Jun 212013
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 28-43, 6th place I.L. North, 15½ games behind

Good Zach Walters .382/.417/.836, 6HR in June
Bad Mike Crotta 0-4, 4.87 ERA, 2.00 WHIP since May 1 (17 appearances)
Interesting .973 Fielding Pct. – dead last in I.L.



HARRISBURG SENATORS 39-33, T1st place E.L. West, 1 game ahead

Good Steve Souza Jr .570 SLG%
Bad Rob Gilliam 5.27 ERA / 5.47 WHIP in last three starts
Interesting Senators pitching in June – 1.75ERA (28ER, 144IP)



POTOMAC NATIONALS 42-27, 1st place C.L. North Champs, 6 games ahead

Good Taylor Hill 1-0, 0.42 in last three starts
Bad Randolph Oduber 8BB in 47G (9 in 52 overall)
Interesting 11 wins trailing or tied after 7 innings


HAGERSTOWN SUNS 1-0, T1st place Sally North, 1 game ahead (39-29 overall)

Good Robert Benincasa 0.82 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 16K in last 10 appearances (hence the promotion)
Bad Derek Self 7.14 ERA, 2.12 WHIP, 6K in last 10 appearances (hence the demotion)
Interesting Estarlin Martinez HR last night 1st since 9/3/12 = 144AB (per Hagerstown Suns Fan Club)


DSL NATIONALS 12-5, 1st Boca Chica South, 2½ games ahead

Good 19-y.o. Dionicio Rosario .280/.410/.400 in 15G
Bad 18-y.o. Yefri Pena 9.39 ERA, 2.74 WHIP in four appearances
Interesting 17-y.o. Yorlin Reynoso 1.08 ERA, .172 OBA in four appearances
Jun 042013
 


The South Atlantic League announced its All-Star teams today and six Hagerstown players, along with manager Tripp Keister and pitching coach Franklin Bravo, got the nod:

  • RHP Dixon Anderson
  • RHP Robert Benincasa
  • RF Brandon Miller
  • RHP Ivan Pineyro
  • 2B Tony Renda
  • C Pedro Severino

Surprisingly, this is the first All-Star appearance for all six players. For highlights on each player, visit the official press release from the Suns.

Oct 152012
 

For the second straight season, the Auburn Doubledays won the Pinckney Division and racked up a .600+ winning percentage. Alas, for the second straight season they fell short of the league championship, losing in the Divisional round this year instead of the Finals last year, two games to one.

As the year prior, the lion’s share of the Doubledays roster was 2012 draftees — seven of the top 12 batters in terms of PAs, five of the top 12 pitchers in terms of IPs. This, of course, is a product of the Washington focus on drafting collegiate players (26 of 40) in general and seniors in particular (16 of 24 signees). Not to, um, beat a dead horse, but my stance from last year that the Nats should consider drafting more HS players in light of the large number of 22-24-y.o.’s in the system remains the same.

That the parent club is now in a window of opportunity that has come sooner than most reasonable people would have expected (most of the “Natmosphere” pegged them winning about 85-87 games) solidifies that opinion. In other words, the organizatiom can afford to spend more time developing a hidden gem rather than playing it safe and hoping that a collegiate player can be pushed from a serviceable backup to an everyday player.

Continuing with our format, let’s examine how Auburn compared to the rest of the N.Y. Penn League…
HITTING

PITCHING

Like last season, the 2012 Auburn Doubledays could hit, leading the league in runs scored, hits, and batting average and were second in on-base percentage and slugging. They weren’t quite as proficient in stealing bases in terms of quantity, but were successful nearly 79% of the time, a slight dip from last year’s insane rate of 85.5 percent.

