Apr 182013
 

Catching Up On TransactionsThe Hagerstown Suns and Harrisburg Senators have both announced a series of moves shuffling pitchers on and off their rosters:

HARRISBURG

  • RHP Rob Wort placed on the 7-Day DL
  • RHP Michael Broadway assigned from XST

While Wort may have been stung by the decision by Matthew LeCroy to lift him in his last outing, this has all the hallmarks of a procedural move designed to give the recently signed Broadway a chance to pitch.

HAGERSTOWN

  • LHP Brett Mooneyham placed on the 7-Day DL
  • LHP Bryan Harper placed on the 7-Day DL
  • RHP Cody Davis assigned from XST
  • RHP Christopher McKenzie assigned from XST

Unfortunately, as noted in the comments yesterday, Mooneyham’s early exit from the Wednesday afternoon game was due to “arm discomfort” per Lacy Lusk on Twitter. Lusk also noted that Ivan Pineyro, who exited in the first inning of Tuesday night’s game after taking a line drove off his glove-side hand, did not suffer a break. Otherwise, it’s the usual roster machinations for this time of year.

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 072012
 

Our final 2012 look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues. Repeats from 2011 are in italics.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS
70-74, 5th place International League North Division, 14 games behind

Good Bat: Corey Brown .285/.365/.523, 25HR, 18SB in 126G
Arm: Zach Duke 15-5, 3.51 ERA, 26 starts, 164⅓ IP
Bad Bat: Koyie Hill .163/.226/.231 in 31G
Arm: Austin Bibens-Dirkx 0-3, 5.59ERA, 1.56WHIP in 29G, 46⅓ IP
Interesting Bat: Carlos Rivero .303/.347/.435 in 126G
Arms: Jeff Mandel 6-5, 2.58ERA, 1.12WHIP in 19G, 11GS
          Christian Garcia 1-1, 0.56ERA, 14SV in 27G

HARRISBURG SENATORS
64-78, 5th place Eastern League Western Division, 18½ games behind

Good Bat: Eury Perez .299/.325/.342, 26SB in 82G
Arm: Ryan Perry 2-4, 2.84 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
Bad Bat: Stephen King .185/.215/.218 in 47G
Arm: Chien-Ming Wang 1-5, 6.75ERA, 9HR in 9 starts, 45⅓ IP
Interesting Bat: Zach Walters .293/.326/.518 in 43G
Arm: Erik Davis 7-3, 2.52 ERA, 1.23 WHIP

POTOMAC NATIONALS
33-36 in 2nd half, 3rd place Carolina League Northern Division, 3½ games behind
31-39 in 1st half, 2nd place, 8 games behind
64-75 overall

Good Bat*: Justin Bloxom .259/.331/.478 in 65G
Arm: Nathan Karns 8-4, 2.26ERA, 1.02WHIP, 87K in 13 starts
*David Freitas was on track for this honor prior to his trade to Oakland
Bad Bat: Jeff Howell .225/.276/.282 in 20G after dropping down from AAA
Arm: Robbie Ray 6-12, 6.56 ERA, 1.62 WHIP in 105⅔ IP
Interesting Bat: Francisco Soriano .338/.430/.452 in 2nd half
Arm: Rob Wort 95K in 56⅔ IP (15.08/9IP)

HAGERSTOWN SUNS
40-28 in 2nd half, 1st place South Atlantic League Northern Division, 3 games ahead
42-27 in 1st half, 2nd place, 3½ games behind
84-55 overall

Good Bat: Matt Skole .286/.438/.574, 27HR in 101G
Arm: Alex Meyer 7-4, 3.10ERA, 1.13WHIP in 18 starts
Bad Bat: Hendry Jimenez .205/.259/.321 in 65G
Arm: Chris McKenzie 2-3, 8.64ERA, 2.05WHIP in 50IP
Interesting Bat: Steve Souza Jr. .290/.346/.576, 17HR in 70G
Arm: Christian Meza 8-1, 2.97ERA, 1.16WHIP in 88IP

