Dec 032013
 

In a trade reminiscent of two Decembers ago, the Nationals have traded LHPs Robbie Ray and Ian Krol along with utilityman Steve Lombardozzi for Tigers RHP Doug Fister.

Fister, who was not drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks but rather the Seattle Mariners in the 7th Round of the 2006 Draft, turns 30 in February but is only in his second year of arbitration eligibility. He cannot become a free agent until after the 2015 season, providing Washington with a in-his-prime pitcher who’s exceeded 200 innings twice in the past three seasons and averaged more than six innings per appearance for his career.

Trade reaction is generally in the direction of adulation (trust me, I wanted to use a stronger word than that; think Apple fans and Jobs) for Washington GM Mike Rizzo’s latest trade or disdain for Detroit GM Dave Dombrowksi.

Then there are those who take the contrarian point of view:

Have to believe Tigers know something about Fister the rest of us don’t. Dombrowski isn’t dumb.
— David Laurila, Fangraphs via Twitter (@DavidLaurilaQA)

Of course, like a hermaphrodite’s knife, this cuts both ways: maybe Rizzo knows something about Ray or Krol like he presumably did with Brad Peacock, who has underwhelmed relative to the expectations set from his rise from AA to the majors in 2011. This is de rigeur with any trade that seems lopsided at first blush, though ultimately, it’s really hard to say that Rizzo “won” the Gonzalez trade. Oakland GM Billy Beane did get a cost-controlled pitcher and catcher and used Peacock to acquire an underrated everyday third baseman, fulfilling his mission to get talent on the cheap [insert "Moneyball" reference here].

From our perspective, it’s yet another reminder that for all our yearnings to see “our guys” with a curly W cap in DC, there’s always the chance that they’ll make The Show elsewhere. While that may be disappointing to some, it’s the reality of a system that’s not been highly regarded in the aggregate in the past couple of years, yet has been generating major-leaguers nevertheless.

This is actually a good sign, evidence that the organization is in the “Replace/Reload Mode” that ultimately is the most important measure of a system: generating players that can play in MLB.

Nov 252013
 

Less than a week after being designated for assignment, LHP Fernando Abad has been traded from the Washington Nationals to the Oakland Athletics for OF John Wooten. It’s the third trade involving the two teams in 2013 (Mike Morse, Kurt Suzuki) and the fifth since 2011 (Suzuki in 2012, Gio Gonzalez in 2011).

As you might imagine for a 37th Round Draft pick, there is very little information on Wooten, aside from his bio from East Carolina University and his collegiate and minor-league statistics. He was not written up by either John Sickels or Baseball America in their 2013 prospect books.

He’s a former teammate of Dakota Bacus — acquired in the previous Washington-Oakland trade — at Beloit, where he hung a line of .257/.333/.430 with 20 HRs (4th best in the league) and 69 RBIs. With the Nats starved for power-hitting OFs (he’s 15 months younger than Brandon Miller), it seems likely that he’ll progress to Potomac and play one of the corner outfielder positions, presuming that he’s not shifted to 1B or slotted behind Estarlin Martinez or Shawn Pleffner on the organizational depth chart.

Nov 242013
 


While perhaps stealing the thunder from the next Baseball America transactions post, its primary author Matt Eddy relayed the following signings via the twitters yesterday:

  • RHP Daniel Stange
  • IF Melvin Dorta (re-sign)
  • RHP Chris Young (re-sign)
  • C Jeyner Baez
  • RHP Gabriel Alfaro

OK, now put down your beverage because Stange was originally drafted by… wait for it… the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 7th round of the 2006 Draft. He spent 2013 in the Angels organization, making 26 appearances for AAA Salt Lake with a record of 4-1 with five saves and an ERA of 5.06. He allowed 16 runs on 31 hits over 26⅔ innings while while walking 13 and striking out 30. He made three relief appearances for the Angels in his second MLB stint (the first was in 2010), and was hit hard in his first outing, walking a pair and giving up a walkoff blast in a 14-11 loss to Texas. His second and third outings were scoreless, pitching an inning in an 8-2 win and getting the last out in the top of the 9th in a 6-5 loss (both games vs. Toronto).

Dorta, like Sean McCauley last week, was a player-coach for the Senators in 2013 and looks to be re-upping for the same duty in 2014.

