Apr 062014
 

The Nationals have recalled Tyler Moore from the Syracuse Chiefs for the second time in three Aprils. He will take the place of OF Scott Hairston on the Washington Nationals 25-man roster. Hairston was placed on the 15-day DL with what Nats officials say is a left oblique strain.

Perhaps not coincidentally, an MRI was performed on Ryan Zimmerman’s ailing right shoulder after being removed from last night’s 6-2 loss to Atlanta. Given that Zimmerman is the primary backup to 1B Adam LaRoche, the timing of this move allows Moore to assume that role should Zimmerman require a trip to the DL. Until 2012, 1B was the only position Moore played defensively.

A corresponding move by the Syracuse Chiefs has not yet been announced. Via Twitter, Syracuse media officials announced that the Chiefs would play with 24 players in today’s scheduled doubleheader. Both Syracuse (RI) and Harrisburg (CT) will be traveling to New England for a three-game series from Monday to Wednesday. Potomac is idle on Monday, while Hagerstown remains at home.

Thus, it’s possible for a series of moves to be made following this afternoon’s games to backfill Moore’s spot (and any others should Zimmerman be placed on the DL as well). A similar shuffle occurred last April after an injury to Eury Perez.

Apr 062014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Postponed vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
1:00 p.m.(DH)
Hill (1-0, 4.22 in ’13) and
Tatusko (5-8, 4.33 in ’13) vs.
Whitley (3-2, 3.06 in ’13) and
Stoneburner (4-6, 4.57 in ’13)
Harrisburg Lost, 4-3 (11 inn.) @ Bowie,
6:35 p.m.
Purke (5-3, 4.43 @ A+ in ’13) vs.
Davies (7-9, 3.69 @ A+ in ’13)
Potomac Lost, 3-1 @ Carolina,
2:00 p.m.
Encarnacion (10-9, 3.58 @ A- in ’13) vs.
Sulser (3-2, 1.83 @ SS-A)
Hagerstown Lost, 9-8 vs. Rome,
5:05 p.m.
Silvestre (7-0, 1.82 @ Rk. in ’13) vs.
Dettmann (2-4, 2.49 @ Adv. Rk. in ’13)


Scranton/Wilkes-Barre vs. Syracuse — PPD
For the second straight day, officials pulled the plug on this one before folks could come to the ballpark (how novel) as Steve Souza showed us via Twitter the wintry mix at the ballpark. They’ll try again this afternoon with a doubleheader, with another twinbill scheduled for 6 p.m. on June 26.

Bowie 4 Harrisburg 3 (11 inn.)
• Gilliam 1IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 1K
• Jackson 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Holland (L, 0-1) 2⅔ IP, 2H, R, ER, 2BB, 2K
• Taylor 2-4, R, BB, 2SB
• Ramsey 2-3, R, BB, CS

The Senators rallied from an early 3-0 deficit but fell to the Baysox, 4-3 in 11 innings. Starter Rob Gilliam was lifted after one inning, giving up the first three Bowie runs on three hits and three walks while throwing 38 pitches. Zack Jackson, Matt Grace, and Tyler Herron combined for seven scoreless innings. Neil Holland extended that streak to nine before giving up the gamewinner in the 11th. Michael Taylor and Caleb Ramsey both reached base three times as the Harrisburg offense notched eight hits and two walks for the contest.
For a fan’s take on the game, frequent commenter SoulDrummer takes us to “Last Night In Bowie”

Carolina 3 Potomac 1
• Mooneyham (L, 0-1) 2⅓ IP, 1H, 2R, 2ER, 6BB, 1K, 3HBP
• Bacus 4⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 7K, 3-0 IR-S
• Piwnica-Worms 1-3, BB
• Perez 1-3, BB, SB, CS

Brett Mooneyham and the strike zone remain estranged as the former Stanford southpaw walked six and hit three batters in two and a 1/3rd innings to suffer his fourth loss in four career starts at High-A. He left with a 2-0 deficit with the bases loaded and one out in the third. Dakota Bacus continued the string of sensational relief, stranding those three runners and fanning seven over four and 2/3rds innings. Derek Self whiffed two more in his lone inning of work to bring the tally to 22 K’s in 12 relief innings the past two games. Alas, the Carolina pitchers were just as good, limiting the P-Nats bats to just one run on six hits and three walks.

