Mar 132011
 

Former prospect Jordan Zimmermann threw five scoreless innings as the Nationals pitchers, save for one, stifled the Marlins for a 5-1 win on Sunday afternoon.

Danny Espinosa was the sole prospect to start, but was once again hitless in three at-bats with a strikeout. He was also hit by a pitch, taking a spun-away shot to the helmet but remained in the game. Wilson Ramos came off the bench but struck out in his only at-bat.

Other notable prospects…

  • Eury Perez was 0-for-1 and got two putouts in the bottom of the ninth.
  • Chris Marrero was caught looking in his lone at-bat and played three error-free innings at first base.
  • Brian Broderick came on in relief of Henry Rodriguez (more later) and pitched 1⅔ innings with no hits, walks or strikeouts.
  • Steve Lombardozzi played the last two innings at 2B and had an assist.
  • Cole Kimball pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with two flyouts and a groundout to second base.

As aforementioned, Rodriguez came on in relief of Zimmermann and had trouble finding the plate, walking three in ⅓ of an inning and was charged for the sole Marlin run. He threw 23 pitches during the outing, and 15 were balls. The velocity was there but the command was not, as the pitches off the plate were in the high 90s while the pitches over the plate were in the low 90s.

With the loss, the Nats improve to 10-5 for the Spring. They return to Viera to host the Tigers tomorrow afternoon, a game which will only be “seen” via MLB Gameday.

Mar 092011
 

While perhaps misused on defense, there’s no denying the offense of Danny Espinosa, who reached base four times and drove in four runs in an 8-4 romp of the Nats over the Marlins this afternoon in Jupiter.

The 23-year-old singled, doubled, and smacked a two-run HR to raise his spring batting average to .455 and his RBI total to 10, while also turning a double play. He also scored two runs.

Prospects Bryce Harper and Chris Marrero each came off the bench to stroke RBI singles, the fourth and second of the spring respectively, while Steve Lombardozzi popped out in his lone at-bat, the second of the spring. Marrero handled all four defensive chances, while Lombardozzi had none.

Pitchers Ryan Mattheus, Josh Wilkie and Brad Peacock were in the bullpen, but none of them saw game action. Jason Marquis was the starter and threw four scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out three.

With the win, the Nationals improve to 7-3 for the spring. The squads split tomorrow, with one team returning to Viera to host a split-squad Mets team in the other and another travelling to Kissimmee to visit Houston tomorrow night. There is no radio or TV for the Mets game, while the Astros game will be broadcast by the Houston affiliate KBME and can be accessed via MLB Gameday or XM Radio.

Nov 292010
 

The people have spoken, so here’s our obligatory Top 10 list of the Nationals batting prospects. Next will be the Top 10 Arms, and then a revisit to the watchlist. I don’t have the chutzpah to do letter graders or stars, so this is just my opinion on the ten hitting prospects that folks are watching and talking about. I’ll even throw in my Nigel Tufnel to answer the usual question, “Who just missed the list?”

Without further ado…

  1. Bryce Harper — Biggest question: How will he handle the adjustments that will be made to him, especially if he gets the Barry Bonds treatment.
  2. Derek Norris — Complaints about his defense are overblown because he can readily shift to another position if need be, but made significant improvements despite being hurt.
  3. Danny Espinosa — Two spring-training questions: Will the parent club tolerate his strikeouts? Will he get a chance to win the SS job?
  4. Wilson Ramos — Let’s hope he’s given the chance to win the job outright from Rodriguez, but a platoon is probably more likely.
  5. Chris Marrero — Rated this high because I think he’s viable trade bait and appears to be capable of hitting at the MLB level.
  6. Steve Lombardozzi — Steady, solid and reliable. Capable of leading off, but more likely to hit second or eighth.
  7. Michael Burgess — Will probably never hit for average, but the power potential, the OF arm, and the option to platoon him is something to consider
  8. J.P. Ramirez — Concerns about his foot speed, but both our Hagerstown contributors liked his power potential and I liked his tendency to post a good month following bad month all season long.
  9. Eury Perez — It’s no secret that I like the guys that can run and play small ball, and there are doubts about him being able to hit at the upper levels, but he’s the youngest of that prototype in full-season minors.
  10. Tyler Moore — Like Sickels, I’m concerned about what AA pitchers will do to him once they find his weaknesses, but his power is undeniable.

