AFL/Offseason Update: Nov. 5, 2016

andrew-stevenson-11-05-16The Desert Dogs got three in the 1st and cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Javelinas for their fourth straight win.

Spider-man Andrew Stevenson was the sole National to play yesterday. The 22-y.o. led off for Glendale and reached base four times with two singles and two walks, which pushed his fall line to .327/.368/.500 in 13 games. In the field, he made three putouts (all in the 6th inning).

Tonight is the Fall Star game, for which Drew Ward and Ryan Brinley have been named to the West Division roster. It will be broadcast on the MLB Network at 8 p.m. Warning: Tom Verducci, a.k.a. proof that writing and broadcasting are two very different skills, may be on the telecast.

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TRANSACTION UPDATE
Minor-League Free Agency will coincide with Election Day (or the apocalypse, depending on your political leaning or choice of cable news provider) on Tuesday, but the latest dispatch from Baseball America has some re-signs and a release:
• Re-signed – RHP Whit Mayberry, C Nick Rickles
• Released – OF Brian Pruitt

I’d love to know exactly why the Nationals chose to keep Pruitt, a 2008 34th Rd. Pick who hit .172/.293/.234 in parts of two seasons with the Vermont Lake Monsters, on the Reserve List for more than six years. Maybe it’s an early 30th birthday present? Sadly, it may be as simple as: Because they could.

HAGERSTOWN SUNS FOR SALE

In the short term, this is mostly meaningless – the franchise has a PDC with Washington through 2018 and a lease on Municipal Stadium for the same period of time. In other words, the franchise is at its maximum possible value and this is a trial balloon to guage interest.

As longtime readers know, buying the team is only part of the equation, and relatively easy. Getting a stadium is the other part, and much, much, much harder. Something to keep an eye on, of course.

THE SYRACUSE CHIEFS

Were it not for tradition, I might start with the Chiefs to cleanse the palate. In seven seasons of this site’s existence, they’ve had two (2) winning seasons. In four of the other five, they were within shouting distance of .500. In 2016, they were just plain awful.

How bad? They had the worst record in the I.L. (61-82) and the second-worst in AAA (Omaha was 58-82). Statistically, they had league-average pitching (3.96 R/G) and somehow weren’t the worst-hitting team (3.55 R/G, Buffalo was 3.47) or the worst-fielding team (12th of 14 by FA; though dead-last in CS% at 22 percent). Even more surprising, Syracuse had a winning home record (37-34).

Somehow, there’s a list of four players to highlight that can be extracted from this morass, five if you’re disregarding stats, six if you’re feeling generous (and looking the other way on age):

1. Koda Glover, RHRP — 1-1, 2SV; 2.25/2.92/0.79
2. Pedro Severino, C — .995FA, .226 GPA
3. Brian Goodwin, OF — .267 GPA, .438 SLG%, 14HR, 15SB in 119G
4. Austin Voth, RHSP — 7-9, 3.15/3.53/1.24 in 157IP
5. A.J. Cole, RHSP — 8-8, 4.26/3.96/1.33 in 22GS
6. Matt Skole, 1B/3B — .261 GPA, 24HR, 66BB in 140G

Folks interested in seeing the full stats can find them here.

AFL/Offseason Update: Oct. 29, 2016

austin-voth-10-29-16The Desert Dogs avoided the shutout with a second-inning run but not the loss, as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Rafters yesterday afternoon.

Austin Voth (pictured) made his fourth start this fall for Glendale. He gave up four runs on just two hits, but both were home runs – a two-run shot in the 1st, then another in the 4th. Both longballs were preceded by a hit batsman.

Voth threw 74 pitches, 41 for strikes, over five innings. He walked two and struck out two while suffering his second loss, but actually lowered his ERA to 10.43 for the AFL campaign.

The two teams switch venues for this afternoon’s game to finish out the third week of the 2016 AFL season.

