Apr 122012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 7-6 @ Lehigh Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Maya (1-0, 0.00) vs.
Misch (0-1, 3.60)
Harrisburg Won, 8-4 vs. Reading,
7:00 p.m.
Mandel (0-0, 0.00) vs.
May (1-0, 7.20)
Potomac Won, 6-3 @ Myrtle Beach,
7:05 p.m.
Winters (0-1, 9.00) vs.
Buckel (0-0, 0.00)
Hagerstown Lost, 3-0 @ Lakewood,
6:35 p.m.
Meyer (1-0, 0.00) vs.
Nesseth (0-1, 14.73)

Lehigh Valley 7 Syracuse 6
• Roark (L, 0-2) 4IP, 7H, 6R, 6ER, 3BB, 3K
• Bibens-Dirkx 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Brown 4-5, 2B, R, SB, CS
• Solano 3-5, R, E
• Moore 2-3, R, HR, 2BB, RBI

The IronPigs scored in each of the first four innings off starter Tanner Roark, building a 6-2 lead. The Chiefs rallied for three in the 6th to pull within one at 6-5 but double plays in the 7th and 8th innings killed any chance of a comeback. Tyler Moore homered with one out in the 9th to answer Lehigh Valley’s big fly in the 8th, but Bryce Harper, who had tripled earlier in the contest, grounded out and Jhonatan Solano struck out to end the game. Corey Brown led the 13-hit attack with a 4-for-5 night, including a double, a stolen base, and a run scored.

Harrisburg 8 New Britain 2
• Demny (ND) 4⅔ IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 5BB, K
• Davis (W, 2-0) 3⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, 2BB, 3K
• Lozada 3-4, R, RBI
• Hood 2-4, R, 2B, 3B, 4RBI
• Rahl 2-4, R, 2B, SB

A pair of four-run rallies in the fifth and seventh innings pushed the Senators past the Rock Cats for an 8-2 victory and a 2-1 series win. For the second time in as many starts, Paul Demny struggled with his control and couldn’t go the requisite five innings for the “W.” The 22-year-old walked five of the 23 batters he faced and struck just one over 4⅔l innings. Erik Davis followed him again but pitched much better: 3⅓ scoreless innings to earn his second win. After a 1-for-23 start in the first six games, Destin Hood drove in four runs and collected two extra-base hits (double, triple). Jeff Kobernus extended his season-opening hit streak to seven games while Eury Perez went 0-for-4 to stop his streak at six. Harrisburg opens its home schedule with a four-game set tonight against the Reading Phillies, followed by a three-game series against the Altoona Curve.

Potomac 6 Myrtle Beach 3
• Swynenberg (W, 1-0) 5H, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 6K
• Demmin (SV, 1) 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Freitas 3-4, 2R, BB, RBI
• Bloxom 2-4, 2B, 2RBI, E(3)

With six free passes over the first two innings, the P-Nats took advantage to score all six runs as they doubled up the Pelicans, 6-3 for their second win of the 2012 campaign. Myrtle Beach walked 11 batters overall, including four in the first inning without an out by Wilmer Font (guess the strike zone wasn’t his type?). David Freitas paced the offense with a 3-for-4 night, scoring twice and driving in a run, followed by Justin Bloxom with a 2-for-4, 2RBI effort. Matt Swynenberg got the win with three runs allowed on five hits and two walks over five innings while Trevor Holder and Ryan Demmin both turned in two scoreless frames to close out the game.

Lexington 3 Hagerstown 0
• Dupra (L, 0-2) 6IP, 5H, 2R, 1ER, 0BB, 3K
• Karns 3IP, 0H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 4K, 2WP
• Leonida 1-3
• Jimenez 1-3

Brian Dupra pitched six solid innings, scattering five hits and allowing just two runs (on earned), which would be good enough to win most of the time. But Lexington’s hurlers, led by Mike Foltynewicz, were just a little better, limiting the Suns to a season-low four hits — all singles — to hand Hagerstown a 3-0 shutout loss. The Legends scored single runs in the 4th, 6th, and 8th and left on six runners, while the Suns were unable to push any of their nine baserunners past third base. The Suns finish their homestand at 5-2 and head north to visit the Lakewood Blueclaws for a four-game series.

