Jul 232012
 

It’s a Potomac sweep for the Player and Pitcher of the Week for the Carolina League, as Nathan Karns and Michael Taylor were named the Pitcher and Player of the Week for the week of July 16-22.

Nathan KarnsKarns threw a total of 12 shutout innings in two starts (Monday, Saturday) giving up a hit, two walks and striking out eight. The 24-year-old is 6-2 with a 1.88 ERA, 0.82 WHIP in nine starts for Potomac, and 9-2 with a 1.95 ERA, 0.90 WHIP in 20 appearances overall. He leads the Nats minors with 122 strikeouts.

Taylor hit safely in six of the seven games during the week, going 14-for29 with four doubles, three home runs, and eight RBI for a Nintendo-esque line of .483/.531/.931. The 21-year-old raised his average from .226 to .245 with the outburst.

Both players are products of the 2009 draft, with Taylor picked in the 6th round and Karns going in the 12th.

Jul 202012
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 45-53, 6th place I.L. North, 9½ games behind

Good Corey Brown .292/.347/.466 in July
Bad John Lannan 0-3, 7.47ERA, 4HR in July
Interesting Both of Koyie Hill’s HRs have come against Pawtucket

HARRISBURG SENATORS 49-48, 2nd place E.L. West, 9½ games behind

Good Ryan Tatukso 2-1, 2.25ERA, 1.19WHIP in last 10 appearances (3 starts)
Bad Destin Hood .216/.268/.333 in July
Interesting Team 216BBs is 9th in 10-team E.L.

POTOMAC NATIONALS 13-14, T2nd place C.L. North Division, 1 game behind (44-53 overall)

Good Nathan Karns 5-2, 2.12ERA, 0HR in first 8 starts
Bad Michael Taylor 8BB in 26G since All-Star break (30BB in 65G prior)
Interesting 111SBs is 2nd in C.L.

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 15-11, 2nd place Sally League North Divison, ½ game behind (57-38 overall)

Good Greg Holt 1-1, 1.35ERA, 1.05WHIP in last 10 appearances (20IP)
Bad Bryce Ortega .275BA, .317SLG
Interesting Cutter Dykstra .328/.423/.475 in July

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 19-11, 1st place Pinckney Division, N.Y.-Penn League, 1½ games ahead

Good Nick Lee 0.98WHIP in 5 appearances (21⅓ IP)
Bad Carlos Lopez 7E in 14G
Interesting Blake Monar 23K in 23⅔ IP

GCL NATIONALS 11-17, 4th Place GCL East, 8 games behind

Good Matt Foat .340/.441/.440 in 15G
Bad Blake Schwartz 0-2, 5.06ERA, 1.56WHIP
Interesting Joel Barrientos 2.08ERA, 19K in 17⅓ IP

DSL NATIONALS 20-20, 6th Place Boca Chica South Division, 8½ games behind

Good Maximo Valerio 1.20ERA, 0.87WHIP in July (3 starts, turns 17 on Sunday)
Bad 18-y.o. Bryan Mejia .605OPS
Interesting 18-y.o. SS Osvaldo Abreu 13SB, 9E in 35G
Nov 292011
 

Last year, I wrote “The people have spoken,” referring to the poll for next steps regarding rankings and watchlists. This year, the sentiment’s the same but this time, it’s a little more literal.

That’s because this year’s list is based on the opinions of those that wrote in to my query for submissions, not just my own. Is it scientific? Hell, no — it’s subjective. But the theory is that a bunch of like-minded seamheads are going to produce a better list than this one did last year.

The methodology is pretty simple: I took the submissions, put ‘em in a spreadsheet and then added up the points in reverse (#1 vote = 10 points, #10 vote = 1 point). Top vote getter is #1, second-most is #2, etc. A couple of ballots mixed in pitchers and I tried to count them anyways but that actually produced a couple of ties, so I tossed ‘em and that worked to break the ties.

The sample size isn’t terribly big (19) but it was about what I was hoping for (20). So here are the results, in reverse order with points in parentheses. A perfect score was 190 and I’m sure you’ll be *shocked* to learn that it was achieved.

10. Eury Perez (28)
9. Michael Taylor (33)
8. Tyler Moore (56)
7. Chris Marrero (74)
6. Destin Hood (87)
5. Steve Lombardozzi (95)
4. Brian Goodwin (103)
3. Derek Norris (150)
2. Anthony Rendon (152)
1. Bryce Harper (190)

Others receiving votes: Zach Walters, Jeff Kobernus, Rick Hague, Kevin Keyes, Jason Martinson, Jhonatan Solano, Matt Skole, Chris Curran, David Freitas, Corey Brown, Erik Komatsu, Blake Kelso

That’s 22 players receiving votes. You’ll note that I used “position players” instead of “bats” this year in the headline. Some folks took that to mean strictly hitting prowess, even though I tend to use it as a synonym like “arms” for pitchers. But I stuck with bats because I like the picture, opting against a visual pun (this time; I’ve been saving that one since last winter).