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TRANSACTION UPDATES
• Fans of “The Onion” need not shed any tears, as the Nationals have re-signed C Jhonatan Solano.
• RHP Aaron Barrett was outrighted to Syracuse on Tuesday and he elected to become a free agent
• OF Yadiel Hernandez was placed on the Hagerstown Suns roster, which means… well, nothing since this is the offseason
• Likewise for P Thony Amoroso, though it’s nice to think that the recently signed IFA from Venezuela may bypass the DSL in 2017

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS FOR SALE
While this isn’t news per se — minor-league teams are bought and sold all the time — what is unusual is that both the Doubledays and their facility are city-owned. And like many businesses in upstate New York, they’re losing money. Thus, Auburn is looking to sell.

This is the fiscally right thing to do, as the local media notes in an Op-Ed that urges the city government to be transparent as it does so — unlike their counterparts in Northern Virginia.

THE HARRISBURG SENATORS
A lot of folks obsess over how a farm system is ranked relative to the other 29 teams in MLB, but where it really matters can be boiled down to two questions: (1) Does it produce players that can play? (2) Is there enough depth to sustain injuries?

Obviously, we know the answer to both of those questions. But what’s less obvious is the effect that has on the minor-league teams, especially in the upper minors where there’s not a half system. The 2016 Harrisburg Senators were an example of the roster churn that ensues as 50 players suited up (not counting MLB rehabs) and a dozen pitchers made five or more starts.

Indeed, it was that pitching that carried the team as the E.L.’s third-best staff (4.16 R/G vs. 4.34 Lg. Avg.) was able to withstand the E.L.’s second-worst offense (4.01 R/G) and nearly made the playoffs anyway. Though it should be noted that the Eastern League was similar to the Carolina League in that just six of the 12 teams had winning records and two teams were over the .600 mark.

For the fifth straight season, however, the Senators list is combined into a single Top 5:

1. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP – 3.18/3.03/1.23, 100K in 76⅓ IP
2. Lucas Giolito, RHP – 3.17/3.30/1.42, 72K in 71IP
3. Christopher Bostick, IF – .290/.356/.462 in 71G
4. John Simms, RHP – 3.30/3.84/1.08 in 29 appearances, 11GS
5. Rafael Bautista, OF – .282/.344/.341, 56SB

OK, before you rip into me about Tyler Mapes, who’d probably #6 if I were to go further, take a look at his K rate (4.53). That’s more than two full whiffs per 9IP than the league average. Coupled with nearly a hit per IP for his career… that’s just too much contact to succeed long-term at AAA or higher. And I’ve seen it before.

To be honest, after Lopez and Giolito, it’s pretty dicey. Bostick didn’t exactly light it up at AAA and is no longer a National. Simms, like Mapes, will be entering 2017 at age 25 (though he’s six months younger). Bautista, despite all that speed, had just 20 extra-base hits and just 12 doubles.

As always, folks who wish to see the full team stats can find ’em here.

AFL/Offseason Update: Oct. 22, 2016

andrew-stevenson-10-21-16Glendale reverted to its losing ways as they didn’t play well in Peoria and lost 8-2 for its sixth loss in the last seven games.

Andrew Stevenson (pictured) was the sole National to appear in the game. He led off and played centerfield but was 0-for-4. Defensively, he made three putouts and fielded five balls total.

Austin Voth is slated to start the final game of the week for the Desert Dogs, an afternoon road game in Surprise.

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TRANSACTION UPDATE
A couple of more re-signs:
• C Jake Lowery
• OF Zach Collier

THE POTOMAC NATIONALS

If you’re a fan of “narrative” and superstition, then Potomac’s “even year” streak ended with a first-round exit to Lynchburg, a team they had taken out in the first round twice previously since the playoff format changed from best-of-five to best-of-three in 2013. However, as a P-Nat season-ticket holder (disclosure ☑), this year’s team seemed to be short of the mark of previous championship teams.

Of course, it didn’t help that the 2016 Carolina League felt like a second-tier collegiate football conference. The gap between the playoff teams and the non-playoff teams was huge, thanks to three of the eight teams winning 80+ games. The four playoff teams were the four teams with a winning record.

Which is not to say it wasn’t a team worth watching: Erick Fedde shook off a rough start and went on a tear. Drew Ward repeated the level and started very strong, slipped a little, then played well enough to get the bump. Andrew Stevenson came as advertised and was replaced by another hot prospect who also lived up to the hype. Jose Marmolejos was the steady Eddie he’s been for his entire career.

