Nov 052010
 

The Scottsdale Scorpions won their second straight by a 9-5 count to remain in first place, two games ahead of the Mesa Solar Sox. Sources say that if they win today, it’ll be what’s known as winning streak.

Here’s how the Nats did:

  • Derek Norris caught, batted fifth, and went 1-for-4 with an RBI (his 15th in 12 games) but struck out three times and allowed another passed ball.
  • Michael Burgess played RF, batted seventh, and also went 1-for-4 but struck out just once and threw out a runner at 3B.
  • Adam Carr pitched a scoreless seventh and struck out one, dropping his ERA to 3.00
  • Cole Kimball struck out the side in the ninth

Bryce Harper will be eligible to play in Friday night’s game as the Scorpions visit the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Tomorrow night is the AFL Rising Stars Game, pitting the players from the Eastern Division against the Western Division. It will be televised on MLB Network and streamed on MLB.com.

Nov 032010
 

The Scottsdale Scorpions lost again, falling to the Peoria Javelinas by a 7-4 count. Here’s a look at how the Nats fared:

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off and played SS. He went 3-for-4 with a triple, but was caught stealing for the second time.
  • Derek Norris batted sixth and drew two walks but went o-for-2 otherwise.
  • Michael Burgess batted eighth and extended his hitless streak to 15AB with another 0-for-4 game.
    He did, however, throw out a runner at the plate.
  • Adam Carr pitched a scoreless ninth and struck out one.

Sammy Solis, to clarify, is scheduled to start today as will (presumably) Bryce Harper. Yesterday, the AFL announced rosters for the 5th Annual Rising Stars Game and Burgess and Cole Kimball were named to the Eastern Division squad.

[Editorial]The selection of Burgess is mystifying as is the exclusion of Norris. At first glance, it would appear that catcher Tony Sanchez would have bumped Norris (the old “every team must have a representative” canard), until you notice that Pirate OF Andrew Lambo, who also plays RF, is batting .304/.351/.522. As noted yesterday in the comments, it would almost appear as if the managers got together, determined whose turn it was to play, and cobbled the rosters accordingly [/Editorial]

Nov 022010
 

Three Nats bats saw time in yesterday’s game, which saw the Scottsdale Scorpions’ winning streak snapped with a 7-4 loss to the Peoria Javelinas:

  • Derek Norris caught and batted sixth, going 1-for-4 with a double, two RBI, and two strikeouts. He also committed two throwing errors and allowed a stolen base
  • Michael Burgess played RF and batted eighth and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout
  • Steve Lombardozzi played SS and batted ninth, and also went o-for-4 with a strikeout. He committed an error as well

Sammy Solis is scheduled to make his fourth start tomorrow. Solis was one of several pitchers recently featured in The Hardball Times which contains some video but it’s from the spring, not this fall.

Also on our radar is the 2010 AFL Rising Stars game, which will be broadcast on Saturday night on MLB Network and streamed on MLB.com. Rosters have not yet been released, but one would strongly suspect that they will find a way to make Bryce Harper available.

Nov 012010
 

Here’s a look at how the Nationals fared over the weekend in the Arizona Fall League…

FRIDAY
The Scorpions stung the Solar Sox by a 9-1 count.

  • Steve Lombardozzi played shortstop and batted from the two-hole, walking twice, scoring two runs while doubling once in three at-bats.
  • Michael Burgess played RF and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
  • Brad Peacock allowed a run on two hits over two innings, but walked none and struck out one.

SATURDAY
A five-run bottom of the eighth gave the Scorpions their third straight win with a 13-9 decision

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off but still played shortstop and went 2-for-5 with a double, a RBI, and two runs scored. He also committed a throwing error.
  • Bryce Harper homered in his first at-bat (pictured above), singled in his second at-bat, and doubled in his third at-bat but struck out in at-bats nos. four and five to post a 3-for-5 afternoon with 2RBI
  • Cole Kimball pitched a scoreless ninth, but gave up two hits while striking out one.

With 17 games in the books, the Scottsdale Scorpions lead their division by two games with five games scheduled for this week. Cumulative stats for the… wait for it… Nats:

BATTERS

PLAYER G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Lombardozzi 11 44 11 10 6 0 0 3 8 3 .227 .364 .364 1
Burgess 10 37 4 10 2 1 0 7 3 13 .270 .317 .370 1
Norris 9 26 7 8 2 1 3 6 9 7 .308 .486 .808 2
Harper 4 17 1 6 2 0 1 4 0 5 .353 .353 .647 0

PITCHERS

PLAYER W L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO WHIP HLD GF
Solis 0 0 0 5.40 3 11⅔ 14 10 7 5 7 1.629 0 0
Peacock 0 0 0 2.00 6 9 6 2 2 2 13 0.889 2 0
Kimball 0 0 1 1.29 6 7 5 1 1 1 7 0.857 0 6
Carr 1 0 0 3.86 5 7 5 3 3 2 4 1.000 0 2
Nov 012010
 

The half system one of the best things ever conceived for minor-league baseball. It’s an acknowledgment that player movement during the season affects the standings and helps generate interest in the second half. And it’s what helped make the 2010 Potomac Nationals’ pennant run possible.