I think you can see from this variety of names that some folks are factoring in defense (e.g. Curran) some give props to knocking on the MLB door (Solano) and some give props to raw tools (Keyes). Three players appeared on all ballots: Harper, Rendon, and Norris. Goodwin was left off one; Moore, two; Lombardozzi, Hood, and Marrero: three; Perez, eight; Taylor, ten. The others receiving votes are in order of points, but it wasn’t close: Walters received 15 points.

The two names that missed that kind of surprised me were David Freitas and Rick Hague. Say what you will about his defense, but an .858 OPS over two years might have gotten a little more respect. Conversely, a season-ending shoulder injury didn’t dissuade folks from voting for Hague, even though as the votes for Martinson and Walters attest, he’s no longer the shortstop in waiting that he was this time last year.

Ultimately, like all things hot stove, this is an exercise that mainly serves to pass the time and the winter. But that’s going to stop me from soliciting votes for the pitchers as my next project ;-)

Editor’s Note: This was largely written prior to the news that Chris Marrero had torn his hamstring. Clearly this is a blow to both the prospect and the organization. It may also open the door for Tyler Moore. But one has to also wonder if this makes Lombardozzi the trade chip in lieu of Marrero, given the interest in Mark DeRosa.

Oct 202011
 

The 2011 season was the first winning season in the five years that Washington has been affiliated with Hagerstown. The 75-64 record was a 10½ game improvement over the 2010 season. But ultimately, the curse of high expectations that surrounds all things Bryce Harper made the 2011 season a disappointment in many fans’ eyes.

It may also surprise you to learn that for all for the rehab stints (Strasburg, Zimmerman, Wang, the immortal Doug Slaten) and the presence of Bryce Harper, attendance still fell by 126 per game over 2010 (2,057 vs. 1,931). Times are hard in Washington County, no doubt, but that’s still a bit of a shock to me. So I’ll leave it to you as to whether we should blame it on the economy, the rain, or the bossa nova.

Considering that, as a team, the Suns were mostly middle of the pack in the 14-team South Atlantic League — 6th in offense, 8th in pitching, 7th in defense — to have been in contention in both halves for most of the way should be considered a success. As we’ve done the past three weeks, let’s take a look at how Hagerstown compared to the rest of the league…
HITTING

PITCHING

The most encouraging thing to take away from the 2011 Suns is that this team was not afraid to take a walk or give up a walk — second in the league on both counts. It was also a team that could run (3rd), but unlike last season, they did it without a single 30-steal player and were successful 73.5% of the time. That’s encouraging if you’re a proponent of having a team that’s capable of playing it both big and small.

The pitching was a mixed bag. The starter that gave up the most hits had the most wins (Matt Grace). There were a couple of relievers with ERAs in the 1′s (Chris Manno, Neil Holland)… and a couple of relievers with ERAs in the 6′s (Shane McCatty, Greg Holt), while the team’s two swingmen (Paul Applebee and Matt Swynenberg) gave up the second- and third-most HRs on the team, yet were among the team’s more effective pitchers. Finally, two pitchers had their season cut short by unspecified injuries (Taylor Jordan and Bobby Hansen), and a third (Chris McKenzie) spent six weeks on the DL midseason and more than two months away from the Suns total.

Now it’s time to drill down to look at the top 12′s for the hitters. The full statistics for the team can be found here. (* = 2010 Draft Pick ** = DSL Graduate)
Bryce Harper’s numbers speak for themselves, with his rate statistics close to 100 points above the league average despite being barely old enough to vote. His removal from the lineup on the 4th of July, however, was largely covered by the emergence of Kevin Keyes, who hit .281/.355/.528 after the Sally League All-Star break. As you can see, the cluster of 2010 draft picks were the heart of this team. What remains to be seen is how they’ll develop. Thankfully, one of my spies in Hagerstown wrote about the Suns batters earlier this month, and I encourage folks to click on over to see what he had to say.

Next up, the pitchers, which I’m expanding to the top 15 to include three notables…
Eleven different pitchers made at least five starts for the Suns, thanks in part to the injuries to Jordan, Hansen and McKenzie and the delayed debuts of Cole and Ray, both of whom were held back until the first full weekend in May. Injury also delayed the start of Sammy Solis’s season until Memorial Day Weekend, which kept his inning count down and is arguably the primary reason why he’s repeating the AFL as a starter.

