Apr 102013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 8-2
(5 inn.)
@ Buffalo,
1:05 p.m.
Roark (1-0, 0.00) vs.
Ortiz (0-0, 3.60)
Harrisburg Lost, 9-7 vs. New Britain,
7:00 p.m.
Treinen (0-1, 30.86) vs.
May (0-1, 1.80)
Potomac Won, 12-4 vs. Salem,
10:35 a.m.
Ray (1-0, 1.80) vs.
M. Pena (0-1, 4.50)
Hagerstown Won, 6-3 @ Lakewood,
6:35 p.m.
Schwartz (1-0, 6.00) vs.
Warner (0-0, 3.60)

Syracuse 8 Buffalo 2
• Ohlendorf (W, 2-0) 5IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 4K
• Marrero 2-3, 2R, 3B, HR, 3RBI
• Costanzo 2-3, R, HR, 2RBI
• Brown 2-3, 2B

Chris Marrero tripled and homered as Syracuse pounded out 11 hits in a rain-shortened 8-2 win over Buffalo. Ross Ohlendorf got his second win in as many starts, allowing both Bison runs on five hits and three walks and four strikeouts. Mike Costanzo also homered, while Eury Perez singled twice to extend his hitting streak to 23 games dating back to last August.

New Britain 9 Harrisburg 7
• Broderick 6IP, 8H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 3K
• Lehman (L, 0-1) 1⅓ 5H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 0K
• Hood 3-5, R, 3B, 3RBI
• Bloxom 2-4, BB, 2RBI
• Souza 1-1, 4BB

Destin Hood’s bases-loaded triple in the 7th capped off a four-run rally to tie at 5-5, but the Rock Cats matched the “4” on the board in the 9th then held off the Senators in the last of the 9th to hand Harrisburg a 9-7 loss. Starter Brian Broderick turned in a quality start with three runs on eight hits and no walks, but Neil Holland and Pat Lehman were hit hard over the final three, giving up six runs and eight hits combined. Hood led the hit column with a 3-for-5 night, followed by Justin Bloxom at 2-for-4, while Steve Souza reached base five times with a single and four walks.

Potomac 12 Salem 4
• Hill 5IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, BB, 3K, HR
• Bates 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Burns 3-4, R, BB
• Martinson 1-2, 3R, BB, HR, 3RBI, HBP
• Kelso 3-5, R, 2B, RBI
• Oduber 1-4, R, HR, 4RBI, 3K

Offense is not the problem for Potomac as the Carolina League’s #1 lineup put up 12 runs on 17 hits en route to a 12-4 win over Salem. Caleb Ramsey went deep for the second night in a row, Jason Martinson smacked big fly #3, while the Groovin’ Aruban made his first of the season a grand affair to punctutate a seven-run third. Taylor Hill got the win with five innings pitched, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and a walk. Christian Meza rebounded from his not-so-special Saturday night with a run on two hits and two walks over two innings while Colin Bates slammed the door shut with six straight outs to finish.

Hagerstown 6 Lakewood 3
• Anderson (W, 1-0) 6IP, 4H, R, ER, BB, 5K
• Fischer (SV, 1) 3IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, BB, K
• Lopez 3-4, 2R, 2B, RBI
• Higley 2-4, 2B
• McQuillan 1-4, R, HR, 2RBI

Errors were the difference in this one, as the Suns capitalized on five of ’em by Lakewood score four unearned runs in a 6-3 win. Dixon Anderson got the win with six innings of one-run ball, letting up four hits, walking one, but setting down five on strikes. David Fischer went the rest of the way for the save. Carlos Lopez led the Suns offense with a 3-for-4 night, scoring twice and driving in a run, followed by J.R. Higley’s 2-for-4 effort, while Mike McQuillan hit his first round-tripper with a two-run shot in the 1st.

Apr 092013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 8-1 @ Buffalo,
6:05 p.m.
Ohlendorf (1-0, 0.00) vs.
Germano (1-0, 7.94)
Harrisburg Lost, 9-2 vs. New Britain,
7:00 p.m.
Broderick (0-0, 5.40) vs.
Darnell (0-0, 0.00)
Potomac Lost, 7-6 vs. Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Hill (0-0, 0.00) vs.
Cuevas (8-2, 1.40 @ SS-A)
Hagerstown Won, 7-6
(10 inn.)
@ Lakewood,
6:35 p.m.
Anderson (0-0, 3.60) vs.
Guth (0-1, 9.00)

