Jul 172012
 

A leadoff walk, a stolen base, and three singles and things were looking bleak for the pitcher in the first. Then, a grand slam. In the space of just a few minutes, it’s a 5-0 deficit.

Rolling your eyes, are you? This happened in the bottom of the first.

Highlighted by Michael Taylor’s first home run of the season (the grand slam), the Potomac Nationals started strong with a five-run first and cruised to a 14-0 pummeling of the Lynchburg Hillcats.

Of course, it was a baker’s dozen more runs that Nathan Karns needed as the 24-year-old continues to roll through the Carolina League, lowering his ERA to 2.12 with six shutout innings, one hit and two walks allowed, and six strikeouts.

Karns has yet to be tested against the class of the Carolina League (Winston-Salem), but as P-Nats play-by-play man Tim Swartz tweeted last night, Karns is making the case to be the best prospect in the system at this moment. His last six starts: 40IP, 19H, 10BB, 50K, and a 0.75ERA. As written previously, the twin trends of reduced walks and increased (and improved) use of his breaking pitches have been the keys to this string of success.

Potomac did lose steam after the grand slam, but credit should go to Lynchburg’s pitcher Aaron Northcraft for bearing down. The Hillcat righty retired 15 of 16 batters before Jason Martinson’s single to right opened up a three-run rally in the 6th, as Taylor ripped a double down the left field line to send the shortstop to third and Stephen King plated the two with a single up the middle against the drawn-in infield.

The 7th inning also started slowly, with the Lynchburg left fielder muffing a Ricky Hague flyball. After Xavier Nady grounded to short to complete his 0-for-4 night, David Freitas drew a walk, Martinson sliced a liner to right for a triple to drive in Hague and Freitas. Following a walk to Taylor, a King RBI single, Kevin Keyes completing the scoring binge by putting a coat on hanger by Hillcat reliever Caleb Brewer for his team-leading 13th homer and RBI nos. 48, 49, and 50.

With the outcome of the game certain, Karns was lifted and the Potomac ‘pen given a chance to get some work done. Joe Testa delivered a 1-2-3 frame in the 7th while Adam Carr finished the game with just a walk allowed over the final two innings to complete the shutout, the fourth of the season for Potomac.

The win pulls the P-Nats to within two games of the ‘Cats for first place in the Carolina League Nothh, though they still inhabit the cellar of the four-team division. Veteran Adam Olbrychowski (4-7, 5.54) gets the start tonight, opposed by Lynchburg southpaw Dimasther Delgado (5-4, 3.62).

Jul 062012
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 44-43, 4th place I.L. North, 7 games behind

Good Jim Negrych .514/.575/.657 in last 10G
Bad Atahualpa Severino 5.9BB/9IP (22 in 33⅓ IP)
Interesting Pat Lehman 1-0, 2.03ERA in last 10 appearances

HARRISBURG SENATORS 45-40, 2nd place E.L. West, 4½ games behind

Good Hector Nelo 5SV, 1.54ERA in last 10 appearances
Bad Tim Pahuta .205/.295/.282 last 10G
Interesting Erik Davis 2-0, 1.77ERA since June 1 (20⅓ IP)

POTOMAC NATIONALS 7-8, T2nd place C.L. North Division, 2 games behind (38-47, overall)

Good Ricky Hague .415/.467/.707 in last 10G
Bad Rob Wort 0-2, 2BS, 14.72ERA, 3.00WHIP in last 3 appearances
Interesting Nathan Karns 39K in last 4 starts (12.84 K/9 over 27⅓ IP)

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 9-6, T2nd place Sally League North Divison, 2 games behind (51-33 overall)

Good Matt Skole 20HR, 71RBI, 75BB — Sally League leader in each category
Bad Bobby Lucas 6.53ERA, 1.69WHIP
Interesting Christian Meza 4-1, 2.95ERA, 1.14WHIP in 22 appearances (2 starts)

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 12-5, 1st place Pinckney Division, N.Y.-Penn League, 2½ games ahead

