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.

Sep 112011
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 4-2 @ Richmond,
1:05 p.m.
Tanner Roark (9-9, 4.69) vs.
Justin Fitzgerald (9-9, 3.51)
Potomac Lost, 5-1 vs. Frederick,
1:05 p.m.
Adam Olbrychowski (5-7, 4.16) vs.
Ryohei Tanaka (9-5, 3.33)
Auburn OFF DAY OFF DAY N/A

Two losses on Saturday night have pushed both Harrisburg and Potomac to the brink of elimination in the best-of-five format, with the Senators trailing Richmond in its series 2-0 and the P-Nats down 2-1 to Frederick. Both teams could be finished by late this afternoon.

Harrisburg fell 4-2 to Richmond in 11 innings, blowing a 2-0 lead in the 8th. Like the night before, clutch hitting was not to be found as the Senators went 0-for-6 with RISP and stranded seven runners. Derek Norris accounted for the first Harrisburg run and lone RBI while Tyler Moore scored on a wild pitch.

Shairon Martis walked four batters but allowed just one hit and no runs over seven innings while setting down nine on strikes. Rafael Martin let in the tying runs (both unearned) on two hits. Pat Lehman took the loss in the 11th by loading the bases with nobody out after pitching a scoreless 10th. Cory VanAllen couldn’t strand them and the Sens couldn’t get them back in their half of the 11th.

Potomac was held to just three hits total while Frederick’s two true prospects were both outstanding Last Night In Woodbridge. It needs to be mentioned somewhere that despite the deluge of rain on Thursday, the field was restored to playable condition on Friday and Saturday and was not a factor in the game.

Finally, the Staten Island Yankees defeated the Brooklyn Cyclones by the slimmest of margins, 1-0. They will play the Doubledays in Auburn for Game One of the New York-Penn League Championship, then return to New York City on Tuesday for Games Two and Three (if necessary).

Sep 102011
 


Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 6-0 @ Richmond,
7:05 p.m.
Shairon Martis (8-6, 3.05) vs.
Jason Stevenson (1-0, 1.29)
Potomac Won, 8-0 vs. Frederick,
6:35 p.m.
Evan Bronson (5-5, 3.64) vs.
Scott Copeland (3-2, 2.14)
Auburn Won, 7-2 OFF DAY N/A

Two of out three Nats playoff teams won last night, with Harrisburg dropping the opener, Potomac evening its series, and Auburn advancing to the New-York Penn League Championship Series.

The lack of clutch hitting that bedeviled the Senators late in the season returned with a vengeance as Harrisburg went just 1-for-11 with RISP and stranded 10 baserunners in the loss. The Sens managed just seven hits total in the loss, with Chris Rahl, Tyler Moore and Leonard Davis each going 2-for-4.

Erik Arnesen was more than adequate with three runs given up on eight hits and no walks over seven innings while striking out 10 batters, tying his season high. Jimmy Barthmaier put on the first two runners in the eighth and was lifted for Oliver Perez who gave up two straight singles to let them in, the 3-0 deficit extended to 5-0. Hassan Pena let up back-to-back doubles to make the final score 6-0.

In Frederick, the P-Nats used the longball to put this game away early, as Brian Peacock hit a two-run shot in the 1st and Francisco Soriano smacked a three-run blast in the 2nd en route to an 8-0 shutout of the Keys. Eury Perez scored four runs while going 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base as Potomac pounded out ten hits total.

Sammy Solis walked just one, the 20th batter he faced, but a tight strike zone pushed his pitch count to 91 and prompted manager Matt LeCroy to call upon Neil Holland to escape a two-out, first-and-third jam in the 5th. Holland retired Manny Machado to preserve the shutout and went two more innings to earn the win. Joe Testa and Cameron Selik combined to shut down the keys over the final two frames, with Selik striking out the side in the 9th.

Finally, the Auburn Doubledays scored early and often, building a 7-2 lead after three that four relievers combined to stifle the Vermont Lake Monsters over the last six innings for the win and a berth in the NYPL finals. Brian Dupra got the start but was lifted with two outs in the fourth after allowing six hits and three walks. Alex Kreis got the win with an inning and a third pitched as the first man out of the ‘pen. Carlos Alvarez and Angel Montilla each had three hits in the 10-hit attack, while Bryce Ortega and Matt Skole each drove in two.