Apr 112012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Losing, 2-0
(Susp., 4 inn.)
@ Lehigh Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Roark (0-1, 1.50) vs.
Hyatt (0-0, 3.18)
Harrisburg Won, 7-2 @ New Britain,
10:35 a.m.
Demny (0-0, 0.00) vs.
Albers (0-0, 0.00)
Potomac Won, 6-4 @ Myrtle Beach,
7:05 p.m.
Swynenberg (0-0, 9.00) vs.
Font (0-0, 0.00)
Hagerstown Won, 16-8 vs. Lexington,
10:35 a.m.
Dupra (0-1, 8.10) vs.
Foltynewicz (0-0, 6.75)

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 2 Syracuse 0 — SUSP. (4 inn.)
• Atkins 4IP, 4H, 2R, 0ER, 4BB, 2K
• Teahen 1-1
• Harper 0-2, 0R, 0BB, 0K, 0RBI, 0E

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was leading 2-0 when the rains came in upstate New York. The game will be resumed on Saturday, followed by a 7-inning game.

Harrisburg 7 New Britain 2
• Gilliam (W, 1-1) 7IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 5K, HR
• McCoy (H, 1) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Kobernus 3-5, R, 2B, 2RBI, CS
• Leon 3-4, R, RBI
• Perez 2-5, R, RBI

After six innings, it looked rather bleak: Down 2-0, outhit 7-1. But Harrisburg racked up 11 hits and dialed up Dallas (214) over the last three innings to run away with a 7-2 win over New Britain. H/T to Geoff Morrow for pointing out Eury Perez, along with Jeff Kobernus, also has hit safely in every game. Combined the 1-2 batters in the Sens lineup are .411 (23-for-56) with 10 runs scored, six bases stolen, and eight RBI. Both are riding six-game hit streaks. Rob Gilliam got the win with seven strong innings, both Rock Cat runs allowed on seven hits (one HR) and no walks while striking out five. The Pats McCoy and Lehman finished out the game with two 1-2-3 innings.

Potomac 6 Myrtle Beach 4
• Grace (W, 1-0) 5IP, 5H, 2R, ER, 2BB, 2K, HR
• Selik (SV, 1) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Taylor 2-3, 2B, BB, 3RBI, CS(3)
• Freitas 3-5, 2B

Michael Taylor’s bases-clearing double in the top of the 2nd capped off a four-run rally as Potomac finally got a win, 6-4 over Myrtle Beach. Matt Grace got the win with five innings pitched, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks. He struck out two and allowed a solo HR. Cameron Selik pitched a three-up, three-down 9th for the save. Following the game, the P-Nats formally announced that 3B Anthony Rendon has been placed on the DL, replaced by minor-league FA Brent Greer, a native of Manassas, VA, who had been released at the end of spring training by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Hagerstown 16 Lexington 8
• Estevez (W, 1-0) 5IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 7K, 2HR
• Martinson 3-3, 2R, 2B, 2HR, 2BB, 6RBI, E
• Ramirez 4-5, 2R, RBI, SB
• Nieto 3-5, 2R, 2B, HR, RBI
• Newsome 1-1, R, HR, 4RBI

Pitching and defense took a back seat to slugging as the Suns debunked the Legends, 16-8. Jason Martinson would not settle for a single, doubling once and homering twice, including a grand slam in the 2nd inning that turned an early 3-2 Lexington lead into a 6-3 Hagerstown advantage. Martinson drove in six runs altogether. Wirkin “For the Weekend” Estevez got the rulebook win with five innings pitched, four runs allowed on five hits and three walks, though he did strike out seven. The 20-year-old has an ERA of 10.00 with just three scoreless innings out of nine thus far. Rehabbing Rick Ankiel was a mere 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI. OF Brian Goodwin has been placed on the DL with what’s being called an “upper leg injury” — groin, quadricep, or hamstring was not specified; Bill Belichek would be proud. OF Angel Montilla was also placed on the DL. Replacing Goodwin and Montilla on the Suns roster are OFs Narciso Mesa and Billy Burns. Both are on our watchlist. UPDATE: Byron Kerr once again has the nitty-gritty, reporting that Montilla is out with a broken hamate bone in his left hand.

