Oct 192010
 

Just a quick update before the wires start buzzing about the expected debut of Bryce Harper today.

Scottsdale fell 6-4 to the Surprise Rafters. Michael Burgess was the lone Nat to see game action, as Derek Norris was a late scratch (see link above for more details). Burgess went 1-for-3 with a sac-fly RBI while batting eighth and playing right field.

Oct 132010
 

Here’s a peek at how the Nationals did yesterday for the Scottsdale Scorpions, who won 4-3 over the Peoria Saguaros…

  • Derek Norris 1-2, 2R, 2BB, HR, 2 RBI
  • Mike Burgess 0-3, BB
  • Brad Peacock 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 4K

UPDATE: MLB.com’s Bill Ladson is reporting that Bryce Harper will be assigned to the Scorpions’ taxi squad and will play roughly twice a week.

A few other odds & ends (be thankful I opted not to lead with that for the picture ;-)…

…Wilson Ramos was the lone National in the Baseball America International League Top 20, coming in at #18. The good news is that scouts like him defensively, and describe him as having “above-average raw power.” The bad news: He needs to work on game-management and pitch-calling. Before folks chime in about having Ramos and Rodriguez working together, remember that the knock on Pudge for his entire career has been in these two areas.

…The folks at Ballpark Digest named the new Metro Park in Harrisburg as the renovation of the year and I couldn’t agree more.

…Sickels weighed in on an age-old question of young pitcher development.

Oct 122010
 

By now, you’ve read that the Arizona Fall League starts up today. And some 18-year-old named Bryce Harper won’t be playing. So there’s little I can add to that, except for some thoughts on the players I’ve seen…

Adam Carr – RHRP
Carr has been here before, playing in 2007 after his first full season in the minors and looked to be on the verge of becoming a factor for the parent club in late ’08 with a 1.78ERA at Potomac and Harrisburg. Unfortunately, he hit wall the next season, and struggled mightily at both levels. In ’09, he was converted to a starting pitcher in an effort to both salvage something out of a hard-thrower as well as give him a chance to pitch more often and learn more of the finer points of pitching. In ’10 he returned to relieving, mostly as a setup guy and long-man, but was solid and consistent enough to get a callup to AAA where he racked up nine saves in 10 chances and posted a 2.08ERA.

Cole Kimball – RHRP
Kimball is a similar pitcher to Carr, but started for his first three seasons before being turned into a reliever in ’09. Kimball doesn’t throw quite as hard, but can (and does) throw more breaking pitches. Served as the closer for Potomac in ’09 and to begin ’10 with solid numbers. At Harrisburg, Kimball saw his strikeout rate jump from the one-per-inning rate that’s relatively common to a more dominant 12.3/9IP.

Brad Peacock – RHSP
The last of the draft-and-follow picks, Peacock is a perfect example of what the A+ level is — a place where a guy needs to work on one more thing before making the biggest jump in the minors. That one thing? The changeup. Early in the ’10 season, Peacock would rack up double-digit strikeouts but couldn’t get much past the fifth or sixth inning because once folks realized he couldn’t throw anything offspeed for strikes, they’d wait him out and sit on that 94-95 heat. In late June, Peacock started to figure out, resulting in a complete-game shutout in early July. By month’s end, he was in Harrisburg and was a factor in the Sens’ playoff run.

Steve Lombardozzi – 2B
Lombardozzi is often overlooked because of what he is not. He’s not big. He’s not flashy. He’s not a home run hitter. What is he? A steady, reliable fielder (though not the strongest of arms) and a consistent hitter with gap power and slightly above-average speed but terrific baserunning instincts. Arguably the most consistent P-Nat this season and was able to bat anywhere in the top third of the lineup with little change in his production.

Michael Burgess – OF
Burgess was an enigma this season. Early on, it looked like he had finally solved his weakness against lefties and began rapping the ball the other way (in ’09, an opposite-field hit for Burgess was a grounder that went just to the left of the 2nd base bag). But after the league adjusted to him, his well-known weakness re-emerged — the inability to lay off soft-and-away pitches came back. He appeared to be readjusting his approach when a death in his family kept him out for a couple of weeks. In the final analysis, Burgess is still trying to figure out how to hit to all fields without sacrificing power and keeping the strikeouts down. There were times when he did, which is why he’s been given this challenge.