Young, who was signed to a similar deal last offseason, made seven starts for Syracuse and was pounded like a drum to the tune of 31 runs on 50 hits (including nine HR) over 32 innings before going on the DL for most of the season (he made one appearance in the GCL and one in the NYPL in August and September respectively). He reportedly has had surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition in which nerves and/or blood vessels become compressed in the space between the collarbone and the first (thoracic) rib and causes pain and weakness in the shoulder.

Finally, as noted by Eddy first, the Nationals have released RHP Yunesky Maya after four less-than-stellar seasons. Signed as an IFA in July 2010 to a four-year/$6M contract, Maya made just 16 appearances in the major leagues, 15 of which came in 2010 and 2011. He made 76 of his 79 starts in the minors for Syracuse over the past four seasons and went 24-28 with an ERA of 4.13 over 453⅓ innings with 456 hits and 44 HRs allowed.

UPDATE:
The latest BA transaction post was published on Monday. Additions are in blue

…The presumption is that Baez is an IFA, given the surname and the lack of an entry on baseball-reference.com.

…WaPo Nats beat writer Adam Kilgore had the story on Alfaro last week, along with details on the Young contract.

Nov 192013
 


It’s been largely quiet on the transaction front thus far in the offseason, but there were a couple of signings released in yesterday’s dispatch from Baseball America to pass along:

  • RHP Carlos Acevedo
  • IF Josh Johnson (re-signed)
  • CA Sean McCauley (re-signed)

It’s not entirely clear if it’s this Carlos Acevedo that was signed or another RHP with the same name. If it is the former Cleveland farmhand (who has not pitched since 2011), it’s likely the Nats are repeating what they did with Raul Ruiz, who pitched in the DSL in 2012, one year removed from three seasons in the VSL (2008-2010) with Pittsburgh. Ruiz pitched well (1.77 ERA/3.30 FIP/1.13 WHIP), but was 21 years old. and was released last December. Acevedo turns 21 in January and is also from Venezuela.

McCauley was a player-coach for Potomac last season and appears to be headed towards the same assignment in 2014. He was never activated and has not played professionally since 2009.

Johnson, who was originally drafted by Kansas City in 2004, has been a Washington minor-leaguer since the 2010 season. He spent 2013 splitting time between Harrisburg and Syracuse, batting .267/.350/.453 in 53 games for the Senators and .341/.458/.466 in 35 games for the Chiefs.

Nov 052013
 

Well, it’s that time of year in the minors when we find out which of the veterans have become free agents. Some of these guys will re-sign, some will retire, and some will move on. Without further ado…

(* = spent entire season on DL)
CATCHERS
AAA – Carlos Maldonado
AA – Brian Jeroloman
High-A – Beau Seabury*, Sean McCauley*

INFIELDERS
AAA – Chris Marrero, Will Rhymes, Josh Johnson
AA – Jimmy Van Ostrand, Melvin Dorta*, Carlos Rivero
High-A – Mike Gilmartin
Low-A – Carlos Alvarez

OUTFIELDERS

AAA – Jason Michaels*, Chris Rahl
AA – Jerad Head

LHPs
AA – Bill Bray, Patrick McCoy
High-A – Josh Smoker*

RHPs
AAA – Mike Broadway, Caleb Clay, Mike Crotta, Cole Kimball, Jeff Mandel, Ryan Tatusko, Chris Young
AA – Brian Broderick

Three players are known to have re-signed prior to the deadline — IF Adrian Sanchez, C Jeff Howell, UT Francisco Soriano — but we’ll have to wait until the next dispatch to find out if there were any others.

Like 2011, there were 26 free agents, though three of the five DL guys were signed as player/coaches (Dorta, McCauley, Michaels) and were never going to be activated, according Nationals Director of Player Development Doug Harris. Overall, there were 550 players that became free agents, according to Baseball America.

This year’s first-time free agents include Nats ’07 draft picks Mandel, McCoy, and Smoker, and a pair of ’06 picks who were removed from the 40-man, Kimball and Marrero. There was only one IFA this year (as opposed to two last year), but has anyone ever heard of this Carlos Alvarez guy?

Nov 012013
 

This morning, the Nationals officially confirmed what Steve Souza Jr. wrote to his followers on Twitter last night: The longtime Nationals farmhand has been added to the 40-man roster.

Of course, the move was more than a little telegraphed by his inclusion on the Mesa Solar Sox roster for the Arizona Fall League, but what was not known was whether he’d be added to the big club or if he’d made an agreement to re-sign as a minor-leaguer. Souza was due to become a six-year free agent on Monday. The move also protects the 24-y.o. from next month’s Rule 5 draft.