Apr 102012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 6-5 vs. Scranton/WB,
6:00 p.m.
Mitch Atkins (0-1, 0.00) vs.
Craig Heyer (0-0, 0.00)
Harrisburg Lost, 6-3 @ New Britain,
6:35 p.m.
Rob Gilliam (0-1, 5.40) vs.
Luke French (1-0, 0.00)
Potomac OFF DAY @ Myrtle Beach,
7:05 p.m.
Matt Grace (12-7, 5.17
in ’11 @ A-) vs.
Kyle Hendricks (2-2, 1.93
in ’11 @ SS-A)
Hagerstown Won, 8-7
(11 inn.)
vs. Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Wirkin Estevez (0-1, 13.50) vs.
Carlos Quevedo (0-0, 6.75)

Syracuse 6 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 5
• Duke (W, 1-0) 6IP, 4H, R, ER, BB, 4K, HR
• Wilkie (H, 1) ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K, 2-0 IR-S
• Rivero 2-4
• Brown 1-3, 2R, 3B, 2BB, E, OF assist
• Moore 1-3, R, HR, 3RBI, SF

Tyler Moore drove in three runs, including a two-run blast in the second, as the Chiefs built a 6-0 lead early and held on for a 6-5 win. Corey Brown drew two walks and tripled, while Carlos Rivero singled twice to lead the nine-hit attack. Zach Duke gave up just one run on a homer, and four hits total over six innings to earn the win. Three of the four Syracuse errors came in the Yankees’ three-run 7th inning, including one on CF Bryce Harper after colliding with Xavier Paul in RF, a ball that was Paul’s. Harper got some measure of redemption by throwing out Scranton backstop trying for two after driving in a run (who got on base by doubling over Harper’s head) in the 9th inning. Ryan Perry was credited with the save, but the reliever of the night was Josh Wilkie, who stranded two runners with one out in the 8th for his first hold of the season.

New Britain 6 Harrisburg 3
• Ballard (L, 0-1) 4⅔ IP, 10H, 6R, 6ER, BB, 2K, HR
• Pucetas 2⅓ IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Johnson 3-4, R, HR, RBI
• Kobernus 2-5, 2B — five-game hit streak (.409)

A three-run shot with two out in the 3rd capped a four-run rally as the Rock Cats cruised to 6-3 win over Harrisburg. The Senators were a respectable 4-for-11 with RISP, stranding eight runners, but the turning point came in the 5th when they loaded the bases with three straight singles with nobody out and only came away with one run as New Britain got a comebacker to the mound for one out and double play after Tim Pahuta singled in the lone run. Mike Ballard took the loss with all six Rock Cats runs allowed on 10 hits and a walk. The loss snapped a three-game win streak for Harrisburg, but Jeff Kobernus’s first-inning double extended his hit streak to five games.

Potomac — OFF DAY
For whatever reason, the Potomac Nationals and slow starts seem to be synonymous. It’s 0-3 so far in ’12, 2-6 in both ’10 and ’11 and 2-4 in ’09. In years past, it’s been cold and rainy, but with temps in the 60s and sunshine expected for the long-range forecast, the weather (e.g. cold or rain) can’t be blamed… Anthony Rendon has not been officially placed on the DL just yet, as multiple online reports are stating that team officials are waiting for the swelling to subside in order to further evaluate the extent of the ligament damage. Thus far, the only “known” is that the ankle is not fractured.

Hagerstown 8 Lexington 7 (11 inn.)
• McKenzie 4IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 5K
• Simko 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 3K, 1-0 IR-S
• Skole 2-5, R, HR, 4RBI (GS)
• Ramsey 1-2, RBI
• Goodwin 1-2

A Matt Skole grand slam gave the Suns an early 4-1 lead, but a bullpen meltdown sent the game into extras, where Caleb Ramsey stroked a two-out walkoff single to give the Suns an 8-7 win in 11 innings. Two errors (including one my Michael Morse, who also failed to throw out the first Lexington run in the first on a flyout to medium left field) sandwiched around a single, double, and another single fueled the Lexington rally that tied the game at 7-7 in the 7th. Todd Simko put out the fire with a grounder and two strikeouts. Morse and Rick Ankiel were 4-for-7 combined with Ankiel connecting on a two-run homer and drawing two walks. Brian Goodwin left the game in the second inning after beating out an infield hit to the first baseman. Officially, it’s a leg injury, but unofficially it appeared to be the usual turned ankle that comes with hitting the bag awkwardly. Like Rendon, no word yet on the extent of (or timetable for the return from) the injury. UPDATE: Byron Kerr is reporting that it’s an upper leg injury, not the ankle or knee. I was was watching the game via MiLB.tv when the injury occurred but was unable to see what Kerr describes due to the stationary nature of the video (i.e. he limped out of camera range).

