Sep 122010
 

A four-run 3rd by the Altoona Curve broke open a 3-2 lead and sent the Senators to a 10-5 loss to end their 2010 season. But the beat goes on in Potomac with a 10-3 win over the Frederick Keys, as the P-Nats advance to the Mills Cup finals for the second time in three seasons.

Tanner Roark was taken deep three times in less than three innings, accounting for all seven runs he surrendered, as the 23-year-old also struggled with his command in walking three over 2⅓ innings. Five relievers followed but only Rafael Martin and Cole Kimball would go scoreless as the Curve put 12 hits on the board.

Chris Marrero (2-for-5) and Jhonatan Solano (3-for-4) were the heart of the Harrisburg offense, each homering while combining for five of the seven Senator hits and four of the five runs driven in. Micahel Burgess contributed the other RBI and threw out a runner at third, but went an abysmal 0-for-13 with three walks and five strikeouts during the series. Josh Johnson only reached base twice but was the offensive MVP for the Sens in the series, batting .417 with seven walks and four runs scored.

For the bullet-point folks…

Team Pitching Star Hitting Star #1 Hitting Star #2
Harrisburg Senators
L, 10-5
(Eliminated 3-1)
Rafael Martin
1IP 0H 0R 0BB 1K
Jhonatan Solano
3-4, R, HR, 3RBI
Chris Marrero
2-5, 2R, HR, RBI
Potomac Nationals
W, 10-3
(Advances 3-1)
Rob Wort
1IP 1H 0R 1BB 0K
Chris Curran
3-4, 2R, 3B, 2RBI
Bill Rhinehart
2-4, R, 2B, 3RBI
Sep 112010
 

Four big innings on offense and four innings of solid bullpen work were the, um, keys to beating Frederick as Potomac would go on to 10-3 win and return to Carolina League’s Mills Cup championship for the second time in three seasons.

Seven batters would combine for 11 hits, led by Chris Curran who tripled and singled twice for a 3-for-4 night, finishing the series at 7-for-12. Bill Rhinehart would drive in three for the second straight night, his six RBIs leading the team in the series. Potomac would score twice in the second, twice in the third, and three times in the fourth to build a 7-1 lead through four innings.

Marcos Frias would go five-plus innings to log the win, charged with three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three. The first man out of the bullpen, Carlos Martinez, was greeted with a single to load the bases with no outs in the sixth, and then gave up a double, but Chris Curran and Jose Lozada combined to gun out the last runner by a healthy margin to get the first out. Martinez struck out the next batter and got a tapper back to the mound to end the inning, the lead cut to 7-3.

Potomac’s response would come in the bottom of the seventh, plating three runs on two hits and a groundout and took advantage of three walks — the seventh, eighth and ninth that the Keys would issue — to stretch the lead to 10-3.

Zach Dials and Rob Wort would follow Martinez, each tossing a scoreless inning to seal the deal. For the series, the bullpen would pitch 15⅔ innings, allow four runs, one earned, on 18 hits and three walks, and strike out 11.

As expected, the P-Nats’ opponent will be the Winston-Salem Dash. The double-half winner swept the Kinston Indians in the other half of the playoff bracket and will host Potomac for Games 1 and 2 on Monday and Tuesday. The series finishes at Potomac, resuming for Game 3 on Thursday, with Games 4 and 5 (if necessary) slated for Friday and Saturday.

Sep 102010
 

Eyes on the field is the guiding principle here at NationalsProspects.com. Unfortunately, more often than not, those eyes are mine but I’m now fortunate to have a couple of folks in Hagerstown to act in my stead. Shawn, who writes quite prolifically for his own blog Musings about Sports and other important items has written for us before, most recently surveying the landscape in the first half. TBRfan, a commenter from the late, great NFA, offers her take on the prospects she’s seen in the 60-plus games a season-ticket holder plus nine more as a groupie roadtripping fan (kind of like how yours truly has gone to every road stop in the Carolina League). So the two might not agree, but together they give us a better sense of what’s to come. TBRfan is in regular type for the position players; Shawn is in red to follow her remarks; the pitcher’s commentary is all Shawn.

POSITION PLAYERS

Justin Bloxom
Was having a great year at first… smooth fielding both ways, consistent play most all the time… but a total shame that he got hurt and had season-ending surgery.  He was having a great year at the plate and could seeming hit to all fields.  One big month and pedestrian otherwise,Will be 23 early next season and I don’t think he has the power to stay at first long term. If he doesn’t start ’11 at Potomac that shows what the Nats think of his prospect status. Just cannot get past how much he reminds me of former prospect Bill Rhinehart.