The first-half Potomac team struggled to muster a consistent offensive attack, getting shut out seven times and scoring 10 or more runs five times, stumbling along to a 31-39 record — 10 games behind Frederick. The second-half team also started slowly, losing seven of its first 12 games before they headed up to Frederick, tied for last place. And then they swept the Keys to go to 8-7. After a split in Salem, Potomac returned to Woodbridge at 9-8. Despite having a rehabbing Jordan Zimmermann on the mound, they lost 3-1 to fall back to .500.

But a funny thing happened in that game. Potomac’s first baseman doubled in the lone run, his first game back after being benched in the second game of the doubleheader in Salem. The next afternoon, he homered. The night after that, he hit a grand slam and doubled twice. You know the rest of that story, but the hitting became contagious. Bill Rhinehart hit .281 in July after a .226 June. Michael Burgess went from .183 in June to .286. Sean Rooney, as part of the ripple effect of the Matt Capps trade that reassigned catchers from A+ to AAA, dropped down from Harrisburg, where he had been struggling as a backup, and picked up where he left off in ’09 and hit .308 in July.

Appropriately, this is a good time to take a look at how the Potomac bats compared to the rest of the Carolina League…

HITTING

TEAM AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA SB
Potomac 4641 665 1166 109 539 1081 .251 .334 .402 .251 96
Lg. Avg. 4664 629 1212 90 435 1038 .260 .330 .388 .246 105

Bold = League Leader

PITCHING

TEAM IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
Potomac 1227.0 3.98 4.62 1.354 101 393 1082 9.3 2.9 7.9 2.75
Lg. Avg. 1221.1 3.92 4.53 1.349 90 435 1038 8.9 3.2 7.7 2.39

The batting numbers are what you might expect from a team that went 70-69 overall: slightly above or slightly below the league averages. Unfortunately, while it’s easy to find splits on individual players, it’s a little harder for teams, thus I can’t easily demonstrate just how much better the team was on offense in the second half versus the first. Also skewing the results are the Winston-Salem Dash, who were sensational on offense, hitting .288 as a team and averaging nearly a full run per game above the league average (5.31 vs. 4.53). Potomac would finish second to them in HRs and total bases.

In terms of pitching, Potomac’s only true calling card was avoiding the free pass, finishing second behind the Salem Red Sox for fewest walks allowed. Unfortunately, that was offset by allowing the third-most HRs and hitting the most batters. In prototypical fashion, the starters were young, the relievers were not, but unlike the bats, they were not the oldest group in the league (Frederick).

In keeping with the format we’ve established, here’s a look at the Top 16 batters in terms of plate appearances, followed by the Top 16 pitchers in terms of innings. Full statistics for the team can be found here.

Name Age Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err PA GPA
Tyler Moore 23 1B 116 .990 11 553 .282
Steve Lombardozzi 21 2B 107 .989 6 507 .269
Michael Burgess 21 RF/LF 99/1 .981 3 491 .265
Derek Norris 21 C 69 .988 7 399 .293
Jose Lozada 24 SS/1B/2B/LF 95/3/1/1 .938 27 385 .236
Robby Jacobsen 25 LF/3B/C/1B/P 59/26/10/2/2 .964 8 375 .221
Bill Rhinehart 25 LF/RF/1B 30/26/17 .978 5 346 .264
Nick Moresi 25 CF/RF/LF/P 49/15/14/1 .978 3 325 .213
Chris Curran 22 CF 70 .981 3 275 .209
Dan Lyons 25 3B/2B/SS 53/5/1 .959 7 274 .235
Brian Peacock 25 C/3B/LF 41/4/2 .994 2 235 .241
Wilberto Ortiz 25 3B/SS/2B 25/19/1 .931 12 187 .223
Sean Rooney 24 C 19 1.000 0 170 .244
Tim Pahuta 26 3B/1B 22/4 .931 8 155 .296
Francisco Soriano 22 2B/SS 21/7 .932 10 117 .219
Josh Johnson 24 3B/SS/2B 12/12/1 .966 3 113 .297