Syracuse 8 Buffalo 1
• Rosenbaum (W, 1-0) 5IP, 4H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Tatusko (H, 1) 3IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 4K
• Van Ostrand 4-5, 2R, 2B
• Kobernus 3-5, 2R, 2B, 3B, RBI
• Perez 2-6

Danny Rosenbaum tossed five shutout innings to win his AAA debut as the Chiefs stampeded the Bisons, 8-1. A four-run first also gave Rosenbaum room to breathe, as the 25-year-old gave up just four hits and two walks while striking out two. Jeff Kobernus was a homer shy of the cycle while going 3-for-5, while Jimmy Van Ostrand went 4-for-5 as eight of the nine Syracuse batters hit safely in the 16-hit assault. Ryan Tatusko rebounded from a rough outing on Saturday to turn in three bullpen-saving innings and earn his first hold of the season. Roster moves: RHP Jeremy Accardo was placed on the 7-Day DL; LHP Bobby Bramhall was assigned from XST

New Britain 9 Harrisburg 2
• Karns (L, 0-1) 3⅔ IP, 7H, 7R, 7ER, 3BB, 3K, 2HR
• Frias 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Goodwin 2-5, R, 3B, OF assist at 3B
• Johnson 2-5, 2B, RBI

Nathan Karns’s AA debut was one to forget as the 2012 Nats Minor League Pitcher of the Year was torched for seven runs on seven hits, including a pair of home runs in just three and 2/3rds innings in a 9-2 Harrisburg loss to New Britain. Elevated fastballs and poor command was to blame, said manager Matt LeCroy in the Patriot-News gamer. Brian Goodwin and Josh Johnson combined for four of the five Senators hits, including a leadoff triple in the ninth by Goodwin followed by an RBI single by Johnson for the final Harrisburg run.

Salem 7 Potomac 6
• Turnbull (L, 0-1) 4⅓ IP, 9H, 7R, 6ER, BB, K, HR
• Hawkins 2⅔ IP, 3H, 0R, BB, 2K, 1-1 IR-S
• Mirowski 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Burns 2-4, R, 2B, 2RBI
• Oduber 2-3

The bullpen put out the fire, but damage was done early Last Night In Woodbridge.

Hagerstown 7 Lakewood 6 (10 inn.)
• Encarnacion (ND) 5IP, 3H, R, ER, 2BB, 5K
• Hudgins (BS, 1; W, 1-0) 1IP, 2H, 3R, 3ER, BB, K, 0HR
• Benincasa (SV, 1) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Manuel 2-4, 3R, BB, RBI
• Perez 2-3, R, 2B, 2BB, SB

A 10th-inning rally took the edge off a 9th-inning meltdown as the Suns won in extras, 7-6. Hagerstown starter Pedro Encarnacion allowed just a run on three hits and two walks while striking out five and was in line for a win when the BlueClaws rallied for three in the 9th to tie at 6-6. Craig Manuel led off the 10th with a single, took second on a walk by Stephen Perez and was bunted over to third by Mike McQuillan. Lakewood intentionally walked the next batter to set up a double play but after a strikeout, Wes Schill drew a two-out walk to force in Manuel. Robert Benincasa set down the side in the 10th to earn the save and “give” Will Hudgins the dreaded blown-save-win.

Apr 082013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 8-6 @ Buffalo,
6:05 p.m.
Rosenbaum (8-10, 3.94 @ AA) vs.
Redmond (8-11, 3.63)
Harrisburg Won, 5-4
(11 inn.)
vs. Bowie,
2:00 p.m.
Karns (8-4, 2.26 @ A+) vs.
TBD
Potomac Lost, 11-6 vs. Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Turnbull (4-5, 5.16 @ A-) vs.
Aguilera (1-3, 4.42 @ SS-A)
Hagerstown Lost, 2-1 @ Lakewood,
6:35 p.m.
Encarnacion (0-1, 6.06) vs.
Mecias (0-2, 2.16 @ GCL)

Syracuse 8 Lehigh Valley 6
• Perry 5IP, 9H, 6R, 6ER, 2BB, 2K
• Crotta (W, 1-0) 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• Brown 2-5, 2R, 2HR. 4RBI
• Walters 2-4, R, 2B, HR, 2RBI
• Rhymes 2-4, R, BB, 2RBI

Two-run homers by Zach Walters (third of the year) and Corey Brown (second of the game), turned a 6-4 deficit into the eventual 8-6 decision as Syracuse took two of three from Lehigh Valley. Jeff Mandel and Mike Crotta combined for four scoreless innings in relief of starter Ryan Perry, who gave up all six Iron Piugs runs on nine hits and two walks over the first five innings. Eury Perez extended his hit streak to 21 games with an infield single in the 9th.