For those just joining us in progress, Souza has had a tumultuous ride through the minors, beginning as a 3rd-Rd. high-school pick out of Everett, WA in 2007 and seemingly hitting the wall in 2010 his third season at Low-A Hagerstown when he was suspended for PED use. As detailed in this long piece from the Seattle Times, Souza would actually fall further in 2011 before shedding the labels of (among others) draft bust over the past two seasons.

While for many there was a huge disconnect between the praise heaped upon Souza — by Nationals farm director Doug Harris in particular — it was evident, even in 2011, to folks who saw him play everyday that the five-tool tag was legitimate. Indeed, Souza has been a member of this site’s watchlist at three different positions: 3B in 2011, 1B in 2012, and in the outfield for 2013.
(Spoiler: He’ll prolly make it 2014, too)

Souza is currently posting a line of .360/.467/.400 with five RBI and nine SBs in seven AFL games. This past season, despite playing in just 77 of 142 games, he led the Harrisburg Senators in both SBs (20) and HRs (15) and was fourth in runs, walks and RBI.

Oct 242013
 

Catching Up On Transactions
In addition to the news that longtime Nationals farmhand Chris Marrero has been outrighted to Syracuse, the latest transaction post from Baseball America has been released, revealing the following signings:

• RHP Hector Guance

• IF Adrian Sanchez (re-signed)

As was the case with the previous (presumably Dominican) signing last week (OF Telmito Agustin), there is very little to be found on Guance. Sanchez has chosen to remain the organization he has played with since 2007 at the age of 16 (he turned 23 this past August) but is most likely a candidate to repeat Potomac.

Marrero, of course, is the Nats 2006 1st Round pick who seemed on track for the majors after reaching High-A in 2007, posting a line of .275/.338/.484 with 23 homers. Inexplicably, that turned out to be his high water mark in terms of power as his slugging percentage steadily dwindled over the next four seasons. He would still make it to AAA at 22, but a hamstring injury limited him to just 53 games in 2012, enabling Tyler Moore to pass him by on the ladder (though his lack of defensive prowess was also an impediment).

Following the World Series, Marrero will most likely become a minor-league free agent.

Sep 192013
 

Other Shoe DroppedOne month after the strange saga of David DeJesus, the Nationals announced today that 22-y.o. LHP Matthew Spann is the “player to be named later.”

Spann was drafted in the 25th round out of Central High School in Columbia, TN (that’s roughly 40 miles south of Brentwood, hometown of Robbie Ray) and was eased into starting his first year in the GCL (2010) before spending another short season as a starter (2011) and a full season at Low-A (2012).

As you might imagine with a low-round draft pick, scouting reports are few and far between. The most recent is this one from Robbie Knopf at RaysColoredGlasses.com where the upshot was this:

Right now, Spann lives and dies off the late movement on his fastball, with the remainder of his pitches showing flashes but no consistency. Spann throws from a high three-quarters arm slot and has trouble at times getting the finish on his pitches to keep them down in the zone, but when he does, he can be effective even though his arsenal is a long ways away.

That was, of course, last summer and a lot could have (and probably did) changed since then, as the Rays decided to move him to the ‘pen for 2013, where he had some good numbers (2.87 ERA, 3.2 BB/9) and some not so good (1.475 WHIP, 5.3 K/9). According to Baseball America’s Jim Callis, Spann is less of a beanpole — 220 lbs. vs. 185 — and pegged his velo at 86-90 m.p.h.

Best guess is that Spann will be in Woodbridge next summer. If used as a setup man, he’ll be mentioned in conjunction with several bridge puns, though my gut feeling is that we’ll see him used in long relief until he’s ready to start. Considering the dearth of age-appropriate-to-level pitchers in the Nats system, this is quite a return for waiver-claim pickup.