On the flip side, however, the pitching needed all that offense because it wasn’t up to snuff: 10th in runs allowed and hit batsman, 13th in ERA and home runs allowed, 14th in hits allowed. There are a couple of caveats worth noting. Just two starting pitchers were below league-average in terms of ERA, though it should be noted that a couple pitchers had huge ERA-FIP differentials, which is not uncommon in short-season ball, and roughly a half-dozen pitchers had better than a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

I’m listing the Top 13* hitters and pitchers in terms of plate appearances and innings pitched and using defensive games played for the listing of position. The full statistics for the team can be found here.
(# = 2011 Draft Pick   ** = DSL Graduate)   *One extra because the #13 guy on both lists is worth noting

There is really little to complain about when it came to the offense — 10 of these 13 were above league average in GPA (link for those unfamiliar) and seven had isolated power rates (likewise) above the norm. Yes, you can write off some of this in the aggregate to age, but this was true last year and that carried over to Hagerstown this year (as predicted).

Defensively, the team was middle-of-the pack with one rather notable exception: catchers. Kieboom and Manuel (along with third-stringer Andruth Ramirez) combined to throw out 45% of the runners that attempted to steal against them and allowed a league-low 38 in 76 games, which is phenomenal when you consider how many opportunities teams had to run against them. Plus, the trio committed just six errors (four by Ramirez) for an aggregate fielding percentage of .991.

It’s not all sunny though, as we move along to the pitchers…

To be sure, there are some bright spots to be found here. Robert Benincasa’s outstanding walk and strikeout rates (1.2 BB/9and 12.3 K/9 for a ratio of 10.67 to 1) Derek Self’s 2.50 FIP, Nick Lee and Blake Monar’s HR rates (0.29 and 0.16 respectively). But you can also see a some high walk totals and as aforementioned, the team gave up the second-most HRs in the league. There are also quite a few innings there thrown by middle-relief/swingmen that had ERAs close to 5.00 (121⅓ between Medina, Waterman and Fischer, which sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it?).
OBLIGATORY TOP FIVE LISTS
For the third straight year, I was able to make it to an Auburn contest, albeit a single game in Aberdeen. Still, this mostly sight-unseen, like the GCL and DSL and prone to the same problems that lead to the same misjudgments in rankings. For example, I put Bryce Ortega ahead of Matt Skole last year and didn’t rank Nathan Karns as a Top 5 for Auburn (though in my defense, Karns had a WHIP of 1.473 over eight starts after blowing through the GCL). So I expect to be wrong on a couple of these, too (hence the honorable mentions, natch).

Top 5 Batters
1. Estarlin Martinez
2. Wander Ramos
3. Brandon Miller
4. Shawn Pleffner
5. Mike McQuillan
HMs: Spencer Kieboom, Narciso Mesa

Top 5 Pitchers
1. Nick Lee
2. Robert Benincasa
3. Derek Self
4. Brett Mooneyham
5. Pedro Encarnacion
HMs: Ivan Pineyro, Cody Davis

Sep 162012
 

We’re in awards and accolades season now for the minors, as three Nationals farmhands were named to Baseball America’s 2012 Classification All-Stars.

Corey Brown was named as one of the AAA outfielders after posting a line of .285/.365/.523 with 25 HRs in 126 games for Syracuse. He was also named to the International League’s postseason All-Star team, and the far less prestigious “Good Bat” for Syracuse from NationalsProspects.com. Brown was acquired in a December 2010 trade with Oakland for OF Josh Willingham, along with Henry “Where’s The Strike Zone?” Rodriguez.

Matt Skole got the nod for the Low-A third baseman from the Durham, N.C.-based publication, hitting .286/.438/.574 with 27HRs in 101 games for Hagerstown and .314/.355/.486 in 18 games for Potomac. He was also the South Atlantic League MVP and 3B for its postseason All-Star team, this site’s “G” for the Suns hitters for 2012, and the Nationals Minor-League Player of the Year. Skole is a repeat customer, winning the BA accolades as the SS-A third baseman in 2011. He was the Nationals 5th Round pick in the 2011 Rule 4 draft out of Georgia Tech.

Robert Benincasa is the surprise winner as the relief pitcher of the year for short-season A with relatively modest numbers of 2-0, 3.09 with 3 saves and a WHIP of 1.29 over 23⅓ innings for the Auburn Doubledays. He’s currently in Florida for the Nationals Instructional League, and came to organization as a 7th Round Pick this past June out of Florida State.