About the only complaint might be that there wasn’t enough age-appropriate pitching, but that’s nitpicking. It’s happened before and to a (much) greater degree.

And with that, I turn to the Top 5’s…

TOP 5 BATS TOP 5 ARMS
1. Jose Marmolejos, 1B
.295 GPA, .495 SLG%
1. Erick Fedde, RHSP
2.85/3.22/1.13, 9.33 K/9
2. Drew Ward, 3B
.292 GPA, 11HR in 64G
2. Ryan Brinley, RHRP
1.37/2.68/0.89, 1.60 BB/9
3. Andrew Stevenson, CF
.266 GPA, 27SB in 68G
3. Philips Valdez, RHSP
3.74/3.42/1.15, 6+ IP in 7 of 11GS
4. Raudy Read, C
.250 GPA, 30 doubles in 101G
4. Mario Sanchez, RHRP
3.46/3.87/1.31, 23 of 32G for 2+ IP
5. Osvaldo Abreu, SS
.234 GPA, .824 OPS in Aug.
5. Gilberto Mendez, RHRP
2.01/2.82/1.16, 0HR in 49⅓ IP

Avoiding repeats was the challenge here since three of the Suns’ Top 5 might have been named here, too. While I’m still not a fan of Wilson Ramos’s Raudy Read’s defense, I can understand that if he can improve to passable, that bat could develop into something that every team wants: a catcher that can hit. Abreu did finish the season strong (.311/.366/.447 in last 33G) and does have the tools to be a good shortstop. Add that to an AFL nod, and that’s enough for me to put him onto this list.

The bevy of relievers, including one repeating the level, should hardly come as a surprise given the number of innings thrown by guys who no longer have to register for Selective Service (270⅔ excluding rehabs and position players).

Folks interested in seeing the full team’s statistics can find them here.

AFL/Offseason Update: Oct. 15, 2016

andrew-stevenson-10-14-16It was a light night for the Nats in last night’s 8-7 loss by Glendale to Scottsdale.

Andrew Stevenson was the only prospect to appear, as the 22-y.o. started, batted ninth, and played left field for the Desert Dogs. At the plate, he went 0-for-4 while grounding into a double play. In the field, he had two putouts and fielded four singles.

The loss drops Glendale to .500 with a 2-2 mark. They’ll close out Week 1 with a home game this afternoon against Salt River.
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BA TOP PROSPECT LISTS

Despite having exhausted his rookie eligibility – the generally accepted, least arbitrary way to end prospect status – Baseball America continued its practice of ignoring this standard when it suits them to name Trea Turner the #1 “prospect” in the International League. A.J. Cole, who turns 25 in January, came in at #20.

TRANSACTION UPDATE
Still the slow season as folks await the World Series to end for full-fledged free agency to begin…
• Signed – OF Yadiel Hernandez (scouting report)
• Re-signed – IF Adrian Sanchez
• Released – RHP Bronson Arroyo

WINTER LEAGUE SIGHTINGS
It’s too early to list any stats, but for those desperate for something to talk about…
• Mexico – 1B-3B Matt Skole,
• Venezuela – RHPs Mitch Lively, Greg Ross, and Boone Whiting

THE HAGERSTOWN SUNS

We’re now in the full-season territory, where the sample sizes are larger and (Auburn excepted) there’s some actual local media coverage. I have a spy in Hagerstown, who has made posts about the Suns hitters and pitchers upon my request.

Disclosure: Shawn is not a fan of Washington teams, which is perfectly fine because only the Nielsen folks consider Western Maryland part of the DC-Baltimore market. I can relate, having grown up in Western Massachusetts, where some folks were fans of NY teams (particularly in football and hockey, thanks to Hartford and its top AHL team being in Springfield) because that’s who you could see if you didn’t have cable TV.

The Suns got back on the horse and played winning baseball from wire-to-wire, winning the first half by slimmest possible margin (½ game) and finishing second in the second half by five games to the Blue Claws, who swept them in the first round, two games to none.

Hagerstown was the #1 offense in the Sally League (4.77 R/G), buoyed by the likes of Victor Robles and Max “For Those About To” Schrock, and got league-average pitching from a mixed bag of pitchers and league-average defense (one interesting caveat: Hagerstown allowed the least number of stolen bases while throwing out 35% of those that did attempt to steal).