The naysayers like to point out the number of 25-year-olds that were on the team, either not noticing (slightly possible) or not knowing (quite probable) that 44% of the plate appearances were made by players 23 or younger. Add in the 24-year-olds (a not uncommon age for the league) and that number swells to 57%. With the exceptions of Bill Rhinehart and Tim Pahuta, none the “old men” on the team were above league average. Thus, it’s ignorant to write off this team’s offense as being too old for the level. That accusation can, however, be applied to the pitching…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HBP WP
Adrian Alaniz 26 24/12 8-4, 1 2.61 107 93 26 101 1.112 6 10
Brad Peacock 22 19/18 4-9, 0 4.44 103⅓ 109 25 118 1.297 4 10
Evan Bronson 23 21/16 2-5, 0 3.88 95 107 17 59 1.527 3 5
Marcos Frias 21 20/17 7-5, 0 5.69 91⅔ 105 35 59 1.527 5 3
Pat Lehman 23 21/14 5-4, 0 4.84 87⅓ 87 28 88 1.317 9 4
A.J. Morris 23 23/12 5-3, 2 3.88 72 67 27 61 1.306 6 3
Trevor Holder 23 15/14 3-3, 0 4.09 70⅓ 76 22 52 1.393 4 4
Jesse Estrada 26 22/4 3-2, 1 5.11 56⅓ 73 20 39 1.651 8 1
Clayton Dill 24 40/0 6-7, 1 4.41 51 50 33 48 1.627 1 11
Dan Leatherman 24 31/0 3-2, 11 2.12 46⅔ 31 12 57 0.921 2 2
Pat McCoy 21 30/0 2-1, 6 2.93 46 52 12 44 1.391 1 0
Daniel Rosenbaum 22 8/7 3-2, 0 2.09 43 35 13 31 1.116 0 3
Cory VanAllen 25 36/0 2-3, 1 4.28 41⅓ 49 8 48 1.379 1 3
Justin Phillabaum 24 29/0 0-6, 3 6.87 36⅔ 50 15 28 1.773 6 4
Carlos Martinez 26 18/1 0-0, 1 2.57 35 35 6 14 1.171 1 3
Jimmy Barthmaier 26 9/5 4-1, 0 3.62 32⅓ 36 7 26 1.330 3 3

The bullpen (with one rather obvious exception that should be easy to spot in the list above) was a strong spot for P-Nats all season long, and it should have been because it was almost entirely pitchers that were 24 or older — several with AA experience. Injuries forced Adrian Alaniz and Jesse Estrada into the rotation, but when callups from Hagerstown came, only Estrada was sent back. Alaniz and Barthmaier were considerable factors during the second half, which is not to diminish what Rosenbaum and Holder also meant down the stretch.

I’ve been told that the Potomac roster is the last one to be decided coming out of spring training, with the implication being that at least some of the “old men” are guys that might have otherwise been at Harrisburg, but were the odd man out because player X is at Syracuse and they’d prefer player Y to play every day so he’s going to AA instead of sitting the bench at AAA. The aforementioned trade for Wilson Ramos demonstrated that in practice as Devin Ivany was sent down to Harrisburg and Sean Rooney, in turn, came to Potomac.

I don’t believe, however, that the age of the Potomac roster is entirely explained by that. The tendency to draft college-age players is a factor. The lack of timely development of the high-school-aged prospects is a factor. But I think the days of the team being this old are numbered. Next year’s team will have a lot of the 20- and 21-year-olds from Hagerstown, and should become the youngest roster I’ve personally seen in Woodbridge.

But an older roster shouldn’t diminish what this team accomplished. They still had to beat out a loaded Wilmington team to win the half. They still had to beat the Frederick Keys, which also had a lot of older pitchers and was in the Top 3 in most offensive categories. And they faced one of the most powerful lineups in organized baseball and kept them from scoring their customary 5+ runs a game for the entire series, one that yours truly even thought may have been just too much to contain.

OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS
Most of the “repeats” are pitchers, and before folks start chirping, I’ll explain #5. Marcos Frias was one two pitchers that went to the GCL and came back a changed pitcher. His overall numbers were horrid, but he finished the regular season strong and it carried over to the playoffs. That performance basically bumped Pat McCoy off the list, but I mention him here because the line is that close. Tyler Moore’s place is simply indicative of the fact that his weaknesses haven’t been put to the test at AA. Chris Curran gets the nod over Francisco Soriano due to his speed and defense, though Soriano has the better bat and a stronger arm.

Batters
1. Derek Norris
2. Steve Lombardozzi
3. Michael Burgess
4. Tyler Moore
5. Chris Curran

Pitchers
1. Brad Peacock
2. Daniel Rosenbaum
3. A.J. Morris
4. Trevor Holder
5. Marcos Frias

Oct 292010
 

Scottsdale snapped its three-game losing streak with a 9-5 win over the Surprise Rafters. Sammy Solis got the start, Adam Carr relieved and three Nats appeared in the lineup. Here are the highlights…

  • Solis went five innings (70 pitches) and allowed five runs (two earned) on eight hits and a walk while striking out three. He gave up a HR and committed a throwing error.
  • Steve Lombardozzi’s struggles continued with an 0-for-5 night in the leadoff spot, though he did help turn two DP’s.
  • Offensively, Derek Norris drove in five, three by an eighth-inning HR, while catching and batting sixth. He also doubled and scored two runs. Defensively, his streak of throwing out runners ended as St. Louis farmhand Adron Chambers swiped three bags and Detroit’s Francisco stole one. Norris also allowed a passed ball, his third of the fall.
  • Michael Burgess went 1-for-4 with an RBI while playing R, but struck out three times.
  • Adam Carr pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and stuck out a batter.

