Oct 252013
 

By every typical measure but one, the 2013 edition of the Potomac Nationals was the best ever in Woodbridge. They won both halves, rather handily — the first by six games, the second by nine games. They allowed the fewest runs, scored the second-most runs, had second-best defense, stole the most bases, etc.

Unlike last season, they could win away from the Pfitz (in fact, they were the only team in the Carolina League with a winning road record), where they were dominant: a 47-23 mark (.671). While perhaps coincidental, the rain that had plagued the team in 2011 and 2012 stayed away: just three rainouts at home, which helped the P-Nats set a single-season attendance record of 236,772 (3,534 per date), surpassing the previous mark of 220,145 in 1998, according to their PR folks.

And yet they didn’t win the League Championship. Intellectually, we know this shouldn’t matter. The minors aren’t about winning, they’re about development (e.g. 4/5ths of next year’s DC rotation could be homegrown — three of them pitched here on their way up). But emotionally, it does matter: you want to see the guys move up the ladder, but also want to see them win.

So 2013 won’t have the same resonance as 2008 or 2010, but let’s take a look at how they did, starting with how they compared to the rest of the Carolina League…

HITTING AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA* SB
Potomac 4580 680 1200 85 506 1017 .262 .343 .393 .253 217
Lg. Avg. 4631 635 1174 86 491 1026 .254 .332 .380 .244 138

* GPA = Gross Production Average

PITCHING IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
Potomac 1213⅔ 3.70 4.21 1.317 98 448 1057 8.5 3.3 7.8 2.36
Lg. Avg. 1216 3.98 4.54 1.369 86 491 1026 8.7 3.6 7.6 2.09


The P-Nats posted remarkably similar numbers to the Suns, but with (a LOT) more speed and more power. They only led the league in steals but were second in AVG, OBP, SLG, hits and run scored. They were only league average (or thereabouts) in walks, strikeouts, and HRs (a.k.a. the three true outcomes), which in theory should have made them less vulnerable to the offensive outage that ended the season on a sour note (i.e. they proved they could hit and score without an unusual reliance the longball, drawing walks, or avoiding the whiff).

The pitchers led the Carolina League in just about everything except strikeouts (4th) and (curiously) home runs (8th), though unlike the Suns, the usual gap between starters and relievers was evident. The lack of strikeouts may be a bit of surprise, given the presence of Robbie Ray and A.J. Cole, but as we’ll see later on that’s because the P-Nats had several high-contact, low-strikeout pitchers, too (maybe the HR thing isn’t so curious).

Let’s take a closer look at that lineup, beginning with the Top 12 batters in terms of PAs…

Name Age PA Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err GPA ISO
Michael Taylor 22 581 CF/RF 117/4 .986 5 .260 .163
Caleb Ramsey* 24 528 RF/LF/1B/CF 55/44/13/5 .981 5 .248 .095
Kevin Keyes 24 482 1B 117 .987 11 .226 .145
Adrian Sanchez** 22 463 2B/SS/3B 94 .964 18 .200 .058
Adrian Nieto 23 452 C 86 .991 7 .280 .164
Cutter Dykstra 24 446 3B/2B/SS 62/33/8 .951 14 .283 .105
Billy Burns* 23 402 LF/CF 73/18 .994 1 .288 .079
Randolph Oduber 24 355 RF/LF/CF 59/6/4 .979 3 .219 .103
Jason Martinson 24 305 SS 55 .968 7 .289 .216
Justin Miller 24 302 3B/1B/RF/LF 35/30/12/2 .968 10 .249 .148
Francisco Soriano** 26 258 3B/SS/2B/LF/1B/CF 24/23/12/6/2/1 .969 7 .241 .111
Mike Gilmartin 25 232 CF 51 .957 5 .244 .094

(* = 2011 Draft Pick, ** = DSL Graduate)

Excluding the veterans, half of these guys were repeating the level. This is not unusual — it was four last season — but it’s the most in recent memory. Some of the repeats improved significantly (M. Taylor, Martinson) and some actually regressed (Keyes, Oduber). What remains to be seen is whether this is a trend or an anomaly. The case for the former: The Nats have been signing six-year FAs to plug holes in AA and AAA, which seems to indicate an “up or out” mentality; either you’re good enough for AA after a couple of years at High-A or you get released. The case for the latter: common sense, skepticism, or mere conjecture.

What was a pleasure to watch was seeing how this group functioned as a unit on offense. Burns set the table and wreaked havoc, Martinson supplied the requisite power and RBIs. When they were promoted, Dykstra and Taylor seemed to both assume the roles respectively. Even the guys that finished with below-average nos. had their moments (nice way of saying “streak,” no?)

Defensively, this was the best outfield yours truly saw over the last eight seasons — especially the trio/alignment of Burns-Taylor-Oduber. Adrian Sanchez didn’t improve on offense, but did improve on defense — increasing his range and showing an improved arm. Kevin Keyes won’t be mistaken for Andres Galarraga at 1B, but his conversion from the OF was a success.

