Feb 082015
 

Plugging Away
Having reviewed the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, but knowing the Sickels version is still another couple of weeks away, I’ve spent this weekend making another pass through the player reports. There’s a good chance that many of the guys I’m holding out on won’t be covered, but I’d rather be sure than just assume that.

Yesterday’s transaction post from Baseball America had but one name, Tim Alderson, a 26-y.o. RHP who began 2014 as a reliever for Baltimore’s AAA team in the International League and finished with seven starts in eight appearances for Oakland’s High-A entry in the California League.

(Yeah, the news is still slow).

So after you’ve enjoyed the brief respite from the winter weather, feel free to take a look at the player reports while we await the start of spring training.

Jan 312015
 

Morning Reading 2If you’re here to find out which team Kim Kardashian’s favorite prospect thinks will win the Super Bowl, well then maybe the SEO ad partner I hired isn’t so bad after all.

As the post title and pic suggests, here are few items to stew on while the dreaded month of January comes to a close.

Keith Law has ranked the Nationals farm system 9th overall, up from No. 18 last year, and the highest he’s ever ranked the Nationals (H/T Todd Boss, who lays down some more Law in his latest post).

MLB.com, who seemed to know that its audience was probably home, unveiled its Top 100 prospects last night on the MLB Network. Lucas Giolito (6th), A.J. Cole (52nd) both moved up from last year’s rankings (44 and 69 respectively), while Michael Taylor debuted at No. 42 and “San Diego” shortstop Trea Turner came in at No. 62. Baseball Prospectus has yet to reveal its Top 101, while Law put six Nats in his Top 100.

In transaction news, Baseball America notes that the Nationals have signed former Reds OF Derrick Robinson, who missed 2014 due to shoulder surgery, and IF Grant DeBruin, who spent the past two seasons in the Frontier League after going undrafted in 2012 after playing for Div. II Univ. of Alabama-Huntsville.

Finally, MASN has announced there will be seven games broadcast this year (all times 1 p.m. except March 26, which is at 5 p.m.):

• Sat., March 7 vs. Cardinals • Mon., March 9 vs. Braves • Wed., March 11 vs. Tigers • Mon., March 16 vs. Astros
• Mon., March 23 vs. Yankees • Thu., March 26 vs. Mets • Sat., April 4 vs. Yankees  
Jan 252015
 

Somehow, we almost made it through January without having to do this annual “feature” about how (almost) nothing’s going on.

How bad is it? Beat writers have resorted to noting that the Rangers now have two former Nationals pitchers named Ross

We’re also at the point where the signing of non-roster invitees is over-reported. If the Rule 5 Draft is the most overblown aspect of the offseason, the annual parade of has-beens, never-weres, and favors-to-the-agents through camp is a very close second.

The latest BA transaction post refers to those two along with the re-signing of C Brian Jeroloman while noting the releases of RHP Pedro Encarnacion, LHP Elisaul Gomez, and C Kyle Bacak, who was released shortly before being suspended for 50 games for testing positive for amphetamines which will probably end his career if his 4-for-30 effort in 12 games between the GCL and Auburn did not.

Aside from the shocking* news that the Hagerstown Suns haven’t been able to get a naming-rights partner, there’s not much else.
* Well, no, not really

Jan 142015
 

So Long
Today the Nationals announced the trade of LHP Danny Rosenbaum for AAA veteran Dan Butler, as part of an offseason push to replenish the upper minors with catchers.

Rosenbaum was a 2009 pick out of Xavier University who quickly established himself as a workhorse, throwing 140+ innings in his first three full seasons (2011-2013). That also earned him a Rule 5 look-see during the 2012-13 offseason before developing Nationals elbow last spring. He was expected to spend 2015 rehabbing in the GCL and perhaps Auburn before becoming a six-year free agent.

