather that Matt Skole’s injury was worse than initially feared. Instead of a fractured wrist, the 23-year-old has become the second position player this season to require Tommy John surgery. Unlike Spencer Kieboom, the injury is to his (left) non-throwing arm, which according to Washington GM Mike Rizzo, will require four months to rehabilitate. Considering that most recovery timetables do not allow a player to swing a bat until 12-14 weeks after the surgery, that estimate seems aggressive. Regardless, it’s a tough break for a player who was expected to shed the label of “a level behind where he should be” since being drafted in 2011.

Potomac 4 Salem 2
• Jordan (W, 1-0) 7IP, 6H, 2R, 0ER, 0BB, 5K
• Herron (S, 1) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 5K
• Martinson 2-4, R, 2K
• Sanchez 2-4, R, 2B, 2RBI

With a 4-2 win Potomac completed the sweep of Salem and returned to .500 for the first time in nearly two weeks at 6-6. Taylor Jordan gave up two unearned runs on six hits over seven innings. He walked none and struck out five. Tyler Herron was perfect for two frames, striking out five of six batters faced for his first save. Jason Martinson and Adrian Sanchez combined for four of the five hits the P-Nats collected, as Potomac made the most of its limited chances with just six men stranded and four ABs with RISP. Cole Leonida homered in the ninth for his first of the year.

Hagerstown 3 Lakewood 1
• Mooneyham 4⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Rauh (W, 1-1) 3⅔ IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, 5K
• Renda 2-4, R, RBI
• Ramos 2-4, 3B, 2RBI, SB

“Help me” Wander Ramos struck again early, smacking a two-run triple that the Suns pitchers made stand up for a 3-1 win in the Wednesday matinee. Brett Mooneyham allowed no hits and just two walks over the first four and a 1/3rd innings, setting down two on strikes. Brian Rauh got the win in relief with the lone Lakewood run allowed on three hits, no walks and five strikeouts. Ramos and Tony Renda both went 2-for-4 to lead the Hagerstown offense, which notched seven hits total.

Apr 082013
 

Walking WoundedAs first reported by the Patriot News’ Geoff Morrow, Harrisburg 1B-3B Matt Skole has indeed gone on the D.L. with hairline fracture of his left wrist, as the Harrisburg Senators announced today, along with the corresponding move of activating veteran minor-league OF Jerad Head from extended spring training and assigning him to the AA club.

Skole was injured on Friday night when Bowie’s Ty Kelly collided with him on an infield single in the 8th inning.

On Sunday, Baseball America issued its weekly update on transactions, most of which had been previously reported, with the exception of two more signings…

…RHP Mike Broadway, originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 4th Round of the 2005 Draft, but released following a single season with the San Diego Padres at AA San Antonio, pitching in 33 games but posting a 6.35 ERA and 1.613 WHIP, though he struck out 45 in 39⅔ innings — the second straight season he had averaged 10+ K/9IP.

…C Sean McCauley, another local sign as the 2007 graduate of Osbourn High School appears to be resurrecting his professional career after three seasons (2007-2009) in the Kansas City Royals system.

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.

Mar 142013
 

More ST cutsThis morning the Nationals announced the second major cutdown, sending seven guys to the backfields, including top prospects Nathan Karns, Anthony Rendon, and Matt Skole. Also sent packing: Eury Perez, Sandy Leon, Pat McCoy, and Will Rhymes.

Officially, Perez was optioned to AAA Syracuse, Leon and Rendon were optioned to AA Harrisburg, while the rest were reassigned to minor-league camp.

Karns was an unsurprising cut, especially considering his recent leg injury. After an impressive two-inning stint against the Mets on February 25 struggled in his next two appearances — both versus the St. Louis Cardinals — including seven runs in 2/3rds of an inning last Friday.

While perhaps some folks may have thought Rendon’s torrid spring thus far (.375BA, 4HR, 11RBI) may have earned him more time with “the big boys,” manager Davey Johnson has been consistent in his stance that all the 22-year-old Texan needs is “some reps.”

There is, of course, nothing to prevent Washington from reassigning Rendon to Syracuse later this month. Wherever he does end up starting the season, Rendon is expected to split time playing 3B and SS and will occasionally play at 2B, Johnson told reporters this morning.

Finally, Matt Skole, who spent less than a month at a High-A Potomac after obliterating the South Atlantic League for most of 2012, is probably not going back to Woodbridge next month; not after leading the Nationals with seven walks drawn in 14 games for an impressive .406 OBP.

As predicted earlier this week, the trio of Carlos Rivero, Corey Brown, and Chris Marrero were kept in the major-league camp, which now stands at 42 players

Jan 152013
 

More ST cutsIt’s a weird world we live in when a mere tweet can be the peg for a news story.

Such was the case yesterday when Jake Skole, the younger sibling of Matt Skole, congratulated his brother on his invite to Washington Nationals spring training, prompting this story from Byron Kerr, who confirmed it independently. The younger Skole’s feelings were echoed by teammate Jason Martinson (both of which I retweeted).

Hours later, Ryan Tatusko gave out the props to his AAA teammate Zach Walters for the same honor. Neither invite has been officially confirmed as of this writing, with the Nationals PR Twitter account dark since Friday.

Like most non-roster invitees, Skole and Walters do not have a strong chance of making the parent club this spring, but the invite is significant nevertheless because it means more time spent in Viera with the major-league coaches.

The logical inference is that both will spend time working on their defense. Walters has been pegged by some as having a future as a utilityman, and if so, will need to refine his defense at the non-SS positions and learn the OF, a la Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore last year.

Skole spent time at 1B in the Arizona Fall League and it’s probably fair to deduce he’ll spend more time learning the position, given that No. 1 prospect Anthony Rendon also plays 3B (and some other guy in DC).

Finally, in keeping with the theme of news-by-Twitter, MLB.com beat reporter Bill Ladson is reporting that former Dodgers/Pirates UT Delwyn Young has been signed to minor-league deal with no invite. The 30-year-old Young, perhaps most famous in Nats lore for hitting a two-run HR in Stephen Strasburg’s MLB debut in 2010, played just 35 games in 2012 with the Camden Riversharks after failing to make the White Sox out of Spring Training.

UPDATE:
This afternoon the Nationals officially announced the spring-training invites of LHPs Fernando Abad, Bill Bray, Brandon Mann, RHP Ross Ohlendorf and IF Will Rhymes, which were previously reported here, here, there, and everywhere, along with the official announcements for Skole and Walters.

They also extended non-roster invitations to C Carlos Maldonado, LHP Pat McCoy, and RHP Tanner Roark and officially announced that pitchers and catchers are due to report on February 12, position players on February 15.

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.)

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.