Apr 092012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probables (’11 #s at Level)
Syracuse Lost, 10-0 vs. Scranton/WB,
6:00
Zach Duke (1-0, 8.44) vs.
Adam Warren (6-8, 3.60)
Harrisburg Won, 5-2 @ New Britain,
6:35 p.m.
Mike Ballard (8-3, 3.33) vs.
Alex Wimmers (2-3, 4.20 @ A+)
Potomac Lost, 3-2 OFF DAY n/a
Hagerstown Won, 8-6 vs. Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Chris McKenzie (4-7, 6.97) vs.
Kyle Hallock (3-4, 2.63 @ NYPL)

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 10 Syracuse 0
• Lannan (L, 0-1) 2IP, 6H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 1K, 0HR
• Arnesen 4IP, 4H, 0R, 3BB, 0K
• Martin ⅔ IP, 5H, 5R, 5ER, 1BB, 0K, 0HR
• Teahen 1-3
• Brown 0-2, 2BB

John Lannan did not make his case for being traded, instead getting pounded for five runs over two innings. Meanwhile, the Syracuse bats were held silent by the Yankees #16 prospect, D.J. Mitchell, and two veteran relievers. Mark Teahen’s fifth-inning single was the sole base hit for the Chiefs, who managed just six total baserunners. Erik Arnesen was solid in relief, throwing four scoreless innings, but Rafael Martin was not, giving up five hits and a walk over two-thirds of an inning as the Yankees doubled up their 5-0 lead to the eventual 10-0 final in the 7th. Bryce Harper’s defensive struggles continued with a fielding error and an offline throw that enabled a runner to move up.

Harrisburg 5 Bowie 2
• Rosenbaum (W, 1-0) 6IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 1K, 1HR
• Lehman (SV, 2) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Perez 2-4, R, 3B, BB, RBI
• Kobernus 1-3, R, BB, SB (5)

Danny Rosenbaum turned in a quality start for his first win of the season, allowing just a run on four hits and no walks over six innings. Rehabbing Michael Morse drove in the first three Harrisburg runs on an RBI groundout and a two-run double while Eury Perez led the rest of the lineup with a single, triple, walk and a run scored. Jeff Kobernus had his mutlihit game streak snapped with a mere 1-for-3 effort and his 5th stolen base in four games. Pat Lehman notched his second save with a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out the last two batters he faced. Harrisburg heads up I-95 to visit the New Britain Rockcats for three games before returning to Metro Bank Park on Thursday for the home opener.

Lynchburg 3, Potomac 2
• Oblrychowski (L, 0-1) 5IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 1K, 1HR
• Wort 2IP, 1H, 0R, 1BB, 1K
• Skelton 2-3, 2RBI
• W. Moore 1-3, R, 2B

Make that three straight losses for Potomac, as the P-Nats could only muster six hits against the Hillcats in a 3-2 loss. Adam Olbrychowski took the loss, giving up three runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings, including a two-run shot in the bottom of the first. Veteran backstop James Skelton paced the offense with a two-out, two-run single in the top of the 2nd and went 2-for-3 overall. Monday is an off day as the P-Nats head south to Myrtle Beach for three games before heading back to Woodbridge for the home opener on Friday night.

Hagerstown 8 West Virginia 6
• Turnbull (ND) 4IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 1K
• Hill (W, 1-0) 4⅓ IP 5H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 1K
• Meza (SV, 1) ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Goodwin 2-5, HR, 3RBI, E (2)
• Martinson 1-3, 2R, 2BB, 3SB (5)
• Skole 1-2, R, 2B, 2RBI, 2BB

Kylin Turnbull didn’t fare so well in his pro debut, giving up three runs on five hits with no walks and just one strikeout, but a pair of three-run rallies gave him the no-decision as the Suns held off a late Power surge for an 8-6 victory and a 3-1 series win. Brian Goodwin connected for a three-run shot in the bottom of the third, taking the sting off his second error in four games. Jason Martinson stole third twice and second once to push his total to five steals in four games. Taylor Hill got the win in long relief, tiring in the 9th as West Virginia rallied for two runs before southpaw Christian Meza got the last two outs for his first save of 2012.