Rome 9 Hagerstown 8
• Giolito 3IP, 6H, 4R, 3ER, 2BB, 3K, HR
• Thomas (BS, 1; L, 0-1) 1IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, K, 2-2 IR-S
• Ballou 2-4, 2R, HR(GS), BB, 4RBI
• W. Rodriguez 2-4, 2R, 2B
• Bautista 2-3, 2R, RBI, BB

Youth was indeed served on Saturday night in Hagerstown… on platter as both teams skewered the other’s 19-y.o. starter for nine of the game’s 17 runs, as the R-Braves outslugged the Suns, 9-8. Lucas Giolito was spanked for four runs (three earned) on six hits, including a two-run homer in the 1st. The Nats #1 prospect walked two and struck out three in his Low-A debut. He did not suffer the loss, thanks to a grand slam by Isaac Ballou that capped off Hagerstown’s five-run 3rd and gave the Suns a brief 8-4 lead. Rome chipped away with single runs in the 5th and 7th innings before rallying for three in the top of the 9th. Ballou, Wilman Rodriguez, and Rafael Bautista each had two hits and two runs to power the Suns offense.

Apr 052014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Postponed vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
2:00 p.m.(DH)
Hill (1-0, 4.22 in ’13) and Tatusko (5-8, 4.33 in ’13) vs.
Whitley (3-2, 3.06 in ’13) and Stoneburner (4-6, 4.57 in ’13)
Harrisburg Lost, 9-0 @ Bowie, 6:35 p.m. Gilliam (3-6, 4.40 in ’13) vs. Berry (11-7, 3.85 @ A+ in ’13)
Potomac Won, 10-5 @ Carolina, 6:00 p.m. Mooneyham (0-3, 13.50 in ’13) vs. Merritt (0-0, 5.00 in ’13)
Hagerstown Won, 2-1 vs. Rome, 5:05 p.m. Giolito (1-0, 0.64 @ SS-A in ’13) vs. Salazar (0-3, 6.92 @ Rk. in ’13)


Scranton/Wilkes-Barre vs. Syracuse — PPD
With rain in the forecast and temps in the low 40s, officials pulled the plug on the Chiefs-RailRiders game approximately 90 minutes before gametime yesterday afternoon. It will be made up today with a doubleheader, um, weather permitting.

Bowie 9 Harrisburg 0
• Rivero (L, 0-1) 3+IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 2K
• Perry 3IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• Skole 0-3, BB, 2K
• Taylor 0-4, 4K

The BaySox jumped on Felipe Rivero for three runs in the 1st and never trailed as they shut out the Sens, 9-0. The Harrisburg southpaw settled down to hold off Bowie for two innings before getting lifted with no outs in the 4th after allowing his seventh and final hit. He walked one and struck out two. Ryan Perry stranded that runner and pitched two scoreless before getting knocked for four runs in the 5th. The lack of pitching was only exceeded by the dearth of hitting as the Senators managed just four hits and struck out 10 times (led by Michael Taylor with four) and walked just once (Matt Skole).