And, the Nigel Tufnel goes to… Rick Hague. That’s who I’d rank #11.

I’m sure folks will have lots to say in the comments…

Nov 222010
 

First, the stats…

BATTERS

PLAYER G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Lombardozzi 21 82 16 24 8 2 0 4 10 8 .293 .385 .439 2
Burgess 18 65 8 16 3 3 2 20 4 20 .246 .286 .477 1
Norris 16 54 10 15 5 2 4 19 11 18 .278 .403 .667 2
Harper 9 35 6 12 3 2 1 7 4 11 .343 .410 .629 1

PITCHERS

PLAYER W L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO WHIP HLD GF
Solis 1 0 0 3.80 6 23⅔ 22 13 10 7 12 1.225 0 0
Carr 1 0 1 2.08 10 13 6 3 3 3 8 0.692 1 4
Peacock 0 0 0 4.50 9 12 10 6 6 3 17 1.083 2 1
Kimball 0 0 1 0.82 11 12 8 1 1 2 15 0.833 0 11

Now, the thoughts…

  • Bryce Harper managed to make his mark despite only playing twice a week. Now, we will wonder for the next four and a half months where Rizzo will have him start. Hagerstown is the official word, but I can’t see him starting there unless he has a terrible spring, or unless the plan is to have Harper make a tour of the full-season minors no matter what.
  • Lombardozzi did nothing to dissuade our opinion of him, but now we’ll have to wait until the prospect guides to come out whether or not he changed anyone else’s minds. I suspect not because even in our own Natmosphere his game-winning double in the AFL title game was barely mentioned.
  • Derek Norris has shown that much of his “struggles” this season were because he was hurting, finishing the AFL with the third-highest slugging pct. and the fourth-highest OPS. His defensive deficiencies were also displayed but a full season under the tutelage of Randy Knorr in Harrisburg ought to help immensely.
  • Michael Burgess also did nothing to dissuade the growing perception that his prospect days are behind him. He’ll start as the Harrisburg RF in 2011, but how long he’ll stay is the question. The signal may just be when he starts playing LF and DH more often than RF.
  • Brad Peacock showed flashes of brilliance as a reliever, leading to some speculation that he was auditioning for a midseason ’11 callup, but by the end of the AFL season it was clear that this was done to limit his innings. Possible Opening Day starter for the Senators.
  • Sammy Solis got a baptism by fire, but nothing that one couldn’t attribute to his lack of pro experience or the long layoffs between the draft and after the end of the regular season. Some question as to whether he’ll start in Hagerstown or Potomac, but given Rizzo’s track record, I’d bet on Potomac until late June, then Harrisburg through late August.
  • Cole Kimball is probably the biggest surprise of the AFL, at least relative to the success shown in twelve appearances. I’m not entirely sold that he’s for real, but hopeful that he can continue to contribute and assist the parent club in its quest to build middle relievers from within and not overpay for FA relievers. Could make the parent club with a strong spring.
  • Adam Carr has come a long way in just a year. In November ’09, he was finishing up his first season as a starting pitcher, including an August in which he posted a 7.34ERA and walked more batters than he struck out. He returned to Senator ‘pen and found his niche as the two-inning man, then had success as a closer for Syracuse. Like Kimball, he’s a dark horse to make 25-man roster by March 31, the day before his 27th birthday.
Nov 202010
 

The Scottsdale Scorpions survived three errors to capture the 2010 Arizona Fall League Championship with a 3-2 win over the Peoria Javelinas.

