Aug 272011
 


The Eastern League has announced its postseason 2011 All-Star team, with RHP Brad Peacock and 1B Tyler Moore making the grade.

Just 13 players are named to the squad, with the eight defensive positions, a DH, a utility player, left- and right-handed starters and a reliever. The lineup is voted on by league managers, sportswriters, broadcasters and other media members.

Moore, who was the 2010 Carolina League MVP, currently leads the Eastern League in HRs (30), RBIs (87), and total bases (265) — clearly making him a candidate, if not a favorite, for the Eastern League MVP in 2011.

Peacock went 10-2 with a 2.01 ERA for Harrisburg prior to his promotion last month to Syracuse, where he currently sports a 4-1 record with a 3.56 ERA. Combined, he has gone 14-3 with a 2.48 ERA and 170 SOs in 141⅔ innings.

Peacock was also named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year.

Aug 122011
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 49-61, 4th place I.L. North, 13½ games behind

Good Brad Meyers 1.23 ERA, 1.09 WHIP in August
Bad Seth Bynum .194/.248/.280 since All-Star Break
Interesting Garrett Mock 1.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP in August

HARRISBURG SENATORS 66-52, 2nd place E.L. West, ½ game behind

Good Tyler Moore .333/.385/.590 since All-Star Break
Bad Adam Fox .159/.245/.318 since All-Star Break
Interesting Rafael Martin 0.95 ERA, 0.88 WHIP

POTOMAC NATIONALS 24-22, 2nd place C.L. North Division, 4 games behind (53-62 overall)

Good Sandy Leon .275/.331/.443 since C.L. All-Star Break
Bad 535 RA (4.65/G) is 36 R more than 7th place C.L. pitching staff
Interesting The chance to make the playoffs despite being 6th in hitting, 7th in fielding, 8th in pitching

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 23-22, 4th place Sally League North Divison, 4 games behind (63-52 overall)

Good Michael Taylor .324/.373/.610 since All-Star Break
Bad Dean Weaver 6.62 ERA, 1.53 WHIP
Interesting Adrian Nieto .522 SLG in first 6G

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 32-22, T1st place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 1½ games ahead

Good Brian Dupra 2.96 ERA, 1.23 WHIP as a starter
Bad Angel Montilla .184/.304/.289 in August
Interesting Justin Miller .467 SLG, 1E in 44G

GCL NATIONALS 14-27, 4th place GCL East, 17 games behind (Eliminated)

Good 19-y.o. Estarlin Martinez .311/.406/.517
Bad J.C. Valdez, Wes Schill 12E in 29, 32G
Interesting Jack McGeary 1.13 ERA, 1.25 WHIP in first 3G (8IP)

DSL NATIONALS 29-32, 7th place, Boca Chica South Division, 10 games behind

Good Gilberto Mendez 5-0, 2.35 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
Bad Bienvenido Valdez .111/.304/.111 in last 10G
Interesting Wilman Rodriguez .333/.389/.515 since DSL All-Star Break
Jun 032011
 

For the newer Twitter followers, this is an homage to Demetri Martin’s segments of the same name

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

SYRACUSE 22-29, 5th place I.L. North, 10 games behind

Good Tom Milone 2-1, 2.55ERA, 0.74WHIP, 42K last 5 GS
Bad Gregor Blanco .560 OPS
Interesting Matt Antonelli .359/.432/.538 in 11G since callup

HARRISBURG 30-21, 1st place E.L. West Division, 3 games ahead

Good Tyler Moore .312, 11-2B, 3B, 6HR since May 1
Bad Matt Chico 23H, 7BB, in 12IP since demotion
Interesting Team FA .981, 3rd best in E.L.