Potomac 10 Carolina 5
• Pena 3⅔ IP, 5H, 5R, 5ER, 4BB, 0K, WP
• Dupra (W, 1-0) 2⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 6K, 2-0 IR-S, 2WP
• Lee (H, 1) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 5K
• S. Perez 2-4, 2R, 2B
• Keyes 2-4, R, 2B, BB
• Renda 2-5, 2R, 2RBI, SB

Beginning with a three-run shot by backstop Pedro Severino, the P-Nats rallied from 5-0 to score ten unanswered runs and double up the Mudcats, 10-5. Potomac capitalized on seven walks issued to score ten times on just nine hits, with Stephen Perez, Kevin Keyes, and Tony Renda each having multiple hits. Mike McQuillan led the free-pass brigade with three BB’s. P-Nats starter Ronald Pena was roughed up for all five Carolina runs on five hits and four walks over three and 2/3rds innings. He fanned no one. Brian Dupra got the win in relief as the Potomac ‘pen struck out 13 (of 19 batters faced) while locking down Carolina for five and 1/3rd shutout innings.

Hagerstown 2 Rome 1
• Voth 5IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 7K
• Hollins (W, 1-0) 1⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K, 2-1 IR-S
• Bautista 2-4, 2B, 2RBI
• Difo 2-4, 2SB

Rafael Bautista’s two-out, two-run double to the right-center gap was the one moment that decided the game as the Suns walked off in the 9th with a 2-1 victory over the R-Braves. Austin Voth started and went the first five, tossing five shutout frames with just two hits and two walks allowed while striking out seven, matching Nick Pivetta’s line from the night before. L.J. Hollins got the win in relief by getting the last five outs, though he gave up the hit that plated the sole Rome run to score in the 8th. Bautista and Wilmer Difo both went 2-for-4 to lead the Hagerstown hit parade of seven, with Difo swiping two bases.

Apr 042014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-1 vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
5:00 p.m.
Hill (1-0, 4.22 in ’13) vs.
Whitley (3-2, 3.06 in ’13)
Harrisburg Lost, 12-6 @ Bowie,
6:35 p.m.
Rivero (9-7, 3.40 @ A+ in ’13)
vs. Wilson (7-5, 3.83 in ’13)
Potomac Lost, 6-3 @ Carolina,
7:00 p.m.
Pena (4-3, 3.48 @ A- in ’13) vs.
Peoples (1-4, 5.27 in ’13)
Hagerstown Won, 4-0 vs. Rome,
6:35 p.m.
Voth (1-0, 3.38 in ’13) vs.
Buchanan (0-0, 3.00 @ Adv-Rk. in ’13)


Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 4 Syracuse 1
• Rosenbaum (L, 0-1) 5IP, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 2K
• Stange 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• Solano 2-3, 2-2B,
• Walters 2-4, CS

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre scored in three of the first five innings to build a 4-0 lead over Syracuse and cruised to a 4-1 win. Danny Rosenbaum suffered the loss, giving up nine hits with four going for extra bases (three doubles, one triple) but walked one and struck out two. The Chiefs ‘pen uncoupled the RailRiders for four scoreless innings, led by newcomer Daniel Stange with two goose eggs. Jhonatan Solano doubled twice in three at-bats, while Eury Perez and Zach Walter both singled twice to lead the Syracuse offense.

Bowie 12 Harrisburg 6
• Schwartz (L, 0-1) 3⅓ IP, 8H, 8R, 6ER, 2BB, 0K, HR
• Holland 1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K, 2-1 IR-S
• Dykstra 3-5, R, E
• Taylor 2-4, 2R, BB, SB
• Canham 1-3, R, HR, RBI

A six-run 4th proved to be the difference as Bowie doubled up Harrisburg, 12-6. Blake Schwartz was charged with a career-worst eight runs over three and a 1/3rd inning on eight hits, including three-run bomb by Garabez Rosa, while walking two. The 24-y.o. Minnesota native struck out none. Michael Taylor and Cutter Dykstra picked up where they left off at the end of the 2013 regular season, reaching base six times and scoring three runs combined. Mitch Canham also homered as seven of the nine regulars hit safely for 11 hits as a team.