As noted in the link above, Roberts is one of several minor-league veteran catchers (Steven Lerud, Omir Santos) added in the wake of the departures of 40-man backstop Jhonatan Solano as well as AA/AAA reserves Brian Jeroloman and Mitch Canham.

Jan 112015
 

Transactions for NPP 2
After a two-plus week hiatus, Baseball America has made its latest transaction post for the period of December 24, 2014 to January 8, 2015. Among the transactions not previously reported:

SIGNED
• OF Kevin Mattison

RELEASED
• RHP Travis Henke
• C Austin Chubb
• SS Willie Medina

Mattison was released from Milwaukee’s AAA affiliate in August following an 0-for-19 slump in his final 14 games. The 29-y.o. centerfielder was drafted by the Florida Marlins in 2008 in the 28th Rd. out of the Univ. of North Carolina at Asheville.

Henke was a 2011 pick who topped out at High-A with 5-2, 5.24 record with Potomac over part of 2013 and all of the 2014 season. Chubb was drafted in 2012 but was a backup backstop in all three of his seasons, finishing with a .622 OPS in 21 games with Hagerstown. Medina had the plug pulled after just two seasons as the 31st Rd. pick out of High Point Univ. began 2014 in Hagerstown but was demoted to Auburn after hitting just .207 over 44 games, and finished up with a .247 mark over 27 games for the Doubledays.

Jan 032015
 

Winter Baseball Update
With the close of the Venezuelan Winter League last night, here’s the last look at how players in the Nationals organization did in the 2014-15 Winter Leagues.

BATTERS

PLAYER LG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Tyler Moore DWL 22 77 19 23 4 0 6 17 18 20 .299 .429 .584 2
Emmanuel Burriss DWL 17 55 4 16 4 1 0 4 2 6 .291 .350 .400 1
Estarlin Martinez DWL 2 7 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .143 .250 .143 0
Wilman Rodriguez DWL 1 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .500 .500 .500 0
Jose Lozada PWL 29 99 11 23 8 0 2 7 5 23 .229 .295 .429 0
Sandy Leon VWL 46 147 13 31 8 1 2 14 17 27 .211 .290 .320 1
Mario Lisson VWL 32 112 11 26 5 1 4 13 18 20 .232 .372 .402 2
Wilson Ramos VWL 18 67 4 15 2 0 1 6 2 17 .224 .257 .299 0
Adrian Sanchez VWL 5 6 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 .000 .000 .000 0

PITCHERS

PLAYER LG W L SV ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Richard Bleier DWL 1 3 0 5.23 7 4 20⅔ 26 14 12 2 4 12 1.45
Manny Delcarmen DWL 1 0 0 8.71 14 0 10⅓ 15 10 10 2 6 7 2.03
Gilberto Mendez DWL 0 0 0 0.00 3 0 2⅔ 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.00
Rafael Martin MWL 1 0 10 1.90 24 0 23⅔ 22 8 5 1 4 22 1.10
Jose Lozada PWL 0 0 0 0.00 1 0 0⅔ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Paolo Espino VWL 3 0 0 3.74 8 8 33⅔ 34 14 14 3 11 34 1.34
Mitch Lively VWL 1 2 0 3.38 6 2 18⅔ 21 8 7 2 5 18 1.39
David Ramos VWL 0 1 0 2.95 6 0 18⅓ 19 6 6 0 6 7 1.36


As usual in early January, there’s very little to report on the minor-league front. Earlier this week, the Nationals signed another veteran catcher: 33-year-old Omir Santos, who appeared in just 11 games last summer with Pittsburgh’s AAA affiliate due to a concussion and an ankle injury. Santos was orignally drafted by the Yankees in 2001, but made his MLB with Orioles in 2008. Since filling in for former Nats catcher Brian Schneider for 96 games with the Mets in 2009, Santos has played sparingly — just 226 games across five seasons for the Mets, Tigers, Rockies, Indians, and Pirates, with only 15 games played at the MLB level (14 for Detroit in 2011 and 2012, one for Cleveland in 2013).

