Jul 222013
 

Steve Souza, Jr. and Michael Taylor have been named the Player of the Week for the Eastern and Carolina Leagues, respectively, for the week of July 15-21. It’s the second time Taylor has won the award for the Carolina League and the second time a Senator position player has been named (Anthony Rendon, May 6-12).

Steve SouzaSouza went 10-for-27 for a .370 batting average and collected four doubles, a triple, and two home runs for an .815 slugging percentage. He drew three walks, scored eight runs and drove in six. For the season, the 24-year-old is posting a line of .282/.382/.560 with 14 home runs and 30 RBI in 62 games. He was a 2013 Eastern League All-Star despite having spent nearly six weeks on the DL. This is Souza’s seventh season in the Nationals organization, originally drafted in 2007 as a third-round pick out of Cascade HS in Everett, WA.

Michael Taylor Last night’s 0-fer snapped an eight-game hit streak for Taylor, but the 22-year-old still batted .500 for the week (12-for-24) with five doubles, four runs scored, nine RBI, and three stolen bases. Taylor is currently 3rd in the Carolina League with 61 RBI, and second to teammate Billy Burns with 31 steals. Overall, he’s hitting .275/.343/.434 in 92 games. Taylor was originally drafted in 2009 as a shortstop out of Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, FL but converted to outfield in 2011, where he’s become one of the organization’s best defensive prospects.

Jun 262013
 

Rosters for the 2013 Eastern League All-Star Game were announced today, and for the third straight year, five Harrisburg Senators made the Western Division squad:

• IF Josh Johnson

• OF Steve Souza Jr.

• RHP Aaron Barrett

• RHP Paul Demny

• RHP Taylor Jordan

This is the first All-Star team selection for Demny and the second All-Star team selection for Johnson (Midwest, 2006), Souza (Sally, 2010), Jordan (Sally, 2011) and Barrett (Sally 2012).

This year’s game will be held in New Britain, Connecticut on July 10th with a HR derby on the 9th. New Britain previously hosted the All-Star game in 2003 and 1987.

UPDATE: The accolades keep coming for Jordan as the 24-year-old was named to the 2013 All-Star Futures Game.

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
May 312013
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 23-30, 6th place I.L. North, 8½ games behind

Good Ross Ohlendorf 39K in 38⅔ IP in May
Bad Will Rhymes .135/.238/.289 in last 10G
Interesting Brian Jeroloman 14BB in 19G



HARRISBURG SENATORS 27-27, 3rd place E.L. West, 5 games behind

Good Matt Swynenberg 1.93 ERA/3.29 FIP/1.16 in 15 appearances
Bad Justin Bloxom .195/.320/.207 in May
Interesting Steve Souza, Jr .414/.485/.724 in 7 games since return from D.L.



POTOMAC NATIONALS 28-24, T2nd place C.L. North, 1½ games behind

Good Michael Taylor .368/.455/.500, 7R, 7RBI, 5SB in last 10G
Bad Bullpen 12 saves in 28 opportunities
Interesting Team 81 SBs leads Carolina League


HAGERSTOWN SUNS 30-20, 1st place Sally North, 2 games ahead

Good Khayyan Norfork .301/.352/.458 in 21G
Bad Ronald Pena 21BB, 19K in 38⅔ IP
Interesting 384 team batting SOs – 3rd fewest in Sally League
Oct 222012
 

On the field, the Hagerstown Suns improved upon a successful 2011 campaign with an 82-55 overall record. They missed the first half by three games with a 42-27 mark, but won the second with slightly worse record of 40-28, only to get swept in the playoffs with a pair of 2-run losses (3-1, 7-5). Some may blame the late promotion of Matt Skole at the very late date of August 15 — two months too late, if you ask some folks — for the quick playoff exit, the more objective take is that the pitching just wasn’t there, much like Auburn.

Off the field, the Suns entered the 2012 season with the spectre of the team leaving for Winchester and the rumblings of a new stadium being built in Hagerstown, culminating in a rather bold move of the team opening the kimono by giving a tour of Municipal Stadium, ostensibly to demonstrate that renovation is a not an option. The move may have prevented the team from losing its PDC through 2014, but it’s hard not to infer that threat of the team leaving is to blame for the huge drop in attendance from 2011 to 2012 (1,931 per game to 1,366 — a 29.3% decrease).

Back to the review… Let’s take a look at how the Suns compared to the rest of the South Atlantic League:
HITTING

PITCHING



Like 2011, the Suns were among the league leaders in runs and homers (2nd), hits and stolen bases (3rd), and walks (1st). I’ll go out on a limb and say this will probably be true for 2013, too. Unfortunately, some of the reason for this is that the team was among the oldest in the league, with multiple players repeating the level.