Justino Cuevas
Hmmm….he played all sorts of positions after the Souza suspension. I think third base was a better position for him than SS. His first game at 3rd he had some monster plays that saved innings and runs. Could be an interesting player, but I just don’t see the “wow” factor in him like I saw in some 2009 Suns infielders. Finished the season stronger than expected,but I don’t see him as more than an organizational soldier. Doesn’t have the bat for third base or the quickness for SS. Reminds me of less-refined version former Sun Michael Martinez. Those guys find employment in the minors,but aren’t true prospects.

Rick Hague
Has a good bat and could hit for power. Fielding was reasonable, but was becoming error-prone late in the season. In my eyes, he’s surely better than Souza on that side of the infield, but not better than Soriano early in the season. We’ll definitely see him back at the Suns next year. I find his hitting the most intriguing thing of all. Could have nice size to play first base or even third. Hague hit the ball well and with power as well. The fielding—mainly the arm accuracy—is somewhat troubling, but I would like to see him over a full season at SS before giving up on him there, Third base might be a better future fit, but considering that Ryan Zimmerman is a long-term block, Washington will give Hague every chance to prove he can play short. Might be my favorite overall Suns prospect this season.

Stephen King
He came back to the Suns after a suspension and some time in the GCL and Vermont. He went right to 3rd base to replace Souza after a one-game stint by Cuevas. I don’t think 3rd is the spot for him, but I can’t really figure out what base I’d like to see him at, or even in the outfield. Not impressed that much with his bat. He’s a real question in my book – I just don’t see how or where he fits in. Have to agree here for the most part. Rust likely played a part in poor numbers, but should have never been to that point. I would like to see King worked out at second,but his prospect status has faded quickly.

Jeff Kobernus
Here’s another “that’s a shame” player right up there with Bloxom. Was steady and smooth at 2nd. I was also liking his batting style and all-around hustle. I hope we get him back to the Suns, I think he’s going to be a player to watch.  I wrote about Kobernus early in the year about a feeling that he was going to be a guy that always struggled with injuries and for 2010, I was dead on. The skills are there,but will the health ever be there? I think he returns to Hagerstown for at bats and moves to Potomac quickly.

Brett Newsome
One of the steadiest players for the suns this year. He had all sorts of “crap” tossed his way from the far side of the infield and he scooped most of them. He has good size but with a little more bulk could really be a good hitter. An undrafted player – and is getting a little old for low-A. Organizational soldier. Think Tim Pahuta with far less power.

J.P. Ramirez
One of my favorite players for the Suns this year – steady fielder, steady hitter just under .300 for the year. Hit for power, but a little slow on the bases with only 3 stolen. I think that might be a product of coaching, not potential. I know watching the Suns this year, I never got that “uh-oh” feeling when a
ball was hit out there to LF. Ramirez has the bat and catches what is hit to him, but has little range and lacks speed. One “plus” tool is power and that can carry a player a long way, but I still think the glove makes a difference over the long haul. In MLB,there is no hiding a less-than-average mitt and he still makes you think of him being an AL player or worse yet: The dreaded “4A” player. I like Ramirez,but there are concerns.

Mills Rogers
Part of the carousel of shortstops this year. He came to us late in the season and performed admirably. Fielding was steady, though most of his errors where of the type  that, if he took his time, would have made the play. I don’t feel I saw enough batting to get a real feel for any type of power hitting to his game, outside of the home run he hit in Charleston – a mighty fine shot. I think bulking up a few pounds in the weight room would be a real boon to his game. Small sample size, but I liked him in limited time. Need more looks, but should be a starter somewhere for the 2011 Suns.

Adrian Sanchez
He’s listed at SS, but played a lot at 2nd. Very young player just turning 21 – and he looks like he’s 15! He’s fast, he’s a good batter. Send him back to Hagerstown so I can see a full year of him – I’m interested in seeing more as I think he’s got some potential. Liked his contact skills and is pretty fast on the bases (for a guy that didn’t steal a base). I agree, we need more data, but interesting player to keep an eye on.

Stephen Souza
Season tainted by the 50-game suspension. Watching him early season I can tell you after parts of 3 seasons at the low-A level, something has to give. I don’t think he’s a third baseman at all. Makes the hard plays easy, the easy plays hard. Inaccurate throws to first – many souvenirs got into the stands. I think a new team and a new position are needed, or his career is over. Also, needs to check his temper and attitude at the door. Word behind the scenes is that Souza is through and going to college. Might be what is best for all as Souza never seemed to like what he was doing.