Apr 082012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probables (’11 #s at Level)
Syracuse Lost, 3-1 vs. Scranton/WB,
5:00 p.m.
John Lannan (10-13, 3.70 @ MLB) vs.
D.J. Mitchell (13-9, 3.18)
Harrisburg Won, 13-3 @ Bowie,
2:05 p.m.
Danny Rosenbaum (3-1, 2.29) vs.
Cole McCurry (4-0, 0.80)
Potomac Lost, 7-2 @ Lynchburg,
2:05 p.m.
Adam Olbrychowski (5-7, 4.16 @ A+) vs.
J.R. Graham (5-2, 1.72 @ Adv. Rk.)
Hagerstown Won, 4-3 vs. West Virginia,
1:05 p.m.
Kylin Turnbull (pro debut) vs.
Zach Fuesser (3-6, 3.74)

Syracuse 4 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 0
• Maya (W, 1-0) 6IP, 4H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Bibens-Dirkx (SV, 1) 3IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 4K
• Moore 3-4, R, RBI
• Bynum 1-4, R, HR, BB, RBI
• Harper 1-3, BB, K

Yunesky Maya and Austin Bibens-Dirkx combined on a six-hit shutout while every Chief in the lineup got a hit, as the Chiefs won their first game, 4-0. Tyler Moore led the 11-hit effort with a 3-for-4 game, while Seth Bynum homered. Bryce Harper shifted to RF for the game, with Corey Brown manning CF.

Harrisburg 13 Bowie 3
• Mandel (ND) 5⅔ IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, BB, K, HR
• Nelo 1⅔ 0H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Perez 3-6, R, RBI
• Johnson 2-5, R, 3B, 3RBI
• Lozada 2-5, 2R, 2RBI

My first in-person game of 2012 was a Saturday Afternoon In Bowie.

Lynchburg 7 Potomac 2
• Hansen (L, 0-1) 2IP, 5H, 4R, 3ER, 2BB, 0K, HR
• Applebee 3IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Nicol 2-2, 2RBI
• Rendon 1-1, 2B, BB

The pain of losing a second straight game pales in comparison to the possibility of losing Anthony Rendon to a leg injury for an extended period of time. Multiple online reports are stating that it was his left leg (he has fractured his right ankle twice), but Nationals officials are mum on the severity. Rendon slipped after rounding third, attempting to score on a Justin Blxom single. He had doubled toe lead off the inning and was attempting to score with just one out. Sean Nicol filled in admirably, going 2-for-2 and driving in both Potomac runs. Bobby Hansen took the loss, giving up a pair of runs in the first two innings on five hits (one HR) and two walks.

Hagerstown 4 West Virginia 3
• Meyer (W, 1-0) 5IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Barrett (SV, 1) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Skole 3-4, R, RBI
• Martinson 2-3, R, BB, RBI

Alex Meyer threw five shutout innings, allowing just two hits and no walks while fanning four to win his professional debut. Matt Skole and Jason Martinson combined for five of the Suns seven hits and each drove in a run. Hendry Jimenez made two costly errors in errors in the eighth, giving away the third Power run but also turned a double play to end the inning, helping Aaron Barrett notch his first save of the 2012 campaign.

Apr 072012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 3-1 vs. Scranton/WB,
4:00 p.m.
Yunesky Maya (4-9, 5.00) vs.
Manny Banuelos (2-2, 4.19)
Harrisburg Won, 5-2 @ Bowie,
2:05 p.m.
Jeff Mandel (0-0, 2.25) vs.
Jacob Pettit (7-0, 1.62 @ A+)
Potomac Lost, 9-3 @ Lynchburg,
6:05 p.m.
Bobby Hansen (5-1, 4.10 @ A) vs.
Ronan Pacheco (5-9, 5.00 @ A)
Hagerstown Lost, 5-3 vs. West Virginia,
7:05 p.m.
Alex Meyer (pro debut) vs.
Matt Benedict (5-3, 3.79 @ SS-A)

Rochester 3 Syracuse 1
• Roark (L, 0-1) 6IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 3K
• Severino ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K, 2-0 IR-S
• Brown 3-4, R, 3B,
• Bynum 2-4, 2B, RBI
• Moore 0-4, 2K, 2GIDP

The clutch hit eluded the Syracuse batters, as they stranded seven runners and hit into three double plays as the Chiefs dropped their second straight, 3-1. Tanner Roark turned in six strong innings in his AAA debut, allowing just a run on three hits and three walks. Corey Brown went 3-for-4 and scored the only run as he tripled and Seth Bynum doubled with two outs in the 8th. Bryce Harper went 0-for-3 in his first three ABs against LHP Scott Diamond before singling to lead off the 9th.

Harrisburg 5 Bowie 2
• Demny (ND) 4IP, 5H, 0R, 3BB, 3K
• Lehman (SV, 1) 1IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Kobernus 2-5, R, SB
• Perez 2-5, R, SB, RBI
• Rahl 1-2, RBI

Rick Ankiel and Michael Morse both homered in a 5-2 win over the Baysox. Eury Perez and Jeff Kobernus both went 2-for-5 with a steal, but the clutch hit was few and far between as the Sens were just 2-for-12 with RISP. Paul Demny labored through four innings, throwing 84 pitches. Erik Davis got the win in relief but was touched for a two-run HR. For the second game in row, Chris Rahl got an RBI in the 9th, giving Pat Lehman plenty of cushion for his first save of the year.