Dec 172014
 

Sorry, no “pair of Padres” pun this time.

Another December trade has the Nats taking part in an 11-player, three-team trade that will be known elsewhere as “Myers To Friars” and perhaps to us (Nationals fans) as the Souza for Turner trade.

Late-bloomer Steven Souza (2007, 3rd Rd.) and teenage southpaw Travis Ott (2013, 25th Rd.) are the two players reported to be on the move. In return immediately will be RHP Joe Ross (2011, 1st Rd.) while 2014 1st Rd. pick SS Trea Turner will be eligible to join the Washington organization in June, thanks to MLB’s rules that prohibit draft picks from being traded within a year of signing.

Obviously, most folks are interpreting this as a move to acquire a possible successor to Ian Desmond by using a bench/role player, albeit one coming off a career year as the International League’s MVP while giving up a young southpaw in exchange for AA pitcher. Having just traded for 2B Chris Bostick, one has to wonder if another trade is coming or if there’s another PTBNL in this deal, which, as of this writing, is not official yet.

Tacitly, it would also seem that GM Mike Rizzo is agreeing with the scouts who say that Difo is a 2B and not a SS. If you’re the type that likes to bring the tartar sauce when you go after a white whale, then you counter with the notion that when Turner comes in Difo moves up and whoever’s playing SS in Harrisburg steps aside.

A little more on the new guys…

Turner split time between SS-A Eugene and Low-A Fort Worth, posting a combined line of .323/.406/.448 with 23 steals in 69 games. He’s considered an 80-grade speedster but there are questions about his ability to hit for average at the upper levels. Defensively, he’s the unusual 3B-to-SS convert despite his size (6’1″, 170).

Ross made 19 starts for High-A Lake Elsinore and three starts for AA San Antonio with a combined ERA of 3.92 and a WHIP of 1.258. In his 2014 book, John Sickels noted the gap between the effusive praise for his “stuff” (93-97 FB, hard-breaking SL) and the pedestrian H/IP and K/9IP ratios (9.0 and 7.2 for his career) and wondered aloud at what point will the numbers improve or the scouts dial down?

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments.

Dec 112014
 

PairofRangers
Guess it wouldn’t be December without a trade by the Nationals.

Multiple online sources are reporting that the Washington Nationals have traded LHP Ross Detwiler to the Texas Rangers for a pair of minor-leaguers, 2B Chris Bostick and RHP Abel de los Santos.

Bostick is a (*spoiler alert*) former Oakland A’s farmhand who has now been traded twice in two offseasons, going to Texas last year as part of the Choice-for-Gentry swap. He spent 2014 in the Carolina League with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans where he posted a line of .251/.322/.412 with 11HR and 62RBI, but alas, 116 whiffs in 130 games.

Defensively, he’s considered a project despite being a former shortstop, committing 55 errors 305 games at 2B, though scouts believe his range is decent and his arm strength adequate. As Sickels pointed out in his most recent prospect book, this is hardly unusual for someone his age (turns 22 in March). Between Wilmer Difo and Tony Renda, the most logical deductions are that Bostick may be forced to repeat High-A or change positions for 2015.

De Los Santos is a 22-y.o. Dominican just finishing up his fifth professional season. The 6’2″, 180-lb “northpaw” converted to relief in 2013, and has averaged 10.4K/9IP the past two seasons with 113K in 97⅔ IP. Scouting reports are scarce as he was not profiled by either Sickels or Baseball American in their 2014 editions (it also doesn’t help that Texas has a Miguel de Los Santos and Cincinnati has a RHP by the same name, too).

De Los Santos went 5-2 with eight saves in 33 appearances with High-A Myrtle Beach and one would think that the Nationals would like to pair him with Gilberto Mendez in the back end of the Harrisubrg bullpen in 2015.