On to the pitchers, the Top 12 listed by innings pitched…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HR HBP WP
Blake Schwartz^ 23 23/23 11-4, 0 2.65 132⅔ 117 26 80 1.078 8 7 4
A.J. Cole 21 18/18 6-3, 0 4.25 97⅓ 96 23 102 1.223 12 4 6
Taylor Hill* 24 15/14 6-2, 0 2.99 84⅓ 73 11 54 0.996 6 4 4
Robbie Ray 21 16/16 4-3, 1 3.11 84 60 41 100 1.202 9 4 7
Greg Holt 24 42/0 9-0, 1 3.71 70⅓ 67 33 55 1.422 8 5 7
Brian Rauh^ 21 16/12 4-2, 0 4.22 64 69 18 35 1.359 3 0 7
Colin Bates 25 36/0 5-4, 1 2.61 62 58 8 48 1.065 4 6 5
Brian Dupra 24 29/3 1-7, 0 4.96 61⅔ 64 28 44 1.492 7 1 7
Matt Purke* 23 12/13 5-3, 0 4.42 61 67 18 41 1.393 3 4 9
Sammy Solis 24 13/12 2-1, 0 3.43 57⅔ 58 19 40 1.335 3 0 3
Richie Mirowski* 24 32/0 8-3, 6 1.50 48 32 11 59 0.896 6 0 5
David Fischer^ 23 21/0 4-0, 2 4.30 44 29 44 53 1.659 2 5 8

(^ = 2012 Draft Pick, * = 2011 Draft Pick)

It’s not a perfect parallel, but the 2013 starting rotation was very reminiscent of the 2008 edition, which saw just one pitcher make 20+ starts (Ross Detwiler) and a series of guys get promoted to Harrisburg (Jordan Zimmermann, Adrian Alaniz, Craig Stammen, and Jhonny Nunez). Though he didn’t begin in Potomac, Blake Schwartz was the Ross Detwiler and we can only hope that three of the four promoted — Taylor Jordan, Taylor Hill, A.J. Cole, Robbie Ray — also make it to The Show (one down, two to go).

As aforementoned, there were two noticeable weaknesses with the pitching — shaky bullpen and low K rates. Overall, the team converted just 42 of 68 save opportunities (61.7%) though the overall bullpen numbers weren’t bad: 39-24, 3.47 ERA. Just four of the the top 12 pitchers had better than league-average strikeout numbers (Cole, Mirowski, Ray, Fischer). While it certainly helped that few of the low-K guys had high-BB rates, it’s a warning flag because high-contact pitchers need something else besides good control to compensate: luck, great defense, or the tendency to generate plenty o’ groundballs.

For those wondering, Taylor Jordan missed the cut, having pitched 36⅓ innings in six starts before his promotion while Robert Benincasa threw just 30 innings in his 25 appearances (all in the second half).

OBLIGATORY TOP 4 LISTS
It’s time to start getting tougher, especially as we head towards what’s considered the true pinnacle of the minors: Double-A.

Batters
1. Michael Taylor
2. Billy Burns
3. Adrian Nieto
4. Cutter Dykstra
HM: Jason Martinson

Pitchers
1. A.J. Cole
2. Robbie Ray
3. Matt Purke
4. Blake Schwartz
HM: Sammy Solis

Oct 052013
 

Ok, so maybe it’s a little easier to place multiple players in an eight-team league, but that should shouldn’t diminish the distinction of four Potomac Nationals making the Baseball America Top 20 Prospects List — A.J. Cole (#10), Michael Taylor (#12), Robbie Ray (#16), and Billy Burns (#19).

Like last year’s contingent of Suns to get the BA badge of approval, three of the four P-Nats were promoted to the next level, led by the two pitchers, with the older of the two position players going last.

Alright, fine, you’ve probably already skipped ahead to see what the folks in Durham had to say, going from highest to lowest, beginning with #10, A.J. Cole…

Cole can command his fastball to both sides of the plate and the pitch can be explosive coming out of his long, lanky frame. The fastball, however, is the only pitch he throws with any consistency. He’s still inconsistent with a slurvy curveball, though he did begin to show better feel for it by the end of the season. His changeup remains a work in progress. One scout suggested Cole should abandon the curveball for more of a power slider.

This matches up well with what I saw in Woodbridge, but when Cole racked up W’s in three of his first four starts, such naysaying seemed out of place. Not to mention, the similar success shown by Robbie Ray after his promotion.

Taylor began to tap into his power at the plate but still isn’t disciplined enough in his approach to drive balls with regularity. At his best, he has the bat speed to turn on fastballs and the strength to take breaking balls to the opposite field. Yet he is susceptible to chasing fastballs up in the zone and curveballs off the plate. If he makes the necessary adjustments, Taylor has all-star potential. If not, he figures to be a 4th outfielder [like] Justin Maxwell.

Last year, Taylor couldn’t correct either flaw (bolded) and this year the weaknesses would come and go. No doubt he’ll be challenged with AA in ’14, but those are the kind of holes that pitchers can consistently exploit at the next level.

Ray attacks hitters with a 90-94 mph fastball and has the arm strength to add more velocity down the road. His slider grew from more of a slurvy pitch to a power one with good depth that could turn into an above-average offering. He showed feel for a changeup to keep hitters off-balance. Ray still struggles with his command at times and gets in trouble when he leaves pitches up — his nine home runs in just 84 innings were the 11th most in the league.

Quite frankly, had Ray been a righty or a year or two older, I’d have dropped him from the ’13 Watchlist — that’s how bad he looked in ’12. But after making some serious adjustments to recover from that debacle, there’s reason to hope that he can refine his game further in ’14.