Harrisburg 5 Bowie 4 (11 inn.)
• Clay 5IP, 8H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 4K, HR
• Krol 2IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Lehman 2IP, 1H, 0R, 2BB, 1K
• Goodwin 1-3, R, 2BB, HBP
• Bloxom 2-4, R

The Senators broke up a combined no-hit bid in the 8th, rallied for three in the 9th, then took a gift-wrapped 5-4 win from Bowie in the 11th. Ricky Hague, who had broken up the no-no with an infield single, reached on an error (#5 for the Baysox) with two outs, took second on a single by Brian Goodwin, third on a wild pitch, and scored the gamewinner on a single by Sean Nicol. Aaron Barrett, who tossed a scoreless top of the 11th, got the win following five combined shutdown innings from Ian Krol, Rob Wort, and Pat Lehman. Senators starter Caleb Clay gave up all four Bowie runs on eight hits and and two walks in five innings.

Lynchburg 11 Potomac 6
• Cole (ND) 5⅓ IP, 7H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 7K
• Self (BS, 1; L, 0-1) ⅔ IP, 3H, 4R, 3ER, 2BB, 1K, HR
• Martinson 2-3, R, BB, HR, 2RBI, SB
• Burns 1-2, 3BB
• Sacnhez 2-4, 3B, BB, RBI
• Ramsey 2-4, R, RBI

Lynchburg did all it could to lose, but Potomac was a too-gracious host on Sunday Afternoon In Woodbridge

Delmarva 2 Hagerstown 1
• Pena 5IP, 3H, R, ER, 2BB, 2K
• Dupra 3IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Miller 2-4, R, HR, RBI
• Martinez 1-3, BB
• Rest of lineup 0-for-20

Delmarva pitchers walked eight, but allowed just three hits in a 2-1 pitcher’s duel in Salisbury, Maryland. Just five Hagerstown batters reached second, two by stolen base, as only Estarlin Martinez and Brandon Miller hit safely, with Miller’s solo shot in the 7th accounting for the lone Suns run. Hagerstown starter Ronald Pena gave up the first Shorebirds run on three hits and two walks over the first five innings. Brian Dupra followed with three scoreless frames before giving way to Travis Henke. Delmarva got the gamewinner on a leadoff single, sacrifice, and another single with two outs.

Apr 072013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 5-4
(11 inn.)
@ Lehigh Valley,
1:35 p.m.
Perry (1-1, 4.50) vs
Martin (5-0, 3.18 @ AA)
Harrisburg Won, 6-1 vs. Bowie,
2:00 p.m.
Clay (3-3, 4.61) vs.
Gamboa (8-4, 3.33)
Potomac Lost, 10-6 vs. Lynchburg,
1:05 p.m.
Cole (0-7, 7.82) vs.
Pope (7-8, 6.13)
Hagerstown Won, 5-3;
Lost, 7-3
@ Delmarva,
2:05 p.m.
Pena (1-0, 2.84 @ SS-A) vs.
Kline (0-0, 4.50 @ SS-A)

Lehigh Valley 5 Syracuse 4 (11 inn.)
• Maya (ND) 6⅓ IP, 7H, 3R, 2ER, BB, 4K
• Davis 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Tatusko (L, 0-1) ⅓ IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 1K
• Kobernus 3-4, R, HR, 3RBI, CS, E (in LF)
• Owings 2-4

After a wild ninth in which the Chiefs scored a run to tie without hitting the ball out of the infield, the Iron Pigs had the last laugh. Syracuse reliever Ryan Tatusko loaded the bases with three straight one-out walks then gave up the gamewinner when a grounder trickled through a drawn-in infield to give Lehigh Valley a 5-4 win in 11 innings. Jeff Kobernus homered and drove in three to pace the Chiefs’ offense, which struggled with RISP at 1-for-12. Yunesky Maya pitched into the 7th, allowing seven hits and a walk while striking out four.

Harrisburg 6 Bowie 1
• Demny (W, 1-1) 5IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 6K
• Holder (SV, 1) 4IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Nicol 2-4, R, 2B
• Souza 1-3, R, BB, HR, 2RBI, OF assist at 3B
• Hague 1-3, BB, 2RBI

The Senators put up three straight crooked numbers with two-run rallies in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th innings and cruised to a 6-1 win over the Baysox. Steven Souza got the barrage going with a two-run shot as he rocked this pitch over the wall in left-center. It was, however, an all-or-nothing night on offense as Harrisburg also struck out 13 times. Paul Demny’s return to the starting rotation was a good one: an unearned run on two hits and two walks with six strikeouts. Trevor Holder went the rest of the way for a four-inning save, his first as a professional. Geoff Morrow of the Patriot-News is reporting that Matt Skole will go on the D.L. with “a wrist sprain with a small fracture” with a roster move expected sometime today.