Now, for the obligatory Top 5’s…

TOP 5 BATS TOP 5 ARMS
1. Victor Robles, CF
.297 GPA, .459 SLG%
1. Jorge Pantoja, RHRP
2.63/2.67/1.15, 1.65 BB/9
2. Max Schrock, 2B
.286 GPA, 22BB, 20K in 67G
2. Tommy Peterson, RHRP
2.11/2.85/0.89, 0.70 BB/9
3. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B
.259 GPA, 19SB in 96G
3. Grant Borne, LHRP
3.34/3.35/1.20, 4.18 K:BB ratio
4. Austin Davidson, 3B/2B
.283 GPA, .473 SLG%
4. Andrew Lee, RHSP
3.71/3.15/1.24, 1HR in 51 IP
5. Ian Sagdal, 2B
.281 GPA, .303 BA, 30 doubles
5. Taylor Guilbeau, LHP
3.61/3.15/1.32, 8.3 K/9

Obviously, I’m probably giving short shrift to Rhett Wiseman again, but I also thought it’d be specious to skip over Schrock simply because he’s no longer in the organization. Had I gotten to see him in person, perhaps I might have slotted him ahead of the older, less talented players, i.e. like I did with Gutierrez.

It’s also worth noting that the tilt towards relievers on this list is an argument regarding performance vs. potential. The Nats kept giving the ball to the Dominican trio of Joan Baez, Jefry Rodriguez, and Pedro Avila—who started 72 games and went 23-25, 4.17 ERA combined—for a reason.

Again, this where we need to remind ourselves that development is the goal, and winning is nice but not necessary. As always, folks interested in seeing the full stats, are directed here.

Offseason Update: Oct. 8, 2016

We interrupt your wallowing in the Nats’ “missed chances” last night while downplaying (or ignoring) Max Scherzer’s continued generosity with the longball to catch up on what’s going on with the Washington minor-leaguers…

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE
It seems like forever and a day since we learned which Nats prospects and Rule 5 candidates will be on the 2016 Glendale Desert Dogs, which (very quietly) added RHP Jake Johansen to the taxi squad (presumably), according to the current roster. Tonight is the [no free advertising] Hitting Challenge at Salt River, while games begin on Tuesday.

BA TOP 20 PROSPECT LISTS
Like discovering a Hollywood blonde was born a brunette, Baseball America shocked no one by naming Victor Robles to the Carolina League Top 20 at #3, where he was joined by Erick Fedde at #9 and ex-Nat Max Schrock at #20 (and another double-dip). Lucas Giolito came in at #5 for the Eastern League while Reynaldo Lopez was ranked #10.

There was just one question about a player in the Top 20 Chat, and an answer that would make Crash Davis proud:

James Arnott (Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada): Gut feeling on Reynaldo Lopez please. Does he continue as a starter or is he a closer candidate? What’s his ceiling as a starter? Thanks[.]

Josh Norris: They’re going to keep him a starter until he proves he can’t. If his command and control become more consistent he can be a No. 2-type of starter. If not, he has closer potential.

TRANSACTION STUFF
As it usually is this time of year, things are slow: RHP Greg Ross was re-signed while a bunch of guys were activated from the DL, some of whom may have been actually injured at some point during the year.

THE AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS
The Doubledays won 12 of their first 20 before they played the eventual league-champion State College Spikes, who swept them and sent them into a 16-39 tailspin the rest of the way, including the last six in a row. As noted last year, the ascension of the Dominicans from the DSL and GCL has pushed the team from one of the oldest to near the league average for the bats (21.2 vs. 21.1) while the pitchers were the youngest (20.6 vs. 21.4).

Of course, it’s one thing to be young; it’s another to be good. Auburn’s pitchers were below average 4.25 R/G (vs. 4.02) while the hitters were the league’s worst at 3.13 runs per game. The defense was slightly better than the norm (.970FA vs. .969) while the CS% for the pitchers and catchers was second-worst at just 26 percent.