Sep 052013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Won, 5-4 @ Erie, 6:35 p.m. Hill (2-7, 2.71) vs.
Saupold (7-6, 3.28)
Potomac Won, 2-1 (14 inn.) vs. Lynchburg, 7:05 p.m. Schwartz (11-4, 2.65) vs.
Hinson (4-4, 2.48)
Hagerstown Won, 6-1 @ West Virginia, 7:05 p.m. Encarnacion (10-9, 3.58) vs.
Kuchno (9-5, 4.01)
Auburn Lost, 2-0 END OF SEASON N/A



Harrisburg 5 Erie 4
• Cole 6IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 4K, HR
• Mirowkski (W, 1-0) 2IP, 1H, R, ER, 0BB, 2K
• Herron (SV, 1) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Head 2-5, 2B, RBI
• Hague 2-5

Steven Souza only had one hit last night, but it cleared the fence for a 5-4 Harrisburg win over Erie in Game One of the E.L. West Divisonal series. It was the third big fly of the night, as Justin Bloxom went deep for two in the top of the 1st and Seawolves TomTyler Collins mixed up an A.J. Cole pitch for three runs in bottom of the 1st. That would be all the 21-y.o. would allow, as he finished with six innings pitched, seven hits and one walk allowed, and four strikeouts. Richie Mirowski got the win in relief, giving up a run on a controversial play at the plate that saw Erie score its fourth run and C Brian Jeroloman removed from the game. Tyler Herron struck out the side in the 9th to nail down the game and earn the save. Geoff Morrow of the Patriot-News reports via manager Matt LeCroy that Jeroloman was taken to the hospital with a gash under his chin, which may make the backtop unavailable for Game Two, if not the rest of the series.

Potomac 2 Lynchburg 1 (14 inn.)
• Solis 5IP, 3H, R, ER, BB, 5K
• Dupra (W, 1-0) 2IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Oduber 3-5, 2B, BB, RBI
• Soriano 2-5, BB

It was the longest game of the year, both by time and innings Last Night In Woodbridge.
Roster moves: OF Caleb Ramsey placed on temporary inactive list; OF Will Piwinica-Worms reassigned from Hagerstown; RHP Christian Garcia added to roster for MLB rehab.

Hagerstown 6 West Virginia 1
• Voth (W, 1-0) 5IP, 3H, 0R, 2BB, 5K
• Pena 1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K, 2-0 IR-S
• Severino 2-3, 2R, BB
• Perez 2-4, R, SB

“Help Me” might have been what West Virginia pitcher Tyle Glasnow was thinking after issuing two hits and two walks to the first five batters of the 3rd, but Wander Ramos did not comply, smacking a two-run double to complete a four-run inning for Hagerstown. The Suns went on to a 6-1 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. Austin Voth pitched five shutout frames, walking two and letting up three hits while fanning five. Ian Dickson walked five in his his two and 1/3rd innings of work, giving up the Power run, but escaped major damage with the help of Ronald Pena, who stranded two in the 8th and pitched a scoreless 9th to preserve the win. The series shifts to Hagerstown for Game Two on Friday, the Suns having two chances to win once to make it to the Sally League Championship Finals. Roster moves: RHP Jake Johansen removed from the roster; LHP Jake Walsh reassigned from the GCL; 1B Bryan Lippincott reassigned from Auburn

Mahoning Valley 2 Auburn 0
• Pivetta 5IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 7K
• Selsor (L, 0-6) 1IP, 2H, 2R, ER, BB, 0K, HR
• W. Rodriguez 2-5, 2B
• Ramirez 2-4, 2B

The Scrappers struck for two in the 6th for the game’s only scoring as the Doubledays fell in their season finale, 2-0. Casey Selsor took the loss, giving up both Mahoning Valley Runs on two hits, including a solo HR in one inning of relief. Nick Pivetta tossed five scoreless innings in his final start, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out seven. Wilman Rodriguez and Andruth Ramirez both singled and doubled as Auburn racked up eight hits in the loss. The Doubledays finished the season as the NYPL’s worst at 26-49.

Sep 022013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 5-4 vs. Buffalo,
2:00 p.m.
Rosenbaum (7-10, 3.81) vs.
Weber (7-5, 2.71)
Harrisburg Lost, 7-3 @ Richmond,
12:05 p.m.
Gilliam (3-6, 4.64) vs.
Gloor (9-7, 3.87)
Potomac Winning, 4-3
(Susp., 6th)
@ Frederick,
12:30 p.m. (Comp. DH)
Mooneyham (0-2, 10.13) vs.
Berry (10-7, 3.82)
Hagerstown Lost, 5-3
(5½ inn.)
@ Kannapolis,
1:05 p.m.
Turnbull (6-5, 3.81) vs.
Bucciferro (3-5, 2.59)
Auburn Won, 10-0 vs. Mahoning Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Selsor (0-5, 4.17) vs.
Sulser (2-2, 2.06)
GCL Nationals Won, 7-2 END OF SEASON N/A