Which team and where the Doubledays will play on Monday will be determined tonight, as the Staten Island Yankees and the Brooklyn Cyclones face off in Game Three of the “Battle of the Boroughs.” If Staten Island wins, Auburn hosts Game One, with the series returning to NYC for the deciding game(s); if Brooklyn wins, the Cyclones play host first and the Doubledays get the home field for the rest of the series.

Sep 092011
 

[Ed. Note: The fourth guest column from frequent commenter BinM]
A 2011 regular-season wrapup from another voice…

Syracuse Chiefs, 66-74; 4th in Northern Division, International League
The Chiefs and their fans suffered on many levels this year. Between a spotty offense, and an ever-changing pitching staff (31 total pitchers for the year), the team never really mounted a challenge for the playoffs, despite plenty of MLB experience (25 players appearing with prior MLB time over the course of the year). The 10-game drop in the standings from 2010 with what looked like a better team was disapointing, to say the least.
Hitter of the year
Chris Marrero, 1B — With a slash of .300/.375/.449, 114 runs produced and a .281GPA, he squeaks past Steve Lombardozzi, who compiled a .310/.354/.408 slash, with 71 runs produced, 16SB and a .261GPA over 69GP.
Pitcher of the year
Tom Milone, LHSP — More silly numbers from a guy most people overlook: 3.22ERA, 1.03WHIP, 9.1:1K-BB over 148⅓ IP over 24GS. Hands down, the best pitcher on the staff.
Biggest disappointment
Yunesky Maya, RHSP — 5.00ERA, 1.24WHIP, 2.96:1K-BB, and 14HR allowed over 129⅔ IP ove 22GS.

Harrisburg Senators, 80-62; 1st in Western Division, Eastern League

Despite losing two of their top hitters (Lombardozzi and Bill Rhinehart), and their #1SP (Brad Peacock) near midseason, this team managed to stay together & won their division. The additions of the OF’s Bryce Harper (promotion) & Erik Komatsu (trade), and LHSP Danny Rosenbaum (promotion) to the starting staff certainly didn’t hurt the team. Simply by making the playoffs, I have to call this a good year.
Hitter of the year
Tyler Moore, 1B — Despite how well Steve Lombardozzi played earlier this year, I’m giving the nod to Moore for the Senators. His overall compilation of a .270/.314/.532 slash, with 70 XBH, 129 runs produced, and a .274GPA over 137GP was enough to sway me.
Pitcher of the year
Brad Peacock, RSHP — With numbers like a 2.01ERA, 1.29WHIP, 5.2:1K-BB, and a 10-2 W-L prior to his promotion to Syracuse, he gets the nod over Erik Arnesen, and Shairon Martis for the season, who each had good seasons as well.
Biggest disappointment
Oliver Perez, LHSP — From a former MLB pitcher: a 3.09ERA, 1.39WHIP, 1.9:1K-BB, and 10HRA over only 75⅔ IP and 16GP at AA fails to impress on a lot of levels.

Potomac Nationals, 29-40, 1st half; 39-31 2nd half, 68-71 overall;
2nd Half Champ, North Division Carolina League

An up and down year, with ongoing field/venue problems and a poor 1st half record, the team managed a surprisingly steady 2nd half to make the Carolina League playoffs once again. The team suffered some key losses to the pitching staff, with callups for RHRP Pat Lehman and Rosenbaum, and an injury to RHSP Trevor Holder. The callups of LHSP Sammy Solis and RHRP Neil Holland helped cover those losses. A decent year overall, salvaged by another playoff appearance, but slightly off last years’ pace.
Hitter of the year
Destin Hood, OF — Could be considered the core of the team this season, contributing across the board offensively. Posted a .276/.364/.445 slash, 131 runs produced and 21SB with a .278GPA.
Pitcher of the year
Daniel Rosenbaum — Promoted to AA in late July, he managed a 2.59ERA, 1.17WHIP, and a 2.3:1K-BB over 20GP and 132.0IP for the P-Nats.
Biggest disappointment
J.P. Ramirez, LF-DH — This one is hard for me because I wanted him to succeed, but I can’t ignore the numbers: .223/.275/.342 slash, no speed and limited range defensively, all of which appear to be signs that he’s topped out at High-A.