Lynchburg 10 Potomac 6
• Jordan (ND) 6IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Meza 4BF, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 0K, HR
• Bates (L, 0-1) 3BF, 1H, 3R, 0ER, BB, 0K, 1-1 IR-S
• Burns 3-5, R, 3B, SB
• Martinson 2-5, R, 2B, 3B, 2RBI
• 14K’s by Potomac hitters

After six strong innings from Taylor Jordan, the wheels came off the bus in the seventh inning
Last Night In Woodbridge

Hagerstown 5 Delmarva 3 — GAME ONE
• Mooneyham 4IP, 3H, R, ER, 4BB, 2K
• Schwartz (W, 1-0) 3IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 5K, HR
• McQuillan 2-3, R, RBI
• Renda 2-4, 2R, 2B
• Lopez 2-4,

The Suns took full advantage of the Shorebirds’ miscues with two unearned runs being the difference in a 5-3 win over Delmarva. Table-setters Tony Renda and Mike McQuillan combined to go 4-for-7 with three runs scored to lead the Hagerstown “O.” Brett Mooneyham went four innings but also walked four, allowing a run on three hits while fanning two. Blake Schwartz got the win in relief, though he allowed two-run shot in the last of the 6th to cut a 4-1 lead to 4-3 before the Suns tacked on an insurance run in the 7th.

Hagerstown 3 Delmarva 7 — GAME TWO
• Pineyro (L, 0-1) 3IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 3K, 3WP
• Harper 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K, 2-0 IR-S
• Martinez 1-2, R, 2BB, RBI, CS
• Miller 2-4, 2B, RBI
• Perez 2-3, R

Ivan Pineyro’s Low-A debut was an ugly one, as the 21-year-old Dominican was rocked for four runs on five hits and a walk as the Suns dropped the nightcap, 7-3. Estarlin Martinez reached base three times, scored a run, and drove in a run while Brandon Miller singled and doubled as all three Hagerstown runs came in the last at-bat in the 7th.

Apr 062013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 11-0 @ Lehigh Valley,
6:35 p.m.
Maya (11-10, 3.88) vs.
Morgan (4-1, 3.53 @ AA)
Harrisburg Lost, 15-7 vs. Bowie,
7:00 p.m.
Demny (6-8, 5.46) vs.
Gausman (0-1, 6.00 @ A+)
Potomac Won, 12-1 vs. Lynchburg,
6:35 p.m.
Jordan (3-4, 4.05 @ A-) vs.
Holland (5-9, 4.04 @ A-)
Hagerstown Postponed @ Delmarva,
4:35 p.m.
Mooneyham (2-2, 4.55 @ SS-A) and
Pineyro (3-2, 5.50 @ SS-A) vs.
Taylor (5-7, 4.33) and
Blackmar (4-3, 3.57 @ SS-A)

Syracuse 11 Lehigh Valley 0
• Roark (W, 1-0) 6IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 7K
• Mandel 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Costanzo 3-4, 2R, HR, BB, 4RBI (GS)
• Walters 2-5, R, 2B, HR, RBI
• Perez 2-5, 3R, 3B, SB, 2RBI

The Chiefs continued their butchery of Iron Pigs’ pitching with another 11-run outburst for their second straight win, 11-0. Tanner Roark pitched six no-hit innings and was perfect for 3⅔ before giving up the first of his two walks in the 4th. Jeff Mandel lost the no-no by giving up a leadoff single in the 7th but turned in the first of three scoreless frames from the ‘pen to preserve the shutout. Zach Walters homered again while Mike “Don’t Call Me George” Constanzo hit a grand slam to cap a five-run 6th.

Bowie 15 Harrisburg 7
• Treinen (L, 0-1) 2⅓ IP, 9H, 8R, 8ER, BB, K, 0HR
• Barrett 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Hood 2-4, R
• Skole 1-2, R, 2B, BB, 2RBI

Bowie scored on Harrisburg in eight of nine innings en route to a 15-7 stabbing. Starter Blake Treinen took the brunt of it, giving up eight runs on nine hits and a walk in his AA debut. Aaron Barrett was the sole Senator pitcher to go unscathed, tossing a 1-2-3 ninth. Destin Hood led the Harrisburg offense with a 2-for-4 night. Matt Skole doubled in two in the 1st inning and walked in the 7th but left in the 8th after a collision at first base with a Bowie baserunner. Mayflies and Big Flies has the details plus some color from a real weenie shrinker cold night on City Island.

