Oct 142013
 

Despite both having exhausted their rookie eligibility during the season, Baseball America has named Washington Nationals second baseman Anthony Rendon and starting pitcher Taylor Jordan to its postseason 2013 Eastern League Top 20.

Obviously, both were key injury replacements for the “Big Nats,” in 2013 with Rendon perhaps even displacing second baseman Danny Espinosa while Jordan is a strong candidate to return to the starting rotation next April, with the nos. 4 and 5 spots unsettled for 2014.

Long-term, BA believes No. 9 prospect Rendon’s future could still be at 3B while scouts still type one-handed marvel at the power:

Rendon has Gold Glove abilities at the hot corner and is more than capable at second base. Because of the vast strength in his wrists and forearms, he’s also got the potential for more than 20 homers annually and a solid average.

No. 12 E.L. guy Taylor Jordan was given props for his pitching motion — which is often compared to Angels ace Jered Weaver:

Jordan employs a sneaky delivery that includes long arm action and a stab on the back end. That deception helps his arsenal, [which] includes a low-90s heater with plenty of run, as well as a slider and a changeup, play up.

All total, eight Nationals were named in these top 20 lists, though no prospects were named at the Low-A and AAA levels. Last year, that figure was five, with Brian Goodwin named to the Top 20 of both the Sally League and the Eastern League.

Sep 132013
 

The Washington Nationals have announced that Billy Burns and Taylor Jordan have been named the organization’s 2013 Player and Pitcher of the Year while Tony Renda will be the inaugural Bob Boone Award winner.

Burns and Jordan were teammates in Potomac for about a month before the latter began his unexpected and meteoric rise from High-A in April to the Majors in July. Burns was promoted in August and was a key cog in the Senators run to the Eastern League Finals that ended last night. Renda has been a stalwart in the Hagerstown Suns lineup, playing in 135 of 137 games in the regular season and all six in the postseason thus far.

Burns, who turned 24 in late August, was an All-Star for Potomac in both the midseason game in San Jose and the postseason all-league team. He hung a combined line of .315/.425/.383 in 121 games between High-A and AA with a whopping 74 steals in 81 attempts. Burns was originally drafted by the Braves coming out of high school in Marietta, GA but the diminutive speedster opted for college and played 154 games with Mercer University. He signed with the Nats after being drafted in the 32nd round in 2011, playing sparingly for Auburn before moving up to Hagerstown in 2012.

Burns broke out in 2012, returning to switch hitting after abandoning it in college, and hit .322 with “only” 38 steals in 113 games. If there’s a knock on Burns it’s that he’s a “slash and burn” type hitter that often gets caught on his front foot (H/T to Zach Mortimer) which could be troublesome because he has very little power to begin with.

Jordan came into 2012 as a question mark. He had his 2011 season cut short by Tommy John surgery and didn’t exactly light a fire in 2012, going 3-7 with a 5.13 ERA in 15 starts between Auburn and Hagerstown. Still, the first season back from TJ is generally considered a success simply if a player doesn’t reinjure himself and given his relative youth (24) and the promise he showed in 2011, he became part of this site’s M*A*S*H unit for the 2013 watchlist.

Instead, Jordan blew through two levels of the minors — going 2-1 with a 1.24 ERA win six starts for A+ Potomac, then 7-0 with an 0.83 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts) for AA Harrisburg. After comically trying to pretend they weren’t, the Nats recalled Jordan on the last day in June. Jordan then went 1-3 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts for the “Big Nats,” becoming one of two four farmhands to graduate (Anthony Rendon, Ian Krol, and Chris Marrero were the others).

Finally, the Nats have created a new honor — The Bob Boone Award, which goes to the player “who best demonstrates professionalism, leadership, loyalty, passion, selflessness, durability, makeup, intangibles and a tremendous work ethic.” No word on the requisite of “grit.”

As aforementioned, that honor went to Tony Renda, the Suns second baseman. Like Burns, Renda was a both a midseason and postseason All-Star. He led the Sally League with 43 doubles 99 runs scored while going .294/.380/.405 with 30 steals and 51 RBI. Renda was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2012 First Year Player Draft out of the Univ. California.