Lynchburg 9, Potomac 3

• Winters (L, 0-1) 5IP, 6H, 5R, 5ER, BB, 4K, 2HR
• Freitas 1-3, R, HR, 3RBI, SF
• Rendon 1-3, R, 3B, BB

A three-run 5th by the Hillcats, with three extra-base hits (double, homer, triple) busted open a 2-1 game as Lynchburg pounded Potomac, 9-3 in the season opener. David Freitas drove in all three P-Nat runs, hitting a sac fly in the 4th, an RBI groundout in the 7th, and a solo shot in the 9th. Anthony Rendon tripled and scored in his regular-season debut. Kyle Winters took the loss, allowing five runs on six hits (including two home runs) over five innings while walking one and striking out four.

West Virginia 5 Hagerstown 3
• Dupra (L, 0-1) 3⅓ IP, 6H, 4R, 3ER, 2BB, 2K
• Karns 4IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 6K
• Goodwin 0-1, 4BB, SB
• Skole 0-3, 2BB, RBI
• Ramirez 0-3, BB, RBI

Hagerstown had more errors than hits… or runs, losing to West Virginia, 5-3. The Suns actually led the game 3-0 early, scoring twice in the first and once in the second without a base hit or an error as the Power throwers walked five, hit a batter, and unleashed three wild pitches in the first two innings. The Suns would draw 10 walks overall (four by leadoff man Brian Goodwin), but with just two bases-empty singles in the 6th and 8th, Hagerstown would lay eight goose eggs on the scoreboard the rest of the way. Starter Brian Dupra got knocked from the box in the fourth as the Power scored three times to take a 4-3 lead. Todd Simko stranded two runners and gave way to Nathan Karns, who gave up a run over the last four innings but struck out six and walked none — the only pitcher to do so on either team.
UPDATE: My man in Hagerstown wrote about the first inning in “A night with Nuke..Err Stetson Allie”

Apr 042012
 

As you might expect, Anthony Rendon, headlines the 2012 Potomac Nationals roster — particularly since it’s been four years since a first rounder from the previous year started the season for the P-Nats. Joining the sixth pick on the active roster will be seven watchlist players, including the #14 Baseball America prospect, Michael Taylor.

Perhaps more notably, there are eight players on the Potomac DL — how long they stay there (and who they will replace) will be the subject of bitching and moaning debate for the next several hours, if not days or weeks (watchlist in bold): LHPs Matt Purke and Robbie Ray; Cs Sam Palace and Beau Seabury; IFs Zach Walters, Rick Hague, and Steven Souza and OF J.R. Higley.

Here’s the rundown on the active roster:

PITCHERS
Paul Applebee
Ryan Demmin
Wilson Eusebio
Matt Grace
Bobby Hansen
Trevor Holder
Neil Holland
Adam Olbrychowski
Cameron Selik
Josh Smoker
Matt Swyenberg
Rob Wort
Kyle Winters

CATCHERS
David Freitas
James Skelton

INFIELDERS
Justin Bloxom
Blake Kelso
Sean Nicol
Anthony Rendon
Adrian Sanchez
Francisco Soriano

OUTFIELDERS
Chris Curran
Kevin Keyes
Wade Moore
Randolph Oduber
Michael Taylor

An interesting blend of last year’s P-Nats and Suns. On paper there should be enough offense to erase any doubts about the pitching, which will also be a curious case of who starts and for how long, as there are just two “pure starters” (Grace, Winters) and four “pure relievers” (Smoker, Eusebio, Wort, and Holland) and a whole bunch of guys that have done both.

As the estimable Brian Oliver noted on Twitter, the duo of Michael Taylor and Anthony Rendon should be an especially exciting combo, if in fact, they bat leadoff and second (as they ought to, with Bloxom batting third and Keyes hitting cleanup).

The P-Nats begin the season on Friday with three games in Lynchburg, an off day on Monday, then three games in Myrtle Beach before the home opener next Friday, the 13th.

Oct 262011
 

There are some parallels to the 2010 season and the 2011 season for the Potomac Nationals. Both teams started slowly…VERY slowly, getting into offensive funks that saw both teams get shut out seven times. The 2010 edition finished the first half at 31-39, ten games behind Frederick; the ’11 guys were 29-40 and twelve games behind the Keys at the break.

