Aug 262013
 

Moving On Up for NPP
The Auburn Doubledays announced today that OF Isaac Ballou has been promoted to Hagerstown.

Ballou had been hitting .294/.405/.398 with two HRs, 20RBIs, and eight SBs while playing in 59 of 65 games for the Doubledays. Three weeks ago, Ballou was named the New York-Penn League Batter of the Week.

He’s the third position player to get the bump this month, following Brandon Miller and Billy Burns’s shuffle from Hagerstown to Potomac and Potomac to Harrisburg, respectively.

Corresponding moves have not yet been announced for either Auburn or Hagerstown. As always if/when that occurs within a reasonable period of time, this space will be updated.

Aug 212013
 

RippleAfter three summers of people complaining about Nationals being too slow to promote… this summer, those people can shut the trunk up.

As noted earlier this season, the increased movement has made it harder to call true promotions versus need-based fill-ins. Thus, you’re seeing verbs “assign” or “reassign,” which are a bit more benign, but also enables me to avoid using word “demoted” for when a player is returned (e.g. Taylor Hill).

My personal guideline has been to avoid calling any movement between the short-season leagues a promotion, but Lucas Giolito is an obvious exception. Likewise for Austin Voth and Jake Johansen, as all three are top draft picks and their transfers from the GCL to Auburn and Auburn to Hagerstown are difficult to characterize as anything but.

The roster moves for Giolito and Voth have been officially announced, with Giolito scheduled to make his New York-Penn League debut (on the road, natch) tonight. Auburn Citizen beat reporter Jeremy Houghtaling (@CitizenHough for those of you on “the Twitters”) says he’ll make the trip to Batavia, so we’ll have at least one independent account.

Voth appears to be slated to start tomorrow, weather permitting, as will Brett Mooneyham for Potomac, with the younger Pac-12 pitcher taking the place of the elder, who’s reportedly on his way to Potomac according to MASN’s Byron Kerr.

The moves for Johansen and Mooneyham have not been officially announced, but the speculation here is that Paul Demny will be placed on the Potomac DL to make room for Mooneyham (and take his place in the rotation) and similar move will be made for Hagerstown (more likely a reliever with Ian Dickson going to the ‘pen).

UPDATE: Auburn has officially announced the promotion of Johansen to Hagerstown. The Suns, in turn, have announced the promotion of Mooneyham to Potomac while LHP Jake Walsh has been reassigned to the GCL to accommodate the transfers of both Johansen and Voth. A corresponding move for Potomac has not yet been announced.

Aug 122013
 

Moving On Up for NPPThe Hagerstown Suns have announced that RHP Travis Henke has been promoted to the Potomac Nationals.

Henke was 3-1 with two saves, five holds, and a 2.72 ERA in 30 appearances with 17 walks and 41 strikeouts over 59⅔ innings.

The 6’6″ 25-year-old was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2011 Draft from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He spent two seasons in Auburn, posting an unimpressive ERA of 5.40 and a subpar WHIP of 1.518 in 2011 before lowering those numbers to 2.78 and 1.169 in 2012, which earned him a brief look-see last in Hagerstown last August (0-1, 12.00, 3IP in 2G).

Henke’s calling card, in addition to the surname he shares with his uncle, former Toronto Blue Jays reliever Tom, has been a decent walk rate of 2.6 per nine innings that he’s sustained throughout his professional career. He’ll be expected to help shore up a badly overworked Potomac bullpen.

A corresponding move to make room on the Potomac roster has not yet been announced.
UPDATE: RHP Cameron Selik has been placed on the 7-Day DL for Potomac, clearing a space for Henke on the roster.

Aug 022013
 

Moving On Up for NPPThe Potomac Nationals announced today that OF Billy Burns has been promoted to Harrisburg. Taking his place on the P-Nats roster is OF Brandon Miller, who was also promoted from Hagerstown.

Burns becomes the ninth P-Nat to get the bump this season, but just the second position player. He’s currently riding a 24-game hit streak, which has been aided by a recent propensity to get hit by pitches as he’s twice left the game without an official at-bat, which is one of the exceptions of the hitting-streak rule (10.24b).

For the season, Burns is hitting .308/.417/.387 with 51 stolen bases and 68 runs scored, which is first and tied for second respectively in the Carolina League. Burns was drafted in the 32nd round of the 2011 First Year Player draft out of Mercer University (Georgia) and has played the past two seasons at Auburn and Hagerstown.

Most notably, Burns resumed switch-hitting last season after abandoning it in college, a rather odd decision for an undersized outfielder (listed very, very generously at 5’9″) whose primary weapon is his speed. In the past few weeks, he’s been spotted trying to reduce his reliance on small-ball in favor of turning gap hits into doubles and triples, which he’s obviously had some success doing (five 2B three 3B in July).

