May 282013
 

Michael TaylorPotomac CF Michael Taylor has become the fourth P-Nat to win the Carolina League’s weekly honors, named as the Batter of the Week for the period of May 20-26.

Taylor went 10-for-20 with five straight two-hit games, posting a line of .500/.565/.650 with three doubles, three walks, three runs scored and two stolen bases. His 29 RBI is good for fourth-best in the Carolina League while his 14 steals is third-best.

Originally drafted as a shortstop, the Nationals’ 6th round pick in the 2009 Draft converted to the OF in 2011 and has become one of the organization’s best defensive prospects. He was ranked by Baseball America as Washington’s #11 prospect and has been an outfielder on this site’s watchlist for 2013 and 2012.

May 032013
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 9-17, 6th place I.L. North, 8½ games behind

Good Chris Marrero .337/.385/.614, 6HR, 20RBI
Bad Yunesky Maya 0-3, 7.45 ERA, 1.62WHIP .310 OBA
Interesting Danny Rosenbaum 1.14ERA, 5K, 45GO in 23⅔ IP

HARRISBURG SENATORS 13-14, T2nd place E.L. West, 2 games behind

Good Nathan Karns 2-0, 1.13ERA, 0.88 WHIP in last four starts
Bad Brian Goodwin 36K in 27G
Interesting Justin Bloxom .325/.341/.500 in last 10G

POTOMAC NATIONALS 13-14, T2nd place C.L. North, 2 games behind

Good Michael Taylor .270/.341/.486, 2HR, 5SB, 8RBI in last 10G
Bad Christian Meza 2.28WHIP, 9.31ERA in six appearances
Interesting Blake Schwartz 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 11K in 11IP over first two High-A starts

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 15-11, T1st place Sally North, 2½ games ahead

Good Pedro Encarnacion 1.93 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .207 OBA
Bad Hunter Bailey .528 OPS
Interesting Wes Schill 18BB in 18G, team-best .455 OBP
Apr 192013
 

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.

Nevertheless, a reminder: the players, their families, and their agents are reading, so let’s not get carried away in the comments. It’s just for fun.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 6-7, 4th place I.L. North, 3½ games behind

Good Jeff Kobernus .463/.521/.659, 6SB in 12G
Bad Ryan Tatusko 7.11 ERA, 9BB, 2.84 WHIP in 6⅓ IP
Interesting Decision to not use a position player to pitch in a 27-9 smackdown, the day after a doubleheader

HARRISBURG SENATORS 8-6, T1st place E.L. West, ½ game ahead

Good Caleb Clay 2-0, 1.00WHIP, 14K in 17IP
Bad Justin Bloxom .503OPS, 23K in 14G
Interesting Trevor Holder 0.00 ERA, 0.78WHIP in 3G, 9IP

POTOMAC NATIONALS 6-7, 4th place C.L. North, 2 games behind

Good Jason Martinson 1.140 OPS, 15RBI in 13G
Bad Relievers – 5.82ERA, 1.42WHIP
Interesting Michael Taylor 10RBI, 13H, .228BA

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 8-7, T2nd place Sally North, 2 games behind

Good Dixon Anderson 0.68WHIP, 18K in 17⅔ IP
Bad Brandon Miller .172/.172/.345, 22K in 14G
Interesting Mike McQuillan 14-game on-base streak, 6SB
Oct 292012
 

The 2012 Potomac Nationals will most likely be remembered by those that watched them closely (*ahem*) for two things: (1) the team that couldn’t win on the road (2) underachievement. You can argue against the latter to a certain extent, but it’s pretty hard to argue against the former: A 10-26 mark in the first half, a 12-21 mark in the second for a combined 22-47 mark that was third-worst in affiliated ball (Louisville, 22-51; N.W. Arkansas, 22-48).

This, of course, would be unremarkable except that in Woodbridge, the 64-win P-Nats were 42-28 — third-best in the Carolina League behind 74-win Myrtle Beach (42-26) and 87-win Winston-Salem (48-23). When I dug into it in early June, I discovered that at least some of it was attributable to the offense hitting nearly 100 points better on the road than at home, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense since the Pfitz generally comes up as neutral in ballpark effects. Other factors are surely at play here, but it’s interesting (at least to me) nevertheless.

Underachievement is a little more in the eye of the beholder. It’s often the disconnect between expected and actual performance. While as a fan (disclosure: see first sentence in “About” below), I feel like this team underachieved, as prospect follower I have to allow for the alternate, more objective interpretation that perhaps some of these guys simply hit their ceiling. There just aren’t very many guys that finished in Woodbridge in August that I don’t expect to see again next April; nearly everybody that deserved a bump up to Harrisburg got one.

So let’s take a look at the first P-Nats team to miss the Carolina League playoffs since 2009:
HITTING

PITCHING

There are two things that strike me when I look at these two comparisons: (1) How similar Potomac’s pitching totals were to Hagerstown’s (2) How much better the hitting was than I would have guessed (nearly mediocre vs. subpar). What didn’t shock me was the low OBP. Francisco Soriano, Blake Kelso and Michael Taylor shared the team lead with 40 walks drawn in 87, 106 and 109 games. David Freitas was next with 39 — in 78 games. Seemed like every time I would fill out my scorecard, I’d be filling in OBPs with numbers that looked like batting averages.