As I’ve done in the past with poorly performing teams (reminder/caveat: all sight unseen), I’m combining the list into one for what ought to be rather obvious reasons and presenting the Top 6…

1. Tyler Watson, LHSP 1-2, 0SV, 9GS 1.88/2.05/0.91; 10.05 K/9
2. Dane Dunning, RHSP 3-2, 0SV, 7GS 2.14/2.57/0.98; 1.87 BB/9
3. Weston Davis, RHSP 3-6, 0SV, 11GS, 2.67/3.07/0.93, 1HR in 54IP
4. Tres Barrera, C .244/.337/.366, 11.6% K rate (Lg. Avg. 20.2%)
5. Steven Fuentes, RHRP 2-1, 3SV, 17G, 1GS, 49⅓IP, 4.70 K:BB ratio
6. Dan Johnson, OF .265/.312/.347, 13SB

Just missing the cut is watchlister Rocky Harmening, who was just a shade better than league average in FIP (3.06 vs. 3.20) but only pitched 28 innings, all in relief. For the bats, that distinction goes to Nick Banks, who was a notch below league average on offense (.213 GPA vs. .215). Folks interested in seeing the stats for the full team can find them here.

Hello, October

We’re on the final weekend of the MLB season, but a week away from the start of the AFL season. The big boys are stumbling towards home-field advantage against the Dodgers in the NLDS, hoping to survive a series of late-season injuries at catcher, second base, and the outfield.

But this is a minors site, so let’s delve into what we can for today…

ORGANIZATIONAL AWARDS
It’s a bit of mystery why the team waited so long to announce its 2016 Organizational Awards, but then again, I wouldn’t put much money on the front office PR folks knowing the difference between Ed Bernays and Ed Walsh, never mind who they were.

Once Max Schrock was traded, the odds of Jose “Orange” Marmolejos repeating as Player of the Year went up tremendously, but I think he would have won anyway due to his performance at AA. Reynaldo Lopez winning Pitcher of the Year is also a, um, minor upset if you consider that the odds of a reliever getting named are very slim if he doesn’t rack up a garbage statistic. The fourth annual Bob Boone Award went to Rafael Bautista.

BA TOP PROSPECT LISTS
Nats 2016 1st Rd. pick Dane Dunning made Baseball America’s NYPL Top 20 at #6 while Victor Robles was tagged as the #1 prospect of the Sally League. Neither prospect was mentioned in the chats. For what it’s worth, former farmhand Schrock was #16 on the latter list. Given BA’s history of double-dipping, I’m expecting Robles to make the Carolina League list as well.

TRANSACTION STUFF
Nothing new here, thanks to my going “off cycle” with the previous post.

THE 2016 GCL NATIONALS
The team finished second with a 30-23 mark – the first winning season since 2013 when the team ran the table and won the GCL Championship. Thanks in part to 17-y.o. phenom Juan Soto, the team was nearly a full run above the league average (5.06 R/G vs. 4.12) on offense, which enabled them to overcome slightly subpar pitching (4.17) and defense (.962FA vs. .965). Thanks to the influx from the DSL, the team’s hitters were close to the league average. Thanks to the practice of using the GCL to rehab, the team’s pitchers were the oldest in the league, though the cohort of 21 and younger (13 total) weren’t bad: 11-11, 8SV, 3.18/3.28/1.31 in 217⅔ IP over 80 appearances.

After the obligatory reminder that short-season = small sample size (and that very, very few of these guys will rise above Low-A)…

TOP 5 BATS TOP 5 ARMS
1. Juan Soto, RF
.322 GPA, .550 SLG%
1. Francys Peguero, RHSP
2.20/2.59/1.10, 6.80 K:BB ratio
2. Connor Simonetti, 1B
.261 GPA, 6HR
2. Jeremy McDonald, LHRP
3.24/1.85/1.22, 9.23 K/9
3. Carter Kieboom, SS
.258 GPA, .452 SLG%
3. Sterling Sharp, RHSP
3.24/2.85/1.27, 1.3 BB/9
4. Joey Harris, C
.269 GPA, .414 OBP
4. Carlos Pena, RHSP
2.95/3.50/1.29, 0HR in 39⅔ IP
5. Darryl Florentino, CF
.267 GPA, .340 BA
5. Ben Braymer, LHRP
4.12/3.02/1.32, 10.98 K/9

After the first three pitchers, I may as well have taken a dartboard to pick the last two. Honorable mentions go to Aldrem Corredor and Michael Rishwain for batter and pitcher, respectively. Folks interested in seeing the full team stats, can see them here.