Adrian Nieto
Got little-to-no playing time behind Sandy Leon at catcher, which I think, was not the way it was designed at the start of the year. When Adrian got in at the end of the season, he did an okay job. Just more playing time is needed for him. Not the fastest runner, not the best stick. Let him catch the entire year at Hagerstown in 2011 and we’ll see what we have then. Nieto didn’t get the playing time needed and that was a surprise to me as well. Defensively, I thought he was better than advertised, but the stick didnt play. I would bet he bounces back next season and if not,he just isn’t what he was supposed to be.

Sandy Leon
I think he was a surprise to everyone this year. Did an admirable job behind the plate, even when middle relief had him diving all over back there. The bat came around for him this year, and had a .249 average – which I think could be lots better with hitting instruction. He’s the right build for a catcher, but is definitely slower on the bases. He’ll go to Potomac next year and probably platoon. Sandy Leon is a solid minor-league, A-ball catcher. Nothing wrong with that, but not a prospect, either. The bat is not going to play up the ladder and has solid defensive skills that aren’t elite. Works well with young pitchers, which will keep him employed, but not a guy to watch, either. A long-term organizational soldier (e.g. Devin Ivany).

Eury Perez
Eury was an absolute mystery to me this year. Gave me that “uh-oh” feeling playing center field. I was never really sure if he’d catch the ball or not. Arm I think is average – we’ve had a few other players come through Hagerstown that have had better outfield arms than him. Now on the bases? He’s a regular thief! He doesn’t hit for power, and I liken him to a softball slap hitter. He can bunt, too. Put this all together? He’s an interesting prospect – one that won’t fall off the radar for a while. But I
think there are better fielding CFs out there in our system right now, but not any better when at bat or on the bases. Get ready for that haters… I dont get Eury Perez’s hype. He is fast and will steal bases. That’s it. Contact hitter in the SAL, but his swing screams higher strikeouts as he rises against better pitching. Defensively, he ranges from below-average to terrible. I cannot remember a player here that has been worse in judging flyballs and the arm is nothing to rave about. I am not saying rule Perez out, but I don’t see the ceiling that others seem to.

Right fielders
Destin Hood, et. al. We had such a rotisserie of players here this season, the entire position played weak. Marcus Jones played there for some of the season and got called up. That left RF up to a platoon of players, none of which impressed me enough at all. Destin, I will say, was hot with the bat the first half. After that, he couldn’t hit anything off speed. It was painful to watch him bat at times.  Hood does struggle with breaking stuff and his hesitant late-season attempts at the left field hill at the Muni were pretty laughable, but my main concerns were just five homers over a full season. I expected more power from Hood and I bet the Nats did as well. Hood might be back to start the season, but a fast first month should see him in Potomac… Marcus Jones is just a organization guy, though he did show improvement in his second stint in Hagerstown.

PITCHERS

Paul Applebee – LHP
Applebee split time between the rotation and the pen and strikes me as a non-prospect. I can see his fringy stuff playing as high as AA,but as nothing more than a long reliever. Applebee does throw strikes and being a lefty might help him stay in the game for a few more years than a similar righty, but lack of stuff sends him off the radar.

Mitchell Clegg – LHP
Clegg’s numbers look nice, but they should have as a 23-year-old that turns 24 in December and spending the entire year in the SAL. For a big (6’5″) pitcher, he doesn’t throw all that hard and, as a result, misses very few bats (55 K’s in 93 IP). Clegg’s stats would look even better if not for three awful starts to conclude the season—14 earned runs over 14⅓⃯ innings, but the age concerns me and the late-season swoon makes me wonder even further. The big question is this: If Clegg is thought of as a prospect, why wasn’t he promoted to Potomac for their playoff drive?

Paul Demny – RHP
Demny has the stuff to succeed, but he is frustrating to scout as he seems to show up on occasion and toss a game that makes you think he is a diamond in the rough, but more often than not you get a guy that looks to be on his way from the game. Demny struggles with control more than you think from a guy with 47 walks as he gets behind in counts and forced to make a good pitch that gets hammered. He has a nice arm, but might be a better long-term fit in the bullpen. I wouldn’t give up on him,but wouldn’t bet on him either.

Shane Erb – RHP
UGH. If Erb is still in the organization for 2011,I have questions about the evaluations of talent. Hittable with less-than-sharp control… I cannot think of one reason to recommend Erb to be employed in 2011.