Jun 292013
 

No, I Said The White PhoneAfter five days of denials and juvenile posturing, the Washington Nationals formally announced last night that RHP Taylor Jordan will indeed replace Dan Haren in the starting rotation, starting this afternoon against the New York Mets.

It’s been a whirlwind season for the 24-year-old, who’s less than two years removed from Tommy John surgery and less than seven months removed from being exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Jordan’s success is well documented — 2-1, 1.24/1.02/2.46 in six starts for High-A Potomac; 7-0, 0.83/0.85/2.39 in nine appearances (essentially starts, one was following a rehab outing) for AA Harrisburg.

What remains to be seen is whether or not the lack of familiarity has been a factor in his success. In those 15 starts, he’s only faced the same opponent four times. Twice the opponent did better against him in the second start than in the first. Granted, he was still very, very good, but one cannot help but wonder if the Nationals are banking on this “lack of game tape” to succeed in the short run at the major-league while they either get Dan Haren healthy or arrange for a trade.

Which begs the question: Is this a showcase for Jordan as trade bait? It’s something brought up by a commenter, citing the September 2011 callups with Tommy Milone and Brad Peacock. That may be a stretch, but the trade deadline is 32 days from now…

As for the scouting report, Jordan throws the four-seam and two-seam fastballs (the former maxing out in the 95-97 mph range), an occasional slider and a changeup. Prior to his surgery, I spotted him throwing a curve, but that was three years ago and given the organization’s preference towards high heat and sinkers, it’s probably been shelved permanently.

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 172013
 

For the second time this season, three Nationals farmhands earned weekly honors as the pitcher or player of the week for the period of June 10-16.

Zach WaltersZach Walters broke the Syracuse shutout for weekly awards as he won the I.L. Player of the Week award with 11 hits in six games, including three home runs, three doubles and seven RBI for a .579 batting average and an 1.157 slugging percentage. For the season, Walters is hitting .233/.265/.483 with 14HR (4th best in the I.L.) and 32RBI (2nd to Chris Marrero’s 44 for the team lead). The 23-y.o. Wyoming native was originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010 and acquired by the Nationals in July 2011 in exchange for RHP Jason Marquis.

Taylor JordanTaylor Jordan kept the E.L. Pitcher of the Week Honors in Harrisburg with five-hit shutout last Thursday against Richmond. The 24-y.o. Floridian walked one and struck out a career-best 11 batters. His season ERA between Potomac and Harrisburg is 0.93, the lowest in minor-league baseball, thanks in no small part to his streak of 19 scoreless innings. His 2013 ascendance mirrors, if not exceeds, that of Nathan Karns in 2012 in his second season since having TJ surgery in the summer of 2011. Jordan was drafted by Washington in the 9th Round in 2009 out of Brevard Community College (Cocoa, FL).

A.J. ColeA.J. Cole “only” struck out 10, and “only” went seven shutout innings, allowing four hits, during his Thursday-night start against Frederick. But it was good enough for the 21-y.o. to earn the Carolina League Pitcher of the Week award for the second time this season. For the season, Cole has an overall ERA of 4.16 (an FIP of 3.38, which is slightly worse than league average), having given up four or more runs five times in 13 starts. However, he’s also turned in six quality starts, three in his four appearances. Cole was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 4th round of the 2010 Draft out of Oviedo HS in Florida, then famously traded away in December 2011 as part of the Gio Gonzalez trade. He returned to the organization this past January as part of the Michael Morse trade.

Jun 142013
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 27-37, 6th place I.L. North, 10 games behind

Good Tanner Roark 2-0, 2.36 ERA/2.76 FIP/0.93 WHIP as a reliever
Bad Micah Owings 63K in 49G
Interesting 19 holds, 2nd in I.L.



HARRISBURG SENATORS 35-31, T1st place E.L. West, 2½ games ahead

Good Taylor Jordan (duh) 5-0, 0.66ERA, 1.49FIP, 0.78WHIP
Bad Brian Goodwin .182/.308/.333 in last 10G
Interesting 171 BB fewest in E.L., 38 HBP 2nd most in E.L.