Potomac 12 Lynchburg 1
• Ray (W, 1-0) 5IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, BB, 5K
• Holt 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Martinson 1-3, R, HR, RBI, 3BB
• Dykstra 3-5, R, 2B, RBI
• Oduber 3-5, 2R, 2RBI

Potomac’s 2013 home opener turned out to be a laugher Last Night In Woodbridge

HAGERSTOWN — PPD
The heavy rains that swept through eastern Maryland on Thursday night into Friday morning rendered the playing field at Perdue Stadium unplayable, forcing a doubleheader on Saturday.

Mar 302013
 

The Potomac Nationals unveiled its 2013 Opening Day this afternoon, which as expected, will feature quite a few familiar faces. Without further ado, here’s the rundown (watchlist players in bold, notables in italics:

PITCHERS INFIELDERS OUTFIELDERS CATCHERS
Colin Bates Cutter Dykstra Billy Burns Cole Leonida
A.J. Cole Blake Kelso Randolph Oduber Adrian Nieto
Matt Grace Kevin Keyes Caleb Ramsey
Ben Hawkins Jason Martinson Michael Taylor
Tyler Herron Adrian Sanchez
Taylor Hill Francisco Soriano
Taylor Jordan
Christian Meza
Richard Mirowski
Robbie Ray
Derek Self DISABLED LIST
Kylin Turnbull Paul Applebee Rob Gilliam Josh Smoker

Perhaps not as many high-level prospects or high-profile guys as Harrisburg, but with 10 watchlist players and seven notables (which includes the M*A*S*H unit), it’s certainly an interesting roster. For better or worse, you’re going to read about these guys the most because (full disclosure) Potomac is home base for me as a season-ticket holder.

The early drama is who’s going to the ‘pen? Ray, Grace, and Hill finished the year in the P-Nat rotation but Cole, Jordan, and Turnbull were all Low-A starters last year. Unless there’s a six-man rotation, there’s an odd man out.

The outfield will be one of the fastest and most athletic in recent memory, with three CFs among the four outfielders. Taylor is still likely to the one the one that sees the most time in center, but it wouldn’t hurt to have that arm in right, either.

Keyes is expected to start at first and Martinson at short, but beyond that, I have a feeling we’re going to see a lot of mixing and matching at second and third with the rest of the infielders (except Soriano) having spent time shuffling between 2B, SS, and 3B.

Finally, Nieto and Leonida will be a catching tandem and teammates for the third straight year. Neither has caught more than 70 games in a season, but the edge probably goes to Nieto as the more accomplished hitter in his limited appearances due to injury and suspension.

Feb 142013
 

Since I’m going in order downward from AAA to Low-A, this is part three. In reality, this is the last roster to be finalized of the four full-season affiliates. Consequently, I’ve learned to keep my expectations in check when it comes to seeing marquee prospects in April. In the past seven seasons, it’s been two first-round picks — Ross Detwiler (2007) and Anthony Rendon (2012) and only one of those two was in uniform for the home opener.

Of course, I’m also the guy that roots for the lower-round guys to “figure it out” and make it higher up the ladder than anyone ever expected (e.g. Tommy Milone, Tyler Moore, Brad Peacock) so I’m not complaining. Really.

Still, as you can see from my picks last year, I did a pretty decent job of guessing who’d be in Woodbridge:

STARTERS SWINGMEN RELIEVERS
Robbie Ray Paul Applebee Neil Holland
Matt Grace Matt Swynenberg Rob Wort
Brian Dupra Ryan Demmin Ben Graham
Alex Meyer Trevor Holder Dean Weaver
Kyle Winters Mitchell Clegg
Cameron Selik
Robert Gilliam
Erik Davis

I picked 10 of 17 correctly, and was wrong on the usage on just one (blue). As with Harrisburg, there were two instances that would inevitably be wrong: Clegg, who was released; Weaver, who was hurt. I was perhaps too hopeful to see Meyer early, and as mentioned previously, misread Davis’s nosedive in 2011 (losing five of six starts after his demotion from AA). Dupra was simply an overreach, the kind of miss I don’t mind making.