If Auburn is a barometer for the 2011 draft, then Hagerstown might be the same for 2010 (and to a certain extent, 2009). If the expression is that there three kinds of pitchers — young, old, and hurt — well, that pretty much sums up the draft class thus far.

The ground on the “young” Cole and Ray has been pretty much covered (though again, I point folks to my friend Shawn’s take). Old, of course is a relative term, but Grace and Solis will enter the 2012 campaign as 23-year-olds and the latter was touted as being ready for prime time in ’12. The same is true for ’09ers Swynenberg and Jordan. And of course, the “hurt” applies to Jordan, Solis and McKenzie (Hansen was an ’08 pick). Solis and McKenzie have since recovered from their injuries, but the outcome for Jordan, who appeared to be headed for Potomac a la Danny Rosenbuam in 2010, won’t be known until next spring.

OBLIGATORY TOP FIVE LISTS
We’re into crossover territory and I’m trying to avoid double-listing guys. Thus, a couple of honorable mentions to answer the question “Well, who would make it onto the list if X were rated at the next level instead of this level?”

Hitters
1. Bryce Harper
2. David Freitas
3. Kevin Keyes
4. Michael Taylor
5. Adrian Sanchez
HM: Jason Martinson

Pitchers
1. A.J. Cole
2. Robbie Ray
3. Taylor Jordan
4. Sammy Solis
5. Matt Swynenberg
HM: Matt Grace

Aug 122011
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 49-61, 4th place I.L. North, 13½ games behind

Good Brad Meyers 1.23 ERA, 1.09 WHIP in August
Bad Seth Bynum .194/.248/.280 since All-Star Break
Interesting Garrett Mock 1.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP in August

HARRISBURG SENATORS 66-52, 2nd place E.L. West, ½ game behind

Good Tyler Moore .333/.385/.590 since All-Star Break
Bad Adam Fox .159/.245/.318 since All-Star Break
Interesting Rafael Martin 0.95 ERA, 0.88 WHIP

POTOMAC NATIONALS 24-22, 2nd place C.L. North Division, 4 games behind (53-62 overall)

Good Sandy Leon .275/.331/.443 since C.L. All-Star Break
Bad 535 RA (4.65/G) is 36 R more than 7th place C.L. pitching staff
Interesting The chance to make the playoffs despite being 6th in hitting, 7th in fielding, 8th in pitching

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 23-22, 4th place Sally League North Divison, 4 games behind (63-52 overall)

Good Michael Taylor .324/.373/.610 since All-Star Break
Bad Dean Weaver 6.62 ERA, 1.53 WHIP
Interesting Adrian Nieto .522 SLG in first 6G

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 32-22, T1st place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 1½ games ahead

Good Brian Dupra 2.96 ERA, 1.23 WHIP as a starter
Bad Angel Montilla .184/.304/.289 in August
Interesting Justin Miller .467 SLG, 1E in 44G

GCL NATIONALS 14-27, 4th place GCL East, 17 games behind (Eliminated)

Good 19-y.o. Estarlin Martinez .311/.406/.517
Bad J.C. Valdez, Wes Schill 12E in 29, 32G
Interesting Jack McGeary 1.13 ERA, 1.25 WHIP in first 3G (8IP)

DSL NATIONALS 29-32, 7th place, Boca Chica South Division, 10 games behind

Good Gilberto Mendez 5-0, 2.35 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
Bad Bienvenido Valdez .111/.304/.111 in last 10G
Interesting Wilman Rodriguez .333/.389/.515 since DSL All-Star Break
May 272011
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good David Freitas .289/.392/.458
Bad Michael Taylor .280 OBP, 39K in 42G
Interesting Christopher Manno 6SV, 0.54WHIP, 33K in 17G
Apr 222011
 

It’s back! Our weekly look at the leaders (good), trailers (bad), and outliers (interesting) in the Washington Nationals minor leagues.