Burns excels at working counts and putting the ball in play as a slap-and-dash hitter. He’s more than willing to put the ball on the ground and beat throws to first base. The natural righthanded hitter began switch-hitting in 2012, but he hit a respectable .312/.418/.383 in 266 at-bats from the left side in the CL. One scout suggested that Burns could be more of a line-drive hitter if he incorporated his powerful legs into his swing.

In his last month or so in Woodbridge, Burns certainly did appear to be working on trying to hit balls into the gaps, but with mixed success (a fair amount of weak flyballs). Given that small-ball skills — aside from speed — have fallen out of favor lately, this is Burns’s next challenge to meet if he’s to proceed beyond AA.

Quite a gap between the next BA Top 20 post for which a National may be named — next Thursday for the International League. It looks like they’re saving the Eastern League for last, on the 14th. Next up: perhaps a morning reading post before we begin following the Arizona Fall League.

Sep 112013
 

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 8-2 @ Trenton,
7:05 p.m.
Cole (4-2, 2.18) vs.
Mitchell (0-0, 1.93)
Potomac Lost, 6-4 END OF SEASON N/A
Hagerstown Lost, 6-2 OFF DAY N/A



Trenton 8 Harrisburg 2
• Treinen (L, 0-1) 2⅔ IP, 4H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 3K, WP
• Gilliam 3IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 3K
• Howell 2-2, 2B
• Bloxom 2-4, R, 2B

An early 2-0 Senators lead was erased with a five-run 3rd as the Thunder struck for an 8-2 win in Game One of the Eastern League Championship Series. Blake Treinen took the loss, charged with all five runs on four hits and two walks over two and 2/3rds innings. Matt Swynenberg stranded one in finishing the 3rd but gave up two of his own in the 4th as Trenton scored eight unanswered runs. Harrisburg mustered just six hits and drew three walks, with Justin Bloxom and Jeff Howell combining for four hits and hitting both doubles. The Senators went 1-for-8 with RISP and stranded eight.

Salem 6 Potomac 4
• Solis (L, 0-1) 3⅓ IP, 6H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 4K
• Dupra 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, HBP
• Nieto 2-4, 2B, 3RBI
• Sanchez 2-4, 2B, BB

The P-Nats broke out for playoff highs of four runs and 10 hits, but the Red Sox would not be denied, winning their 11th straight game by a 6-4 count to sweep the 2013 Mills Cup. It’s the first Carolina League Championship for the franchise since 2001. Sammy Solis was the losing pitcher, knocked for five runs on six hits and two walks over three and a 1/3rd innings while striking out four. The Adrians Nieto and Sanchez both went 2-for-4 with a double with Nieto driving in the first three Potomac runs — all with two outs.

Savannah 6 Hagerstown 2
• Voth (L, 1-1) 1⅓ IP, 1H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 0K
• Meza 2⅔ IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 5K, 2-1 IR-S
• McQuillan 3-4, R
• Lippincott 2-4, 3B, 2RBI

Savannah evened the Sally League Championship Series at 1-1 with a 6-2 win over Hagerstown. The Sand Gnats scored three in the 2nd, two in the 5th, and one more in the 8th before the Suns were able to respond with a pair in the last of the 8th. Austin Voth, who left the game with an undisclosed injury (redundant, yes, I know) got the “L” and was dinged for the first three runs on three walks and one hit with no K’s over an inning and a 1/3rd. Mike McQuillan and Bryan Lippincott combined to go 5-for-8 with a run scored (McQuillan) and both RBI (Lippincott). The series resumes on Thursday in Georgia for Games 3 with Kylin Turnbull as the Hagerstown starter.
Roster moves: LHP Jake Walsh added to playoff roster; RHP Pedro Encarnacion removed from it.

Sep 082013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Won, 5-1 OFF DAY N/A
Potomac Lost, 5-3 vs. Salem,
6:05 p.m.
Mooneyham (0-3, 13.50) vs.
Aguilera (9-6, 4.23)
Hagerstown Won, 6-2 OFF DAY N/A



Harrisburg 4 Erie 1
• Ray (W, 1-0) 6⅔ IP, 3H, R, ER, 2BB, 6K
• Mirowski 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Souza 4-4, 2R, 3-2B, 2RBI, 2SB
• Burns 2-5, R, SB

Robbie Ray pitched into the seventh while Steve Souza Jr. racked up seven total bases in a 5-1 win over Erie that breaks the Terry Byrom curse and puts Harrisburg into the Eastern League Championship Series for the first time since 2002. Ray went six and 2/3rds innings, letting in just the lone Seawolves run on three hits and two walks while striking out six. Souza went 4-for-4 with three doubles, two runs scored, and two stolen bases. Harrisburg never trailed, scoring twice in the 1st and once in the 2nd to take a 3-0 lead then added two more in the 7th for the game’s final tally. Next up: Games 1 and 2 in Trenton on Tuesday.

Salem 5 Potomac 3
• Purke (L, 0-1) 5+ IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 4K
• Rauh 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Dykstra 3-5, RBI
• Keyes 2-4

Too little, too late Last Night In Woodbridge.