Nov 082014
 

Hanging It Up for NPP
As noted earlier this week, Baseball America has released its list of the minor-leaguers who have become free agents. Without further ado, ze list…

(* = spent entire season on DL)
CATCHERS
AA — Mitch Canham, Brian Jeroloman
SS-A — Alex Marquez

INFIELDERS
AAA — Brandon Laird, Will Rhymes
AA — Melvin Dorta*, Oscar Tejeda

OUTFIELDERS
AAA — Destin Hood,
AA — Quincy Latimore

LHPs
AAA — Aaron Laffey, Tyler Robertson
AA — Zach Kroenke

RHPs
AAA — Mitch Lively, Omar Poveda, Daniel Stange
AA — Paul Demny, Tyler Herron

Two of the names are notable if for no other reason than they were 2008 Nationals draft picks: Destin Hood (2nd Rd.) and Paul Demny (6th). After a career year in Syracuse (.294/.344/.482), Hood will undoubtedly sign with another organization. Let’s face it: He’s third in line behind the likes of Steve Souza and Michael Taylor when it comes to the last couple of outfielder slots on the Nats 40-man roster.

Demny, who has languished at AA for three seasons, is far less of a surprise. Even with a shift to the bullpen, his velocity has dropped, and he spent significant time on the DL this year as well. At 25, he seems more likely to either retire or go to the indy route if he is to continue pitching professionally.

Believe it or not, this list of 17 is actually the smallest in the five seasons this site has been in existence. Whether that’s a good thing or not is something to debate. We’ve certainly noticed that in the Rizzo era, he has no qualms in peppering the AA and AAA rosters with free agents and much like his predecessor (sorry, but it’s true) he favors the guys he’s drafted or scouted. However, he has also released a fair amount of guys already from his first two drafts (2009, 2010) so there may not be very many (or any) eligible to re-sign this time next year (if you’re wondering, just three not on the 40-man already from 2009 — Danny Rosenbaum, Pat Lehman, and Matt Swynenberg).

Sep 022014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 8-2 END OF SEASON N/A
Harrisburg Won, 3-0 END OF SEASON N/A
Potomac Won, 6-1 END OF SEASON N/A
Hagerstown Lost, 9-8 END OF SEASON N/A
Auburn Won, 4-3 END OF SEASON N/A


Buffalo 8 Syracuse 2
• Laffey (L, 12-6) 4IP, 13H, 6R, 6ER, 0BB, 3K, WP
• Runion 3IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 2K
• Dobbs 2-4, 2B
• Hood 1-4, 2B, RBI

The Syracuse pitching staff presented few challenges to Buffalo in an 8-2 regular -season finale loss. With one out in the 1st, the Bisons loaded the bases on three singles before Matt Hague singled in Darin Mastroianni. After recording the first two outs in the 2nd, starter and loser Aaron Laffey allowed five hits, including two doubles. Among the thirteen hits Laffey allowed on the night and the twenty hits the Chiefs staff allowed, the biggest blow was a Brett Wallace double to left that scored Mastroianni and Cole Gilespie and put Syracuse down, 4-0. The Chiefs responded with an RBI double by Alabaman Destin Hood that scored Greg Dobbs. Laffey would give up two more runs on four hits and a sacrifice fly in the 4th before departing down 6-1. Sam Runion came on to start the 5th and was rudely greeted by a single, a double, and two more singles that put Syracuse down 8-1 before they put some lipstick on the pig with a Greg Dobbs ground-rule double and Will Rhymes RBI single off Brandon Morrow in the 9th.
Roster moves: Activated C Jeff Howell from 7-Day DL, CF Eury Perez from 3-Day TIL; Washington recalled C Sandy Leon, 1B-OF Tyler Moore, RHPs Blake Treinen, Aaron Barrett, LHP Xavier Cedeno; OF Steven Souza removed from roster, MLB rehab assignment ended (activated from MLB 15-Day DL).