Brandon Miller will take his place in Woodbridge, but will presumably continue to play right field where he can leverage his throwing arm as some 14 Sally League runners have walked off the field when trying to take the extra base against the former catcher. Miller has led the Suns all year long in HRs (18), RBIs (72), and strikeouts (135), totals that currently place him tied for fourth, second and tied for second in the Sally League batting leaderboard.

Replacing Miller on the Suns roster is utilityman Wes Schill, who was activated from the Hagerstown DL (placed on it eight days ago). Likewise, Brian Goodwin, who had missed the previous three games with a “stomach ailment” per Dave Sottile of PennLive.com was placed on the 7-Day DL to make room for Burns in Harrisburg.

Jul 232013
 

Moving On Up for NPPThe Potomac Nationals announced today that RHP A.J. Cole has been promoted to Harrisburg.

Also “movin’ on up” is RHP Richie Mirowski, while slidin’ on down is RHP Paul Demny, per the team release.

Cole becomes the third starting pitcher to make the jump this season, following Robbie Ray earlier this month, Taylor Hill last month, and Jordan Taylor in May — movement not seen since 2008 when Adrian Alaniz, Jordan Zimmermann, and Craig Stammen were all promoted during the season’s first half.

Unlike Ray, Hill, or Taylor, Cole’s success has been much more sporadic, which one would expect with “stuff” that’s electric but inconsistent. There’s not much doubt the 21-y.o. can bring the heat — reports of mid-90s readings have been personally spotted on radar guns — but the secondary pitches have been far behind. The feeling here is that the organization now wants him under the tutelage of Paul Menhart, who’s considered one of the best teachers of the changeup in the system.

Mirowski has suffered from bouts with the long ball (6 in 48IP) but has led the team in appearances (32) and wins (8) and posted strong peripherals (2.1 BB/9, 11.1 K/9, 6.0 H/9) in addition to pitcher’s triple-slash of 1.50 ERA / 3.05 FIP / 0.90 WHIP. He’ll be joining the Eastern LEague’s best pitching staff, one that’s already been fortified with a former Potomac pitcher, Matt Grace.

Demny continues a tradition of sorts in which a AA pitcher is dropped down in July, which began with Erik Davis in 2011 and continued last summer with Rob Gilliam. The redheaded Texan has been workhorse for most of his career (23+ starts annually from 2009-2012) with the Nationals, but has been relegated to the bullpen twice now in two seasons with the Senators and recently spent time on the disabled list.

It’s not immediately clear if Demny will start for Potomac, especially with the P-Nats roster down a man and corresponding moves above and/or below Potomac have not yet been announced.

As always, if those moves made today, this space will be updated.

UPDATE: No word from Potomac yet on who will fill the empty slot in either the roster or rotation, but the Senators have announced that Blake Treinen has been placed on the DL. Perhaps not coincidentally, Treinen last pitched on Saturday, the same day as Cole. Treinen is still officially listed as the starter for Thursday’s game in Portland. Thus, the logical deduction is that Cole will most likely make his AA debut on Thursday.

Jul 042013
 

Moving On Up for NPP
The Potomac Nationals announced today that LHP Robbie Ray has been promoted to the Harrisburg Senators.

This is a bit of surprise, given the hammering (7HR, .245OBA) he took in June (vs 2HR, .184OBA in April/May) but apparently the powers that be are satisfied that he has made enough progress to be challenged with the next level.

Indeed, compared to the pitcher he was a year ago (especially in the second half, when he would get hit early, often, and hard), the 21-year-old southpaw has improved by leaps and bounds, getting more ground balls overall and converting more of the long counts (which are still a little too frequent to not glaze over) into strikeouts.

For the season, Ray is 6-3 with a 3.11 ERA, 3.82 FIP, and a WHIP of 1.20 with 100 strikeouts and 41 walks in 84 innings. That’s 4.39 BB/9 and 10.71 K/9. The walk rate is actually a career high, while the home run rate is only down slightly (0.96 vs. 1.19).

While not officially confirmed yet by the Senators PR folks, it would appear that Ray is the “TBA” listed in yesterday’s media notes for the probable pitcher of first game in tomorrow’s doubleheader in Harrisburg.

Jul 012013
 

Moving On Up for NPP
The Hagerstown Suns have announced that LHP Matt Purke has been promoted to the Potomac Nationals.

It’s been a long, long, long time coming for the 22-year-old southpaw who was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 First Year Player Draft despite shoulder woes that inevitably led to his having surgery last offseason after making just three starts in 2012.