Hagerstown 6 West Virginia 2
• Turnbull (W, 1-0) 5IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 3K
• Pena (S, 1) 4IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Ballou 4-5, 3R, 2B
• Renda 3-4, R, 2RBI, BB

Hagerstown broke open a one-run game with a three-run 6th that secured a 6-2 win and the first trip to the Sally League Finals for the Suns as Nationals affiliate. Every starter hit safely, led by leadoff man Isaac Ballou, who went 4-for-5 with a double and three runs scored in a 16-hit overload on Power pitching. Kylin Turnbull allowed both West Virginia runs on six hits and two walks to get the win. Ronald Pena finished the game with four scoreless innings of relief, giving up a hit and a walk. The Finals begin tomorrow as the Savannah Sand Gnats visit for Games One and Two on Monday and Tuesday.

Sep 062013
 

Clinch-vs-Lynchburg-9513

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 2-1 (12 inn.) vs. Erie, 7:00 p.m. Karns (10-6, 3.26) vs.
Crouse (9-10, 4.47)
Potomac Won, 3-2 OFF DAY N/A
Hagerstown OFF DAY vs. West Virginia, 7:05 p.m. Encarnacion (10-9, 3.58) vs.
Kuchno (9-5, 4.01)



Erie 2 Harrisburg 1 (12 inn.)
• Hill 6IP, 5H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 2K, HBP
• Grace 2⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K
• Swynenberg (L, 0-1) 1⅔ IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, K
• Goodwin 3-5, OF assist at 3B
• Howell 0-3, SF, RBI

Back-to-back two-out singles plus an error plated the gamewinner in the 12th as the Seawolves edged the Senators, 2-1 to tie up the ELDS at 1-1. Matt Swynenberg took the loss, giving up three hits total over an inning and 2/3rds. Starter Taylor Hill went the first six, allowing an unearned run on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Both Erie runs were unearned, however the home team outhit the visitors 10-5. Brian Goodwin went 3-for-5 but the sole Harrisburg run scored in the 8th, as Sean Nicol led off with a double then took third on a wild pitch and came home a Jeff Howell sacrifice fly.
Roster moves: C Brian Jeroloman placed on the DL; C Cole Leonida reassigned from Potomac.

Potomac 3 Lynchburg 2
• Schwartz 8IP, 8H, 2R, 1ER, 0BB, 5K
• Holt (W, 1-0) 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Keyes 2-5, R, 2-2B
• Piwnica-Worms 1-3, R, BB, RBI

Blake Schwartz accepted the challenge, while the “new guy” delivered the walkoff Last Night In Woodbridge.

Hagerstown — OFF DAY
Pedro Encarnacion, Hagerstown’s leader in innings pitched, gets the start against West Virginia, which sends its workhorse John Kuchno. The Suns lead the best-of-three series 1-0 and will host the deciding game tomorrow night… if they don’t clinch tonight.

Sep 052013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Won, 5-4 @ Erie, 6:35 p.m. Hill (2-7, 2.71) vs.
Saupold (7-6, 3.28)
Potomac Won, 2-1 (14 inn.) vs. Lynchburg, 7:05 p.m. Schwartz (11-4, 2.65) vs.
Hinson (4-4, 2.48)
Hagerstown Won, 6-1 @ West Virginia, 7:05 p.m. Encarnacion (10-9, 3.58) vs.
Kuchno (9-5, 4.01)
Auburn Lost, 2-0 END OF SEASON N/A



Harrisburg 5 Erie 4
• Cole 6IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 4K, HR
• Mirowkski (W, 1-0) 2IP, 1H, R, ER, 0BB, 2K
• Herron (SV, 1) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Head 2-5, 2B, RBI
• Hague 2-5

Steven Souza only had one hit last night, but it cleared the fence for a 5-4 Harrisburg win over Erie in Game One of the E.L. West Divisonal series. It was the third big fly of the night, as Justin Bloxom went deep for two in the top of the 1st and Seawolves TomTyler Collins mixed up an A.J. Cole pitch for three runs in bottom of the 1st. That would be all the 21-y.o. would allow, as he finished with six innings pitched, seven hits and one walk allowed, and four strikeouts. Richie Mirowski got the win in relief, giving up a run on a controversial play at the plate that saw Erie score its fourth run and C Brian Jeroloman removed from the game. Tyler Herron struck out the side in the 9th to nail down the game and earn the save. Geoff Morrow of the Patriot-News reports via manager Matt LeCroy that Jeroloman was taken to the hospital with a gash under his chin, which may make the backtop unavailable for Game Two, if not the rest of the series.

Potomac 2 Lynchburg 1 (14 inn.)
• Solis 5IP, 3H, R, ER, BB, 5K
• Dupra (W, 1-0) 2IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Oduber 3-5, 2B, BB, RBI
• Soriano 2-5, BB

It was the longest game of the year, both by time and innings Last Night In Woodbridge.
Roster moves: OF Caleb Ramsey placed on temporary inactive list; OF Will Piwinica-Worms reassigned from Hagerstown; RHP Christian Garcia added to roster for MLB rehab.