Pitching, which had been the organization’s strong suit for years, is now becoming one of its weaknesses. This the fourth of the seven affiliates, and all four levels have given up runs above the league average. This is not to say there weren’t bright spots in Hagerstown — obviously, a couple of examples stand, um, head & shoulders above the others — but it does seem like there was a Mr. Hyde for every Dr. Jekyll. When you can outslug your competition, it often goes unnoticed (well, at least until the playoffs), but this the last level where that’s the case.

Turning back to the bats, we now look at the Top 12 hitters in terms of plate appearances. As always, full statistics for the team can be found here, and the key for the asterisks is one * for the 2011 draft picks and two ** for the DSL graduates.
Like Auburn, there is really little to complain about in terms of overall offensive production. Just three of the top 12 produced below the league average, and three produced Nintendo-like numbers for both Gross Production Average and Isolated Power. The problem, of course, is that quite a few of these players were playing a level behind where they should have, as my Hagerstown guy put it in his review.

The only beacon of hope is that maybe, just maybe, one or two of the position players that were promoted from here to Potomac will be challenged with Harrisburg rather than resuming 2013 in Woodbridge. I know that sounds harsh, but perhaps an offseason “leapfrog” might serve as both an incentive to the Low-A guys and reminder to the High-A guys that moving up to the next level isn’t a foregone conclusion. The large number of six-year FA pitchers that were brought in at AA and AAA this year is an example of that line of thinking.

Speaking of pitchers…
For all the bitching and moaning discontent over the lack of promotions in the system, Hagerstown was interesting case when it came to pitchers. Four pitchers were promoted from Hagerstown to Potomac, and four pitchers were promoted to the Hub City — but two of those came not from Auburn but from the GCL. And three were 2012 picks.

It’s the skipping over that’s unusual. Ordinarily, one would expect a sequence like Blake Schwartz going from Viera to Auburn and Blake Monar going from Auburn to Hagerstown. Likewise for Leonard Hollins and, say, Travis Henke. It may be just be an anomaly, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.

For the second straight year, eleven pitchers made at least five starts for the Suns. Ineffectiveness and promotions were more to blame than injuries this year, with one starter dropping down from Potomac and two moving up midseason and one very late. Five pitchers went up and back to Viera for fine-tuning (most notably, Turnbull and Estevez) and a sixth went out for the year and under the knife (Brian Dupra).

Once again, I’ll refer you to my eyes on the field for Hagerstown’s hurlers.

OBLIGATORY TOP FIVE LISTS
Before blasting me for not listing Karns, remember that he pitched more innings for Potomac and I’m trying to avoid double-listing guys, which gets more difficult as we hit the upper levels. There isn’t a set number of spots to fill for the watchlist, after all. If it means fewer guys and shorter lists at the upper levels, so be it.

Position Players
1. Brian Goodwin
2. Matt Skole
3. Billy Burns
4. Jason Martinson
5. Steve Souza
HM: Caleb Ramsey

Pitchers
1. Alex Meyer
2. Christian Meza
3. Aaron Barrett
4. Brian Rauh
5. Blake Schwartz
HM: Ben Hawkins

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 102012
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 58-61, 5th place I.L. North, 8 games behind

Good Carlos Rivero .371/.451/.649 since All-Star break (27G)
Bad 713 pitching K’s last in I.L. (next-worst, 824)
Interesting Mitch Atkins 0.87ERA, 0.39WHIP in last six relief appearances

HARRISBURG SENATORS 53-59, 5th place E.L. West, 13½ games behind

Good Justin Bloxom .281/.324/.344 last 10G
Bad Team OBP of .315 dead last in Eastern League
Interesting Team streaky — 3+ Wins, eight times; 3+ Losses, eight times

POTOMAC NATIONALS 21-25, T3rd place C.L. North Division, 1½ games behind (52-64 overall)

Good Current starters named Meyers or Karns: 1.73ERA, 0.93WHIP
Bad Current starters not named Meyers or Karns: 5.98ERA, 1.67WHIP
Interesting Steve Souza Jr. .875OPS in 12G

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 25-22, T3rd place Sally League North Divison, 1 game behind (67-49 overall)

Good Matt Skole 1.019OPS (Best in Low-A)
Bad Wilson Eusebio 7.71ERA, 1.88WHIP
Interesting Billy Burns .323BA, 3rd in Sally Lg. (.328 vs. RHBs, .315 vs. LHBs)
First full year of switch-hitting

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 30-20, 1st place Pinckney Division, N.Y.-Penn League, 4 games ahead

Good Mike McQuillan .300/.371/.488 in 23G
Bad Jason Smith 7.94ERA, 1.85WHIP in 22⅔ IP
Interesting Nick Lee 43K in 42IP

