Jul 022014
 

All Stars
The International League roster for the AAA All-Star Game between the I.L and the P.C.L. were announced today and four Syracuse Chiefs were among the 30 players named.

Taylor Hill, Jhonatan Solano, and Steve Souza were among the 13 elected to the game by the fans, media, and team managers while Aaron Laffey was one of the 17 selected by the league office to round out the roster.

According to MiLB.com, this is the first All-Star selection for Hill, the second for both Solano (2010, E.L.) and Laffey (2005, Sally Lg.), and the third for Souza (2010, Sally Lg.; 2013, E.L.).

Hill is currently leading the I.L. in ERA with a 1.92 mark and is second in both wins (9) and WHIP (0.99). Solano is tied for 1st among I.L. catchers for RBI and is second in HR with nine. Souza leads the I.L. in average, OBP, and slugging percentage. Laffey, despite not pitching until April 17th, leads the I.L. with 10 pitching wins.

The All-Star game will be held July 16th in Durham, NC and the winner will be the “home” team at the one-game exhibition billed as the Triple-A National Championship on September 16th in Charlotte, NC.

Jun 252014
 

No, I Said The White PhoneWhile it may just be an up and back to provide bullpen depth, nevertheless, according to multiple online reports… RHP Taylor Hill will be recalled today to join the Washington Nationals in Milwaukee.

Hill has quietly put together a stellar season for Syracuse (9-2, 1.92/3.44/0.99, 9BB, 65K in 93⅔ IP) which has only recently caught the attention of the mainstream media. Obviously, we’ve known about him for much longer, having put him on the 2012 Watchlist despite having a losing record (0-2) for the 2011 Auburn Doubledays because of terrific peripherals (0.3HR, 0.9BB, 7.8SO).

The 2012 season was a struggle for Hill, as it is for many pitchers in their first full season. He won 11 games between Hagerstown and Potomac but also saw his ERA, HR rate, and H/9IP soar. Even with his resurgence over the past season and a half, the latter stat continues to hover around a hit per inning, which is also not unusual for his primary weapon: a low-90s sinker, complemented.

In 2013, Hill began to develop a curve and a change, which has helped increase his K rate but more importantly has given batters something else to consider, especially when his other two pitches — the four-seamer and the obligatory slider — are closer in speed to his sinker. This resurgence earned him a spot on the 2014 Watchlist, and as aforementioned, it’s continued at Syracuse over 14 starts and a four-inning relief appearance that earned him his first (and thus far only) save.

The corresponding move to make room for Hill on the 40-man roster has not yet been announced. Possibilities include shifting Matt Purke to the 60-Day DL (most likely) or designating a player such as Greg Dobbs for assignment (less likely).


UPDATE:
The other shoe has dropped as Greg Dobbs was indeed designated for assignment to make room for Hill. Additionally, Jeff Kobernus was activated from the 60-Day DL, optioned to Syracuse. The corresponding move for Kobernus? The release of RHP Christian Garcia, who never fulfilled the pipe dream hopes of becoming a starting pitcher and was injured too often to be an effective reliever.

May 302014
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 29-24, 1st place I.L. North, ½ game ahead

Good Taylor Hill 7-1, 1SV 1.57/3.38/0.90, 2CG in 11 appearances, 10GS
Bad 31 team HR, 11th in 14-team I.L.
Interesting Destin Hood .410/.452/.744, 3HR in last 10G



HARRISBURG SENATORS 18-34, 6th place E.L. West, 14½ games behind

Good Michael Taylor .370/.442/.730 in May (27G)
Bad Omar Poveda 5.82/4.21/0.94, 5HR in 3GS at AA
Interesting 23 pitchers, 12 starters, 2 position players have pitched in 52 games



POTOMAC NATIONALS 26-26, 3rd place C.L. North, 1½ games behind

Good Derek Self 2-0, 2SV 0.42/2.11/0.51 in 14 appearances (21⅔ IP)
Bad Mike McQuillan .111/.273/.111 in last 10G
Interesting 41% CS rate by catchers is No. 1 in eight-team Carolina Lg.



HAGERSTOWN SUNS 36-16, 1st place Sally North, 5½ games ahead

Good Wilmer Difo .317BA in May, .313 in April, .310 in last 10G
Bad R.C. Orlan 0-2, 6.35/4.24/1.68 in five appearances
Interesting Brendan Middleton .406/.500/.406 in last 10G
May 272014
 

Taylor HillNot too often a starting pitcher gets a win and a save in the same week. Couple that with 11 scoreless innings, and you’ve got the recipe for Taylor Hill’s International League Pitcher of the Week award for May 19-25.

A week ago tonight, Hill scattered six hits over four scoreless innings, participating in two of three double plays turned behind him while notching his first professional save. He returned to the rotation last Saturday night and laid seven goose eggs on top of the scoreboard for his team-leading (and tied for the I.L. Lg. lead) sixth win.