Hagerstown 6 West Virginia 1
• Voth (W, 1-0) 5IP, 3H, 0R, 2BB, 5K
• Pena 1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K, 2-0 IR-S
• Severino 2-3, 2R, BB
• Perez 2-4, R, SB

“Help Me” might have been what West Virginia pitcher Tyle Glasnow was thinking after issuing two hits and two walks to the first five batters of the 3rd, but Wander Ramos did not comply, smacking a two-run double to complete a four-run inning for Hagerstown. The Suns went on to a 6-1 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. Austin Voth pitched five shutout frames, walking two and letting up three hits while fanning five. Ian Dickson walked five in his his two and 1/3rd innings of work, giving up the Power run, but escaped major damage with the help of Ronald Pena, who stranded two in the 8th and pitched a scoreless 9th to preserve the win. The series shifts to Hagerstown for Game Two on Friday, the Suns having two chances to win once to make it to the Sally League Championship Finals. Roster moves: RHP Jake Johansen removed from the roster; LHP Jake Walsh reassigned from the GCL; 1B Bryan Lippincott reassigned from Auburn

Mahoning Valley 2 Auburn 0
• Pivetta 5IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 7K
• Selsor (L, 0-6) 1IP, 2H, 2R, ER, BB, 0K, HR
• W. Rodriguez 2-5, 2B
• Ramirez 2-4, 2B

The Scrappers struck for two in the 6th for the game’s only scoring as the Doubledays fell in their season finale, 2-0. Casey Selsor took the loss, giving up both Mahoning Valley Runs on two hits, including a solo HR in one inning of relief. Nick Pivetta tossed five scoreless innings in his final start, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out seven. Wilman Rodriguez and Andruth Ramirez both singled and doubled as Auburn racked up eight hits in the loss. The Doubledays finished the season as the NYPL’s worst at 26-49.

Sep 042013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg OFF DAY @ Erie, 6:35 p.m. Cole (4-2, 2.18) vs. TBD
Potomac OFF DAY vs. Lynchburg, 7:05 p.m. Solis (2-1, 3.43) vs.
Ross (9-6, 3.27)
Hagerstown OFF DAY @ West Virginia, 7:05 p.m. Voth (1-0, 3.38) vs.
Glasnow (9-3, 2.18)
Auburn Lost, 2-0; Won, 3-1 vs. Mahoning Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Pivetta (0-1, 4.41) vs.
Hamrick (2-6, 3.42)



Harrisburg at Erie — Game One, Eastern League Divisional Series (Best-of-Five)
The Senators and Seawolves split their last two regular-season series in July and August, which is only fitting for the second-best road team (Harrisburg) vs. the second-best home team (Erie). Pitching has carried Harrisburg all season long, though the Sens have scored five or more runs six times in the last 10 games. A.J. Cole is the Game One starter and has faced Erie just once, losing a 4-1 decision on August 22 at Metro Bank Park. Erie has yet to announce its starters.

Lynchburg at Potomac — Game One, Carolina League Divisional Series (Best-of-Three)
On paper, this should be a warmup to the Finals. Potomac took six of eight games in their last two series and have dominated at home (47-23). If, however, the Hillcats can knock a P-Nats starter from the box, they’ll be getting into a bullpen that’s been worked hard (and hit hard) the past week. Best hope: Brian Rauh follows Sammy Solis tonight and finishes the game in a Potomac win, giving the other relievers another day of rest and Lynchburg the task of having to beat staff ace Blake Schwartz to avoid elimination tomorrow.

Hagerstown at West Virginia — Game One, Sally League Divisional Series (Best-of-Three)
The Power enter the first round on an 8-2 run and winners of the last four straight. The Suns have lost six of the last ten, including the last three in a row. Austin Voth gets the start for Hagerstown, just his third since being promoted from Auburn in late August. His previous two outings were against cellar-dwelling Lakewood. He’ll be opposed by Tyler Glasnow, West Virginia’s top pitcher. The Suns beat Glasnow in July, but the 20-y.o. pitched well in two earlier outings in June and April.

Mahoning Valley 2 Auburn 0 — GAME ONE
• Young 3IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Garcia 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Bafidis (L, 2-1) 2IP, 4H, 2R, 1ER, BB, K
• W. Rodriguez 1-3

Wilman Rodriguez singled to lead off the bottom of the 7th, spoiling a perfect game bid by Mahoning Valley’s Cole Sulser. Alas, it was the sole Auburn hit in a 2-0 shutout by the Scrappers. Rehabbers Chris Young and Christian Garcia combined for four scoreless innings an five strikeouts. Cory Bafidis took the loss, giving up both Mahoning Valley runs on four hits in the 5th and 6th innings.

Auburn 3 Mahoning Valley 1 — GAME TWO
• Giolito 4IP, 3H, R, ER, 3BB, 5K, HR
• Mudron (W, 1-3) 1IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Hollins (SV, 6) 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• W. Rodriguez 1-3, 2RBI
• Masters 1-1, R, BB, RBI

Lucas Giolito gave up a solo HR in his 4th and final inning, falling short of the requisite five innings to get the “W” as the Doubledays won 3-1 to, um, salvage the doubleheader versus the Scrappers. The 19-y.o. walked three and struck out five while allowing three hits total in his final start of the season. Auburn struck for all three runs in the 2nd on a one-run single by David Masters and a two-run safety by Wilman Rodriguez. Mike Mudron got the win in relief while L.J. Hollins closed out the game for his sixth save.

Sep 032013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-2 END OF SEASON N/A
Harrisburg Won, 1-0 END OF SEASON N/A
Potomac Lost, 7-6; Lost, 16-5 END OF SEASON N/A
Hagerstown Lost, 4-3 END OF SEASON N/A
Auburn Postponed vs. Mahoning Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Selsor (0-5, 4.17) and Giolito (1-0, 0.00) vs.
Sulser (2-2, 2.06) and Mathews (0-2, 2.80)



Buffalo 4 Syracuse 2
• Rosenbaum (L, 7-11) 7IP, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 6K, HR
• Cedeno 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Kobernus 2-4
• Van Ostrand 2-4, RBI

Syracuse fell behind 3-0 after three innings and couldn’t come up with the clutch hit, falling 4-2 to Buffalo in the season finale. Danny Rosenbaum lost for the 11th time, allowing all four Bison runs on nine hits, including a home run. The 25-y.o. southpaw struck out six and walked none. Jeff Kobernus and Jimmy Van Ostrand both went 2-for-4 to lead the Chiefs’ 10-hit attack, which included just one hit in eight chances with RISP.