POTOMAC 19-34, 4th place C.L. North Division, 12 games behind

Good Jeff Kobernus .351/.400/.432 in last 10G
Bad Paul Demny 6HR allowed in last 6GS
Interesting 41% CS by C’s, 2nd best in Carolina League

HAGERSTOWN 33-21, 1st place Sally League Northern Division, 2½ games ahead

Good Blake Kelso .348/.417/.446
Bad Matt Grace 1.60 WHIP
Interesting 82SBs, 1st in Sally League
May 312011
 

The streak of “Player of The Week” awards for the Nationals farmhands extends to four with the naming of Tyler Moore as the Eastern League Player of the Week for the period of May 23 to May 29.

Moore batted .448 (13-for-29) during the week, including three HRs and seven RBI, while scoring seven runs and also clubbing four doubles. The 24-year-old is now tied for first in the Eastern League with 25 extra-base hits and is second in slugging (.538) and total bases (99). For the month of May, the 2010 Carolina League MVP has hit .320/.365/.629 and six of his nine HRs.

Apr 292011
 

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

SYRACUSE 7-14, 6th Place IL North, 7 games back

Good Carlos Maldonado .333/.429/.458 in 9G
Bad Boomer Whiting 2-for-7 in SB attempts, .483OPS
Interesting Josh Wilkie 13K in 10.1IP

HARRISBURG 10-9, 1st place E.L. West, 1/2 game ahead

Good Tyler Moore .326BA, .674SLG last 10G
Bad Derek Norris .154/.303/.192 in 9G
Interesting Ryan Mattheus 1.08ERA, 2SV in 8G

POTOMAC 8-11, 3rd Place C.L. North, 4 games back

Good Jeff Kobernus 9SB, 0CS, 10R in 19G
Bad J.R. Higley .136/.269/.227 in 7G
Interesting Pat Lehman 5SV, 0.58WHIP in 7G

HAGERSTOWN 12-9, T3rd Sally League North, 2½ games back

Good Bryce Harper .323/.425/.645, 5HR in 19G
Bad Chris McKenzie 12.46ERA, 17BB in 13IP
Interesting Chris Manno 0.68WHIP, 17K in 10⅓ IP
Nov 292010
 

The people have spoken, so here’s our obligatory Top 10 list of the Nationals batting prospects. Next will be the Top 10 Arms, and then a revisit to the watchlist. I don’t have the chutzpah to do letter graders or stars, so this is just my opinion on the ten hitting prospects that folks are watching and talking about. I’ll even throw in my Nigel Tufnel to answer the usual question, “Who just missed the list?”

Without further ado…

  1. Bryce Harper — Biggest question: How will he handle the adjustments that will be made to him, especially if he gets the Barry Bonds treatment.
  2. Derek Norris — Complaints about his defense are overblown because he can readily shift to another position if need be, but made significant improvements despite being hurt.
  3. Danny Espinosa — Two spring-training questions: Will the parent club tolerate his strikeouts? Will he get a chance to win the SS job?
  4. Wilson Ramos — Let’s hope he’s given the chance to win the job outright from Rodriguez, but a platoon is probably more likely.
  5. Chris Marrero — Rated this high because I think he’s viable trade bait and appears to be capable of hitting at the MLB level.
  6. Steve Lombardozzi — Steady, solid and reliable. Capable of leading off, but more likely to hit second or eighth.
  7. Michael Burgess — Will probably never hit for average, but the power potential, the OF arm, and the option to platoon him is something to consider
  8. J.P. Ramirez — Concerns about his foot speed, but both our Hagerstown contributors liked his power potential and I liked his tendency to post a good month following bad month all season long.
  9. Eury Perez — It’s no secret that I like the guys that can run and play small ball, and there are doubts about him being able to hit at the upper levels, but he’s the youngest of that prototype in full-season minors.
  10. Tyler Moore — Like Sickels, I’m concerned about what AA pitchers will do to him once they find his weaknesses, but his power is undeniable.

And, the Nigel Tufnel goes to… Rick Hague. That’s who I’d rank #11.

I’m sure folks will have lots to say in the comments…

Nov 012010
 

The half system one of the best things ever conceived for minor-league baseball. It’s an acknowledgment that player movement during the season affects the standings and helps generate interest in the second half. And it’s what helped make the 2010 Potomac Nationals’ pennant run possible.