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS
46-30, 1st Place Pinckney Division of New York-Penn League, 2 games ahead

Good Bats: Estarlin Martinez .319/.385/.455 in 66G
         Shawn Pleffner .329/.394/.458 in 55G
Arm: Brett Mooneyham 2-2, 2.55ERA, 1.23WHIP in 10G/9GS
Bad Bat: Jordan Poole .196/.256/.299, 47K in 31G
Arm: Ivan Pineyro 3-2, 5.50ERA, 1.66WHIP in 8GS
Interesting Bat: Wander Ramos .275/.377/.449 in 67G
Arm: Nick Lee 3-1, 3.77ERA, 1.35ERA in 13G/11GS

GCL NATIONALS
27-33, 4th place Gulf Coast League East Dvision, 8 games behind

Good Bat: Matt Foat .333/.404/.401 in 43G
Arm: Will Hudgins 4-3, 2.21 ERA, 1.04WHIP in 36⅔ IP
Bad Bat: Hayden Jennings .192/.254/.231, 70K in 47G
Arm: Adalberto Mieses 1-5, 5.05ERA, 1.61WHIP in 41IP
Interesting Bat: Mike McQuillan .375/.478/.429 in 19G (promoted to Auburn)
Arm: Joel Barrientos 4-1, 3.00ERA, 42K in 45IP (turned 19 in Aug.)

DSL NATIONALS
38-32, 3rd place, Boca Chica South Division of Dominican Summer League, 11 games behind

Good Bat: 19-y.o. Rafael Bautista .329/.419/.395, 47SB in 67G
Arm: 19-y.o. Hector Silvestre 5-3, 3.20 ERA, 1.20 WHIP in 76IP
Bad Bat: 17-y.o. Wester Suarez .130/.322/.152 in 24G
Arm: 20-y.o. Philips Valdez 2-2, 5.40 ERA, 1.97 WHIP in 48⅓ IP
Interesting Bat: 19-y.o. Jose “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz .298/.362/.490 in 69G
Arm: 17-y.o. Maximo Valerio 3-5, 3.55 ERA, 1.25 WHIP in 63⅓ IP
Aug 292012
 

Despite the increased number of single-A exceptions afforded to them, the Nationals 2012 Arizona Fall League selections will still have a Rule 5/40-Man Evaluation feel to it, particularly among the pitchers.

Here’s a look at who’s been named to play for the Salt River Rafters, per multiple online sources:
• RHP Christian Garcia
• RHP Ryan Perry
• 3B/SS Jason Martinson*
• RHP Paul Demny
• 3B Anthony Rendon
• CF Brian Goodwin
*Taxi squad, eligible to play twice per week

This does not come as a shock, of course. As I wrote roughly 25 hours ago: “[W]hat remains to be seen is whether those exceptions will be used or whether teams will still game the system to send Rule 5 candidates that they haven’t made up their minds on.” There are still two slots available, one for a pitcher, the other an infielder, according to Byron Kerr of MASN.

What does seem certain is that neither Alex Meyer nor Nathan Karns will be going — Mike Rizzo said that Meyer was done for the year in today’s radio appearance on 106.7FM. It’s probably also a good bet that Matt Purke will not be sent either [insert insinuation of possible surgery here].

Given that the unfilled pitcher slot is probably going to a reliever, the most logical bets are: Rob Wort, Trevor Holder, and the Pats McCoy and Lehman (listed in order of likelihood in my opinion).

Likewise, if indeed an infielder is chosen to fill out the position-player contingent, the most likely candidates are Jeff Kobernus and Matt Skole. Kobernus had a rib fractured by a thrown pitch in late July, but could conceivably be ready to go by the October 9 start. Kobernus is also eligible for the Rule 5 draft.

Less likely candidates include Zach Walters and Carlos Rivero. Walters was sent last year, but repeats aren’t very common. Rivero seems more likely to be a September callup, but if he’s not, his odds still seem rather slim, given that few AAA players have been sent under Rizzo’s stewardship.