Derek Norris – C
Injuries wreaked havoc on Norris’s season and it was not until late August that he began to look comfortable as a hitter. As mentioned last week, Norris does struggle some with breaking pitches but as many people have remarked, you can close your eyes and pick him out of a BP lineup — the ball has a distinctive sound coming off his bat. The most promising thing is that no matter how low his batting average got, Derek did not press and held his OBP at the .400+ level all season long. Defensively, Norris is still a project, struggling with wild pitches and passed balls, but still threw out 51% of the runners that tried to steal off him.

Sammy Solis – LHP
Solis made just two appearances in Hagerstown, so I did not see him. Here is what the estimable John Sickels wrote about him prior to the draft:

A back injury redshirted Solis in 2009, so he’s a draft-eligible sophomore this year… Sizeable at 6-5, 220, he has an 89-92 MPH fastball, and both his curveball and changeup are major league quality. His command is considered excellent, and there is nothing wrong with his statistical performance this spring: 2.94 ERA with a 52/15 K/BB in 52 innings, 51 hits allowed. He should… interest any team looking for a lefty with polish who won’t need much minor league time.

Aug 312010
 

If you came here for some exciting names, look elsewhere. As the picture suggests, the Nationals were uninspired in their choices for who’s going to Arizona for the fall league. Without further ado…

  • C Derek Norris
  • OF Michael Burgess
  • IF Steve Lombardozzi
  • LHP Sammy Solis
  • RHP Cole Kimball
  • RHP Adam Carr

This is not to disrespect the likes of Cole Kimball and Adam Carr, which we can infer that the front office clearly believes are near-term-future relievers. But like nearly everything Tim McCarver says in a Fox broadcast, that was already painfully obvious. Perhaps more will come out in the next few days about the rationale, but all I can see is that some younger, more promising prospects (Peacock, Milone) were passed over… and I don’t mean Bryce Harper. For those of you who claim that Rizzo said that Harper might play in the AFL, he never explicitly said that it would be the fall of 2010.

Aug 272010
 

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

SYRACUSE 68-63, 3rd place IL North, 11½ games back (5 games behind wild-card leader)

Good Erik Arnesen 2-0, 2.93ERA in August
Bad Seth Bynum .186BA in August
Interesting Adam Carr 5SV, 2.70ERA, 14K in 12 appearances

HARRISBURG 64-59, T3rd place, 7 games back, EL (1 game behind wild-card)

Good Mike Burgess .290/.405/.677 in 9G since promotion
Bad Aaron Thompson 0-2, 10.90ERA in August
Interesting Ryan Tatusko & Tanner Roark: 3-2, 2.23ERA as Senators

POTOMAC
31-26 in 2nd Half, 1st place by ½ game in CrL North

Good Sean Rooney .284/.352/.422 in 30G
Bad Justin Phillabaum 12.91ERA with Runners On, 17.42ERA with RISP
Interesting Joe Testa 1.10WHIP, 11K in 13⅔ IP

HAGERSTOWN
25-35 in 2nd Half, last place in SAL North, 9½ games back (Elimination No. is 1)

Good Eury Perez .341BA, 32/35SB-A since July 1
Bad Mitchell Clegg 1-2, 7.04ERA since return from GCL
Interesting SS’s Rick Hague & Adrian Sanchez, .321BA in 215AB combined

VERMONT
31-30, 1st Place Stedler Division of NY-Penn League, ½ game ahead

Good David Freitas .314/.407/.466 in 53G
Bad Aaron Barrett 16BB in 14⅓ IP
Interesting Ronnie Labrie 37BB in 56G (.390 OBP)

GCL NATIONALS
23-31, 4th place GCL East Division, 12 games back, Eliminated

Good Randolph Oduber .366/.434/.569 in 39G
Bad Gregory Baez 6.55ERA, 1.82WHIP
Interesting 19-y.o. Roberto Perez .314/.402/.419 in 34G
Aug 162010
 

Various online reports have stated that Potomac OF Mike Burgess has been promoted to AA Harrisburg. This is not unexpected, as the deadline for the Arizona Fall League is tomorrow and the 21-year-old has been considered a candidate for this year’s AFL class.