For the season, Hill is 6-1 with an ERA of 1.63 (3rd), an FIP of 3.39 (11th), and a WHIP (2nd) of 0.98 with eight (3rd) walks and 47 strikeouts (15th) over 60⅔ innings (2nd). (Rank among I.L. pitchers with 40+ IP).

The 25-y.o. was originally drafted in the 6th Rd. of the 2011 Draft out of Vanderbilt University and has steadily moved up the ladder, pitching . He is a two-time Watchlist Player (2012, 2014) and has exceeded 100 IP in his two previous full-season campaigns (2012, 2013).

Apr 182014
 


It’s Good Friday. And Bad Friday. And Interesting Friday. It’s a silly little thing I started a few years back that’s become a site staple. Stolen from Named after comedian Demetri Martin’s segment from his show on Comedy Central.

Now, for the usual disclaimers… it’s early, sample sizes are small, stats in the minors aren’t as meaningful as we think, void where prohibited, your mileage may vary. And the usual reminder: the guys, their families, and their agents reading this, so keep it clean in the comments. This is just for fun.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 5-8, 5th place I.L. North, 3 games behind

Good Taylor Hill 2-0, 0.69 ERA/2.97 FIP/0.54 WHIP in 2GS
Bad Brock Peterson .191/.220/.234, 14K in 13G
Interesting Starters not named Omar Poveda – 1.95/3.33/0.86


HARRISBURG SENATORS 3-9, 6th place E.L. West, 5 games behind

Good Justin Bloxom .357/.438/.464 in 10G
Bad Matt Purke 0-2, 10.13 ERA, 2.13 WHIP in 2GS
Interesting Destin Hood 4SB in 10G (5 in 112G in ’13)


POTOMAC NATIONALS 8-6, T1st place C.L. North, 1 game ahead

Good Brian Dupra 2-0, 0.71/0.67/0.87, 17K in 12⅔ IP
Bad Adrian Sanchez .057/.171/.086 in 11G
Interesting Zero quality starts in 14G


HAGERSTOWN SUNS 10-4, 1st place Sally North, 3 games ahead

Good Wilmer Difo .317/.364/.417, 8SB in 14G
Bad David Masters .132/.233/.184 in 11G
Interesting 3HR allowed by Suns pitchers in 126⅔ IP
Jul 262013
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 45-59, 6th place I.L. North, 11½ games behind

Good Mike Crotta 0HR in 43⅓ IP
Bad Kelly Shoppach .179/.324/.179 in first nine games
Interesting 271 batting BB dead last in I.L.



HARRISBURG SENATORS 58-48, 1st place E.L. West, 3 games ahead

Good Matt Swynenberg 1-0, 0.87 ERA, 1.16 WHIP in July (5 appearances)
Bad Jason Martinson .176BA, 16K in last 10 games
Interesting Taylor Hill 1.82/3.40/1.16 in six AA starts



POTOMAC NATIONALS 18-14, 1st place C.L. North, 4 games ahead (60-40 overall)

Good Billy Burns .364/.440/.489, 13SB in July
Bad Matt Purke 0-3, 8.34/4.70/1.99 in first five A+ starts
Interesting David Fischer 2-0, 2.08 ERA, 0.923 WHIP in July (6 appearances)



HAGERSTOWN SUNS 20-13, T1st place Sally North, .007 W% behind (58-42 overall)

Good Narciso Mesa .309/.397/.364 in 29G
Bad Ian Dickson 6HR in 28⅔ IP (9 appearances)
Interesting 37% CS rate by Suns catchers 2nd best in Sally League



AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 12-25, 6th place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 11½ games behind

Good L.J. Hollins 1.35/3.20/1.20 in 13 appearances
Bad Cody Gunter 11E in 30G
Interesting Back-to-back wins thus far: 0



GCL NATIONALS 24-5, 1st place East Division, Gulf Coast League, 9 games ahead

Good Drew Ward .330/.435/.440 in 27G
Bad Travis Ott 8.31/6.20/1.85 in four appearances
Interesting Team Pitching No. 1 in GCL for ERA, Runs Allowed, and WHIP



DSL NATIONALS 21-17, 4th place Boca Chica South, 5&fra12; games behind

Good 18-y.o. Maximo Valerio 3-2, 1.39/2.78/0.93 in nine starts
Bad 19-y.o. Dionicio Rosario .146/.212/.188 in July
Interesting 18-y.o. Luis Reyes 8HBP in 36⅔ IP, 3.19 BB/9, 10.8 K/9
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 242013
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 19-27, 5th place I.L. North, 7½ games behind

Good Chris Rahl .320/.346/.440 in May
Bad Chris Young 47H, 8HR in 31IP – 7.26 ERA/6.68 FIP/1.90 WHIP
Interesting Tanner Roark 12⅔ scoreless innings in last 7 appearances