Hagerstown Suns — 75-64, 35-34 2nd half; 4th place, Northern Division, South Atlantic League
With a fading finish in the 1st half, and some indifferent play in the 2nd half, the Suns missed out on both chances at a playoff spot this year. This was a huge disappointment, given the hitting (Harper, Blake Kelso, and David Freitas) and pitching (Cameron Selik, Solis, Taylor Jordan, Holland and Chris Manno) the team received in the 1st half of the season. The 2nd half was more a “grind-it-out and hope for the best” kind of year. All in all, a better record than 2010, but it still must be a bittersweet finish to the Hagerstown faithful.
Hitter of the year
David Freitas, C-DH — He gets my hat-tip over Harper the younger here. With a slash of .288/.409/.450, 127 runs produced, a .297GPA, and the fact that he catches earns him the honors.
Pitcher of the year
Christopher Manno, LHRP — With a 1.04ERA, a 0.81WHIP, a 4.0:1K-BB and 12Sv / 25GF in 34GP prior
to his trade, he beats out LHP Paul Applebee who compiled a nice 3.35ERA, 1.01WHIP, and a 6.5:1K-BB over 96.2IP and 31GP.
Biggest disappointment
The trade of Christoper Manno to the Reds for Jonny Gomes. Seriously.

Auburn Doubledays – 45-30; 1st place, Pinckney Division, NY-Penn.
With a steady season, the Doubledays reach the playoffs in 2011, only to face last years’ Nats affiliate (now the Oakland A’s), the Vermont Lake Monsters in the 1st round. The team received timely hitting from a number of players (Bryce Ortega, Matt Skole, Hendry Jimenez, Caleb Ramsey, Russell Moldenhauer, Justin Miller; even ‘Bowden’s folly’), and pitching to match (Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez, Taylor Hill, Brian Dupra, Nathan Karns, Richie Mirowski, Tyler Hanks, Manny Rivera and Ben Grisz). A good year, with a 9½ game improvement over the 2010 record.
Hitter of the year
Bryce Ortega, SS-3B — With a .314/.410/.392 slash and a .283 GPA over 56GP at SS, he beats out Matt Skole (.290/.382/.438 slash and a .281GPA at 3B) by the slightest of margins.
Pitcher of the year
Benjamin Grisz, RHRP — I’m going against the grain with this one, but regardless of his alleged off-field behavior, this kid was a solid reliever for the Doubledays coming out of college, posting a 1.35ERA, an 0.85WHIP and 4SV / 8GF in just 11GP.
Biggest disappointment
Benjamin Grisz (see above). If the allegations are true — that he made no further appearances after July 27, despite being named to the NYPL All-Star Team is telling — the lack of personal restraint could ruin a budding career.

Gulf Coast Nationals – 20-33, 4th place Eastern Division
An overall lack of offense couldn’t support spotty pitching, and the G-Nats post their worst record in three years as a result. The team’s most interesting hitters were all out of the DSL — OFs Wander Ramos, Narciso Mesa, Estarlin Martinez; IFs Jean-Carlos Valdez and Wilmer Difo. The pitching carried a few possibles as well, with LHSPs Jack McGeary (recovering from TJ surgery) and Gregory Baez showing promise, and RHRP Scott Williams and LHRP Bobby Lucas out of the bullpen. Not a lot in terms of the record, but some players to keep an eye on going forward.
Hitter of the year
Wander Ramos, RF-LF — A 21-y.o. corner OF up from the DSL, he compiled a .313/.401/.653 slash, with a .344GPA this year.
Pitcher of the year
Gregory Baez — Only 19-y.o., Baez moved up from the DSL to compile a 3.72ERA, a 1.59WHIP and a 1.28K-BB over 48⅓ IP.
Biggest disappointment
Hector Taveras, C — Released without a single 2011 appearance, another career possibly wasted by a lack of restraint.

Dominican League Nationals – 33-36, 5th place, BCS division
Another up-and-down season with little consistency and some questionable starting choices led to a bad overall record. There are some youngsters on this team whose numbers look promising, with Adderling Ruiz (20-y.o. C), Yermin Mercedes (18-y.o. C-DH), Diomedes Eusebio (18-y.o. 3B) all showing promise at the plate, and Ivan Pineyro (19-y.o. RHSP), Gilberto Mendez (18yo RHSP), and Joel Barrientos (18-y.o. LHRP) from the pitching staff. With a regression of 3½ games from 2010, not the best overall result.
Hitter of the year
Adderling Ruiz — Still a little sketchy defensively (5E), he produced at the plate with a .343/.417/.476 slash, and a
.307 GPA.
Pitcher of the year
Ivan Pineyro — Overall solid numbers for a SP (65.7IP, 1.64ERA, 1.08WHIP, 3.14K-BB).
Biggest disappointment
Brian Escolastico, LHRP — Great last name but horrid results, with a 17.72ERA, 3.84WHIP, and a 0.78:1K-BB over 11GP.