Carolina 6 Potomac 3
• Rauh 5IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 3K
• Dickson (L, 0-1) ⅔ IP, 2H, 4R, 4ER, BB, K, 2HBP
• Henke 1⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 2K, 3-2 IR-S
• Renda 2-4, R, 3B

Carolina snapped a 2-2 tie with a four-run 6th to hand Potomac and Ian Dickson the “L” by 6-3 tally. Brian Rauh got the start and gave up two runs on six hits and two walks while fanning three. Dickson retired two of the first three batters he faced before putting on four straight baserunners, leaving the game after a second hit by pitch that gave Carolina’s Ollie Linton the Homer Simpson RBI. Travis Henke was greeted with two-run double to complete the big inning. Tony Renda went 2-for-4 as the P-Nats registered eight hits, including triples by Randolph Oduber and Kevin Keyes.

Hagerstown 4 Rome 0
• Pivetta (W, 1-0) 5IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 7K
• Simms (SV, 1) 4IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Kieboom 3-3, 2R
• Ward 2-4, 2B, 3B, 2RBI

Nick Pivetta and John Simms combined for a five-hit shutout as Hagerstown got the sole minors win for Washington on Opening Day with a 4-0 shutout of Rome. Pivetta went the first five frames and gave up two hits and two walks and while striking out seven. Simms finished the game, allowing three singles, no walks, and set down four on strikes. Drew Ward would not settle for one, as the 19-y.o. doubled and tripled and drove in two while Spencer Kieboom scored twice and hit safely in all three ABs.

Apr 032014
 


It’s a full slate today for minor-league Opening Day — first time since 2010 — as the Chiefs host the RailRiders, the Senators visit the BaySox, the P-Nats visit the Mudcats, and the Suns host the R-Braves.

Well, weather permitting. As of this writing, it’s 27 degrees in Central NY with a first-pitch forecast of 44 degrees. There’s a 30% chance of rain in the late afternoon in Zebulon, a 40% chance at gametime in Bowie, and a 60% chance in Hagerstown.

Team Today’s Game Pitching Matchup (’13 Stats at Level)
Syracuse vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre,
2:00 p.m.
Danny Rosenbaum (7-11, 3.87) vs.
Bruce Billings (13-8, 4.31)
Harrisburg @ Bowie,
6:35 p.m.
Blake Schwartz (11-4, 2.65 at A+) vs.
Ed Rodriguez (4-3, 4.22)
Potomac @ Carolina,
7:00 p.m.
Brian Rauh (4-2, 4.22) vs.
Shawn Morimando (8-13, 3.73)
Hagerstown vs. Rome,
6:35 p.m.
Nick Pivetta (0-1, 3.38 @ SS-A) vs.
Francois Lefreniere (7-13, 5.36)


Just the annual reminder: These pitchers are not necessarily the team’s #1 starter. They are, within a slot or two, how the Nationals would like the starters to align from Low-A to MLB in the event of promotions or injuries.

Based on what I’ve been able to gather, here’s how the rest of the starting rotations will round out:

TEAM Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5
Syracuse Hill Tatusko Treinen Poveda
Harrisburg Rivero Gilliam Purke Cole
Potomac Pena Mooneyham Encarnacion Lee
Hagerstown Voth Giolito Silvestre Johansen


As semi-predicted in the P-Nats roster reveal, Pena and Rauh have indeed returned to starting, with Ian Dickson and Dakota Bacus returning to bullpen roles. It’s natural to speculate as to who “benefited” by Sammy Solis’s latest trip to the DL, but we’ll never know for sure (yes, I can be that certain; there’s no legitimate reason to ever tell anyone outside the organization that information).

As implied in the comments, these rotations are quite likely to be short-lived — if past history holds, four or five turns max before guys are shifted around, which of course, will be tracked in either separate posts like yesterday or in the daily News & Notes, which returns tomorrow

Apr 022014
 

After Sandy Leon was a no-show for the Mayflies Senators media day yesterday, it was no mystery as to which catcher on the Washington 40-man roster would get the call today. This afternoon, the Nationals officially placed C Wilson Ramos on the 15-Day DL and recalled Sandy Leon from Harrisburg.