Buffalo 5 Syracuse 4
• Tatusko (L, 5-8) 5IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 4K
• Lowe 2IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 5K
• Brown 2-4, R
• Kobernus 1-2, R, 2BB, 3SB

The Bison scored twice on sacrifice flies in the 5th to take a 4-2 lead and held off the Chiefs for a 5-4 win. Ryan Tatusko took the loss with four runs allowed on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts over five innings. Every Syracuse batter hit safely for a total of 10 hits, with Corey Brown the sole Chief to have multiple safeties. Jeff Kobernus reached base three times on a single and two walks and stole three bases to break the 40-steal mark for the third consecutive season.
Roster moves: LHP Ian Krol, RHP Erik Davis recalled to Washington; C Sam Palace activated from the 7-Day DL.

Richmond 7 Harrisburg 3
• Treinen 5IP, 1H, R, ER, 0BB, 7K, HR
• Grace (L, 6-3) 3BF, 1H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, 0K
• Holland 1IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 0K, HR, 2-2 IR-S
• Souza 2-4, R, HR, 2RBI
• Rivero 1-3, R, HR, RBI

The Squirrels went nuts against the Sens ‘pen in the 6th, scoring five times to break a 1-1 tie as Richmond handed Harrisburg a 7-3 defeat. Matt Grace took the loss, unable to retire any of three three batters he faced while Neil Holland let in both inherited runners and two of his own in the innings. Billy Burns walked and stole two bases and came in on a groundout for the first Harrisburg run while Carlos Rivero and Steve Souza Jr. hit solo shots in the 8th and 9th innings to account for the Harrisburg runs. Blake Treinen pitched five innings of one-hit ball, giving up a leadoff homerun then setting down 15 of the next 16 batters (seven on strikes) but got the no-decision. Erie and Bowie were rained out, thus the Sens’ magic number to clinch the division remains at one.
Roster moves: C Sandy Leon recalled to Washington; C Jeff Howell reassigned from Syracuse

Potomac 4 Frederick 3 — SUSP.
• Demny 5IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 6K

Play was called with the P-Nats leading the Keys 4-3 in the bottom of the 6th. The game will be resumed this afternoon followed by the regularly scheduled, nine-inning game. Roster moves: IF Cutter Dykstra activated from TIL; C Cole Leonida placed on the DL

Kannapolis 5 Hagerstown 3 (5½ inn., rain)
• Encarnacion (L, 10-9) 5IP, 10H, 5R, 4ER, 0BB, 8K
• Norfork 1-3, R, 2B, 2RBI
• Severino 2-2

Rain ended this one after five and a 1/2 with the Intimidators overtaking the Suns with a two-run fourth for a 5-3 win. Kannapolis struck first with three in the bottom of the 2nd while Hagerstown tied it in the 4th on a two-run double by Khayyan Norfork and an error. The Suns got sloppy in the bottom half of the frame, with a dropped third strike with two outs extending the inning and an error on a bunt single to the next batter setting up a two-run single. Pedro Encarnacion gave up all five runs (four earned) on ten hits for his ninth loss. He walked none and struck out eight. Hagerstown had four hits in six “ups” with Pedro Severino collecting two of them while going 2-for-2. The loss combined with a doubleheader sweep by West Virginia gave the Power the second half Sally North division title.

Auburn 10 State College 0
• Orlan 4IP, 1H, 0R, 3BB, 5K
• Cooper (W, 2-1) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K, HBP
• Lippincott 2-3, 2R, 2BB
• Yezzo 2-4, 2R, HR, 3RBI
• Foat 1-5, 2R, HR, 5RBI

Four Auburn pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout while the offense exploded twice for big innings for a 10-0 win. R.C. Orlan turned in four innings of one-hit ball, walking three and striking out five in his final start. Andrew Cooper got the win as the first man out of the ‘pen, retiring six of seven batters faced (hitting the other) with three strikeouts. Bryan Lippincott reached base four times with two singles and two walks to lead the 13-hit attack, which included a three-run shot by James Yezzo in the four-run 4th and a grand slam by Matt Foat in the six-run 8th.

GCL Nationals 7 GCL Red Sox 2
• Suero (W, 1-0) 5IP, 1H, R, ER, 3BB, 7K, HBP
• Sylvestri 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Marmolejos-Diaz 2-4, R, 2B, BB, 2RBI
• R. Encarnacion 1-3, 2R, 2BB, RBI
• Gordon 2-4, R, RBI

The G-Nats did precisely what you’d expect a team that went 49-9 in the regular season to do: Win the league championship.