That’s a natural segue to the Top 13* batters (* for 2010 Draft Picks, ** for DSL graduates). Full team statistics can be found here. *Another “extra” to catch a notable

There are some bright spots if you look for them — Kevin Keyes and Jason Martinson’s power, for example. Ricky Hague demonstrating he can play second base (.983FA in 35G). Michael Taylor living up to the hype for his defensive skills in center. But there are also things to pick that aren’t nits — Taylor, Martinson, and Keyes whiffed a lot. The team’s left fielders gave the team’s centerfielders ample opportunity to show off their range.

As aforementioned, none of this is unusual — it’s emblematic of the level: players too good for Low-A, but not quite good enough for AA. The question is whether or not there’s a “yet” in that sentence. This is often where some players repeat… and many will stall (see: Peacock, Brian; Martinez, Carlos).

On to the pitchers…

Well, at least there wasn’t much in the way of mediocrity. The pitchers were either good or they were bad. And even some of the “bad” were pitchers had their moments of “good.” The Matts are a good example of this. Swynenberg was terrific in April, pitching one of the best games of the year on the final Sunday of the month. Grace finished the season strong, capping off his season with eight shutout innings against playoff-bound Wilmington on the final Saturday of the season, a game that Steve Souza won with an 11th-inning grand slam.

Enough has been “said” about how good Nathan Karns was this season. Unfortunately, that leaves us with discussing how disappointing Robbie Ray’s season was. Most of the damage was done in the second half — 1-9, 7.67 vs. 3-3, 4.89 — with the southpaw becoming particularly prone to giving up the longball (10 in his last 10 appearances). Perversely, I was almost wishing to learn that he had been hurt; easier to give him a pass, so “speak.”

Unfortunately, I don’t have the magic bullet as to the why (and if I did, I wouldn’t tell ;-) As the season progressed he struggled with his command, issuing nearly double the walks and seemingly always falling into hitter’s counts and it was usually in the early going, not the middle innings. He turned 21 four weeks ago, so it’s not the end of the world, but it’s the primary reason he still makes the…

OBLIGATORY TOP FOUR LISTS
I thought about only listing three apiece, but decided to go with four as an acknowledgement of the bias that comes with being a disappointed fan of the team. There’s more projection here than usual, as alluded in the discussion of Ray, and I’m giving some props to the guys that finished the season strong.

Batters
1. Michael Taylor
2. Kevin Keyes
3. Ricky Hague
4. Adrian Sanchez
HM: Randolph Oduber

Pitchers
1. Nathan Karns
2. Neil Holland
3. Rob Wort
4. Robbie Ray
HM: Matt Grace

Jul 272012
 

A reminder: This is just for fun, a pithy look at who’s hot and who’s not. I do make an effort to not name folks in consecutive editions unless they’re on a run like Tyler Moore in 2010. The “Curse of the GBI,” is more attributable to a hot streak ending (or beginning) than anything else, though I may attribute any twinges of pain in my back to voodoo instead of scar tissue from a microdiskectomy ;-)

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 49-56, 6th place I.L. North, 9½ games behind

Good Pat Lehman 0.71ERA, 0.95WHIP in last 10 appearances
Bad Seth Bynum .194/.268/.306 in July
Interesting Atahualpa Severino .288 OBA by LHBs, .147 OBA by RHBs

HARRISBURG SENATORS 51-53, 5th place E.L. West, 12 games behind

Good Zach Walters .892 OPS in 35G (6HR, 17RBI)
Bad Robert Gilliam 9.10ERA, 1.81WHIP in last 10 appearances
Interesting Ryan Perry 2.14ERA, 1.04WHIP in first 7 starts

POTOMAC NATIONALS 17-17, T2nd place C.L. North Division, ½ game behind (48-56 overall)

Good Michael Taylor .302/.362/.500 in July
Bad Robbie Ray 0-4, 5.70ERA, 1.73WHIP in 2nd half (7 appearances)
Interesting Adrian Sanchez .340/.364/.434 in July

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 20-14, T1st place Sally League North Divison, 2 games ahead (62-41 overall)

Good Caleb Ramsey .351/.351/.486 in last 10 games
Bad Bobby Lucas 14.54ERA, 2.92WHIp in last 10 appearances
Interesting Christian Meza 2-0, 0.60ERA, 0.87WHIP as a starter

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 23-14, 1st place Pinckney Division, N.Y.-Penn League, 2 games ahead

Good Wander Ramos .474SLG (4HR, 1-3B, 9-2B of 31H)
Bad Elliot Waterman 10BB in 13IP, 1.77WHIP
Interesting #1 in NYPL runs scored, #11 in runs allowed

GCL NATIONALS 13-21, 4th Place GCL East, 10 games behind

Good Mike Mudron 2.20ERA, 0.86WHIP in 16⅓ IP
Bad Diomedes Eusebio 10E in 29G
Interesting Jean-Carlos Valdez nine doubles in 29G

DSL NATIONALS 23-23, 6th Place Boca Chica South Division, 10½ games behind

Good 18-y.o. Raudy Read 1E in 29G at catcher (43% CS)
Bad 18-y.o. Miguel Acevedo 1.69WHIP, 7HB in 28⅓ IP
Interesting 18-y.o. Juan De Los Santos 24BB in 36G
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