Harrisburg 3 Portland 0
• Demny 3IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Simmons (W, 3-4) 3IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, K, HBP
• Bates (SV, 3) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Tejeda 2-3, 2R, BB, CS
• Latimore 2-5, R, SB

Harrisburg avoided a tie for its worst record ever with a 3-0 whitewash of Portland in the season finale. Five Senators relievers combined on the shutout the Sea Dogs, beginning with Paul Demny, who threw three innings with two hits and two whiffs. Harrisburg scored an unearned run in the 2nd when Oscar Tejeda walked, took second on an error as Portland 2B Sean Coyle dropped the throw from the catcher, and scored on an RBI single by Adrian Sanchez. Tejeda and Sanchez teamed up again in the 4th as Oscar singled with one out to start the rally and Adrian beat out a double-play ball for his second RBI. James Simmons went the next three innings and earned the win by working around a one-out double in the 4th, an error in the 5th, and two-out double in the 6th. The Sens got their final tally of the 2014 campaign with a Drew Vettleson RBI single to score Quincy “The Dude” Latimore in the 7th. Robert Benincasa put up a zero the 8th to earn his first hold while Colin Bates closed it out in the 9th for his third save.

Potomac 6 Frederick 1
• Spann 3IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Henke (W, 5-2) 4IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, BB, K
• Martinez 3-4, R
• Oduber 2-4, R, RBI, SB
• Norfork 2-5, RBI

The Frederick fans that waited out the 104-minute rain delay might have left soon afterwards as the Keys relievers were unlocked for six runs over their first three full innings of work in a 6-1 loss to Potomac. P-Nats starter Matthew Spann threw three no-hit innings, needing just 23 pitches to go through the Frederick lineup once, as the one baserunner he allowed (walk) was erased on a double play. Travis Henke took over after the rain stopped play with one out in the top of the 4th and went the next four frames, giving up a run on five hits and a walk to earn his fifth win. Estarlin Martinez went 3-for-4 to lead the hit column while Pedro Severino went deep with a two-run blast to break the 0-0 deadlock in the 5th.
Roster move: RHP Ross Ohlendorf removed from roster, assignment with Potomac completed.

Lakewood 9 Hagerstown 8
• Cooper 3IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, BB, K, 2HR
• Johns (BS, 3; L, 3-2) 1IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, BB, K, HR
• Kieboom 2-3, 2R, 2HR, 2RBI
• Yezzo 3-4, 2R, 2B, HR, 3RBI
• Mesa 3-5, 2R, 2B, RBI

In an apparent effort to keep the starters rested, the Suns used all relievers and blew a 7-3 lead to lose the final game of the regular season, 9-8. Andrew Cooper was barreled up for three runs on a pair of 2nd-inning homers and four hits total over three innings. Spencer Kieboom got two runs back via solo HRs as Hagerstown piled up five runs over 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings to take the aforementioned 7-3 lead. Ryan Ullmann gave up three in the 7th and 8th innings while Samuel Johns was pinched for the final three Lakewood runs for his second loss and third blown save. James Yezzo and Narciso Mesa combined for six hits, four runs, two doubles, a homer (Yezzo) and four RBI to lead the Hagerstown offense.

Auburn 4 Batavia 3
• Bourque (W, 3-5) 5IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 4K, HBP, WP
• Bach (H, 5) 3IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Gardner 3-4, 2B, CS
• Abreu 2-3, 2R, SB(10)

The Doubledays rallied from an early 3-1 deficit with three runs in the bottom of the 3rd and neutered the Muckdogs over the final six innings for a 4-3 win to close out the season. Starter James Bourque gave up all three Batavia runs on five hits and a walk while striking out four to earn his third win. Connor Bach followed with three scoreless innings for his fifth hold while Tyler Mapes worked around a hit in the ninth to notch his fifth save. Jeff Gardner singled twice and doubled once to lead Auburn’s 11-hit parade.