We’ll see if I do so well next year with this collection of picks:

STARTERS SWINGMEN RELIEVERS D.L.
A.J. Cole Christian Meza Aaron Barrett Paul Applebee
Robbie Ray Matt Swynenberg Colin Bates  
Taylor Hill   Richie Mirowski  
Taylor Jordan   Greg Holt  
Kylin Turnbull   Ben Hawkins  
Matt Purke      

I wavered over Purke and will probably get that wrong, but I think there are more than few folks that would like to see him start in High-A and start living up to the hype. That’s not his fault, mind you. As mentioned yesterday, Swynenberg’s up and down season is another challenge to guess, not to mention that he’s started only a little more than half of his games as a pro. Barrett is another one I’d like to be wrong about, but history suggests that he’ll have to come back and put in a little more time at Potomac.

Next up: The fourth and final installment in this exercise of looking at the pitching candidates for Hagerstown.

Oct 292012
 

The 2012 Potomac Nationals will most likely be remembered by those that watched them closely (*ahem*) for two things: (1) the team that couldn’t win on the road (2) underachievement. You can argue against the latter to a certain extent, but it’s pretty hard to argue against the former: A 10-26 mark in the first half, a 12-21 mark in the second for a combined 22-47 mark that was third-worst in affiliated ball (Louisville, 22-51; N.W. Arkansas, 22-48).

This, of course, would be unremarkable except that in Woodbridge, the 64-win P-Nats were 42-28 — third-best in the Carolina League behind 74-win Myrtle Beach (42-26) and 87-win Winston-Salem (48-23). When I dug into it in early June, I discovered that at least some of it was attributable to the offense hitting nearly 100 points better on the road than at home, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense since the Pfitz generally comes up as neutral in ballpark effects. Other factors are surely at play here, but it’s interesting (at least to me) nevertheless.

Underachievement is a little more in the eye of the beholder. It’s often the disconnect between expected and actual performance. While as a fan (disclosure: see first sentence in “About” below), I feel like this team underachieved, as prospect follower I have to allow for the alternate, more objective interpretation that perhaps some of these guys simply hit their ceiling. There just aren’t very many guys that finished in Woodbridge in August that I don’t expect to see again next April; nearly everybody that deserved a bump up to Harrisburg got one.

So let’s take a look at the first P-Nats team to miss the Carolina League playoffs since 2009:
HITTING

PITCHING

There are two things that strike me when I look at these two comparisons: (1) How similar Potomac’s pitching totals were to Hagerstown’s (2) How much better the hitting was than I would have guessed (nearly mediocre vs. subpar). What didn’t shock me was the low OBP. Francisco Soriano, Blake Kelso and Michael Taylor shared the team lead with 40 walks drawn in 87, 106 and 109 games. David Freitas was next with 39 — in 78 games. Seemed like every time I would fill out my scorecard, I’d be filling in OBPs with numbers that looked like batting averages.

That’s a natural segue to the Top 13* batters (* for 2010 Draft Picks, ** for DSL graduates). Full team statistics can be found here. *Another “extra” to catch a notable

There are some bright spots if you look for them — Kevin Keyes and Jason Martinson’s power, for example. Ricky Hague demonstrating he can play second base (.983FA in 35G). Michael Taylor living up to the hype for his defensive skills in center. But there are also things to pick that aren’t nits — Taylor, Martinson, and Keyes whiffed a lot. The team’s left fielders gave the team’s centerfielders ample opportunity to show off their range.

As aforementioned, none of this is unusual — it’s emblematic of the level: players too good for Low-A, but not quite good enough for AA. The question is whether or not there’s a “yet” in that sentence. This is often where some players repeat… and many will stall (see: Peacock, Brian; Martinez, Carlos).

On to the pitchers…

Well, at least there wasn’t much in the way of mediocrity. The pitchers were either good or they were bad. And even some of the “bad” were pitchers had their moments of “good.” The Matts are a good example of this. Swynenberg was terrific in April, pitching one of the best games of the year on the final Sunday of the month. Grace finished the season strong, capping off his season with eight shutout innings against playoff-bound Wilmington on the final Saturday of the season, a game that Steve Souza won with an 11th-inning grand slam.

Enough has been “said” about how good Nathan Karns was this season. Unfortunately, that leaves us with discussing how disappointing Robbie Ray’s season was. Most of the damage was done in the second half — 1-9, 7.67 vs. 3-3, 4.89 — with the southpaw becoming particularly prone to giving up the longball (10 in his last 10 appearances). Perversely, I was almost wishing to learn that he had been hurt; easier to give him a pass, so “speak.”