Harrisburg 1 Richmond 0
• Gilliam 4⅔ IP, 2H, 0R, 4BB, 6K
• Mirowski (W, 2-0) 1⅓ IP, 0H, 1K, 3-0 IR-S
• Holland 1IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 0K, HR, 2-2 IR-S
• Howell 3-4, RBI
• Souza 2-4, 2B

The Senators pitching has been its hallmark all season long and it showed in a 1-0 win over Richmond to secure the E.L. West Division title. Starter Rob Gilliam gave up both Squirrel hits over four and 2/3rds and walked four while striking out six. Richie Mirowski, Pat McCoy, Neil Holland, and Tyler Herron combined for four and a 1/3rd no-hit innings of relief, retiring 13 of 14 batters with no walks and six K’s. Jeff Howell plated the lone Harrisburg run with an RBI single in the 6th while going 3-for-4 overall. Harrisburg will travel to Erie for Games 1 & 2 on Wednesday with the remaining games in Harrisburg in the best-of-five playoff series. A.J. Cole, Taylor Hill, and Nathan Karns were announced as the starters for the first three games, respectively.

Frederick 7 Potomac 6 — COMP.
• Demny 5IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 6K
• Martin (BS, 3) 1IP, 1H, 2R, 1ER, 2BB, K
• Rauh (BS, 2; L, 4-2) 2IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, K, HR
• Ramsey 3-5, 2R, 2B
• Taylor 2-3, R, 2BB, 2SB (49, 50)
• Keyes 2-5 2RBI

The P-Nats couldn’t hold the 4-3 lead they took on Sunday night, giving up two in the bottom of the 6th and 7th innings as they fell in the completion, 7-6. Neither Rafael Martin nor Brian Rauh could hold a one-run lead, “earning” blown saves for both with Rauh taking the loss. Starter Paul Demny had gone five innings with three runs allowed on four hits and three walks with six strikeouts. Michael Taylor singled twice, walked twice, and swiped two bases to lead the Potomac offense.

Frederick 16 Potomac 5 — GAME TWO
• Mooneyham (L, 0-3) 3⅓ IP, 8H, 8R, 8ER, 4BB, 2K, HR
• Dupra 3IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 4K
• Miller 2-4, R, 2B, RBI
• Taylor 2-4, 2-2B, SB
• Dykstra 2-3, 2B

Brett Mooneyham got rocked for the third time in three starts since his promotion from Hagerstown, as Potomac fell 16-5 in the second game. The Keys struck for four in the 1st and seven in the 4th to knock out Mooneyham, who was charged with eight runs on eight hits and four walks over three and a 1/3rd innings. Middle relievers Colin Bates and Greg Holt were also touched for eight runs combined. The P-Nats registered 11 hits and five doubles in the loss. Like the Sens, the P-Nats also announced their playoff rotation, with Sammy Solis taking the hill on Wednesday, Blake Schwartz on Thursday, and Matt Purke (if necessary) on Friday. As a double-half winner, Potomac will host the entire first round of the divisional series.

Kannapolis 4 Hagerstown 3 (10 inn.)
• Turnbull 5IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Bacus (H, 1) 2⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Meza (L, 3-1) ⅔ IP, H, R, ER, 0BB, 0K, HR
• Ramos 2-5, 2B
• McQuillan 2-5, R, 2B, RBI

Jacob May’s solo shot off Christian Meza with two outs in the 10th completed the Kannapolis comeback victory over Hagerstown, 4-3. The Suns had built a 3-0 lead with single runs in the 2nd, 4th, and 8th innings on an RBI double by Mike McQuillan, and RBI singles by Will Piwinica-Worms and Estarlin Martinez. Kylin Turnbull turned in five scoreless innings of one-hit ball, walking one and fanning three. Bryan Harper got the blown save, letting in the tying runs and failing to retire any of the four batters he faced. Game One of the Sally League Northern Division Series will be tomorrow night in Charleston, WV. Games Two and Three (if necessary) are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Neither the Suns nor the Power have announced robable pitchers thus far.

Auburn vs. Mahoning Valley — PPD
Rain postponed last night’s game to tonight, forcing a doubleheader tonight to cram the final three games into two days.