A month ago, Ricky Hague would have garnered a mention, but a reliable source has indicated to me that he won’t be going. Skole should certainly merit consideration, given his strong year offensively, though it’s also conceivable that he’ll be spending instrux learning a new defensive position (that’s purely speculation, unless it turns out I’m right ;-) which would make it unlikely to have him play the new position at that level so soon (unless he’s allowed to DH, which is possible).

If it’s not an infielder, the only logical choice would be Destin Hood, another Rule 5 candidate, but one who’s young and been hurt for long stretches this season. But he is also just a year remove from a breakout season and did play at AA all season long.

To play devil’s advocate, with most of the organization’s top pitching prospects unavailable due to injury, surgery, or innings limitation, the Nationals have little choice but to send older pitchers. Sending guys strictly by age or level would be a farce unless it was mandated by the rules. So like the late Spike, I’m a little uninspired by the choices, but I do understand them.

Jul 062012
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good 20-y.o. Wander Suero 4-1, 3.09ERA, 1.19WHIP
Bad 18-y.o. Miguel Acevedo 6.75ERA, 1.90WHIP
Interesting 17 y.o. Thomas Alvarez .273/.500/.636 in 7G
Apr 272012
 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Nathan Karns 1.93ERA, 1.21WHIP, 19K in 14IP
Bad Justin Miller .172/.194/.219, 20K in 17G
Interesting 30 for 35 SB attempts as a team (85.7% leads Sally League; total is 3rd)
Aug 262011
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 60-69, 4th place I.L. North, 12½ games behind (eliminated)

Good Tom Milone 11-6, 3.33 ERA, 1.05 WHIP
Bad Jeff Frazier .221/.285/.359
Interesting Garrett Mock 0.87 ERA, 0.48 WHIP in August

HARRISBURG SENATORS 74-57, 1st place E.L. West, 2 games ahead

Good Archie Gilbert .386/.413/.523 in August
Bad Leonard Davis .150/.227/.250 in last 10G
Interesting Shairon Martis 134K in 121IP

POTOMAC NATIONALS 32-27, 2nd place C.L. North Division, 4½ games behind (61-67 overall)

Good Francisco Soriano .303/.418/.421 in August
Bad Rob Wort 5.40 ERA, 1.75 WHIP since All-Star Game
Interesting Sandy Leon .492 SLG in August

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 31-28, 2nd place Sally League North Divison, 4 games behind (71-58 overall)

Good Adrian Nieto .333/.382/.587 in 17G
Bad Sam Brown 1-4, 6.23 ERA since All-Star Game
Interesting Kevin Keyes .298/.372/.546 since All-Star Game

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 40-25, 1st place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 3½ games ahead

Good Taylor Hill 2.57 ERA, 0.86 WHIP as a starter
Bad Matt Skole 11E in 56G at 3B
Interesting Caleb Ramsey 28BB in 55G (.376 OBP)

GCL Nationals 20-32, 4th place GCL East, 17½ games behind (Eliminated)

Good Wander Ramos .315/.405/.643
Bad Inocencio Heredia 0-2, 7.08 ERA, 1.92 WHIP
Interesting 19 y.o. Gregory Baez 1-2, 3.65 ERA in 12G, 10GS
Jul 292011
 

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

SYRACUSE 46-58, 4th Place I.L. North, 15 games behind

Good Josh Wilkie 2-0, 3SV, 0ER in last 14⅔ IP (11 appearances)
Bad Craig Stammen 0-2, 6.48 since I.L. All-Star Break
Interesting Tom Milone, Randy Knorr ejected in same game last night

HARRISBURG 60-46, 1st place E.L. West Division, 1½ games ahead

Good Derek Norris .283/.431/.478 since E.L. All Star Break
Bad Erik Davis 1-4, 7.52 ERA, 1.41 WHIP in July
Interesting Six different Ps have 4 or more saves, team is T2nd for league lead with 33

POTOMAC 20-13, 2nd place C.L. North Division, 2 games behind (49-53 overall)

