Oct 122012
 

The Salt River Rafters walked off with a two-run rally in the 9th for their third straight win on Thursday night, 6-5.

Brian Goodwin led off the the final frame with a solo shot to tie it at 5-5. Two batters later, Anthony Rendon drew a walk to load the the bases and set up the game-winning single by White Sox first baseman Andy Wilkins.

Goodwin would finish the night at 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI while batting out of the #9 spot in the lineup. Rendon walked twice, scored once, and went 1-for-3 with an RBI double. He was #3 in the lineup and #5 on the defensive chart, taking a grounder to third in the 9th for his only defensive chance.

Ryan Perry got the start for the Rafters, but was touched for two runs on four hits and two walks over three innings. He threw 55 pitches, 31 for strikes and faced 14 batters with three strikeouts, three groundouts, a lineout and two flyballs.

Salt River and Scottsdale rematch tonight in the Scorpions’ home field at Scottsdale Stadium.

Sep 282012
 

Not much in the way of news this week, but in yesterday’s transactions post from Baseball America, the Arizona Fall League assignments were made official:
• RHP Aaron Barrett
• RHP Paul Demny
• CF Brian Goodwin
• RHP Cole Kimball
• SS/3B Jason Martinson (taxi)
• RHP Ryan Perry
• 3B/SS Anthony Rendon
• 3B Matt Skole

The biggest change, of course, is the swapping of Christian Garcia and Cole Kimball, who has apparently healed enough from the injury that cut short his rehab tour in early to start throwing again. The 27-year-old is attempting to come back from rotator cuff surgery and could be potentially pitching to keep his spot on the 40-man roster.

When I last saw him, he looked like a shell of his previous self: his fastball like your weird uncle’s wardrobe (stuck in the 80s) and his command, which has never been mistaken for Jordan Zimmermann’s (subject of a prospect retro by John Sickels), even worse. Taking chances on hurt pitchers is what has netted the Nats pitchers like Garcia and Ryan Mattheus, though you could make the argument that Kimball was hurt in the first place when the Nats pushed him (and Adam Carr) in the AFL in the fall of 2010.

Most folks, of course, are curious regarding a rumored position switch of Anthony Rendon to second base. There are two other 2Bs on the roster of the Salt River Rafters (Tyler Bortnick, Diamondbacks; Carlos Sanchez, White Sox) and while one of them is a 25-year-old that appears to be a Rule 5 tryout (Bortnick), it’s only speculation at this point.

Matt Skole and Brian Goodwin will join Rendon as the position players assigned by Washington, with Jason Martinson serving as this year’s taxi squad player, eligible to play twice a week. Bryce Harper (2010) and Zach Walters (2011) served in this capacity over the past two fall campaigns.

Ryan Perry presumably will continue his transition to starting from relief while it appears that Paul Demny is doing the opposite, based on his removal from the Harrisburg Senators rotation in August as well as his struggles all year long (insert obligatory reference to youth and hard-throwing here). Aaron Barrett, who is not Rule 5-eligible, will continue to refine his stuff after posting a 3-2/2.09/0.92 pitcher’s line (if it doesn’t exist, then I’m coining it) with 17 saves in 2012.

The 2012 season begins on Tuesday, October 9th with Salt River hosting the Mesa Solar Sox.

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 312012
 

For most of the Nationals’ existence, the September call-ups have represented the hope of better things to come, especially in the wake of last-place finishes in five of their first six seasons. Most years, it was an audition for making the club the next spring — John Lannan in 2007, Shairon Martis in 2008, Ian Desmond in 2009, Wilson Ramos in 2010, Steve Lombardozzi in 2011*, etc.
*Honorable mention to Tommy Milone and Brad Peacock, too, since their September showcase helped make the pickup of Gio Gonzalez possible

Well, things have changed. The better things have come. And thus, the endgame has changed.

The “five or six” guys that have been promised to play in DC this September aren’t necessarily auditioning — they’re gonna be asked to add depth to the bench, pinch hit, perhaps mop up in the ‘pen. Starting assignments, with a couple of notable exceptions, aren’t terribly likely.

Who they gonna call? Well, let’s take a look:

John Lannan — Cheap and easy, just the way we like… to make predictions. Back-to-back shutouts is just gravy. And of course getting the nod the past two times the parent club has needed a pitcher for a doubleheader makes this an easy call. He’s expected to replace Stephen Strasburg in the big-club rotation.

Sandy Leon — A third catcher is de rigeur for contenders in September. A foundering backup (Jesus Flores) may be also be served notice, particularly when this Venezuelan backstop has a 46% CS rate and can switch-hit. I’d expect him to get at least a start per week, perhaps more if the team can clinch before the final weekend.

Eury Perez — As noted in the comments, Perez was nearly a given to get a look as a defensive replacement and a pinch-runner; hitting safely in 37 of 40 games at AAA and doubling his walk rate might actually garner him some starts.

Corey Brown — Brown is still on the 40-man and can serve many of the same functions as Perez, but with a bit more pop and adds another lefthanded bat off the bench.