Offseason Update: Sept. 24, 2016

Well, it’s been a week. I know some of you are still smarting from another late-inning collapse by the big club, complete with the requisite angst of “the guy we traded away did better than the guy we traded for,” as well as another managerial blunder (pro tip: when you have a true CF available in the late innings, you might want to use him on defense), but this is a site devoted to the minor leagues, so let’s follow my digital 13’s from last year and see what’s what…


THE STATE OF THE FARM

Two of the seven affiliates made the playoffs (Hagerstown, Potomac) and two narrowly missed (Harrisburg, GCL). Unfortunately, the other three were not believers in corporal punishment (that’s no hitting, kids) and had league-average pitching (Syracuse, DSL) or worse (Auburn), which resulted in finishes at or near the bottom of the standings.

Naturally, this is not the best bellwether. The system generated another starter for the big club (Trea Turner) and was able to call on a trio of upper-level starters (A.J. Cole, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito) to fill in 16 times (as of this writing) for Joe Ross and Stephen Strasburg with subpar-but-not-bad-considering results (4-6, 5.11/5.04/1.51) as well as a hard-throwing reliever (Koda Glover). Even F.P. Santangelo can tell you that most of these guys were probably rushed a little, but it’s in line with the shift league-wide towards going younger.

As written in this space a year ago, the hopes for an influx of positional talent from the D.R. was fulfilled with the strong seasons from Juan Soto, Kelvin Gutierrez, and Jose “Orange” Marmolejos, with half-a-dozen or more guys behind them, though defense is a big “yeah, but” with the latter (e.g. Raudy Read, Osvaldo Abreu). And that’s not to overlook the ascendance of the age-appropriate Americans like Andrew Stevenson and Drew Ward.

In short, the system is still developing talent on both sides of the ball that can be used for both short-term and long-term needs.

BA TOP 20 LISTS
These are just starting up, so it looks like it’ll be another few days before we see our first Nationals, though I think most of us can probably guess it’ll be only a handful total and usually one or two (tops), for any given league. In other words, SSDY.

THE WATCHLIST AND THE GBI
A year ago, I was worried that this may have to be scrapped. I’m less worried about that than I am in keeping the GBI. I scaled it back this year and it still felt like a struggle to produce. I know it’s a popular feature, but if it stays, I think it’ll be monthly in 2017. My apologies in advance.

A SHOUTOUT TO DISTRICT ON DECK
My season reviews are much, much shorter than they used to be (like below). But one of the writers at District on Deck has taken on that task, and I’m passing along links to his work on the Potomac Nationals and, with my sympathies (for him, not you), the Syracuse Chiefs.

THE DSL NATIONALS
In a word, disappointing. While I don’t follow this level as closely as I used to, it just seems to me that a team with a lot of guys repeating the level should have done better. After being the youngest set of batters in the DSL in 2015, the pendulum swung back to just slight older than the league average (18.4 vs. 18.2) while the pitching staff was still younger (18.7 vs. 19.1).

As alluded to above, the offense was horrible: 35th in the 42-team league and more than a half-a-run worse than the league average (3.80 vs. 4.46). The pitching improved from near-the-worst (33rd out of 38) to middle-of-the pack (4.43 R/G vs. 4.46). The defense was, like 2015, slightly below average (.953FA vs. .957FA — remember, all we have to go on are the stats).

Without further comment, here are the obligatory Top 5’s, excluding the old-for-the-level players…

TOP 5 BATS TOP 5 ARMS
1. Jose Cabello, C/1B
.259 GPA, 28 BB
1. Yelmery Sisneros, LHSP
0.43/2.39/0.91, 4.56 K:BB ratio
2. Santo Falcon, CF
.234 GPA, 12 SB
2. Angel Guillen, RHSP
1.67/2.61/0.94, 4.17 K:BB ratio
3. Brailin Mesa, RF/LF
.225 GPA, 16 2B
3. Gilbert Chu, LHSP
3.18/2.68/0.96, 1.6 BB/9
4. Jesus Morales, 2B/3B
.215 GPA, 10E
4. Warner Duran, RHRP
1.65/2.59/1.22, 6BB in 32⅔ IP
5. Juan Pascal, SS
.209 GPA, 55 of 56G at SS
5. Jairon Peguero, LHRP
4.91/2.91/1.46, 0HR in 33IP

As you might imagine, there are no honorable mentions this year, especially since there were just two (2) batters above the league average and under the age of 20. Folks interested in seeing the entire team’s stats can find them here.