Washington’s Sammy Solis got credit for the win, allowing both runs (one unearned) on three hits and a walk while striking out three over his four innings of work. Cole Kimball was the last of five relievers to follow, tossing a 1-2-3 ninth with a strikeout to earn the save.

Bryce Harper, who started and played right field, drove in the Scorpions’ second run of the ballgame in the second inning with a first-pitch, opposite-field line drive to left but struck out twice to finish 1-for-4. Harper caught three fly balls and handled both singles hit to right.

Derek Norris, who caught and batted cleanup, legged out an infield single earlier in the second and scored on a sacrifice fly one batter before Harper, and went 1-for-3 for the game. No baserunners attempted to steal against him.

Steve Lombardozzi got the nod at shortstop and drove in the gamewinner in the fourth inning with a double to right for his 1-for-4 afternoon. He handled both chances he got before being lifted for defense in the seventh.

Michael Burgess pinch-hit for the DH in the bottom of the eighth and drew walk after balling behind 1-and-2.

Quick hits…

…Solis had moments of brilliance and moments where it looked like he was about to get clobbered, leaving pitches up in the zone. It’s not hard to imagine how in the second turn through the lineup that hitters would be looking for something up and if it’s a game in which his offspeed stuff isn’t working, he’ll get hit hard as he has at times this fall. Nice, smooth delivery.

…Harper is definitely old-school a la Pete Rose in terms of his hustle and intensity. What worries me is that that will be perceived as dirty pool by some opponents, particularly on double-play balls during blowouts. He can be had with elite heat and straight changes, but I suspect very strongly that he will learn to adjust to that very quickly because this kid’s got the Motts, as it were.

…Norris and Lombardozzi turned in the effort and produced the results I’d seen all season long. The announcers prattled about Norris being “too patient” and then said nothing when he worked the count to his favor and got a leg hit. Lombardozzi got the “well, I remember his Dad in the ’87 Series” treatment that seems to be de rigeur. The fault must be mine for expecting more.

Nov 192010
 

Steve Lombardozzi was the lone Nat to play in yesterday’s seven-inning 1-0 loss by the Scottsdale Scorpions to the Peoria Javelinas. Lombardozzi led off, played 2B, but went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

If folks haven’t seen them in their online travels, Mark Zuckerman had a good preliminary post about the Rule 5 draft. As folks pointed out in the comments, the last CBA changed the Rule 5 rules, so that list isn’t quite correct. Here’s what Brian had on his draft tracker (I know, something I need to rebuild/update):

2004 H.S. pick
Brian Peacock (DFE)

2005 College picks
Tim Pahuta
Jack Spradlin

2006 H.S. picks
Chris Marrero
Stephen King
Brad Peacock (DFE)

2006 College picks
Cory VanAllen
Zech Zinicola
Cole Kimball
Hassan Pena
Erik Arnesen
Adam Carr
Sean Rooney
Robert Jacobsen

2007 College Picks
Brad Meyers
Adrian Alaniz
Jeff Mandel
Justin Phillabaum
Martin Beno
Shane Erb
Boomer Whiting
Dan Lyons
Bill Rhinehart

I’ve got a query out to see if/how I can determine which players are on the AA and AAA reserve lists for the minor-league phase of the draft, but I’m not terribly hopeful that I’ll have much success. Generally speaking, the minor-league phase of the draft will move around mostly pitchers and the plug holes. Last year, for example, the Nationals lost Terrence Engles and picked up Nick Moresi.

Nov 172010
 

The Phoenix Desert Dogs edged the Scottsdale Scorpions in a seven-inning contest* by a count of 2-1. Three Nats bats saw game action…

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off and played SS, turning a double play, and going 2-for-4 with a strikeout to raise his average to .308
  • Derek Norris caught and batted cleanup but went o-for-3. There were no steal attempts against him.
  • Michael Burgess was the DH and batted 7th, but was hitless in three at-bats. He did not strike out.