Good Marcos Frias 1-0, 2.12 ERA, 1.06 WHIP since C.L. All-Star Break
Bad Rob Wort 1.60 WHIP, 5.81 FIP
Interesting Steve Souza .427 OBP since C.L. All-Star Break

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 16-16, 4th place Sally North Division, 4½ games behind (56-46 overall)

Good David Freitas 59BB, 58K
Bad Shane McCatty 8.10ERA in July
Interesting Jason Martinson 12HR, 44RBI, 46BB, 106K, 24E

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 22-18, T1st place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 1 game ahead

Good Brian Dupra 1.93 ERA, 0.99 WHIP in July
Bad Connor Rowe .578 OPS, 38K in 29G
Interesting Team SB success rate of 78.33% (47/60), best in NYPL

GCL NATIONALS 12-20, 4th place GCL East, 11 games behind

Good Wander Ramos 1.092 OPS in 24G
Bad Andy Santana 2.65 WHIP, 12.71 ERA
Interesting Silvio Medina 26K in 18⅓ IP (12.76/9IP)

DSL NATIONALS 25-25, 5th place, Boca Chica South Division, 5 games behind

Good Ivan Pineyro 2.22 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 54K in 48⅔ IP
Bad Raudy Read .147/.200/.255, 7E in 30G
Interesting Yermin Mercedes .318/.361/.409, 1E in 32G
Dec 012010
 

This is a more difficult list to compile because, as noted in the comments recently, this system does not have much in the way of front-line starters poised for the near term. Of course, I’ve just described at least half the other organizations in MLB. That may not be much comfort, but the lament is common one. There’s a reason why you rarely see a position player traded for a starting pitcher, one for one.

What the Nationals do appear to have is a group of relievers that could make the jump in the next year or so. There’s something to be said for that. Some of you may have seen the MLB Network’s Prime 9 episode “The Most Lopsided Trades in MLB History.” Two of those nine involved relievers (oddly enough both trades involved the Red Sox) and it’s not hard to recall other past trades, particularly in late July, that involve uneven swaps of relievers for prospects.

Last year, the Nats appeared to have pulled off just such a trade (though in fairness to Minnesota, Wilson Ramos was blocked by a perennial All-Star). If just a couple of these prospects pan out, it could give Washington G.M. Mike Rizzo the chips to make another deal… or better yet make one of the team’s few strengths even stronger.

So with that in mind, I’m presenting our Top 10 List of Pitching prospects, a.k.a. “arms”…

  1. Sammy Solis — Struggled some in the AFL, but scouts are nearly in agreement that he can and will rise rapidly.
  2. A.J. Cole  — Tall (6’5″) wiry (190lbs) H.S. RHP but said to possess a plus FB (91-94, top 96) that will likely gain velocity as he gains weight and grows into his frame.
  3. Robbie Ray — A “pitchability” lefty that is projected to command three pitches for strikes (FB, CU, CH).
  4. Adam Carr — Hard-throwing RHRP that had strong finish in AAA and a good AFL and has proven he can throw multiple innings regularly.
  5. Cole Kimball — The surprise of the AFL with outstanding numbers and an improved fastball but lack of AAA track record gives Carr the higher ranking.
  6. A.J. Morris — Noticeable increase in velocity, sharpness, and effectiveness after converting from starting to relief in the last month of the season.
  7. Tom Milone — Outstanding control and plus breaking pitch, but scouts worry it won’t translate to the next level. This has been the refrain since 2008.
  8. Brad Peacock — Hard-throwing RHP that needs to have his changeup working to succeed. When it is, he’s very effective. When it’s not, he can and will get hit hard.
  9. Brad Meyers — 2010 was a lost cause, but folks much more experienced and knowledgeable than I am in prospect-rating still believe in him, so he gets the nod.
  10. Danny Rosenbaum — The sizable gap between his ERA (2.09) and FIP (3.27) is a cause for concern, but like Milone, has a good feel for pitching and can survive on the nights when his breaking ball isn’t working.

The “Nigel Tufnel” goes to Rob Wort. This is a pure “gut” pick based on what I saw down the stretch from him in Potomac: A tendency to pitch remarkably better with runners on base versus the bases empty.