SYRACUSE 6-8, T4th place IL North, 3 games back

Good Tom Milone 0.85WHIP, 0BB in 13 innings
Bad Garrett Mock 17BB, 2.29WHIP in 11⅓ IP
Interesting Brian Bixler .326/.483/.370 in 14G

HARRISBURG 6-7, T3rd place E.L. West, 1 game back

Good Brad Meyers 2-1, 3.07 in 3GS
Bad Jonathan Tucker .140/.178/.209 in 12G
Interesting Hassan Pena 9K, 0.90WHIP in 4 appearances

POTOMAC 5-7, 3rd place, Carolina League North, 3½ games back

Good Steve Souza 5HR, 1.079OPS in 12G
Bad Alex Caldera 14.40ERA, 2.60WHIP, 3HR in 2 appearances
Interesting Destin Hood 10BB, .467OBP in 12G

HAGERSTOWN 9-6, 3rd Place Sally League Northern, 2 games back

Good Cameron Selik 20K in 15IP, 0.00ERA, 3GS
Bad Michael Taylor .143/.205/.229 in 13G
Interesting Blake Kelso .333/.380/.422, 1E in 14G

Before folks chime in about who did or didn’t get named, bear in mind that:
(a) This ain’t Little League
(b) I try to keep the bats and arms balanced
(c) Outliers aren’t necessarily organizational soldiers; mostly it’s the unexpected in either extreme. For example, Bryce Harper might have been an “Interesting” because he’s not tearing up the Sally League, but Blake Kelso (who is a watchlist player) is both hitting and fielding better than expected.
(d) I also try to highlight (or lowlight) different folks every week unless someone’s on a run like Tyler Moore or Stephen Strasburg, in which case, I owe it to both you, the reader, and them to give them their due.

Now, comment away!

Oct 122010
 

With the decided shift towards college players in the Rule 4 draft (a.k.a. First-Year Players), it’s no surprise that the 2010 GCL Nationals were among the oldest in the league (batters, 20.4; pitchers, 21.5). Unfortunately, like the proverbial trailer park, if they weren’t putting a hurt a somebody (league-leading 5.21 R/G scored), they were getting hammered (third-worst 5.27 R/G allowed). Hence, a losing record at 24-32 that was four games under the 28-28 pythagorean projection.

Here’s a look at how they compared to the rest of the league…

HITTING

TEAM AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA SB
GCL Nats 1895 292 505 18 194 404 .266 .343 .370 .247 76
Lg. Avg. 1887 253 466 23 174 432 .247 .321 .349 .232 64

Bold = League Leader

PITCHING

TEAM IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
GCL Nats 483.0 4.29 5.27 1.346 30 167 412 9.0 3.1 7.7 2.47
Lg. Avg. 496.0 3.62 4.39 1.289 23 174 432 8.4 3.2 7.8 2.48

For an organization that’s been hurting for offense, leading the league in runs scored per game, RBI, hits, batting average, and on-base percentage is a good thing. They also drew the third-most walks and struck out at the fourth-lowest rate, and stole bases at a league-best 76% (76-for-100) success rate.

Unfortunately, the pitching wasn’t there and neither was the defense; both were third-worst on a rate basis (runs per game, fielding percentage). Even worse: Three of the bottom five in terms of runs allowed are DSL grads (Gregory Baez, Pedro Encarnacion, and Miguel Navarro).

Playing time was split much more evenly in the GCL vs. the DSL, so I’m listing the top 12 batters in terms of plate appearances, assigning positions by games appeared. The full statistics for the team can be found here.

Name Age Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err PA GPA
Angelberth Montilla 21 LF/CF/RF 20/20/11 .953 4 222 .253
Randolph Oduber 21 CF/LF 20/10 .986 1 175 .338
Mills Rogers 22 1B/3B/SS 26/13/2 .985 4 154 .249
Michael Taylor 19 SS/3B/2B 19/9/9 .882 22 149 .196
Hector Taveras 21 C 12 .978 2 145 .246
Wander Nunez 20 RF/LF 31/5 1.000 0 139 .220
Roberto Perez 19 2B/3B 31/4 .955 7 137 .223
Tyler Oliver 21 1B 25 .995 1 133 .220
Jeremy Mayo 22 C/1B 27/3 .991 2 133 .298
Adrian Sanchez 19 3B/2B/SS 14/8/7 .927 8 127 .312
Johan Rodriguez 19 SS/2B 18/11 .863 16 114 .191
Estarlin Martinez 18 3B/2B 24/1 .823 14 1 .231

Bold = 2010 Draftee (Notables not included above = Rick Hague, Rick Hughes, Rashad Hatcher)
Italics = 2010 IFA

Like the DSL, players were rotated defensively, with most positions having two or three primary starters. As VladiHondo pointed out in the DSL season review, the showing of ’09 DSL “graduates” was weak, with Martinez and Wander Ramos he only two getting significant playing time at 106 and 99 PAs respectively.

As the parenthetical indicates, there were three 2010 draftees that got playing time in the GCL but were not in the Top 12. Hague obviously impressed in his limited playing time to get the bump to Hagerstown, posting a .275/.380/.300 line in 50PA but Hughes was actually a little better with a .293/.359/.448 in 65 PA. Rashad Hatcher posted just a .200/241/.218 line in 59 PA.