The first-half Potomac team struggled to muster a consistent offensive attack, getting shut out seven times and scoring 10 or more runs five times, stumbling along to a 31-39 record — 10 games behind Frederick. The second-half team also started slowly, losing seven of its first 12 games before they headed up to Frederick, tied for last place. And then they swept the Keys to go to 8-7. After a split in Salem, Potomac returned to Woodbridge at 9-8. Despite having a rehabbing Jordan Zimmermann on the mound, they lost 3-1 to fall back to .500.

But a funny thing happened in that game. Potomac’s first baseman doubled in the lone run, his first game back after being benched in the second game of the doubleheader in Salem. The next afternoon, he homered. The night after that, he hit a grand slam and doubled twice. You know the rest of that story, but the hitting became contagious. Bill Rhinehart hit .281 in July after a .226 June. Michael Burgess went from .183 in June to .286. Sean Rooney, as part of the ripple effect of the Matt Capps trade that reassigned catchers from A+ to AAA, dropped down from Harrisburg, where he had been struggling as a backup, and picked up where he left off in ’09 and hit .308 in July.

Appropriately, this is a good time to take a look at how the Potomac bats compared to the rest of the Carolina League…

HITTING

TEAM AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA SB
Potomac 4641 665 1166 109 539 1081 .251 .334 .402 .251 96
Lg. Avg. 4664 629 1212 90 435 1038 .260 .330 .388 .246 105

Bold = League Leader

PITCHING

TEAM IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
Potomac 1227.0 3.98 4.62 1.354 101 393 1082 9.3 2.9 7.9 2.75
Lg. Avg. 1221.1 3.92 4.53 1.349 90 435 1038 8.9 3.2 7.7 2.39

The batting numbers are what you might expect from a team that went 70-69 overall: slightly above or slightly below the league averages. Unfortunately, while it’s easy to find splits on individual players, it’s a little harder for teams, thus I can’t easily demonstrate just how much better the team was on offense in the second half versus the first. Also skewing the results are the Winston-Salem Dash, who were sensational on offense, hitting .288 as a team and averaging nearly a full run per game above the league average (5.31 vs. 4.53). Potomac would finish second to them in HRs and total bases.

In terms of pitching, Potomac’s only true calling card was avoiding the free pass, finishing second behind the Salem Red Sox for fewest walks allowed. Unfortunately, that was offset by allowing the third-most HRs and hitting the most batters. In prototypical fashion, the starters were young, the relievers were not, but unlike the bats, they were not the oldest group in the league (Frederick).

In keeping with the format we’ve established, here’s a look at the Top 16 batters in terms of plate appearances, followed by the Top 16 pitchers in terms of innings. Full statistics for the team can be found here.

Name Age Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err PA GPA
Tyler Moore 23 1B 116 .990 11 553 .282
Steve Lombardozzi 21 2B 107 .989 6 507 .269
Michael Burgess 21 RF/LF 99/1 .981 3 491 .265
Derek Norris 21 C 69 .988 7 399 .293
Jose Lozada 24 SS/1B/2B/LF 95/3/1/1 .938 27 385 .236
Robby Jacobsen 25 LF/3B/C/1B/P 59/26/10/2/2 .964 8 375 .221
Bill Rhinehart 25 LF/RF/1B 30/26/17 .978 5 346 .264
Nick Moresi 25 CF/RF/LF/P 49/15/14/1 .978 3 325 .213
Chris Curran 22 CF 70 .981 3 275 .209
Dan Lyons 25 3B/2B/SS 53/5/1 .959 7 274 .235
Brian Peacock 25 C/3B/LF 41/4/2 .994 2 235 .241
Wilberto Ortiz 25 3B/SS/2B 25/19/1 .931 12 187 .223
Sean Rooney 24 C 19 1.000 0 170 .244
Tim Pahuta 26 3B/1B 22/4 .931 8 155 .296
Francisco Soriano 22 2B/SS 21/7 .932 10 117 .219
Josh Johnson 24 3B/SS/2B 12/12/1 .966 3 113 .297