Given that the core of the team was the 2010 Hagerstown Suns that faded fast in the second half, it was natural to think that a second-half rally was unlikely, particularly since it seemed rather unlikely that much come in the way of reinforcements. The whispers that Bryce Harper would skip the level turned out to be true, but what the team really needed at that point was pitching.

Oddly enough, both the hitting and the pitching did improve in the second half with basically just one starter (Solis) and one reliever (Holland) added to the mix. But while 2010 was largely the hitting getting much better down the stretch, the story of the 2011 second half was the stabilizing of the pitching. Essentially, it went from league worst (5.01 team ERA on June 1st) to slightly higher than league average (3.79 vs. 3.77) the rest of the way.

Coupled with an improved offense (4.00 R/G before July 1, 4.44 after), the P-Nats turned in a 39-31 second half that became good enough to win second-half Northern Division title when the Keys lost the last three regular-season games (and eight of the last ten). Thanks to league bylaws, Frederick’s 39-31 mark down the stretch still earned them the home-field advantage in the first round of the Mills Cup playoffs. That turned out to be the difference as the Keys beat the P-Nats 3-2 for the fifth game and 3-2 for the series to send Potomac packing and end any hopes of defending the 2010 title.

So let’s take a look at how the 2011 edition stacked up against the rest of Carolina League…
HITTING

PITCHING

Having watched these guys day in and day out, I was bit surprised to see that the team finished third in walks drawn — in my mind, there were only a handful of players that seemed willing to take the walk, and too many that weren’t. But those that did walk, walked a lot (Francisco Soriano and Steve Souza were 2nd and 3rd in walk rate for players with 200+ PA in the Carolina League).

That 215 steals led the league by 63 and was the most by the team in its affiliation with Washington and the most in the league since the 2008 Wilmington Blue Rocks. They were only caught 66 times, which works out to an efficiency rate of 76.5 percent. Yes, Eury Perez and Jeff Kobernus accounted for the bulk of it (88 steals combined) but even big men such as Souza (25) and Destin Hood (21) stole 20+ bases. The thievery helped offset the team’s lack of doubles, but otherwise, this squad was mostly right around league averages. Not bad when you consider the position players were the second-youngest in the league.

As aforementioned, the pitching went from horrid early to serviceable late. They still finished last in nearly every rate or total statistic, but let’s not forget that the Carolina League tends to be a pitcher’s league despite the launching pads in Frederick and the Salems. For those that may have missed it or were wondering, the Pfitz usually comes out neutral in ballpark-effect studies.

You can argue over how much of it came from reshuffling the deck and removing failed starters from the rotation (Mitchell Clegg, Marcos Frias, Trevor Holder) or how the unsung work of swingmen (Adam Olbrychowski, Evan Bronson) filled in the gaps, or how the team’s top two starters improved over the course of the season — one steadily (Danny Rosenbaum), the other in fits (Paul Demny) — but the bottom line: it did get better.

Now, in our little dance, we take a look at the Top 12′s for the batters and pitchers in terms of PAs and IPs.
Full statistics for the team can be found here. (* 2009 Draft Pick, ** DSL Graduate).

I chose to highlight the ’09 picks and DSL grads to illustrate the counterpoint to drafting ‘em young: It takes time. In this subset, there are four ’08 picks (Hood, Higley, Lozada, and Ramirez) and fifth that was traded for (Dykstra). Only one 2010 position-player draft pick saw playing time, and that was four games before his shoulder went out (Rick Hague) — two, if you want to count Zach Walters.

What I personally like about High-A is that it’s the true litmus test for a prospect. I’ve seen varying percentages that break down once a prospect plays at level X, his chances of ever playing in MLB are now Y, but almost all of them jump from single digits to double digits when it comes to High-A vs. AA. Anecdotally, I can tell you that this where many players stall: The bridge over the Susquehannah in Harrisburg may as well be the bridge over the Rhine in Arnhem, so to speak. Seems like every April I fill in the lineups and think to myself “This guy is still here?” — and the thought occurs on both sides of the scorebook.

So while some folks have expressed great dismay over the lack of development of some guys, it bears repeating that this happens all the time. And in my mind, that disappointment is offset by guys breaking out (Hood) and/or shaking off the proverbial primates (Kobernus). Not to mention my personal favorite: seeing a pitcher start to “get it.”