On to the pitchers, listing the top 12 in terms of innings pitched…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HBP WP
Kelvin Lopez 20 11/8 4-4, 0 4.44 46⅔ 54 12 26 1.414 3 6
Gregory Baez 18 11/6 1-2, 0 2.61 38 44 23 40 1.763 4 5
Tyler Hanks 20 10/4 4-1, 1 3.51 33⅓ 37 6 25 1.290 3 4
Nick Serino 21 14/1 2-2, 0 3.16 25⅔ 21 5 25 1.013 1 3
Pedro Encarnacion 19 8/6 0-3, 0 6.48 25 28 12 15 1.600 2 3
Christian Meza 19 9/2 1-2, 0 1.52 23⅔ 16 10 23 1.099 2 5
Billy Ott 22 7/0 1-0, 1 1.17 23 16 3 19 0.826 4 0
Manuel Rivera 22 13/0 2-2, 0 2.61 20⅔ 15 12 21 1.306 5 2
Tim Dupuis 21 16/0 3-1, 3 4.79 20⅔ 23 5 21 1.355 0 1
Miguel Navarro 17 14/1 1-1, 0 8.10 20 19 21 11 2.000 10 6
Mike Gallo 23 12/0 0-2, 0 8.38 19⅓ 25 11 11 1.862 1 1
Matt Grace 21 8/5 1-1, 0 4.32 18⅔ 23 3 14 1.393 1 1

The spring-training usage of pitchers in the GCL makes it impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions. This particular year saw a lot of rehab activity (seven full-season minor-leaguers, four major-leaguers) as thirty pitchers threw at least one inning, and as you can see the cutoff for the Top 12 was 18 innings (Chris Manno was #13)

OBLIGATORY TOP FIVE LISTS
The same caveat applies to the GCL as it does the DSL (sight unseen) and with the pitchers, it’s even more shaky, but folks love lists so here goes, along with some honorable mentions to account for the guesswork smaller sample sizes here.

Top 5 Batters
1. Randolph Oduber
2. Adrian Sanchez
3. Rick Hague
4. Mills Rogers
5. Michael Taylor

Honorable mentions: Estarlin Martinez, Angelberth Montilla

Top 5 Pitchers
1. Tyler Hanks
2. Nick Serino
3. Christian Meza
4. Matthew Grace
5. Christopher Manno

Honorable mentions: Billy Ott, Manuel Rivera

Aug 062010
 

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

SYRACUSE 57-55, 3rd place IL North, 8 games back

Good Boomer Whiting, .403OBP
Bad Dan Leatherman 12H 6R in 1st 6 apperances [Ed. Note: Written before demotion]
Interesting Josh Wilkie 1HR allowed in 53⅓ innings

HARRISBURG 59-53, 3rd place, 6½ games back, EL

Good Tom Milone, 9QS in 22 starts; 1.52BB/9
Bad Edgardo Baez .134BA in July/Aug.
Interesting Chuck James 0.00ERA as a reliever at AA

POTOMAC
21-16 in 2nd Half, 1st place by 1½ games in CrL North

Good Tyler Moore 11HR, 40RBI since ASB (34G)
Bad Marcos Frias, 8.46ERA since return from GCL rehab
Interesting Dan Lyons .300/.475/.467 in last 10G

HAGERSTOWN
15-25 in 2nd Half, last place in SAL North, 9½ games back

Good Eury Perez .304BA, .441SLG, 17SB in July/Aug
Bad Josh Smoker, 7.38ERA in 19 starts; scoreless outings: 1
Interesting NDFA Billy Ott, 5IP 1H 0R 0BB 3K in SAL debut

VERMONT
25-21, 2nd Place Stedler Division of NY-Penn League, ½ game back

Good Ronnie Labrie .281/.384/.452 in 40G
Bad Taylor Jordan 23R, 32H, 3HR allowed in last 5 starts
Interesting Neil Holland, 1.77ERA in 12G as reliever

GCL NATIONALS
14-23, 5th place GCL East Division, 9½ games back

Good Nick Serino 0.98WHIP, 2.93ERA in 10 appearances
Bad Michael Taylor 12E in 23G
Interesting Adrian Sanchez, Billy Ott earning promotions to Hagerstown

DSL NATIONALS
27-29, 5th place B.C. South Division, 11½ games back

Good “Fred” Ortega 25SB in 50G
Bad Yamaicol Tejeda .050BA in 26G
Interesting Bienvenido Valdez 24BB, 37K in 50G