The naysayers like to point out the number of 25-year-olds that were on the team, either not noticing (slightly possible) or not knowing (quite probable) that 44% of the plate appearances were made by players 23 or younger. Add in the 24-year-olds (a not uncommon age for the league) and that number swells to 57%. With the exceptions of Bill Rhinehart and Tim Pahuta, none the “old men” on the team were above league average. Thus, it’s ignorant to write off this team’s offense as being too old for the level. That accusation can, however, be applied to the pitching…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HBP WP
Adrian Alaniz 26 24/12 8-4, 1 2.61 107 93 26 101 1.112 6 10
Brad Peacock 22 19/18 4-9, 0 4.44 103⅓ 109 25 118 1.297 4 10
Evan Bronson 23 21/16 2-5, 0 3.88 95 107 17 59 1.527 3 5
Marcos Frias 21 20/17 7-5, 0 5.69 91⅔ 105 35 59 1.527 5 3
Pat Lehman 23 21/14 5-4, 0 4.84 87⅓ 87 28 88 1.317 9 4
A.J. Morris 23 23/12 5-3, 2 3.88 72 67 27 61 1.306 6 3
Trevor Holder 23 15/14 3-3, 0 4.09 70⅓ 76 22 52 1.393 4 4
Jesse Estrada 26 22/4 3-2, 1 5.11 56⅓ 73 20 39 1.651 8 1
Clayton Dill 24 40/0 6-7, 1 4.41 51 50 33 48 1.627 1 11
Dan Leatherman 24 31/0 3-2, 11 2.12 46⅔ 31 12 57 0.921 2 2
Pat McCoy 21 30/0 2-1, 6 2.93 46 52 12 44 1.391 1 0
Daniel Rosenbaum 22 8/7 3-2, 0 2.09 43 35 13 31 1.116 0 3
Cory VanAllen 25 36/0 2-3, 1 4.28 41⅓ 49 8 48 1.379 1 3
Justin Phillabaum 24 29/0 0-6, 3 6.87 36⅔ 50 15 28 1.773 6 4
Carlos Martinez 26 18/1 0-0, 1 2.57 35 35 6 14 1.171 1 3
Jimmy Barthmaier 26 9/5 4-1, 0 3.62 32⅓ 36 7 26 1.330 3 3

The bullpen (with one rather obvious exception that should be easy to spot in the list above) was a strong spot for P-Nats all season long, and it should have been because it was almost entirely pitchers that were 24 or older — several with AA experience. Injuries forced Adrian Alaniz and Jesse Estrada into the rotation, but when callups from Hagerstown came, only Estrada was sent back. Alaniz and Barthmaier were considerable factors during the second half, which is not to diminish what Rosenbaum and Holder also meant down the stretch.

I’ve been told that the Potomac roster is the last one to be decided coming out of spring training, with the implication being that at least some of the “old men” are guys that might have otherwise been at Harrisburg, but were the odd man out because player X is at Syracuse and they’d prefer player Y to play every day so he’s going to AA instead of sitting the bench at AAA. The aforementioned trade for Wilson Ramos demonstrated that in practice as Devin Ivany was sent down to Harrisburg and Sean Rooney, in turn, came to Potomac.

I don’t believe, however, that the age of the Potomac roster is entirely explained by that. The tendency to draft college-age players is a factor. The lack of timely development of the high-school-aged prospects is a factor. But I think the days of the team being this old are numbered. Next year’s team will have a lot of the 20- and 21-year-olds from Hagerstown, and should become the youngest roster I’ve personally seen in Woodbridge.

But an older roster shouldn’t diminish what this team accomplished. They still had to beat out a loaded Wilmington team to win the half. They still had to beat the Frederick Keys, which also had a lot of older pitchers and was in the Top 3 in most offensive categories. And they faced one of the most powerful lineups in organized baseball and kept them from scoring their customary 5+ runs a game for the entire series, one that yours truly even thought may have been just too much to contain.

OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS
Most of the “repeats” are pitchers, and before folks start chirping, I’ll explain #5. Marcos Frias was one two pitchers that went to the GCL and came back a changed pitcher. His overall numbers were horrid, but he finished the regular season strong and it carried over to the playoffs. That performance basically bumped Pat McCoy off the list, but I mention him here because the line is that close. Tyler Moore’s place is simply indicative of the fact that his weaknesses haven’t been put to the test at AA. Chris Curran gets the nod over Francisco Soriano due to his speed and defense, though Soriano has the better bat and a stronger arm.

Batters
1. Derek Norris
2. Steve Lombardozzi
3. Michael Burgess
4. Tyler Moore
5. Chris Curran

Pitchers
1. Brad Peacock
2. Daniel Rosenbaum
3. A.J. Morris
4. Trevor Holder
5. Marcos Frias

Oct 212010
 

The hits keep coming for Tyler Moore.

Yesterday, the 23-year-old added another award to the 2010 shelf with the fan-voted MiLB.com Class A Advanced Hitter of the Year, just weeks after winning the Carolina League MVP with a torrid streak from July 14 on that saw him raise his batting average from .191 to .271 and hit 21 of his 31 HRs and drive in 64 of his 111 RBIs. During the streak, Moore was named Carolina League Batter of the Week four times in six weeks.

Moore’s season was a perfect case of how one minor adjustment can make all the difference. Simply put, Moore stopped from always falling behind 0-2 and 1-2 and started consistently getting ahead 2-0 and 2-1. His strikeout rates and walk rates were actually fairly consistent month-to-month all season long, but that small change made all the difference.

Going into 2011, Moore will have a bit of a target on his back. The Natmosphere has been awakened to his presence and the expectations have been raised — he placed second on the 2010 DC-Internet Baseball Writers Association’s “Minor League Player of the Year” award (full disclosure: he did not receive my vote because I took the descriptor of “Minor league player most destined for big league success” (italics added) literally and seriously; I voted for him in the MiLB.com poll) as well as the organization’s minor-league batter of the year award.

Moore will likely start the 2011 season as the Harrisburg Senators’ starting first baseman. As the 2010 season came to a close, pitchers were beginning to pitch him soft-and-inside to negate his power but one has to wonder if the AA pitchers will pitch him straight up until such an adjustment proves necessary (i.e. they will decide that they can get him out just as they can any other batter). I believe he’ll pound such an approach and what remains to be seen is how he’ll adjust to when they change their gameplan.

But congratulations to Tyler nevertheless. It was a hell of a season to watch.

Sep 282010
 

As expected, Tyler Moore and Tom Milone will be honored tonight before the Washington Nationals game as the organization’s minor-league batter and pitcher of the year.

Moore was the 2010 Carolina League MVP and led the league in HR’s, RBI and slugging percentage. After bottoming out with an 0-for-3 night in the first game of a doubleheader on a Monday night in Salem, Moore’s average stood at .191. He was given the nightcap off and with the next day a travel day, he returned to the lineup on Wednesday, July 14 and went 2-for-3 with a double. The next night, he homered and doubled to push his average over .200. Moore would hit safely in 34 of 37 games, including 14 straight, and win Player of the Week four times. He would club 21 of his 31 home runs from July 15th to the end of the season.

A 16th-round pick out of Mississippi State, Moore is expected to start 2011 in Harrisburg. He turns 24 in January, a fact that has been invariably held against him in the accounts written outside the Natmosphere. His asendance in some ways was blocked by a resurgence from Chris Marrero, who turned in a .359 June after a .235 May and finished the season at .294. At 22, Marrero is likely to begin the year at Syracuse.