Good Pedro Encarnacion 2-0, 0.55ERA, 0.98WHIP
Bad Wes Schill .192/.267/.269 in 11G
Interesting Stephen Perez .482SLG, 6E in 15G

GCL NATIONALS 5-11, 4th Place GCL East, 7 games behind

Good Tony Nix .313/.313/.469 in 10G
Bad Adalberto Mieses 0-2, 6.79ERA, 1.79WHIP
Interesting Daury Vasquez 1.23WHIP, 15K, 8BB, 2HBP in 13IP (three starts)

DSL NATIONALS 15-14, T5th Place Boca Chica South Division, 5 games behind

Good 20-y.o. Wander Suero 4-1, 3.09ERA, 1.19WHIP
Bad 18-y.o. Miguel Acevedo 6.75ERA, 1.90WHIP
Interesting 17 y.o. Thomas Alvarez .273/.500/.636 in 7G
Jun 242012
 

Folks are champing at the bit for the next wave to come to Potomac. This afternoon, Nathan Karns may have just reminded folks to appreciate what has come here so far.

The 24-year-old allowed just five baserunners over eight innings, racking up 11 strikeouts — career highs in both categories — as the Potomac Nationals pounded the Wilmington Blue Rocks, 7-1.

This was Karns’s fourth start since his promotion from Hagerstown on June 4 and the progression has rather quick all things considered: from seven runs over one and 2/3rds innings to two runs over four and 2/3rds to six and 2/3rds shutout innings to one run over eight innings today. Is his next start going to be a complete-game shutout? Probably not, but he’s shown enough that it might not be too optimistic to expect another quality start.

That’s because Karns showed that he can do what good pitchers do: make in-game adjustments. After weathering two walks and what was ruled an infield single in the 2nd, Karns bore down and got the groundouts he needed to turn what could have been a big inning into just a single run.

Then he found his groove.

After getting out of the second with minimal damage, Karns retired the side in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings, striking out five out nine and 11 straight overall before giving up a long double to center. He then retired another eight in a row before issuing a two-out walk (his third) in the 8th.

Everyone wants to know how hard a given pitcher is throwing, but from my perch, the improvement I’m seeing from Karns is that he’s gotten more separation from the heat to his breaking stuff, especially his changeup. Seemed like at least half the Ks came on batters that were WAY AHEAD of his offering.

Offensively, Potomac did its best imitation of Winston-Salem by scoring in each of the first four innings, highlighted Kevin Keyes’s opposite-field blast in the second that turned a 2-1 game into a 4-1 game. Like two nights before, there’s some reason to be concerned as the P-Nats left 12 on and went just 3-for-16 with RISP, but perhaps that’s just nitpicking.

With the win, Potomac improves to 3-1 in the second half. Game two of the four-game series will feature Adam Olbrychowski (2-6, 5.47) versus Yordano Ventura (3-5, 3.10) tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m.

Jun 182012
 

A pair of Nationals pitchers were named Pitcher of the Week for the week of June 11-17, as Alex Meyer won it for the South Atlantic League and Nathan Karns garnered the honor for the Carolina League.

Alex MeyerMeyer threw a rain-shortened six-inning shutout last Tuesday, giving up just two hits and a walk while setting down five on strikes. Yesterday, he whiffed a career-high nine batters but got the no-decision in the Suns’ 5-3 loss to the Power. The 22-year-old is 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA over 14 starts thus for Hagerstown.

Karns pitched just once during the timeframe, throwing six and 2/3rds scoreless innings last Friday in a 3-0 Potomac shutout of Myrtle Beach. He allowed just four hits and walked two while striking out 10, the second time he’s done that this season (May 26). The 24-year-old is 4-2 with two saves and a 2.51 ERA over 14 appearances (eight starts) for Hagerstown and Potomac.