POTOMAC NATIONALS 39-26, 1st place C.L. North, 4.5 games ahead (clinched)

Good Caleb Ramsey .333/.360/.458 in June
Bad David Fischer 17BB in 14⅓ IP
Interesting .975 FA best in Carolina League


HAGERSTOWN SUNS 35-28, 2nd place Sally North, 1 game behind

Good Will Piwinica-Worms .294/.415/.441 in June
Bad Nick Lee 1.61 WHIP in first five appearances
Interesting Eight team shutouts, T1st Sally League


DSL NATIONALS 8-3, 1st Boca Chica South, 2 games ahead

Good 18-y.o. Luis Reyes 1.86 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 11K in first two starts
Bad 18-y.o. Thomas Alvarez .212 OPS in 29PA
Interesting 18-y.o. Kelvin Gutierrez .371/.488/.543 in 10G
May 252013
 

Moving On Up for NPP
Following the news that Danny Espinosa has bone chips and will need prolonged rest, if not a stint on the DL, the Washington Nationals have promoted IF/OF Jeff Kobernus from the Syracuse Chiefs.

It’s been a rollercoaster ride for Kobernus over the past six months. He was selected by Boston then traded to Detroit in the MLB phase of the Rule 5 draft in December and played well into the spring for the Tigers before his return in late March. The experience may have proved beneficial, as he was asked to play outfield for Detroit to make the club as a utilityman — a position he hadn’t played since his collegiate days.

Upon his return to Nationals, he was assigned to the Chiefs and continued to play outfield, mostly in left field (19 games) but occasionally in center (9 games) as well as second and third base (12 and 3 games). More noticeable was the hot start as the 24-y.o. batted .367/.408/.467 with a home run and eight stolen bases in April.

He’s cooled some in May (.298/.344/.369) but has picked up the pace on the basepaths with 13 steals this month. Speed is his calling card as the Nats’ 2009 2nd Round Pick out of California led the Carolina League with 53 steals in 2011 and the Eastern League with 42 last season despite playing only 82 games.

To make room on the 40-man roster, RHP Yunesky Maya was designated for assignment (as previously hinted in this space). Putting it as mildly as possible, Maya has been a tremendous disappointment, signed as an international free agent as a Cuban defector in 2010 for four years and $6 million. In three-plus seasons, he’s pitched 59 innings at the major-league level — all but 1/3rd in 2010 and 2011 — and 367⅔ innings in the minors, mostly at AAA.

Last season was the only one in which he had an ERA below 4.00 as the 31-year-old went 11-10 with a 3.88 ERA in 28 starts for Syracuse.

RHP Taylor Jordan was also promoted, going from Harrisburg to Syracuse, though it’s likely to be a temporary move that will be reversed once Maya’s fate is ultimately determined. Likewise for the shift of RHP Brian Rauh from Hagerstown to Harrisburg, a move to replace whichever reliever (best guess: Matt Swynenberg) replaces Jordan in the rotation when his turn comes up next.

May 092013
 

Moving On Up for NPPThe Potomac Nationals have announced that RHP Taylor Jordan has been promoted to Harrisburg.

Jordan was 2-1 with a line of 1.24/2.46/1.02 (ERA/FIP/WHIP – It’s not a thing… yet) in six starts, including eight scoreless innings last Friday night. In 36⅓ innings, he allowed nine runs (five earned) on 31 hits with 29 strikeouts and six (6) walks.

As mentioned in “First Impressions,” Jordan has picked up where he left off in 2011, when he was 9-4, 2.48/2.92/1.20 in 17 starts for Hagerstown before undergoing Tommy John surgery (making him one of the M*A*S*H players on the 2013 Watchlist). He features a FB/SL/CH arsenal, but appears to have shelved (as predicted) the curveball spotted when I first saw him in 2010.

A corresponding move to backfill his spot on the Potomac roster has not yet been announced. Brian Dupra, promoted last week from Hagerstown, will take his scheduled start tonight in Wilmington, as the official release terms the move as a “spot start.”