Unfortunately, I don’t have the magic bullet as to the why (and if I did, I wouldn’t tell 😉 As the season progressed he struggled with his command, issuing nearly double the walks and seemingly always falling into hitter’s counts and it was usually in the early going, not the middle innings. He turned 21 four weeks ago, so it’s not the end of the world, but it’s the primary reason he still makes the…

OBLIGATORY TOP FOUR LISTS
I thought about only listing three apiece, but decided to go with four as an acknowledgement of the bias that comes with being a disappointed fan of the team. There’s more projection here than usual, as alluded in the discussion of Ray, and I’m giving some props to the guys that finished the season strong.

Batters
1. Michael Taylor
2. Kevin Keyes
3. Ricky Hague
4. Adrian Sanchez
HM: Randolph Oduber

Pitchers
1. Nathan Karns
2. Neil Holland
3. Rob Wort
4. Robbie Ray
HM: Matt Grace

Sep 042012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-4 END OF SEASON N/A
Harrisburg Lost, 7-2 END OF SEASON N/A
Potomac Won, 3-0
(5½ inn.)
END OF SEASON N/A
Hagerstown Lost, 3-2 END OF SEASON N/A
Auburn Won, 5-3 @ Williamsport,
7:05 p.m.
Monar (2-3, 2.96) vs.
Joaquin (1-4, 4.14)

Rochester 6 Syracuse 4
• Maya (L, 11-10) 7⅓ IP, 11H, 6R, 6ER, 2BB, 2K, HR
• MacDougal ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Brown 2-4, R, HR(25), 2RBI
• Carroll 2-3, RBI

Rochester opened up a 4-0 lead early with a pair of runs in each of the first two innings and held off Syracuse late for a 6-4 win. Yunesky Maya gave up all six runs on 11 hits over seven and a 1/3rd innings, walking two and striking out two. Corey Brown smacked his 25th home run and drove in two (nos. 70, 71), both of which led the Chiefs in 2012. Syracuse finished the season 70-74, 14½ games off the pace in 5th place in the I.L. North.

Bowie 7 Harrisburg 2
• Olbrychowski (L, 0-1) 4⅔ IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 5K
• Rendon 2-3, R, HR, RBI
• Bloxom 1-4, R, HR, RBI

The Baysox got three runs early off recently promoted Adam Olbrychowski and pounded the Sens late for a 7-2 win. Adam Olbrychowski allowed three runs on five hits and two walks and struck out five in his first career AA start, but suffered the loss. Anthony Rendon and Justin Bloxom hit back-to-back home runs with two out in the 9th to break up the shutout. Harrisburg dropped 36 of its last 52 games to fall from 1st to 5th, ending the season at 64-78 and 18½ games behind.

Potomac 3 Wilmington 0 (5frac12; inn.)
• Hill (W, 1-1) 5IP, 3H, 0R, BB, 6K
• Keyes 1-3, R, HR(21), 2RBI

Rain shortened this one to five and a 1/2 innings, with Potomac shutting out Wilmington for the second straight game, 3-0. Taylor Hill got the win in his third Carolina League start, allowing just one walk and three hits while striking out six. Kevin Keyes drove in two with his 21st HR in the 4th to lead the P-Nats offense. Potomac won six of its last ten but finished the second half 33-36 and went 64-75 overall.

Asheville 3 Hagerstown 2
• Jordan (L, 3-4) 4IP, 10H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 3K
• Holt 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Newsome 3-4, 2R, 2-2B
• Dykstra 2-4, SB(32)
• Jimenez 2-4, 2-2B, RBI

Asheville peppered the field with ten hits over the first four innings, scoring three times en route to a 3-2 victory over Hagerstown in the regular-season finale for both playoff-bound teams. Taylor Jordan took the loss, giving up the aforementioned three on ten over four with no walks and three strikeouts. Brett Newsome led the 11-hit Suns attack with a single and two doubles, scoring both Suns runs. Hagerstown won the 2nd half with a 40-28 mark and went 82-55 overall, two games better than 1st-half champion Greensboro and third-best overall in the South Atlantic League.

Auburn 5 Batavia 3
• Lee (W, 3-1) 5⅓ IP, 6H, 2R, 1ER, 3BB, 5K
• Benincasa (H, 3) 2⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K, 2-1 IR-S
• Self (SV, 14) 1IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 0K
• Pleffner 3-4, 2R, HR, BB, RBI
• Ramos 3-4, 2B, RBI

Home runs by Shawn Pleffner and Estarlin Martinez highlighted a three-run 6th, as Auburn stopped Batavia’s nine-game win streak with a 5-3 triumph to put themselves in the driver’s seat for the Pinckney Division title. The win gives the Doubledays the first division-title tiebreaker (head-to-head, 7-5), effectively lowering the magic number to clinch at one. Nick Lee earned the win with two runs allowed on six hits and three walks over five and a 1/3rd. Derek Self withstood a pair of two-out doubles to record his 14th save. Pleffner and Ramos both went 3-for-4 with an RBI to lead the 12-hit Auburn offense. The Doubledays wrap up their 10-game road trip (and the regular season) with a pair of games in Williamsport.