Sep 082011
 

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Postponed Postponed N/A
Potomac Lost, 5-1
(6 inn.)
@ Frederick,
7:00 p.m.
Sammy Solis (6-2, 2.72) vs.
Richard Zagone (4-2, 2.97)
Auburn Postponed vs. Vermont,
7:05 p.m.
Taylor Hill (0-2, 3.16) vs.
Brent Powers (4-2, 3.84)

Rain forced a postponement in Auburn and complete series shift in Richmond yesterday, while the Potomac Nationals might have wished for more with a 5-1 loss to Frederick in six innings.

Both Auburn and Frederick have more rain forecast for today. The Doubledays and P-Nats both trail their series 1-0, with Auburn facing elimination tonight and Potomac staring at a possible 2-0 deficit.

Meanwhile, the tenor of the E.L. West Divisional series has changed dramatically with the two-day postponement and series shift to Richmond for Games One and Two. Simply put: The Squirrels have owned the Sens at the Diamond, winning 10 of 15 games played there this season. Ironically, Richmond was one of the few that Harrisburg couldn’t handle on the road, with a 38-19 record against the rest of the Eastern League.

Thus, instead of the chance to go up 2-0 and hit the road needing to win just one, it’s the opposite: They have to take at least one on the road and hope to come home with the series tied. Statistically, the chances are the same; psychologically, the game has changed.

Back to Frederick… Paul Demny’s season-long bugaboo — the big fly, he led the Carolina League with 18 surrendered — came back to bite him in the [prosterior] with two given up in the four-run 4th that overcame an early 1-0 deficit, courtesy of a Steve Souza home run in the top of the 2nd.

Much like Auburn in its Game One, the woulda-coulda-shoulda game that fans like to play doesn’t apply. The P-Nats were stifled by Jacob Petit (again, he beat them twice in two regular-season starts) with just three hits and two walks given up over six innings and only two reaching second base — Souza and Sandy Leon on a double two batters later. That kind of offensive production might win a game in soccer, but in baseball, it’s too much to ask for a 1-0 win in the playoffs. Particularly against a lineup with nearly 300 games of AA experience.

Sep 072011
 


As you might have guessed by the image, rain is going to be an underlying theme during the playoffs.
Last night, Harrisburg beat writer Geoff Morrow reported a story about how the the forecast of heavy rain, coupled with the the proximity of the Susquehannah River and the location of Metrobank Park (i.e. on an island in said river) could force the rearrangement* of the Eastern League Divisional Series.
*Could be worse. The Pittsfield Colonials, Hagerstown manager Brian Daubach’s previous ballclub, will be playing ALL its games on the road.

UPDATE: As predicted/feared, the Harrisburg Senators and Richmond Squirrels have postponed their series until Friday, shifting Games One & Two to Friday and Saturday, with Games Three, Four and Five (if necessary). H/T to Max Power to bringing this to our attention, and I strong encourage folks to read his Senators vs. Flying Squirrels Series Preview.

The forecast for Frederick isn’t any better: 1-2″ of heavy rain today with a chance of rain in the hourly forecast that won’t fall below 50% until 11. On Friday night. Rearranging the series simply isn’t an option given the forecast for Woodbridge is nearly identical. It’s also my understanding that the Potomac field there doesn’t drain very well.

Finally, the Auburn Doubledays took on the Vermont Lake Monsters in Burlington, VT last night — located on higher ground than the folks in the Winooski River Valley to the east — but were stifled by 32nd-round pick Drew Garnier, who allowed just one run on two hits and three walks while fanning nine over five innings to lead the Lake Monsters to a 7-1 win.

Auburn starter Nathan Karns was hit hard early, giving up four runs in the bottom of the first, lowlighted when Angel Montilla lost the ball in the, well, low lights at Centennial Field to let in three runs. He would give up six runs total over four innings on seven hits and two walks to take the loss.

Of course, the defensive gaffes aside, the Vermont ‘pen struck out seven and gave up just one hit and one walk after Garnier’s exit. That’s just three hits, four walks on offense for the Doubledays while striking out 16 times. They left on eight and went just 1-for-13 with RISP.

The series shifts to Auburn for today and tomorrow. But wouldn’t you know? There’s also a forecast for heavy rain over the next two days, and a strong chance of rain on Friday. Stay tuned and stay dry.