Offseason Update: Nov. 7, 2015

Fallball2014Well, perhaps it was too much to expect a bevy of Nats to appear in the AFL for a third straight game, so yesterday there were none in Salt River’s 5-4 loss to Scottsdale.

TRANSACTION UPDATE

Minor-league free agency has begun, and while BA has yet to release its compilation, here’s what I’ve culled from MiLB.com:

  • RHPs – Bruce Billings, Juan Gutierrez, Tim Alderson, Paul Demny
  • LHP –Richard Bleier
  • IF –Cutter Dykstra
  • OFs –Tony Gwynn Jr., Theo Bowe
  • C –Dan Butler

Now for the annual reminder that this is not necessarily a reflection of the value the organization places on the players, but the reality that players are effectively indentured servants for seven seasons after they’re drafted. For some, this is their only chance to go elsewhere without the stigma of having been released.

On to the final affiliate review…

SYRACUSE CHIEFS
After fielding a contender in 2014, it was a reversion to the mean in 2015 – a team stocked with veterans that could be easily passed through waivers or lost if need be. The Chiefs had the second-oldest collection of bats, the third-oldest set of arms. Neither were particularly good, with the offense averaging 3.69 R/G and the defense yielding 4.06 R/G against league averages of 3.97 R/G.

Like last year (and the year before, and the year before that…), the true prospects are few; basically, Trea Turner and A.J. Cole. As in previous reviews, it’s worth noting that perhaps the obligatory list would be longer if there weren’t players who lost their rookie status (Felipe Rivero, Joe Ross) or hadn’t been previously been listed (Matt Skole). Instead, it’s just four and were it not for the dexterity of the final two, I’d skip the list entirely:

1. Trea Turner, SS — .267GPA, 14SB in 48G
2. A.J. Cole, RHP — 3.15/3.90/1.18, .470OPS against in August
3. Matt Grace, LHP — 2.40/3.14/1.21, .543OP against LHBs
4. Sammy Solis, LHP — 2.03/2.86/0.98 in 13⅓ IP

If you have a morbid curiosity you’re interested in seeing the full team statistics, you can find them here.

AFL/Offseason Update: Nov. 1, 2015

Abel-De-Los-Santos-2015-2 Nick-Lee-AFL-10-31-15


Just two Nationals relievers appeared in Salt River’s 6-5 win over Surprise — Abel De Los Santos and Nick Lee.

The clean outing continues to elude De Los Santos as he gave up a run on a triple and a sacrifice fly during his lone inning of work in the 7th. In four appearances, he’s been strafed for nine runs on 10 hits over four innings.

Lee was dinged for a leadoff HR in the 8th but then retired the next three batters on a flyout and two grounders.

After three straight wins, Salt River is tied with Scottsdale at 9-6 in the AFL East. It’s a five-game slate before next Saturday’s “Fall Stars” game (rosters to be announced tomorrow), which will be held in Salt River.

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Just a couple of items to tack on to the AFL dispatch…

THE BA TOP 10
Not sure if this is the 2015 postseason or the 2016 preseason edition or just Baseball America trying to make its October online pageviews, but the latest BA Top 10 for the Nationals is out. Without stealing the thunder of Byron Kerr, I’ll reveal that Trea Turner is the No. 2 prospect.

THE HARRISBURG SENATORS
The 2015 edition couldn’t help but be better than the 2014 disaster, though that’s a lot like having better hair than Mike Rizzo. (Thanks, I’m here all week). Due in large part to the injury shuffle from the big club, the rotation was in flux all season long, with only Austin Voth making more than 15 starts. The pitching was a shade better than league average (4.06 R/G vs. 4.08) and the offense was a little worse than that (4.00), hence the eight-games-below .500 mark of 67-75 that missed its pythaogeran projection of 70-72.