Burgess began the year slowly, then heated up in May (.313/.394/.509) before cooling off in June (.183/.280/.312). Much of July was lost to bereavement leave after a death in his family.

Strikeouts are still very much a problem for Burgess, but his struggles to hit lefties appear to be behind him. This year, he has hit them to the tune of .281 (.256 for RHPs) whereas last year he hit .221, and his slugging percentage, down from last year, is dead-even with .430 against both. His arm remains one of the best in the system and the 15 lbs or so he lost in the offseason has been noticed in the field with better range and more balls in the gap being run down and/or caught.

UPDATE: MASN’s Ben Goessling has gone to virtual ink with the story.

Jul 202010
 

Only the rain could stop the P-Nats last night, as they pummeled the Salem Red Sox 13-0 for a season-high fourth straight win.

Fresh off his Carolina League Player Of The Week Honors, Tyler Moore made his campaign to make it back-to-back with a 4-for-5 night, including two doubles and a home run. His hot streak coincides with the current home stand, as the 23-year-old Mississppian has gone 12-for-20 with seven doubles, three home runs, and 13 RBI over the past four games.

Adrian Alaniz, who had been piggybacking onto Jordan Zimmermann’s rehab appearances, made the start last night when Zimmermann was scratched with a stiff neck. Alaniz went six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and walk while striking out four.

Joining Moore in the 15-hit onslaught were recently reactivated Michael Burgess, who sliced an RBI single to right in his first at-bat and went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and three runs scored, and Josh Johnson, who went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Bill Rhinehart and Jose Lozada also went deep.

The victory puts Potomac at 13-9 in the second half, two games behind first-place Wilmington.

###

Quick Hits…

…InsideNova.com’s Dave Utnik is reporting that Zimmermann will next throw on Wednesday night.

…Danny Rosenbaum has been promoted from Hagerstown and will make his Carolina League debut tonight against Salem

…Making room for Rosenbaum, Jesse Estrada was released. Making room for Burgess, Wilberto Ortiz returned to the DL

…Utnik also reported that Scott Olsen threw a bullpen session prior to last night’s game and will start on Thursday

Jul 042010
 

The Potomac Nationals returned home last night to host the Wilmington Blue Rocks for their traditional cash cow 4th of July festivities and sent the reported crowd of 5,908 home happy with a 4-2 win.

Jordan Zimmermann returned to Woodbridge for the first time since early 2008, pitching two scoreless innings in a rehab start from last year’s Tommy John surgery. The surprise #5 starter in the ’09 Washington rotation threw 25 pitches, 16 for strikes. His velocity appeared fine, but his location was a little lacking.

Zimmermann was quoted by Robert Daski in the News & Messenger as believing that he’ll be with the team for a total of three or four appearances, which would have him pitching on the road in Frederick and against Salem in Boston, then again in Woodbridge against the Kinston Indians on Wednesday, July 14th.

Adrian Alaniz, a teammate of Zimmermann’s in ’08 at Potomac, followed the righthander with six solid innings of relief, allowing just two unearned runs on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

The offense would leverage the mistakes of the Wilmington Blue Rocks pitchers to score a pair of runs in the third, with Dan Lyons and Steve Lombardozzi drawing walks and Derek Norris driving them in with a double over the head of the centerfielder to take a 2-0 lead.

They would take advantage of poor Blue Rocks defense in the fifth. With a runner on first and one out, Lombardozzi would lay down a bunt to the third baseman, who threw wide of first, enabling the runner to score and Lombardozzi to take second. After a passed ball and a walk, Mike Burgess bounced a hard grounder over the Wilmington first baseman for an RBI single that would give the PNats a 4-1 lead.

They would return the favor for the game’s final run in the top of the 8th as a two-out error and triple broke up a streak of eight batters set down by Alaniz, but Zach Dials snuffed any hopes of a comeback by striking out the side in the 9th to earn the save.

With the win, Potomac improves to 4-5 in the second half, 1½ games behind Wilmington and Frederick for the Northern Division lead. The two teams will meet again tonight, with Marcos Frias taking the hill for the PNats against John Lamb for the Blue Rocks.