Luis Garcia – RHP
Garcia was dominant in his first month after being demoted from Potomac, but quickly reverted to form and settled in as a less-than-reliable reliever. Garcia throws fairly hard, but to me his fastball lacks movement and his offspeed stuff not only lacks bite, it also lacks location as well; a non-prospect.

Ben Graham – RHP
Graham looked good in the appearances that I saw him in,but look at his splits between the Muni and road games… looks like two different guys. Dominant at home, if you didn’t look at the numbers, I would have given an even higher grade. Graham showed me enough to keep an eye on and should be at Potomac next season.

Graham Hicks – LHP
When I saw the lanky Hicks, he seemed to cruise through a lineup first time through and then get ripped thereafter. Hicks needs to fill out physically and that could happen (just 20) and he does strike out batters, but relies too much on a fastball that really isn’t a plus pitch. Intriguing, but I’d like to see him next year before rendering a verdict on his prospect status.

Shane McCatty – RHP
I didn’t see McCatty much, but I did like that he seemed to have a feel for pitching (makes sense, considering his father) and saw his only home start and was impressed.
Keeps the ball down and more than a soft tosser,McCatty should be the top starter for the Suns starting next year.

Kyle Morrison- RHP
Morrison’s arm belies his numbers as he throws in the mid 90′s and showed dominant SAL stuff at times. Those times were rare though and his fastball is pretty straight.
Chris Michalak is a reasonably inexperienced pitching coach, I would like to see how Morrison might do with a more experienced coach to work on developing not only a side pitch, but better movement/location with the burner.

Josh Smoker – LHP
A late-season move to the ‘pen gave Smoker a chance at rehabbing prospect-level status as he allowed just two runs in August with batters hitting under .200 against him. Smoker showed the power arm that had been missing as a starter and was fanning batters at a high rate. If anyone wants to see him as a starter again,I would have severe questions about them. To me, Smoker starts next season as the closer in Potomac and has revived a career that looked to be in trouble at the mid-season point.

Wanel Vasquez -R HP
See Shane Erb.

Dean Weaver – RHP
Solid enough stats, but doesn’t throw overwhelmingly hard and seems to be a a journeyman type that will stick around for a while and rise through the system, but barring a change somewhere doesn’t strike me as a big-leaguer. Looks to be somewhat of an overdraft and despite solid numbers, I was disappointed by the righthander.

Rob Wort – RHP
Wort doesnt have big-time stuff, but just gets guys out. Sometimes you have to look through tools and look at what “is.” Wort gets batters out and strikes out over a batter an inning to boot. Will that play at higher levels? Not sure, but definitely worth keeping tabs on.

Sep 072010
 

Our final 2010 look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues, with a focus on the level where the prospects shone the brightest, not counting some guy who made a tour for service-time reasons (*ahem*).

SYRACUSE 76-67, 2nd place IL North, 11 games back

Good Bat: Danny Espinosa .295/.349/.463 in 24G
Arm: Josh Wilkie 2.45ERA, 1.13WHIP, 2HR in 69⅔ IP
Bad Bat: Chris Duncan .191/.274/.302 in 82G
Arm: Collin Balester as a starter: 11.57ERA, .385OBA
Interesting Bat: Boomer Whiting .372OBP, 36/48 SB
Arm: Erik Arnesen 1.29WHIP, 3.95ERA in 107IP

HARRISBURG 77-65, 2nd place, 5 games back, E.L. West Division Wild Card

Good Bat: Chris Marrero .294/.350/.450 in 141G
Arm: Tom Milone 12-5, 2.85ERA ( in ’09, 12-5, 2.91ERA), 155K in 158IP
Bad Bat: Sean Rooney .165BA in 31G
Arm: Aaron Thompson 4-13, 5.80ERA, 1.59WHIP
Interesting Bat: Steve Lombardozzi .295/.373/.524 in 27G
Arm: Tanner Roark 1.22WHIP, 2.50ERA in 6 starts since acquisition

POTOMAC
39-30 in 2nd Half, 70-69 overall — 2nd-Half CrL North Division winner by 2½ games

Good Bat: Tyler Moore 31HR, 111RBI, .552SLG
Arm: Dan Leatherman 0.92WHIP, 57K in 46⅔ IP in 31G w/ 11SV
Bad Bat: Chris Curran .226/.293/.305 in 74G
Arm: Justin Phillabaum 0-6, 6.87ERA (13.17 at home), 1.77WHIP in 29 appearances
Interesting Bat: Derek Norris .300/.535/.575 with RISP; .210/.359/.347 bases empty
Arm: Brad Peacock 5.1K/9 at A+ in ’09; 10.27K/9 in ’10