Honorable Mentions go to Tanner Roark and Ryan Tatusko. If I had done Top 10s for both relievers and starters, there’s no doubt they both would have been mentioned. I decided not to include Yunesky Maya because of his advanced age, his international experience, and the small sample size of work, which was less than stellar (e.g. 21BB, 4HR in 46⅓ IP majors and minors combined). All three will be on the watchlist.

Oct 262010
 

Like the ’10 G-Nats, the 2010 Hagerstown Suns were a team that could mash the ball, leading the South Atlantic League in hits, runs scored, batting average and OPS. Unfortunately, they also led the league in runs allowed, hits allowed, and WHIP. Like adding insult to injury, salt to the wound, or a baby to a family sitcom, the defense did not help matters; it was second-worst in the league. That they even came close to the playoffs in the first half (36-34, 6GB) is a minor miracle.

Injuries, suspensions, and losing three-fifths of the starting rotation doomed the team to its sixth-place finish in the second half. Overall, the team went 65-75, three games behind its pythagorean projection. But there were some bright spots, too, most notably the possible resurrection of hope for a ’07 high-school pick that appeared to be on the path towards doing what a ’06 h.s. pick did in May: retire in ignominy (Colton Willems).

As we’ve done before, let’s take a look at Hagerstown’s hitters as a group compared to the rest of the Sally League…

HITTING

TEAM AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA SB
Hagerstown 4764 710 1289 72 398 1052 .271 .333 .389 .247 161
Lg. Avg. 4702 632 1204 81 412 1074 .256 .323 .377 .240 146

Bold = League Leader

PITCHING

TEAM IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
Hagerstown 1227.1 4.50 5.23 1.418 98 424 998 .7 3.1 7.3 2.35
Lg. Avg. 1229.1 3.82 4.54 1.315 81 412 1074 8.8 3.0 7.9 2.61

Three Suns (Bloxom, Ramirez, Perez) placed in the Top 10 of the Sally League for batting average, offsetting below-average on-base and slugging rates. While it’s tempting to say that this is a team of plodders when you subtract Eury Perez’s league-leading 64 steals, but this was also a team that led the league in triples (Perez had 5). The big inning was this team’s calling card, frequently scoring 3, 4, or 5 runs in single frame.

On the other side of the ledger scorebook, the lead was just as thick. Early on, the starting pitching was good — the aforementioned top three starters of Mitchell Clegg, Danny Rosenbaum, and Trevor Holder combined for a 13-6 record and an ERA of 2.63 in the first half — but in the second half, those marks would be 7-18 and 4.82 for the second-half triumvirate of Paul Applebee, Paul Demny and Graham Hicks.

But the relief pitching was horrid all year long, with just three full-time relievers (Rob Wort, Dean Weaver, Luis Garcia) posting sub-4.00 ERAs and only two falling below the league average for WHIP. Middle relievers Shane Erb, Wanel Vasquez, and Kyle Morrison appeared in 114 games and were 7-12 combined with six saves, an ERA of 6.06, and a WHIP of 1.69 over 175 innings.

I’m expanding to the Top 16 hitters and pitchers in terms of plate appearances and innings pitched because there are notables outside the Top 12. The full statistics for the team can be found here.

Name Age Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err PA GPA
J.P. Ramirez 20 LF 73 .922 10 551 .275
Destin Hood 20 RF/LF 69/60 .960 9 537 .247
Eury Perez 20 CF/RF/LF 113/16/3 .962 9 491 .251
Justin Bloxom 22 1B/3B/RF/LF 81/13/11/7 .983 14 454 .279
Francisco Soriano 23 SS/2B 68/24 .925 32 414 .252
Sandy Leon 21 C 91 .975 19 385 .239
Brett Newsome 23 1B 64 .994 3 366 .264
Steven Souza 21 3B/SS/RF 75/2/1 .890 27 344 .246
Jeff Kobernus 22 2B 71 .959 12 343 .229
Justino Cuevas 21 IF/OF 60/2 .931 14 216 .227
Adrian Nieto 20 C/1B 50/1 .967 13 203 .194
Marcus Jones 23 RF/CF/LF 36/7/2 .948 4 197 .196
Rick Hague 21 SS 29 .879 16 176 .304
J.R. Higley 22 CF/RF 22/13 1.000 0 133 .225
Stephen King 22 3B 29 .878 9 119 .219
Adrian Sanchez 19 2B/3B 24/1 .940 8 107 .238