In a related story, veteran minor-league catcher Brandon Bantz was signed to a minor-league deal today as well. Bantz spent 2013 with the Mariners organization, splitting time between AA Jackson and AAA Tacoma, with a one-game sojourn to Seattle last June 8th, which was his MLB debut. Combined, Bantz hit .219/.282/.307 in 59 minor-league games, but was released at the end of spring training this year.

Rotoworld.com is reporting that Bantz has been assigned to Syracuse, which is in line with previous catcher shuffles. If this turns out to be the case, journeyman Jeff Howell will be reassigned from the Chiefs to the Senators to take Leon’s place on the Harrisburg roster.

As always, if/when the corresponding moves are announced, this space will be updated.

Mar 312014
 

Coming on the heels (i.e. roughly 29 minutes later) of the Senators announcement, the Syracuse Chiefs also announced its 2014 Opening Day roster (watchlist players in bold, notables in italics):

PITCHERS INFIELDERS OUTFIELDERS CATCHERS
Xavier Cedeno Emmanuel Burriss Brian Goodwin Jeff Howell
Manny Delcarmen Brandon Laird Jeff Kobernus Jhonatan Solano
Christian Garcia Brock Peterson Tyler Moore
Taylor Hill Will Rhymes Eury Perez
Warner Madrigal Zach Walters Steve Souza
Ryan Mattheus
Omar Poveda
Tyler Roberston
Josh Roenicke
Danny Rosenbaum
Daniel Stange
Ryan Tatusko
Blake Treinen


As has become common in AAA, there are a lot of new faces on this team. Yes, there are 14 players who played here at some point last year, but only about seven of them had any significant playing time. Eight of these 25 were acquired this past offseason, and just nine of these players were drafted by the Nationals.

Last year, it was the infield. This year, all eyes will be on the (listed) outfield(ers), and on Brian Goodwin and Steve Souza in particular. Despite Perez being the superior fielder, he’ll most likely spend time in left field to give Goodwin developmental time, and all signs point to Souza continuing to work in right field (130 of 151 games in the OF).

Obviously, Moore and Kobernus will be plugged in at 1B and 2B respectively as well as LF and DH to keep them ready for a possible callup to DC where they’d most likely be used as bench players

The Chiefs have announced a starting rotation of Rosenbaum, Tatuskso, Treinen, Hill, and Poveda. If you’re wondering where Sammy Solis is, so am I — none of the affiliates have announced their DLs yet.

On to the Suns…

Feb 132014
 

Now that we’ve taken a swag at the position players, it’s to time to project the four full-season pitching staffs. This is only the third time I’ve attempted this and I’m reminded every time I work the board why I resisted trying this in the first place: It’s really difficult.

The previous two times, I hedged by “overpicking” — naming more guys than the typical 12-man staff. This year, I decided just to go with the gut and stop at 12. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I think a guy at given level will be released (though that’s always a concern with picking the “A” teams) it just means I’m on the fence about where he fits in the organization’s plans, which I’m not privy to (and if I were, it wouldn’t be guessing!)

I also skipped anybody coming off surgery or that I believe has had surgery or was hurt. This is simply prudent: The only way we know a guy is healthy is when he pitches. Thus, by exension, I’m not designating anybody on the D.L. as I did a year ago.

With the caveats spelled out, let’s review how I picked the 2013 Syracuse pitchers…

STARTERS SWINGMEN RELIEVERS
Yunesky Maya Ryan Tatusko Erik Davis
Ross Ohlendorf* Fernando Abad* Pat Lehman
Tanner Roark Pat McCoy
Jeff Mandel Hassan Pena
Matt Torra* Cole Kimball
Ryan Perry
Bold = On 40-Man Italics = Non-Roster Invitee * = ’12-’13 MLFA


Missing on roles doesn’t bother me much because pitchers are moved in and out of the bullpen all the time in the minors, which is part of what the farm is for — finding a role that suits a pitcher so he can contribute when the big club calls him up.