Sep 032012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 8-7 @ Rochester,
1:05 p.m.
Maya (11-9, 3.72) vs.
Martis (3-3, 5.40)
Harrisburg Lost, 11-5 vs. Bowie,
2:00 p.m.
Olbrychowski (1st AA start
of ’12) vs. TBD
Potomac Won, 4-0
(11 inn.)
@ Wilmington,
1:35 p.m.
Hill (0-1, 7.20) vs.
Ridings (6-1, 2.67)
Hagerstown Lost, 7-3 vs. Asheville,
1:05 p.m.
Jordan (3-3, 3.75) vs.
Gagnon (0-0, 2.84)
Auburn Lost, 8-7 @ Batavia,
1:05 p.m.
Lee (2-1, 3.97) vs.
O’Shea (3-2, 2.91)

Syracuse 8 Rochester 7
• Atkins 5IP, 7H, 6R, 6ER, 0BB, 5K, HR
• Davis (W, 1-0) 2IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 2K, HR
• Garcia (SV, 14) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Valdez 2-4, R, HR, 2RBI
• Marrero 2-4, R, 2RBI
• Walters 2-4, R, RBI

The Chiefs rallied from a 6-0 deficit to win their home finale, 8-7 over the Red Wings. Erik Davis got the win in relief, his first in AAA, while Christian Garcia threw a 1-2-3 ninth for his 14th save. Every Syracuse batter hit safely with Jesus Valdez, Chris Marrero, and Zach Walters each going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Roster moves: LHP Zach Duke and RHP Christian Garcia recalled to Washington.

Harrisburg 11 Bowie 5
• Holder (W, 4-3) 7IP, 6H, R, ER, 0BB, K, HR
• Frias 2IP, 2H, 4R, 1ER, BB, 4K, HR
• Hood 3-5, 2R, RBI
• Lozada 2-3, 2R, 2B, HR, BB, 3RBI

The Senators filibustered for nine runs en route to an 11-5 win over the Baysox. Trevor Holder closed out 2012 with seven strong innings, giving up a run on six hits with no walks and one K for his fourth win. Destin Hood led the hit column with a 3-for-5 afternoon, scoring twice and driving in one. Roster moves: RHP Adam Olbrychowski promoted from Potomac; LHP Danny Rosenbaum placed on the 7-Day DL. Manager moves: Anthony Rendon was benched for not running out a fly ball.

Potomac 4 Wilmington 0 (11 inn.)
• Grace 8IP, 6H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Holland (W, 7-1) 2⅓ IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Barrett (SV, 1) ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K, 3-0 IR-S
• Souza 1-5, R, HR, 4RBI, OF assist at HP

Steve Souza’s grand slam in the 11th broke up a 0-0 tie as the P-Nats finally won a game in Delaware with 4-0 shutout of the Blue Rocks. Matt Grace, Neil Holland and Aaron Barrett combined on the eight-hit shutout, with Holland earning his 7th win and Barrett earning his first Hi-A save.

Asheville 7 Hagerstown 3
• Estevez 4IP, 5H, 5R, 5ER, 6BB, 2K
• Meza 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Burns 1-4, RBI, SB
• Ramsey 1-4, R, HR, RBI

Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez labored through four innings Last Night In Hagerstown.

Batavia 8 Auburn 7
• Encarnacion 3⅔ IP, 6H, 4R, 3ER, 2BB, 4K
• Medina 1IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 0K, 2HR
• Kieboom 2-4, R, RBI
• Alvarez 1-3, R, 2RBI

The Doubledays couldn’t stop the hottest team in the minors, losing 8-7 to the Muckdogs — the 9th straight win by Batavia and 19th triumph in 21 games. Silvio Medina gave up two home runs in the 7th to turn a 6-5 lead into an 8-6 deficit. Auburn got the tying run to second with no outs in the 9th, but lined out and struck out twice to end it. The loss drops Auburn into a tie with Batavia for the Pinckney Division lead, and three-way tie with Brooklyn for the wild card. Brooklyn holds the tiebreakers with both Auburn and Batavia in the event of a tie for the wild card; Auburn holds a 6-5 advantage in head-to-head play going into today’s game but it’s not clear how that would be resolved in the event of a Batavia win today and tie at the end of the season.