The loss drops the Scorpions to 19-11 and with yesterday’s win by Peoria, the Javelinas will be Scottsdale’s opponent. I have been unable to confirm whether or not Sammy Solis will indeed get the starting nod, but will update in this space if/when I can. As mentioned yesterday, Frank Piliere was present for Solis’s start on Monday and filed this story about what he saw. My only quibble: If Solis was indeed tipping his pitches with a head tilt, that’s rather significant.

* Thursday’s games will also be seven innings in an effort to reduce workloads in the final week of the AFL

Nov 162010
 

A five-run sixth inning powered the Scottsdale Scorpions past the Peoria Saguaros, as the Nats’ AFL entry improved to 19-10 with a 9-4 win. Two pitchers and two hitters saw action…

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off as the DH and went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a run scored.
  • Michael Burgess batted eighth and played RF, tripling and homering in four at-bats, scoring a run, driving in a run, striking out twice, and throwing out a runner at third.
  • Sammy Solis appeared in relief and allowed one hit and no walks over three innings to go with two strikeouts. AOL Fanhouse’s Frank Piliere tweeted him as “consistently at 93-94 and attacking hitters” but also cautioned that “he has to be fine with his stuff”
  • Brad Peacock pitched the ninth, allowing a hit but struck out a batter

The Scottsdale Scorpions clinched a spot in the playoff game, but await their opponent as the defending AFL champs (mandatory sportswriter cliché, sorry) — the Peoria Javelinas — lost yesterday but remain three games up with three to go. As luck would have it, Scottsdale and Peoria are also scheduled in the final game on Friday. And yes, Bryce Harper is eligible to play in the championship game on Saturday, which is due to be televised on MLB Network at 2:30 p.m.

Nov 152010
 

Here’s a look at how the Nats fared over the weekend in the AFL…

FRIDAY
A five-run fourth carried the Scottsdale Scorpions to their third straight win by a 6-4 count

  • Michael Burgess, batting seventh and playing RF, went 0-for-1 with a walk and a strikeout
  • Adam Carr earned the save with a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out the final batter

SATURDAY
The Surprise Rafters edged the Scorpions 4-3

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off and played 2B and went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. He was also caught stealing
  • Bryce Harper batted fifth and played RF, walking once, scoring a run, and was caught stealing. He also committed an error (fielding)./li>

Statistics through 28 games…

BATTERS

PLAYER G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Lombardozzi 18 69 15 19 6 2 0 4 10 5 .275 .386 .420 2
Burgess 16 58 7 14 3 2 1 11 4 18 .241 .286 .414 1
Norris 14 47 9 13 5 1 4 19 11 17 .277 .417 .649 2
Harper 8 31 6 10 2 2 1 6 4 10 .323 .400 .613 1

PITCHERS

PLAYER W L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO WHIP HLD GF
Solis 1 0 0 4.35 5 20⅔ 21 13 10 7 10 1.355 0 0
Carr 1 0 1 2.25 9 12 5 3 3 3 7 0.667 0 4
Peacock 0 0 0 4.91 8 11 9 6 6 3 16 1.091 2 0
Kimball 0 0 1 0.82 10 11 8 1 1 2 14 0.909 0 10
Nov 122010
 

The Scottsdale Scorpions took their second straight with a 5-1 decision over the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Highlights from the Nats included…

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off, played 2B, and went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base
  • Michael Burgess tripled and drove in two for is 1-for-4, playing RF and batting seventh
  • Cole Kimball closed out the game with a scoreless inning, allowing a hit, a walk, but striking out one

The win combined with a loss by the Mesa Solar Sox extends the Scottsdale lead to four games with six to play. They host the Peoria Saguaros tonight, then visit the Surprise Rafters tomorrow. Check back on Monday to see how they did, plus our weekly review of the AFL stats. Plus, the last of the affiliate season reviews is on tap for Tuesday.