Before doing this review, it would have been easy to say that the suspensions of Souza and Higley hurt the team offensively, but it’s pretty clear that the additions of Hague and the second-half emergence Eury Perez more than made up for their loss from the lineup. Hitting was not this team’s problem. Defense, as you can see rather clearly with nine of 16 batters in double digits for errors committed, most assuredly was a weakness. As was pitching…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HBP WP
Paul Demny 20 27/27 6-10, 0 4.23 129⅔ 128 47 106 1.350 16 13
Paul Applebee 22 29/11 6-6, 1 4.10 107⅔ 119 27 67 1.356 5 5
Daniel Rosenbaum 22 18/18 2-5, 0 2.32 101 95 28 84 1.218 7 4
Mitchell Clegg 23 20/13 9-3, 2 3.48 93 95 22 55 1.258 2 1
Josh Smoker 21 30/19 3-10, 3 6.50 91⅓ 106 56 92 1.774 4 8
Kyle Morrison 22 37/0 3-6, 2 5.30 73 86 29 88 1.575 5 13
Graham Hicks 20 15/15 1-5, 0 5.26 66⅔ 84 25 58 1.635 4 4
Trevor Holder 23 12/12 4-3, 0 3.15 65⅔ 68 7 50 1.142 4 4
Wanel Vasquez 23 19/0 2-4, 3 7.00 54 66 25 32 1.685 4 8
Luis Garcia 23 26/0 4-4, 0 3.88 51 48 17 43 1.275 5 10
Dean Weaver 22 42/0 1-3, 16 3.04 50⅓ 49 18 36 1.331 4 4
Shane Erb 23 39/0 2-2, 1 6.19 48 53 37 30 1.875 4 9
Patrick Arnold 21 26/0 2-3, 1 4.28 46⅓ 56 16 33 1.554 2 4
Rob Wort 21 33/0 5-0, 8 2.08 43⅓ 28 16 33 0.854 2 3
Evan Bronson 23 8/8 4-2, 0 5.40 43⅓ 59 6 24 1.500 3 4
Jack McGeary 21 8/8 4-1, 0 4.62 39 38 15 32 1.359 5 4

The ’07 pick referred to earlier was Josh Smoker. As a starter, his ERA was 7.38, his OBA was .319, and his WHIP was 1.872; as a reliever those numbers dropped to 1.35, .174, and 1.200. His walk rate, unfortunately, remained fairly constant (5.54 vs. 5.40) but his strikeout rate went up dramatically (8.19 to 14.17). Granted, it’s a small sample size (13⅓ innings over 11 appearances) but it’s something to look forward to in ’11, when he’ll be just 22 years old and he’ll still be a left-handed.

Next year could be quite unpredictable when it comes to guessing who will be back and who will be going up to Potomac for the Hagerstown pitchers. Smoker and Demny are likely to move up, based on the past offseason pattern of Florida Instructional League invites. Just about every pitcher that deserved a bump up to Potomac got one in-season. In terms of the hitters, it’s probably fair to say that most of the top six or seven guys will be Woodbridge next year, but with strong offensive outings from guys in Vermont and the GCL, it’s not a given.

OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS
Without further ado, here are the watchlists, which may have some repeats next week. Feel free comment on how you think we ought to address that problem (a top 8 for full-season A?).

Batters
1. J.P. Ramirez
2. Rick Hague
3. Eury Perez
4. Destin Hood
5. Justin Bloxom

Pitchers
1. Daniel Rosenbaum
2. Rob Wort
3. Trevor Holder
4. Josh Smoker
5. Dean Weaver