Sep 022013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 5-4 vs. Buffalo,
2:00 p.m.
Rosenbaum (7-10, 3.81) vs.
Weber (7-5, 2.71)
Harrisburg Lost, 7-3 @ Richmond,
12:05 p.m.
Gilliam (3-6, 4.64) vs.
Gloor (9-7, 3.87)
Potomac Winning, 4-3
(Susp., 6th)
@ Frederick,
12:30 p.m. (Comp. DH)
Mooneyham (0-2, 10.13) vs.
Berry (10-7, 3.82)
Hagerstown Lost, 5-3
(5½ inn.)
@ Kannapolis,
1:05 p.m.
Turnbull (6-5, 3.81) vs.
Bucciferro (3-5, 2.59)
Auburn Won, 10-0 vs. Mahoning Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Selsor (0-5, 4.17) vs.
Sulser (2-2, 2.06)
GCL Nationals Won, 7-2 END OF SEASON N/A



Buffalo 5 Syracuse 4
• Tatusko (L, 5-8) 5IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 4K
• Lowe 2IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 5K
• Brown 2-4, R
• Kobernus 1-2, R, 2BB, 3SB

The Bison scored twice on sacrifice flies in the 5th to take a 4-2 lead and held off the Chiefs for a 5-4 win. Ryan Tatusko took the loss with four runs allowed on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts over five innings. Every Syracuse batter hit safely for a total of 10 hits, with Corey Brown the sole Chief to have multiple safeties. Jeff Kobernus reached base three times on a single and two walks and stole three bases to break the 40-steal mark for the third consecutive season.
Roster moves: LHP Ian Krol, RHP Erik Davis recalled to Washington; C Sam Palace activated from the 7-Day DL.

Richmond 7 Harrisburg 3
• Treinen 5IP, 1H, R, ER, 0BB, 7K, HR
• Grace (L, 6-3) 3BF, 1H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, 0K
• Holland 1IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 0K, HR, 2-2 IR-S
• Souza 2-4, R, HR, 2RBI
• Rivero 1-3, R, HR, RBI

The Squirrels went nuts against the Sens ‘pen in the 6th, scoring five times to break a 1-1 tie as Richmond handed Harrisburg a 7-3 defeat. Matt Grace took the loss, unable to retire any of three three batters he faced while Neil Holland let in both inherited runners and two of his own in the innings. Billy Burns walked and stole two bases and came in on a groundout for the first Harrisburg run while Carlos Rivero and Steve Souza Jr. hit solo shots in the 8th and 9th innings to account for the Harrisburg runs. Blake Treinen pitched five innings of one-hit ball, giving up a leadoff homerun then setting down 15 of the next 16 batters (seven on strikes) but got the no-decision. Erie and Bowie were rained out, thus the Sens’ magic number to clinch the division remains at one.
Roster moves: C Sandy Leon recalled to Washington; C Jeff Howell reassigned from Syracuse

Potomac 4 Frederick 3 — SUSP.
• Demny 5IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 6K

Play was called with the P-Nats leading the Keys 4-3 in the bottom of the 6th. The game will be resumed this afternoon followed by the regularly scheduled, nine-inning game. Roster moves: IF Cutter Dykstra activated from TIL; C Cole Leonida placed on the DL

Kannapolis 5 Hagerstown 3 (5½ inn., rain)
• Encarnacion (L, 10-9) 5IP, 10H, 5R, 4ER, 0BB, 8K
• Norfork 1-3, R, 2B, 2RBI
• Severino 2-2

Rain ended this one after five and a 1/2 with the Intimidators overtaking the Suns with a two-run fourth for a 5-3 win. Kannapolis struck first with three in the bottom of the 2nd while Hagerstown tied it in the 4th on a two-run double by Khayyan Norfork and an error. The Suns got sloppy in the bottom half of the frame, with a dropped third strike with two outs extending the inning and an error on a bunt single to the next batter setting up a two-run single. Pedro Encarnacion gave up all five runs (four earned) on ten hits for his ninth loss. He walked none and struck out eight. Hagerstown had four hits in six “ups” with Pedro Severino collecting two of them while going 2-for-2. The loss combined with a doubleheader sweep by West Virginia gave the Power the second half Sally North division title.

Auburn 10 State College 0
• Orlan 4IP, 1H, 0R, 3BB, 5K
• Cooper (W, 2-1) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K, HBP
• Lippincott 2-3, 2R, 2BB
• Yezzo 2-4, 2R, HR, 3RBI
• Foat 1-5, 2R, HR, 5RBI

Four Auburn pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout while the offense exploded twice for big innings for a 10-0 win. R.C. Orlan turned in four innings of one-hit ball, walking three and striking out five in his final start. Andrew Cooper got the win as the first man out of the ‘pen, retiring six of seven batters faced (hitting the other) with three strikeouts. Bryan Lippincott reached base four times with two singles and two walks to lead the 13-hit attack, which included a three-run shot by James Yezzo in the four-run 4th and a grand slam by Matt Foat in the six-run 8th.

GCL Nationals 7 GCL Red Sox 2
• Suero (W, 1-0) 5IP, 1H, R, ER, 3BB, 7K, HBP
• Sylvestri 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Marmolejos-Diaz 2-4, R, 2B, BB, 2RBI
• R. Encarnacion 1-3, 2R, 2BB, RBI
• Gordon 2-4, R, RBI

The G-Nats did precisely what you’d expect a team that went 49-9 in the regular season to do: Win the league championship.