The past two seasons he’s made limited appearances in spring training and held back from joining a full-season minor-league team until mid-to-late May. Pitch counts limited his appearances in the early going in 2013, but have apparently increased of late as he’s been able to go five and six innings, respectively, in his last two starts.

For the season, he’s 1-1 with a pitcher’s line (ERA/FIP/WHIP) of 2.48/2.54/1.10 in his six starts with 7 walks and 41 strikeouts, which average per nine innings at 2.17 and 12.72 respectively.

With the recent spate of rainouts, as well as the promotion of Taylor Hill last week, it’s unclear when Purke will make his High-A debut. He last pitched on Friday, which with ordinary rest would have him pitching on Wednesday or Thursday.

Jun 182013
 

Moving On Up for NPP
The Harrisburg Senators have announced that RHP Caleb Clay has been promoted to the Syracuse Chiefs.

Clay, who was signed during the offseason as a minor-league free agent, was 6-3 with a pitcher’s line (ERA/FIP/WHIP) of 3.46/3.62/1.08 over 13 starts. He logged 75⅓ innings, averaging nearly 6 innings per start. He walked just 17 batters (2.03/9IP) and struck out 59 (7.05).

On June 1st, Clay tossed the first nine-inning shutout for the Harrisburg Senators since 2005. The three-hit gem earned him Pitcher of the Week Honors for the Eastern League for the period of May 27 to June 2.

The 25-year-old was originally drafted by Boston as a 1st Rounder (44th overall) in 2006, but saw his ascent up the Red Sox ladder stunted by TJ surgery in 2007. He made it up to High-A Salem in 2010 before shifting to the bullpen for AA Portland for the majority of 2011 and 2012.

He’ll most likely make his AAA debut against Charlotte tomorrow afternoon.

Aug 142012
 

It was first whispered on Twitter, then mentioned here in the comments, and now it’s been confirmed by the likes of MASN’s Byron Kerr — Anthony Rendon has been promoted from Potomac to Harrisburg.

One has to wonder if there is a timeline for Rendon that’s divorced from the usual developmental path. In other words, he was only going to be in Potomac for the month of April anyway and may have even been a three-level guy this year. The promotions of Bryce Harper and Brian Goodwin also lend credence to the theory that the usual rule of a level per year below AA doesn’t apply to certain guys.

No sense in me parroting Rendon’s bona fides or brief prospect history; Kerr does a fine job here. I liked what I saw over the four (4) games I got to see him, both offensively and defensively. And clearly the folks that know better (or have the power other than this virtual press) appear to agree.

Meanwhile, the champing at the bit for Matt Skole to join the P-Nats resumes. Perhaps today will be a good day all around for prospect watchers if indeed the Hagerstown third baseman is promoted to take Rendon’s place on the Potomac roster. The corresponding move to make room for Rendon in Harrisburg has not yet been announced. When it is, look for this space to be updated.

UPDATE #1
We still don’t know the corresponding move for Harrisburg yet, but as SpringfieldFan notes, the Senators have been carrying three catchers and it’s been the pattern to plug & play the backstops all season long. We do, however, know that 3B Matt Skole has been freed from Hagerstown and will replace Rendon on the Potomac roster. Replacing Skole for the Suns will be IF Khayyan Norfork from Auburn.

UPDATE #2
Longtime Nationals farmhand Devin Ivany was released to make room for Rendon on the Harrisburg Senators 25-man roster.

Aug 032012
 

The estimable Bill “The Rocket” Ladson is reporting that IF Zach Walters has been promoted from Harrisburg to Syracuse, which has been confirmed by MASN’s Byron Kerr.

The corresponding move appears to be the reassignment of longtime National farmhand Seth Bynum from Syracuse to Harrisburg, though OF Jesus Valdez has also been placed on the temporary inactive list, a move that appears to be related to the expected up-and-back for LHP John Lannan.
Walters was acquired at the 2011 trading deadline for RHP Jason Marquis and finished the season at High-A Potomac, which was essentially a promotion as he had spent the beginning of the 2011 season with Low-A South Bend.

Walters was a late addition to Washington’s 2011 Arizona Fall League team, ostensibly going in place of Anthony Rendon, but racked up a line of just .205/.253/.301 and made six errors. He began 2012, as predicted, at Potomac but slowly before heating up in mid-May and earning a promotion to Harrisburg in mid-June.

Walters has been touted as a potential backup to current middle infielders Danny Espinosa and Steve Lombardozzi, but make no mistake: It’s his bat, not his glove that has gotten him from High-A to AAA thus far, as the errors have continue to pile up since the AFL (30 in his last 100 games). Walters can switch-hit, but he’s stronger as LHB than a RHB and has played at second base and third base as well as shortstop.