One of the two that I got entirely wrong started at AA (Lehman) and never made it up, the other was released (Pena). All things considered, this is probably as good as it gets for an exercise like this. Still, I’m aware of some the ones I got right were just barely… McCoy and Perry, for example, were demoted in April and June respectively; Cole Kimball was in Viera until late June.

Finally, here’s my projection for the 2014 Syracuse staff, without the cushion of extra picks or the track record of spring training usage:

STARTERS SWINGMEN RELIEVERS
Taylor Jordan Ryan Tatusko* Aaron Barrett
Nathan Karns Matt Swynenberg Tyler Robertson*
Danny Rosenbaum Daniel Stange*
Chris Young* Zack Jackson*
Blake Treinen Neil Holland
Bold = On 40-Man Italics = Non-Roster Invitee * = ’13-’14 MLFA


Obviously, I feel the least amount of confidence in the starters… Taylor could win the #5 starter’s job in DC… Young could be released before the Ides of March… Rosenbaum could be converted to relief in an effort to buy more time for Sammy Solis to develop… not to mention any number of possibilities resulting from how the “Big Nats” pitching staff is constructed.

Next up: The 2014 Harrisburg Senators.

UPDATE: Karns was traded literally while this was being written. Given the nature of such a post (a speculative prediction), I’m leaving it as is until more details of the trade are available.

Jan 152014
 

The Harrisburg Senators and Washington Nationals have announced a four-year extension of their player development contract through the 2018 season. This is the second affiliate to extend during this offseason, both months in advance of the September deadline to renew before open negotiations (typically the last two weeks of September).

The Senators have been a Nationals affiliate the longest of the five teams located north of Florida, having been an Expos affiliate since 1991, and should effectively quash any idle talk of the Nationals switching to the Richmond Squirrels, which is usually an indication that such folks have never been to both places for a game.

The PDCs of the Nationals’ “A” teams — Auburn (SS), Hagerstown (Low-A), and Potomac (High-A) — expire after the 2014 season. Two years ago, the Nationals extended three* affiliates during spring training, and renewed with Hagerstown in October 2012.
* or four; there’s conflicting information regarding whether the 2010 extension for Potomac was for two or four years

As passed along yesterday, there is turmoil in Hagerstown (plans to relocate to Fredericksburg) and Auburn (five GMs since 2010) which makes their PDC renewals less-than-certain. Potomac, which has been planning to build a new ballpark for more than since last decade, seems a little safer given its proximity to DC and strong attendance despite playing in one of the worst facilities in affiliated baseball.

Dec 182013
 

Photo Credit: Syracuse Chiefs Official Twitter Feed

The Syracuse Chiefs and Washington Nationals announced a four-year extension of their player-development contract through the 2018 season. Perhaps not coincidentally, the move comes less than three months after what BallparkDigest.com called a “housecleaning,” as former GM John Simone was ousted following the retirement of his father, Tex.

The move will obviously bolster the financial prospects of the franchise, which has been struggling financially (claiming a $505,146 loss for the 2013 season) and at the gate (345,047 claimed paid attendance, the lowest since its current ballpark opened in 1997).

While the move may be positioned as “how much the Nationals organization values the Chiefs and the Syracuse community,” it’s also about ensuring that the Nationals would not be the odd man out in the next affiliate dance in September 2014. As Adam Kilgore wrote yesterday:

“If the Nationals tried to find a new affiliate, they could be stuck with an undesirable, far-flung city. Teams and Class AAA affiliates match up in the fashion of musical chairs, and some organizations are left with choices they loathe – the Mets, for example, use Las Vegas against their wishes.”

Prior to this move, just four of the eleven* remaining International League teams were eligible to swap affiliations following the 2014 season, with six already extended through 2016 and a seventh, the Charlotte Knights, extended through 2020 in conjunction with its new ballpark set to open next April.
* The Gwinnett Braves are wholly owned by Atlanta while the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRilders are co-owned by the Yankees and Mandalay Enterprises.