Tom Milone was the ace of the Potomac Nationals in ’09 with a 12-5 mark and 2.91ERA. In 2010, he led the Harrisburg Senators in 2010 with… wait for it… a 12-5 mark and a 2.86ERA. Milone has gone largely unnoticed outside of Washington despite these numbers, though this accolade may wake up some folks at Baseball America. It certainly has gotten the attention of John Sickels:

One of the best pitchers in Double-A this year was Tom Milone of the Harrisburg Senators. A 10th round pick out of USC in 2008 by the Washington Nationals, he was excellent last year in the Carolina League (2.91 ERA, 106/36 K/BB in 151 innings, 144 hits, 12-5 record), but as a soft-tossing lefty who threw 85-87 MPH, many were skeptical that he could repeat this against advanced competition. Not only did he repeat his performance, he bettered it: 2.85 ERA, 155/23 K/BB in 158 innings, 161 hits, 12-5. Although he gave up a few more hits, a reduction in his walk rate and an increase in strikeouts resulted in a better overall ratio set. His FIP dropped from 3.55 in ’09 to 2.85 in ’10. Any time you see a pitcher improve his component ratios while moving up a level, you have to be impressed. Milone still doesn’t throw hard, but his changeup is excellent and he added additional bite to his breaking ball this year.

Milone has long been a favorite here at NationalsProspects.com, enough that we included him in our preseason Top 20 with full disclosure that the choice was in some parts sentimental. But the argument then remains the same now: You cannot discount a guy that has had amazing control no matter where he has pitched: 1.92, 2.21, 1.85 BB/9 in his three seasons at USC (’06-’08); 1.25, 1.45, and 2.14 at Vermont, Hagerstown and Potomac in ’08 and ’09. Never mind he’s lefthanded. As Sickels wrote, the scouts have been down on Milone because he doesn’t throw hard, but he throws strikes — more reliably than another 6’1″ lefty from California that came up in the early 1980s: Bobby Ojeda, who many forget was missing piece that the ’86 Mets added after a 98-win ’85 and led the team in wins and ERA.

Milone is likely to start 2011 in Syracuse. Like Moore, Milone turns 24 during the offseason (February) and will compete against the likes of Matt Chico, Shairon Martis, and Ross Detwiler for a chance to join the parent-club rotation or an emergency start.

Sep 272010
 

As you imagine, things are in a lull right now as we wait for the parent club to finish out the string. A few items of interest…

…Thankfully, we’re not in a mode of worrying whether or not the #1 overall pick is ours, which was the subject of discussion last year and the year before. That battle is between Baltimore and Seattle (hey, that rhymes!). Currently, Washington is in line for the 8th overall pick, two games “behind” Cleveland in the reverse standings, three games “behind” Kansas City, and four games “ahead” of the Chicago Cubs. Most of the teams in the #3 through #6 spots face winning clubs the rest of the way (#7 is a compensatory pick for the Diamondbacks failing to sign Barret Loux), the Nats and Cubs play contenders for some, also-rans on the final weekend. Thus, the order is not likely to change all that much.

…Former scout and current AOL Fanhouse writer Frankie Piliere has good things to say about Bryce Harper but what was more interesting was his take on A.J. Morris:

Nationals right-handed pitching prospect A.J. Morris was among the more impressive arms in camp for Washington, showing off a lively 91-94 mph fastball and a feel for a sharp slider at 82-84 mph. He has the look of an effective late-inning arm for Nationals in the near future.

….Baseball America’s been churning out its Top 20 lists for each league. Thus far, they’ve done the Arizona Fall League, the Gulf Coast League, and the Appalachian League and no Nationals have appeared. The New York-Penn League is on the docket for tomorrow, the Sally League on Thursday. If/when any Nationals are named or discussed, I’ll pass along what they have to say.

…Finally, as frequent commenter Mark L noted, the Washington Nationals have yet to name its Minor-League Batter and Pitcher of the Year, but it appears that Tyler Moore will be the former. The latter may be a little less of a slam-dunk. Danny Rosenbaum makes the case with the lowest ERA in the system, but our money is on Tom Milone, the leader in wins (12) and strikeouts (155) and innings pitched (158).