GCL NATIONALS 20-25, 4th Place GCL East, 8½ games behind

Good Joel Barrientos 3-0, 2.48ERA, 1.29WHIP
Bad Michael Albaladejo .483OPS
Interesting Hayden Jennings .281BA, 9SB in last 10G

DSL NATIONALS 31-26, 3rd Place Boca Chica South Division, 9½ games behind

Good 19-y.o. Younaifred Aguero .294/.397/.394 in 40G
Bad 20-y.o. Philips Valdez 5.80ERA, 2.01WHIP in 40⅓ IP
Interesting 19-y.o. LHP Hector Silvestre 2-1, 1.71ERA in last four appearances
Jul 132012
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 44-48, T5th place I.L. North, 8 games behind

Good Erik Arnesen 20 scoreless IP since June 4
Bad Carlos Rivero 14BB in 81G
Interesting Jeff Mandel 1.06WHIP in 26⅓ IP

HARRISBURG SENATORS 48-42, T1st place E.L. West, .038 W% behind

Good Jimmy Van Ostrand .934OPS in 35G
Bad Marcos Frias 1.75WHIP in 33G
Interesting 681K Pitching K’s, 2nd in E.L.

POTOMAC NATIONALS 10-11, T3rd place C.L. North Division, 1 game behind (41-50 overall)

Good David Freitas .813 OPS, 9.5 RAA (runs above average), #1 for Car. Lg. Cs
Bad Jason Martinson 12E in 20G
Interesting Jimmy Barthmaier 0.77 ERA, 0.77 WHIP in 10G

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 14-7, T1std place Sally League North Divison, 2 games ahead (56-34 overall)

Good Steve Souza .263/.326/.600, 7HR, 23RBI since All-Star Break (21G)
Bad Bobby Hansen Jr. 15BB in 28⅓ IP
Interesting Billy Burns 12BB in 16G since All-Star Break

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 16-7, 1st place Pinckney Division, N.Y.-Penn League, 1½ games ahead

Good Shawn Pleffner .341/.383/.500 in 21G
Bad Gregory Baez 1-1, 9.64 ERA, 2.25 WHIP in 3 starts
Interesting Craig Manuel .385/.455/.436 in 12G

GCL NATIONALS 9-13, T3rd Place GCL East, 7 games behind

Good Gilberto Mendez 0-0, 3.29ERA, 0.80WHIP in 13⅔ IP
Bad Hayden Jennings 28K in 52AB
Interesting Wilmer Difo .313/.432/.433, 8SB in 20G

DSL NATIONALS 17-18, 6th Place Boca Chica South Division, 8 games behind

Good 19 y.o. Rafael Bautista 20SB in 35G
Bad 18 y.o. Jorge Tillero .553 OPS in 15G
Interesting 19 y.o. Elisaul Gomez 2.75 ERA, 1.17WHIP, 4.81 BB/9
Jul 122012
 

Steve Souza Jr. has been named the South Atlantic League’s Batter of the Week, the second straight week a Nationals farmhand has earned that honor.

Souza refused to single for the week (July 2-8), hitting four doubles and five home runs last week for a total of nine runs scored and 12 RBI and line .of .333/.455/1.037. He’s the second Sun to earn weekly honors, joining Alex Meyer, who earned Pitcher of the Week honors for June 11-17.

The 2007 third-round pick out of Cascade High School in Everett, WA is currently riding a seven-game hit streak and is batting .293/.396/.756 for the month of July.

Jun 082012
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 29-32, 5th place I.L. North, 10 games behind

Good Jim Negrych .333/.429/.611 in June
Bad Tanner Roark 0-3, 10.80 ERA, 2.18 WHIP in last 3 appearances
Interesting Team SLG .384, minus Brown/Moore/Paul (.561 combined) = .331

HARRISBURG SENATORS 32-27, 2nd place E.L. West, 5½ games behind

Good Hector Nelo 0.82ERA, 5SV, 15K last 10 appearances
Bad Chris McConnell .168/.213/.218 in 38G
Interesting Team 67 steals leads E.L.

POTOMAC NATIONALS 26-32, 3rd place C.L. North Division, 4 games behind

Good Zach Walters .429/.432/.743, 3HR, 6RBI in last 10G
Bad Paul Applebee 6HR allowed in 27⅔ IP
Interesting Team Pitching: 8th in every major category but BB;
Team Fielding: 1st in E’s, 2nd SBs allowed, CS%, Fld% and PB’s

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 36-23, 2nd place Sally League North Divison, 3½ games behind

Good Steve Souza .341/.392/.651 in 35G
Bad Chris McKenzie 9.13 ERA, 2.12 WHIP, .337 OBA
Interesting Colin Bates 2-0, 1.80 ERA, 2HR, .147 OBA in first 5 appearances (10IP)