As has been the case since 2012, it’s a combined Top 5 for the ancillary purpose of generating the 2016 Watchlist:

1. Austin Voth, RHP — 2.92/3.07/1.11, 148K in 157⅓ IP
2. Wilmer Difo, IF — .279/.312/.387, 26SB, 79K in 87G
3. Abel De Los Santos, RHP — 3.43/3.39/1.13, 4.59 K:BB ratio
4. Matt Skole, 1B — .232/.332/.398, 12HR in 90G
5. Isaac Ballou, OF — .304/.383/.494 in 49G

Obviously, I’m excluding Joe Ross because he’s lost his rookie status and Lucas Gioltio because he’s already appeared on a Top 5 list. Skole and Ballou are included mainly because the organization is starved for power and outfielders at the upper levels. Even then, I’m not sure (De Los Santos getting lit like a Christmas tree isn’t terribly convincing, SSS or not). This next watch list may be the smallest yet.

As always, folks who’d like to see the full stats can find them here.

AFL/Offseason Update: Oct. 24, 2015

Yes, I know Santos pitched Thursday, but folks like Lee's pics!
Yes, I know Santos pitched Thursday, but folks like Lee’s pics!

Four strong innings from John Simms and a pair of two-run rallies early helped the Rafters eclipse the Solar Sox, 5-1 and stop a three-game slide.

Simms allowed the lone Mesa run on a solo shot in the 3rd and three hits total. He walked one and struck out four and threw 57 pitches during the outing, his second for Salt River.

Christopher Bostick returned the lineup and played second base. He batted ninth and reached base twice with a single in the 6th and drew a walk in the 8th to go 1-for-3 overall. Defenisvely he had a putout and four assists.

Salt River wraps up the week with a day game today at home vs. Mesa.

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It’s a two-fer today, so let’s jump into the usual weekly post…

WINTER LEAGUE SIGHTINGS
The following players have appeared in Mexican Pacific League and the Dominican Winter League:

Rafael Bautista, Bruce Billings (Escogido, DWL)
Pedro Severino (Cibao, DWL)
Richard Bleier (Oriente, DWL)
Paul Demny (Culiacan, LMP)

THE POTOMAC NATIONALS
Like the Hagerstown Suns, Potomac went from contender to pretender to post a losing season for the first time since 2012. It’s tempting to compare this team to that team, but there are two key differences: (1) this team did no better on the road than it did at home (2) this team didn’t feel like it had underachieved. Obviously, #1 is objective — to paraphrase the grossly overrated Bill Parcells, your record is your record. And #2 is subjective — part of underachieving is a disconnect between expectation and actual performance, perceived or actual.

Lucas Giolito and Wilmer Difo were “as advertised”; Reynaldo Lopez was not. Drew Ward was a mixed bag. Rafael Bautista was hurt. This can be argued (and probably will be in the comments), but most of the other names either weren’t as highly regarded outside our bubble or there were reservations already about their prospect status.

The 2015 crew felt to me very much like the first couple of seasons I watched this team (2006, 2007): A couple of true prospects and a handful of maybes mixed in with “OGs” (organizational guys). This may be “old world order” returning, and with the parent club now drafting in the lower third, it might not be all that surprising.

And with that, I present the obligatory Top 5’s:

TOP 5 BATS TOP 5 ARMS
1. Christopher Bostick, 2B, .253 GPA, .344 OBP 1. Lucas Giolito, RHP, 2.71/1.96/1.22, 11.11 K/9IP
2. Spencer Kieboom, C, .241 GPA, .346 SLG% 2. Tyler Mapes, RHP, 2.38/2.78/1.22, 8.54 K/9, 4.18 K:BB
3. Drew Ward, 3B, .237 GPA, 29E in 95G 3. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, 4.09/2.95/1.22, 5HR in 99 IP
4. Estarlin Martinez, OF, .238 GPA, .711 OPS in 2nd half 4. Austen Williams, RHP, 2.59/3.22/1.09, .215 OBA
5. Rafael Bautista, CF, .224 GPA, 23SB in 52G 5. Phillips Valdez, RHP, 3.77/3.26/1.44, 58.1 LOB%


No honorable mentions as we’re now well past the point of ignoring a player’s age or having repeated the level. Folks interested in seeing the entire team’s stats, can find them here.