Carlos Rivero — Working against Rivero is the possibility that ineffective but experienced veteran Mark DeRosa will get activated instead, but like Brown, he’s on the 40-man and as we know, Rizzo makes 40-man moves less often than he goes to the barber. Remember that before mentioning Zach Walters in the comments.

Mike MacDougal — That “said,” if ever there was a guy that Rizzo would add then jettison, it’s Mike MacDougal — veteran reliever who can work in a variety of situations, but mostly he’d be asked to spell a bullpen that’s been ridden hard all season long. This is purely a gut pick.

Other Possibilities
• Chris Marrero
• Yunesky Maya
• Jhonatan Solano

All three are on the 40-man but have big strikes against them. Marrero has been battling a bum hamstring and hasn’t exactly lit it up since returning to Syracuse two weeks ago. Maya isn’t likely to start, thus his best role is long relief, which doesn’t get the kind of work it used to get in DC these days. Solano is rehabbing from an injury and isn’t going to be chosen unless Leon gets hurt.

Not Gonna Happen
• Anthony Rendon
• Christian Garcia
• Ryan Perry
• Chien-Ming Wang

When Rendon got the call to Harrisburg two weeks ago, there was breathless typing about him getting a look this September. Since then, nearly every reputable source outside of the Natmosphere has dismissed that as talk-radio blather. Christian Garcia seemed like the “mystery guy” that manager Davey Johnson alluded to in some pressers, but his surprise invite to the AFL seems to take him off the table. Likewise for Ryan Perry

And Wang? Well, my favorite J-school professor taught me that it’s always good to end a column with a joke, and the idea of a has-been that can’t get AA batters out being sent up is pretty damn laughable.

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 272012
 

A reminder: This is just for fun, a pithy look at who’s hot and who’s not. I do make an effort to not name folks in consecutive editions unless they’re on a run like Tyler Moore in 2010. The “Curse of the GBI,” is more attributable to a hot streak ending (or beginning) than anything else, though I may attribute any twinges of pain in my back to voodoo instead of scar tissue from a microdiskectomy ;-)

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 49-56, 6th place I.L. North, 9½ games behind

Good Pat Lehman 0.71ERA, 0.95WHIP in last 10 appearances
Bad Seth Bynum .194/.268/.306 in July
Interesting Atahualpa Severino .288 OBA by LHBs, .147 OBA by RHBs

HARRISBURG SENATORS 51-53, 5th place E.L. West, 12 games behind

Good Zach Walters .892 OPS in 35G (6HR, 17RBI)
Bad Robert Gilliam 9.10ERA, 1.81WHIP in last 10 appearances
Interesting Ryan Perry 2.14ERA, 1.04WHIP in first 7 starts

POTOMAC NATIONALS 17-17, T2nd place C.L. North Division, ½ game behind (48-56 overall)

Good Michael Taylor .302/.362/.500 in July
Bad Robbie Ray 0-4, 5.70ERA, 1.73WHIP in 2nd half (7 appearances)
Interesting Adrian Sanchez .340/.364/.434 in July

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 20-14, T1st place Sally League North Divison, 2 games ahead (62-41 overall)

Good Caleb Ramsey .351/.351/.486 in last 10 games
Bad Bobby Lucas 14.54ERA, 2.92WHIp in last 10 appearances
Interesting Christian Meza 2-0, 0.60ERA, 0.87WHIP as a starter

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 23-14, 1st place Pinckney Division, N.Y.-Penn League, 2 games ahead

Good Wander Ramos .474SLG (4HR, 1-3B, 9-2B of 31H)
Bad Elliot Waterman 10BB in 13IP, 1.77WHIP
Interesting #1 in NYPL runs scored, #11 in runs allowed

GCL NATIONALS 13-21, 4th Place GCL East, 10 games behind

Good Mike Mudron 2.20ERA, 0.86WHIP in 16⅓ IP
Bad Diomedes Eusebio 10E in 29G
Interesting Jean-Carlos Valdez nine doubles in 29G

DSL NATIONALS 23-23, 6th Place Boca Chica South Division, 10½ games behind

Good 18-y.o. Raudy Read 1E in 29G at catcher (43% CS)
Bad 18-y.o. Miguel Acevedo 1.69WHIP, 7HB in 28⅓ IP
Interesting 18-y.o. Juan De Los Santos 24BB in 36G
Jun 032012
 

The Nationals have announced that recently activated LHP Mike Gonzalez has been recalled to Washington after making his season debut with the Syracuse Chiefs on Friday night, bypassing longtime LHP Atahualpa Severino.

To make room on the Washington roster, RHP Ryan Perry was optioned back to Syracuse after posting a 10.13 ERA and a 1.75 WHIP over seven appearances with the parent club. RHP Drew Storen was transferred from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL to clear space on the 40-man roster.

Naturally, it’s worth noting that LHP Atahualpa Severino was bypassed by this move for a left-handed reliever. Since being added to the 40-man roster in November 2009, the 27-year-old Dominican has made just six appearances — all coming last September.