How’s that for a segue?
Just to expand upon what I wrote earlier, Olbrychowski was terrible as a reliever but found his groove as a starter (5.63 vs. 3.71 ERA) and the reverse was true for Frias (1.67 vs. 5.06). Bronson was actually better as a reliever when you look at the season as a whole, but unlike Olbrychowski and Frias, kept bouncing between roles (and levels) until he was given a spot in the rotation in mid-August and turned in quality starts in two of his four starts down the stretch.

Demny, as aforementioned, improved over the course of the season but take a look at the ERAs by month:
April – 2.08, May – 6.93, June – 2.55, July – 8.42, Aug/Sep – 2.72. He’s young (22 in August), throws hard (~93-95), and durable (100+ IP the past three seasons). Clearly, he made his adjustments and the league adjusted back, but you have to like that he was able to rebound not once but twice from rough patches of pitching.

OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS
The upside to rating Potomac is that I’ve seen these guys the most. The downside to rating Potomac is that I’ve seen these guys so much. Looking over last year’s season review I can see that invariably, I’m either going to overvalue some guys as a fan (e.g. Chris Curran), and undervalue others in an effort to overcompensate for being a fan (e.g. Tyler Moore last year). So bear that in mind as I fire from the hip and make the lists that folks love so much…

Batters
1. Destin Hood
2. Jeff Kobernus
3. Eury Perez
4. Steve Souza
5. Justin Bloxom
HM: Zach Walters

Pitchers
1. Danny Rosenbaum
2. Sammy Solis
3. Paul Demny
4. Josh Smoker
5. Marcos Frias

Sep 132011
 

Team Pitching Star Hitting Star #1 Hitting Star #2
Potomac
L, 3-2
Trevor Holder
3⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 4K
Brian Peacock
1-4, R, HR, RBI
Zach Walters
1-4, R, 2B
Auburn
L, 9-2
Manny Rivera
1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 2K
Billy Burns
2-4, R, 2B, SB
Wilfri Pena
1-4, 2B, RBI

The Frederick Keys got three runs in the bottom of the first and made them stand up for a 3-2 win over the Potomac Nationals in Game Five to advance to the 2011 Mills Cup Finals against the Kinston Indians.

The Potomac bullpen trio of Trevor Holder, Marcos Frias and Neil Holland tossed seven and a 1/3rd scoreless and hitless innings of relief to keep this game close, but the P-Nats bats were largely silent — just four hits and three walks total, though Brian Peacock did connect on a solo shot in the 9th to likely finish his five-season odyssey on a high note.

Meanwhile, the Auburn Doubledays dropped Game One of the best-of-three New York-Penn League Championship Series, 9-2 to the Staten Island Yankees. With the next two in New York City, they’ll have to beat the team with the best regular-season record overall and the second-best home record at 24-12 — twice.

Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez was not sharp, giving up two runs on three hits and a walk over five innings with several deep counts early in the game but struck out six, including four in the second thanks to a wild pitch. The bullpen imploded in the last two frames, as Richie Mirowski. Ben Hawkins and Travis Henke gave up six runs on six hits and four walks.

Sep 122011
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 2-1 ELIMINATED N/A
Potomac Won, 6-1 @ Frederick,
7:00 p.m.
Paul Demny or Mitchell Clegg vs.
Nick Haughian or Jacob Petit
Auburn OFF DAY vs.
Staten Island,
7:05 p.m.
Wirkin Estevez (6-3, 4.01) vs.
Taylor Morton (0-1, 5.40)

The Harrisburg Senators were swept from the Eastern League playoffs with a 2-1 loss to Richmond. While the flooding that delayed the series two days and shifted it to entirely in Richmond didn’t help, the lack of offense was more to blame. The Sens had just five hits yesterday and 18 for the series, batting a .175 overall, .143 with RISP, and 23 runners left on base. The starting pitching was sensational, with Erik Arnesen, Shairon Martis, and Tanner Roark each going seven innings and the trio striking out 29 batters combined while allowing just five runs total.

The Potomac Nationals decided to wait until the next-to-last chance they had on a Sunday Afternoon In Woodbridge to beat the Keys and force a Game Five in the Northern Division Championship Series tonight in Frederick. The winner will meet Kinston for the 2011 Mills Cup.

It’s the final home game of the 2011 season in Auburn, New York as the Doubledays play host to the Staten Island Yankees in Game One of the best-of-three New York-Penn League Championship Series. The two teams split the only two games they played during the regular season. Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez gets the start against 2010 9th-round pick 19-year-old Taylor Morton, who threw all but five of his 55 innings in the regular season in the GCL.