The win puts Scottsdale at 9-6, tied again with the Mesa Solar Sox for first place. Tonight they host Mesa, and tomorrow afternoon they face Peoria. Look for the weekend wrapup and updated AFL stats on Monday.

Oct 272010
 

The Scottsdale Scorpions dropped their second straight decision, 7-4, while three Nationals saw game action…

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off, played 2B, but went 0-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base
  • Michael Burgess batted seventh, played RF, and had a 3-for-5 night with a double, triple, two runs scored and two RBI
  • Brad Peacock pitched a scoreless inning of middle relief (4th) and allowed just a walk

The loss drops Scottsdale to 8-5, tied for first place with the Mesa Solar Sox. The former visits the latter this afternoon with Bryce Harper eligible to play.

Oct 252010
 

Here’s a look at how the Nationals fared over the weekend in the Arizona Fall League…

FRIDAY
The Scottsdale Scorpions pounded the Peoria Javelinas 12-4

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off and played second base, helping to turn two double plays and going 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI (via sac fly).
  • Sammy Solis started and got torched for four runs (all earned) on four hits and three walks over three innings. He struck out three.
  • Brad Peacock got his second hold with a scoreless inning of relief, alowing one hit and striking out two.

SATURDAY
Scottsdale cruised to its eighth win in eleven games with a 6-1 decision over the Phoenix Desert Dogs

  • Derek Norris caught and batted cleanup, swatting his second home run of the fall campaign in a 1-for-3 night with a run scored, a walk, a strikeout, and two RBI. He threw out another baserunner.
  • Michael Burgess batted seventh and played RF, going 1-for-4 with two RBI and a strikeout.
  • Bryce Harper was the DH and went 2-for-4 with a strikeout.
  • Cole Kimball was touched for a run on two hits and a walk while pitching the ninth.

After 11 games, the stats…

BATTERS

PLAYER G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Lombardozzi 6 24 6 6 4 0 0 2 4 2 .250 .367 .417 0
Burgess 7 24 2 6 1 0 0 4 3 8 .250 .321 .292 1
Norris 6 19 4 6 1 1 2 6 5 7 .316 .480 .789 1
Harper 2 8 0 3 1 0 0 2 0 1 .375 .375 .500 0

PITCHERS

PLAYER W L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO WHIP HLD GF
Solis 0 0 0 6.75 2 6⅔ 6 5 5 4 4 1.500 0 0
Peacock 0 0 0 1.50 4 6 4 1 1 1 12 0.833 2 0
Kimball 0 0 1 1.80 4 5 3 1 1 1 5 0.800 0 4
Carr 1 0 0 2.25 3 4 2 1 1 2 2 1.000 0 1
Oct 222010
 

In the downtime between Bryce Harper appearances, we’ll still keep you updated on how that Nats did in AFL action. Last night, three players were in the game, which the Scottsdale Scorpions lost 4-2…

  • Derek Norris caught and batted cleanup but went o-for-3 and threw out a baserunner.
    He was also hit by a pitch.
  • Michael Burgess played RF and batted eighth, going 1-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and two strikeouts.
  • Adam Carr pitched a scoreless eighth inning and struck out one.

Scottsdale’s record stands at 6-3, tied for first place in the AFL American Division with the Mesa Solar Sox.
Sammy Solis is expected to get the start tonight against the Peoria Javelinas.

Oct 202010
 

The debut of Bryce Harper is expected to be tonight, which should temper the stories about the hopes and anticipation and with any luck, put the focus on the field instead of the tone-deaf proclamations about the future (hence the picture).

Meanwhile, after a night in which just one Nat played, five saw action on Tuesday night…

  • Steve Lombardozzi drew a walk and scored a run while going o-for-3 and leading off and playing second base
  • Derek Norris caught and batted cleanup, tripling in a run but striking out three times. Defensively, he allowed a stolen base and a passed ball
  • Michael Burgess batted seventh and scored two runs while going 1-for-3
  • Brad Peacock earned a hold with two hitless innings, walking one and striking out three; he also picked off a runner
  • Cole Kimball pitched the final two innings for a save, allowing one hit and setting down one on strikes. He also threw a wild pitch

Scottsdale won 5-4 to improve to 5-2 in the AFL East and hosts the Mesa Solar Sox tonight.