HAGERSTOWN
29-41 in 2nd Half, 65-75 overall

Good Bat: J.P. Ramirez .296/.341/.470 in 132G
Arm: Danny Rosenbaum 2.32ERA, 1.22WHIP in 18G
Bad Bat: Adrian Nieto .195/.291/.253, 13E in 60G
Arm: Josh Smoker 7.38ERA, .319OBA as starter
Interesting Bat: Justin Bloxom .309/.355/.476 in ’10; .228/.346/.303 in ’09 at Vermont
Arm: Rob Wort 2.08ERA, 185OBA; 3.91ERA, .247OBA in ’09 at GCL

VERMONT
36-38, 3rd Place Stedler Division of NY-Penn League, 2 games back

Good Bat: David Freitas .307/.408/.450 in 62G
Arm: Neil Holland 1.04WHIP, 37K in 32⅔ IP in 19G
Bad Bat: Hendry Jimenez .218/.291/.279 in 51G
Arm: Chris McKenzie 1.97WHIP, 8.54ERA in 26⅓ IP over 8G (6GS)
Interesting Bat: Wade Moore .287/.394/.392, ’10 D-2 draftee
Arm: Mark Herrera 1.18WHIP, .220OBA, ’10 Juco draftee

GCL NATIONALS
24-32, 4th place GCL East Division, 13 games back

Good Bat: Randolph Oduber .366/.434/.569 in 39G
Arm: Nick Serino 1.01WHIP, 3.16ERA in 25⅔ IP
Bad Bat: Rashad Hatcher .200/.241/.218 in 32G
Arm: Mike Gallo 8.38ERA, .291OBA in 19⅓ IP
Interesting Bat: Angel Montilla .285/.350/.383 in 51G
Arm: NDFA Billy Ott 0.83WHIP, 1.17ERA in 23IP

DSL NATIONALS
36-35, 5th Place, Boca Chica East, 10 games back

Good Bat: Victor Chavez .309/.420/.412 in 46G
Arm: Wirkin Estevez 1.04WHIP, .233OBA in 82⅔ IP
Bad Bat: Yamaicol Tejeda .042BA in 48AB over 32G
Arm: Jorge De La Cruz 9.88ERA in 11G
Interesting Bat: 18-y.o. Paul Chacin .281/.355/.336 in 50G
Arm: Adalberto Mieses 1.42WHIP, 33BB, 5HR, 2.98ERA
Jul 302010
 

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

SYRACUSE 54-52, 2nd place IL North, 7 games back

Good Jason Bergmann 2.19ERA, 1.16WHIP, .212OBA
Bad Chase Lambin .216BA, 31K in July
Interesting Adam Carr 4K in 2⅔ IP in AAA debut

HARRISBURG 53-53, 4th place, 8 games behind

Good Danny Espinosa .287/.324/.545 in July
Bad John Lannan 1 quality start in 7 AA games
Interesting Brad Peacock 7 scoreless innings in AA debut

POTOMAC
17-14 2nd Half; 48-53 Overall

Good Daniel Rosenbaum 2-0, 0.69ERA in first two A+ starts
Bad Jimmy Barthmaier 4H, 5R, BB, HR in return to A+
Interesting Tyler Moore 17HR, 73RBI leads all Nats affiliates (Pahuta tied in HR)

HAGERSTOWN
12-21 2nd Half; 48-55 Overall

Good Rob Wort 4-0, 5SV, 28K in 24IP in June/July
Bad Adrian Nieto .097BA in July
Interesting Paul Demny’s .240OBA is second-best

VERMONT
23-16, 1st Place Stedler Division of NY-Penn League

Good Chad Jenkins .192OBA, 1.11WHIP system-best for SPs
Bad Jason Martinson 10E in 35G
Interesting Wade Moore’s 12SB is 4th highest total in NYPL

GCL NATIONALS
13-19, 5th place GCL East Division, 7½ games back

Good Randolph Oduber .366/.418/.620 in 17G
Bad Matthew Grace 22.09ERA, 3.55WHIP in first 3 appearances
Interesting Mills Rogers .393OBP, 16BB in 26G

DSL NATIONALS
24-25, 5th place B.C. South Division, 9 games back

Good Jorge Hernandez 0.98WHIP, 2.05ERA
Bad Jose Arismendy .196BA .208OBP
Interesting Juan Pena 4 OF assists in 13G as CF