Jun 012012
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 25-28, 5th place I.L. North, 8 games behind

Good Zach Duke 5-1, 3.08 ERA, 1.24 WHIP in May
Bad Seth Bynum .189/.241/.297 in May
Interesting Pat Lehman 0.00ERA, 0.75WHIP in May

HARRISBURG SENATORS 28-25, 2nd place E.L. West, 5 games behind

Good Jose Lozada .313/.378/.448 in May
Bad Ryan Tatusko 7.80 ERA, 1.87 WHIP
Interesting Eury Perez 13SBs in last 14 attempts

POTOMAC NATIONALS 21-29, 3rd place C.L. North Division, 6½ games behind

Good Cameron Selik 26K in last 12 appearances (1-0, 7SV)
Bad Blake Kelso .146/.186/.146 in last 10G
Interesting Top 9 Batters by AB at Home .269BA, .419SLG
Top 9 Batters by AB on Road .172BA, .276SLG

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 31-22, 2nd place Sally League North Divison, 7½ games behind

Good Nathan Karns 61K in 44⅓ IP
Bad Hendry Jimenez .162/.238/.189 in May
Interesting Jason Martinson 52RBI (2nd in SAL), 37BB (3rd), 68K (1st)
May 112012
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 13-21, 6th place I.L. North, 8½ games behind

Good Mark Teahen .351/.405/.459 in May
Bad Rafael Martin 8.78ERA, 1.725 WHIP
Interesting Zach Duke 2-0, 1.80 ERA in last 3 starts

HARRISBURG SENATORS 17-16, 2nd place E.L. West, 6 games behind

Good 262 team pitching Ks leads E.L.
Bad .310 Team OBP is 11th in 12-team E.L.
Interesting Jesus Valdez .788 OPS last 10G

POTOMAC NATIONALS 13-17, 2nd place C.L. North Division, 4½ games behind

Good Adrian Sanchez .391/.404/.478 vs. RHPs as a RHB; 10-game hit streak
Bad Zach Walters 7E in 12G at SS
Interesting Trevor Holder 1.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP in last 3 appearances (9IP)

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 17-14, 3rd place Sally League North Divison, 5½ games behind

Good Nathan Karns 1.88 ERA, 15.4K/9IP (41/24)
Bad Matt Skole 11E in 29G at 3B
Interesting J.P. Ramirez .459/.474/.541 in last 10G
Apr 272012
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 7-13, 6th place I.L. North, 7½ games behind

Good Bryce Harper .290/.421/.419 in last 10G
Bad Bryce Harper vs. LHPs .190/.261/.238
Interesting Erik Arnesen 0.64ERA, 0.93WHIP in 14IP

HARRISBURG SENATORS 13-7, 1st place E.L. West, ½ game ahead

Good Chris Rahl .339/.379/.629, 7SB in 19G
Bad Kevin Pucetas 2.21WHIP, 5.68ERA in 5 appearances
Interesting Jeff Mandel 1.09ERA, 1.05 WHIP in 4 starts

POTOMAC NATIONALS 6-11, 4th place C.L. North Division, 3½ games behind

Good Rob Wort 14K in 8⅔ IP over 6 appearances
Bad Starting Pitchers: 1.78WHIP, 6.59ERA, 12HBP, 11HR in 83⅓ IP
Interesting Blake Kelso 8SB, 0CS in 16G

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 10-9, 4th place Sally League North Divison, 3½ games behind

Good Nathan Karns 1.93ERA, 1.21WHIP, 19K in 14IP
Bad Justin Miller .172/.194/.219, 20K in 17G
Interesting 30 for 35 SB attempts as a team (85.7% leads Sally League; total is 3rd)
Aug 192011
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 55-67, 4th place I.L. North, 14½ games behind

Good Steve Lombardozzi .322/.365/.441
Bad Atahualpa Severino 20BB in 26⅔ IP
Interesting J.D. Martin 2.90 ERA, 1HR in 31 IP as reliever; 4.71, 15 in 63 IP as a starter

HARRISBURG SENATORS 70-54, 1st place E.L. West, 2 games ahead

Good Danny Rosenbaum 2-0, 1.40 ERA in first three AA starts
Bad Stephen King .167 BA in August
Interesting Tim Pahuta .302/.318/.442 in August