HARRISBURG SENATORS 23-24, 4th place E.L. West, 6 games behind

Good Ricky Hague .362/.403/.609 in May
Bad 42 pitching HRs surrendered, second-worst in E.L.
Interesting 36 batting HR, third-best in E.L. (14 in April, 22 in May)



POTOMAC NATIONALS 23-22, 3rd place C.L. North, 1½ games behind

Good Taylor Hill 45⅔ IP in eight GS (5⅔+ innings per start)
Bad Randolph Oduber .194/.293/.333 in May
Interesting Colin Bates 4HBP, 4BB in 20IP


HAGERSTOWN SUNS 27-16, 1st place Sally North, 2 games ahead

Good Ivan Pineyro 3-0, 2.28/2.52/1.01 in May
Bad Wes Schill .258 slugging pct.
Interesting Will Hudgins 2-0, 1SV 1.09 WHIP
Apr 222013
 

On the strength of their Saturday night performances, Nathan Karns and Taylor Hill were named the Pitchers of the Week for the Eastern and Carolina Leagues respectively while Jason Martinson repeated as the Player of the Week for the Carolina League for the period of April 15-21.

Nathan KarnsKarns pitched just once during the week, but was masterful: In a 7-inning complete game to open Harrisburg’s doubleheader, Karns settled down from giving up back-to-back doubles with two outs in the first to retire 19 of 20 and the last 15 batters straight while racking up a career-high 13 strikeouts. For the season, the Franklin, PA native is a modest 1-1 with an ERA of 4.60 ERA but has an FIP of 2.94 and a WHIP of 1.09 despite giving up seven runs and seven hits in his first outing.

Taylor HillHill pitched twice during the week, allowing one run on four hits to in a win against Salem last Monday and a one-hit, seven-inning shutout in the opening game of Potomac’s doubleheader on Saturday night. Hill struck out seven and walked none in his masterpiece. The Vanderbilt alum is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA, 0.79WHIP (second-best in the Carolina League) and a 2.52 FIP (fifth-best) in three starts and one relief appearance.

Jason MartinsonMartinson took home player of the week honors for the second straight week, punishing opposing pitchers for a .400 average (10-for-25) including a double, a home run and four RBI in a 12-inning game last Thursday. The 24-year-old Texan is batting .328/.425/.656 overall and is tied for the league lead in HRs with five and leads the Carolina circuit with 15RBI.

Apr 212013
 

It was the best of pitching and the worst of pitching all in one night, as Taylor Hill spun a one-hit shutout for a 6-0 win in the opening game while Kylin Turnbull couldn’t make it out of the second as Potomac fell 8-2 in the nightcap.

Hill was sensational — hitting his spots, changing speeds, mixing it up, and working fast to keep the Frederick lineup off-kilter for the first 14 batters before switch-hitting first baseman Connor Narron steered a grounder past the dive of Adrian Sanchez with two outs in the 5th.

The 23-year-old Vanderbilt product has a reputation for getting groundballs and inducing contact, but instead struck out seven and got seven flyouts to the outfield. For the season, he’s now 3-0 in as many starts with a 1.42ERA and 0.79WHIP with 16K in 19 innings.

On offense, Potomac got things started in classic fashion as leadoff man Billy Burns walked and stole second and trotted in to score when the P-Nats #2 batter put a coat on a hanger for a double. You might even say it was a Taylor made.

A wild pitch sent Michael to third and came around when Cutter Dykstra got the first of his two RBI groundouts, sacrificing average to fulfill his mission of scoring runs.

Justin Miller’s Potomac debut was highlighted by a leadoff single in the third and an RBI double in the fifth. He would come around to score on a balk

Kevin Keyes was the second P-Nat with multiple hits, and scored the 6th and final run in the sixth on sacrifice fly by Caleb Ramsey.
                                          #                                     #                                     #
It wasn’t so pretty in the second game. Starter Kylin Turnbull lost for the third time in as many starts, turning in his shortest outing with more walks (five) than outs (four), including four straight in the 2nd.

Relievers Christian Meza and Tyler Herron showed their Mr. Hyde side after Dr. Jeckyll outings in Salem, with Meza giving up five hits and two walks in an inning and 2/3rds and Herron hitting a batter and walking two while striking out the side in the 4th. Colin Bates settled things down with three scoreless innings, allowing just a single.

Frederick opted to have its bullpen cover the game, pushing the originally scheduled starter Eduardo Rodriguez to this afternoon. Potomac actually outhit the Keys 9-8 but couldn’t get the big hit when they needed it, the four-single, one-run 4th emblematic of their struggles. Will Piwinica-Worms and Cole Leonida both went 2-for-3, with Leonida doubling and Piwinica-Worms collecting an RBI.

With the doubleheader split, the P-Nats remain in the Carolina League cellar, albeit with a 7-8 mark. Robbie Ray (1-1, 2.12) gets the start this afternoon as the P-Nats aim for .500 and a series split.