Sep 012013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 2-1 vs. Buffalo,
6:30 p.m.
Tatusko (5-7, 4.20) vs.
Romero (4-8, 5.88)
Harrisburg Won, 12-3 @ Richmond,
2:05 p.m.
Treinen (6-7, 3.72) vs.
Snodgrass (11-4, 3.79)
Potomac Won, 7-5 @ Frederick,
6:00 p.m.
Demny (2-2, 3.38) vs.
Howard (3-2, 3.32)
Hagerstown Lost, 4-1 @ Kannapolis,
5:05 p.m.
Encarnacion (10-8, 3.43) vs.
Olacio (5-11, 4.61)
Auburn Lost, 7-4 vs. State College,
2:05 p.m.
Orlan (1-5, 3.93) vs.
Bautista (1-4, 4.61)
GCL Nationals Won, 10-3 @ GCL Red Sox,
12:00 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD



Syracuse 2 Pawtucket 1
• Clay 6IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, 2K
• Krol (W, 1-1) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Kimball (SV, 1) 1IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Rahl 1-3, BB, SB, OF assist at HP (9th)
• Brown 1-4, RBI
• Marrero 1-4, HR, RBI

A solo shot in the 5th, 20 consecutive batters retired, and an outfield kill in the 9th were the keys to the Chiefs 2-1 win over the PawSox. Chris Marrero’s 11th HR proved to be the gamewinner in the pitcher’s duel. Caleb Clay got his 6th no-decision for Syracuse despite pitching his ninth quality start, letting in a run on two hits in the second inning, then retiring the last 14 batters he faced. Ian Krol and Mike Crotta each pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 7th and 8th innings to make it 20 in a row. Pawtucket struck for three singles in the 9th against Cole Kimball, who earned his 1st save for Syracuse thanks to Chris Rahl gunning down the tying run at the plate after the third hit of the inning.

Harrisburg 12 Richmond 3
• Karns (W, 10-6) 7IP, 6H, R, ER, BB, 7K, HR; 1-4, RBI
• Perry 2IP, H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, K
• Souza 3-5, R, 2-2B, 3RBI, HBP, SB(20)
• Hague 3-5, 2R, BB, 3RBI
• Bloxom 2-4, 2R, 2BB, 2

An eight-run 5th and seven strong innings from Nathan Karns powered Harrisburg past Richmond, 12-5. The 3-4-5 combo of Steve Souza Jr, Justin Bloxom, and Ricky Hague combined to go 8-for-14 with five runs scored and six RBI as the Senator offense notched 13 hits total. Karns became the third 10-game winner in the organization, giving up a run on a HR (14th in the minors, 19th overall), six hits, a walk, and seven strikeouts. With a 6-1 Erie loss to Bowie, Harrisburg’s magic number to clinch the E.L. West was reduced to one.

Potomac 7 Frederick 5
• Purke (W, 5-3) 5IP, 5H, 0R, 0BB, 5K
• Benincasa (SV, 17) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Taylor 4-4, 2R, 2-2B, HR, BB, SB, 5RBI, OF assist at 2B
• Keyes 3-5, 2-2B

Michael Taylor reached base five times, scored twice, drove in five, stole a base, threw out a runner, and saved 15% on his car insurance in a 7-5 Potomac win over Frederick. Kevin Keyes doubled twice and Justin Miller singled twice as the P-Nats rackek up 13 hits. Matt Purke tossed five scoreless innings, allowing five hits, no walks, and setting down five on strikes for win no. 5. The Keys rallied for five against the P-Nats relievers, “forcing” Robert Benincasa to work on back-to-back nights for another save, his 17th for Potomac.

Kannapolis 4 Hagerstown 1
• Johansen (L, 0-2) 4⅔ IP, 7H, 4R, 2ER, 3BB, 4K
• Pena 2⅓ IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Pleffner 2-3, BB
• Perez 1-3, 2B

Jake Johansen’s second start was slightly better than his first, but with an AWOL offense, the result was another “L” — 4-1 to Kannapolis. The Suns mustered just four hits against the Intimidators, with Shawn Pleffner collecting two of them. Johansen allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits and three walks while fanning four. West Virginia and Lexington were suspended with the Power leading 1-0 in the 3rd, but with the Sally League playoff format, Game One will be in Charleston regardless of whether there is a double-half winner.

State College 7 Auburn 4
• Simms (L, 0-3) 3⅓ IP, 10H, 6R, 6ER, 0BB, 3K, WP
• Joyce 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 3K, HBP
• Masters 2-3, R
• Foat 2-4, 2RBI

State College scored six times in four innings before Auburn answered with two as the Spikes went on to a 7-4 win. John Simms was charged with all six runs on 10 hits, though he walked none and struck out three over three and a 1/3rd innings. Matt Foat and David Masters both had two singles, as did the rest of the lineup, which only walked once as the final two Doubleday runs scored with the help of two errors and a passed ball.

GCL Nationals 10 GCL Red Sox 3
• J. Rodriguez 5IP, 6H, 2R, 1ER, BB, 2K
• Derosier (W, 1-0) 2IP, 1H, 1R, BB, 0K
• Walsh 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, K
• R. Encarnacion 3-4, 2R, HR, 3RBI, OF assist at 1B
• Mejia 3-4, 2R, RBI, SB, 2E
• Bautista 2-4, RBI

After falling behind 3-0 in the top of 7th, the G-Nats sent 10 men to the plate in the bottom of the 7th. Eight of them scored. An inning later, two more circled the bases as the G-Nats defeated the G-Sox, 10-3 in Game One of the GCL Finals. Randy Encarnacion connected for a three-run homer, joining teammate Bryan Mejia in going 3-for-4 with two runs scored as the G-Nats pounded out 12 hits total, nine in the final two frames. Jefry Rodriguez got the start and gave up two runs, one unearned, on six hits and a walk while striking out two. Matt Derosier got the win with one run allowed over two innings. Jake Walsh closed out the game with two scoreless innings.