POTOMAC NATIONALS 28-25, 2nd place C.L. North Division, 5 games behind (57-65 overall)

Good Marcos Frias 1.73 ERA, 0.92 WHIP since All-Star Break (18 appearances)
Bad Zach Walters .196/.233/.232, 2E in 15G
Interesting Adam Olbrychowski 5.63 ERA as a reliever, 3.88 as a starter

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 29-23, 2nd place Sally League North Divison, 2 games behind (69-53 overall)

Good Matt Swynenberg 2-0, 1.74 ERA, 0.97 WHIP in August
Bad Justino Cuevas .179/.265/.321 since return from GCL
Interesting Ryan Demmin 2.20 ERA, 1.07 WHIP since callup from Auburn

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 34-23, 1st place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, ½ game ahead

Good Hendry Jimenez .487 SLG, 7th best in NYPL
Bad Nathan Karns 1.94 WHIP
Interesting Christian Garcia 17K in 9⅓ IP

GCL NATIONALS 18-30, 4th place GCL East, 18 games behind (Eliminated)

Good Bobby Lucas 1.69 ERA in 21⅓ IP over 11G
Bad Deion Williams .163/.210/.163 in 98AB
Interesting Silvio Medina 36K to 9BB in 32⅓ IP

DSL NATIONALS 32-35, 6th place, Boca Chica South Division, 12½ games behind (Eliminated)

Good Adderling Ruiz (20 y.o.) .350/.427/.485
Bad Felix Moscat (20 y.o.) 0-3, 12.79 ERA in August
Interesting Diomedes Eusebio (18 y.o.) 6HR, 21E in 57G
Jul 012011
 

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

SYRACUSE 33-45, 5th place I.L. North, 12 games behind

Good Ross Detwiler 3-1, 2.45 ERA, 1.06WHIP in June
Bad Jeff Frazier .182/.248/.311 in 68G
Interesting Jesus Valdez .286/.333/.441 in 43G

HARRISBURG 45-32, 1st place E.L. West Division, 4 games ahead

Good Bill Rhinehart .294 GPA, .894OPS
Bad Erik Davis 30BB in 62⅔ IP
Interesting Shairon Martis 5-3, 2.37ERA in last 10 starts

POTOMAC 4-4, T1st place C.L. North Division, 1 game ahead (33-44, overall)

Good Danny Rosenbaum 2-0, 1.63 ERA, 1.08WHIP in June
Bad Eury Perez .243/.254/.288 in June; .333/.337/.409 in May
Interesting Sandy Leon .307/.350/.387 in June; .165/.214/.203 in May

HAGERSTOWN 5-3, T1st place Sally League Northern Division, 1 game ahead (45-33 overall)

Good Kevin Keyes .306, 7HR, 16RBI in June
Bad Ben Graham 2-2, 5.54ERA, 1.69WHIP in June
Interesting Cole Leonida .385OBP in 27G as backup C

AUBURN 8-6, T2nd place, Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 2 games behind

Good Ryan Demmin 3-0, 1.69ERA, 0.94WHIP in three starts
Bad Rick Hughes .154/.195/.231 in 9G
Interesting Hendry Jimenez, Russell Moldenhauer, Matt Skole – each with an 11G hit streak

GCL NATIONALS 5-4, T2nd place, GCL East, ½ game back

Good Nathan Karns 3G – 9┼ IP, 2H, 0R, 3BB, 14K
Bad Pedro Severino .087/.125/.130 in 23AB
Interesting Wander Ramos .314/.415/.714 in 35AB

DSL NATIONALS 12-16, 6th place, Boca Chica South Division of Dominican Summer League, 6½ games behind

Good Gilberto Mendez (Age 18) 2-0, 1.88ERA, 1.25WHIP, 24K in 24IP
Bad Wilman Rodriguez (Age 19) .132/.277/.170 in 53AB
Interesting Ivan Pineyro (Age 19) 38K in 27⅔ IP