As of this writing, Taylor is not scheduled to start tonight, however, as beat writer Geoff Morrow noted earlier today, tonight’s scheduled pitcher for the Senators — Paul Demny — has been struggling mightily and is a candidate to get moved to the ‘pen or demoted.

UPDATE: The Harrisburg Senators have sent RHP Brian Broderick to the DL to make room for Jordan, who will take Broderick’s spot in the rotation and make his AA debut on Saturday

May 032013
 

Who’s the ace of Potomac Nationals staff? Taylor Jordan made his case with eight shutout innings to lead the P-Nats to a 5-1 victory and a 3-1 series win over the Carolina Mudcats.

Facing a Carolina lineup with three lefties and three switch hitters, Jordan pounded the inside the corner all night long, producing 13 outs on the ground — thanks to some nifty defense by Khayyan Norfork, who had seven assists at 2B and combined twice with SS Cutter Dykstra on double plays — and keeping the Mudcat batters.

Indeed, the highlight of the night for Jordan might have been the matchup with the penultimate batter, Zach MacPhee. Jordan fell behind 3-0 with a runner on 2nd and just one out. A fastball inside got the mercy strike. MacPhee twirled the bat as if he were tossing it to the bat boy for ball four but didn’t let go (a rather adept move: a one-handed windmill over the shoulder and back up to the hitting position), which certainly didn’t help his case.

Jordan threw the same pitch to the same location on the 3-1 count. Though the last offering may have been ball four, this was closer, as Nieto made no effort to frame the pitch. MacPhee made the same yes-no-okay-we’re-still-here twirl with with the bat. Jordan threw the same pitch, another inch inside and lower.

Called strike three.Complain if you must about an “ump show,” but there’s not much sympathy for a guy who gets two “warnings.”

Offensively, Potomac would give Jordan all the support he would need early.

Billy Burns beat out an infield tapper despite a Omar Vizquel-style grab and sling from 19-year-old Francisco Lindor (remember that name, kid’s got the Motts), got balked to second and took third on a too-sharp line-drive single to left by Dykstra. Jason Martinson plated him a with a single literally off the pitcher (he stayed in the game) for a 1-0 lead after one.

In the 2nd, Caleb Ramsey, Adrian Sanchez, and Norfork went back-to-back-to-back with singles, with Sanchez executing a sweet hit-and-run to the right side to move Ramsey to third while Norfork got the RBI and took the extra base when Carolina missed the cutoff man. A sacrifice fly by Burns sent in Sanchez and Norfork easily came home on a leg double by Michael Taylor.

Three innings later, Norfork would complete the Potomac scoring by turning around a high fastball to dead center for his first home run of the season.

With the win, Potomac improves to 13-14 and remains two games behind Lynchburg in the Carolina League North. A.J. Cole (0-1, 4.85) takes the hill tonight for the P-Nats against Myrtle Beach’s Luke Jackson (3-0, 1.27) as the Pelicans come to town for the weekend.

Apr 262013
 


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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 8-12, T4th place I.L. North, 6½ games behind

Good Erik Davis 0.63WHIP, 10K in 8IP (7 appearances)
Bad Carlos Maldonado .237OPS (2-for-24, 0BB)
Interesting Six rain-affected games out of 20

HARRISBURG SENATORS 9-11, T4th place E.L. West, 2 games behind

Good Brian Goodwin .342/.405/.632 in last 10 games
Bad 15HR allowed by SPs, 24 errors on defense in 20 games
Interesting Ian Krol 0.84 ERA, 0.66WHIP, 2.07 FIP in 8 appearances

POTOMAC NATIONALS 9-11, T3rd place C.L. North, 1½ games behind

Good Taylor Jordan 1-1, 1.48ERA, 0.99WHIP, 2.58 FIP
Bad Adrian Sanchez 4E in 18G
Interesting Offense: 1st in runs, 2nd in SBs, 4th in Ks, 5th in HRs, 6th in 2Bs

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 11-10, T2nd place Sally North, 2 games behind

Good Wander Ramos .268/.412/.585, 15RBI in 13G
Bad Ronald Pena, Pedro Encarnacion — both 10BB in 17⅓ IP
Interesting Team 37SB is 2nd in Sally League (McQuillan, Renda both with 7SB)