Wander Ramos Named to GCL Postseason All-Star Team

The Gulf Coast League announced its postseason All-Star team today, which included perennial GBI guy Wander Ramos as one of the outfielders.

Just 11 players are named to the team — the eight positions, a designated hitter, a starting pitcher and a reliever.

Ramos was one of two ’09 DSL “graduates” to get significant playing time in ’10 in the GCL, but repeated the level for 2011. The 21-year-old saw his power rates jump dramatically (2010 SLG .308, 2011 SLG .653) while improving both his OBP (.303 to .401) and BA (.253 to .313)

Tuesday’s News & Notes – Playoff Edition

Team Pitching Star Hitting Star #1 Hitting Star #2
L, 3-2
Trevor Holder
3⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 4K
Brian Peacock
1-4, R, HR, RBI
Zach Walters
1-4, R, 2B
L, 9-2
Manny Rivera
1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 2K
Billy Burns
2-4, R, 2B, SB
Wilfri Pena
1-4, 2B, RBI

The Frederick Keys got three runs in the bottom of the first and made them stand up for a 3-2 win over the Potomac Nationals in Game Five to advance to the 2011 Mills Cup Finals against the Kinston Indians.

The Potomac bullpen trio of Trevor Holder, Marcos Frias and Neil Holland tossed seven and a 1/3rd scoreless and hitless innings of relief to keep this game close, but the P-Nats bats were largely silent — just four hits and three walks total, though Brian Peacock did connect on a solo shot in the 9th to likely finish his five-season odyssey on a high note.

Meanwhile, the Auburn Doubledays dropped Game One of the best-of-three New York-Penn League Championship Series, 9-2 to the Staten Island Yankees. With the next two in New York City, they’ll have to beat the team with the best regular-season record overall and the second-best home record at 24-12 — twice.

Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez was not sharp, giving up two runs on three hits and a walk over five innings with several deep counts early in the game but struck out six, including four in the second thanks to a wild pitch. The bullpen imploded in the last two frames, as Richie Mirowski. Ben Hawkins and Travis Henke gave up six runs on six hits and four walks.

Monday’s News & Notes – Playoff Edition

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 2-1 ELIMINATED N/A
Potomac Won, 6-1 @ Frederick,
7:00 p.m.
Paul Demny or Mitchell Clegg vs.
Nick Haughian or Jacob Petit
Auburn OFF DAY vs.
Staten Island,
7:05 p.m.
Wirkin Estevez (6-3, 4.01) vs.
Taylor Morton (0-1, 5.40)

The Harrisburg Senators were swept from the Eastern League playoffs with a 2-1 loss to Richmond. While the flooding that delayed the series two days and shifted it to entirely in Richmond didn’t help, the lack of offense was more to blame. The Sens had just five hits yesterday and 18 for the series, batting a .175 overall, .143 with RISP, and 23 runners left on base. The starting pitching was sensational, with Erik Arnesen, Shairon Martis, and Tanner Roark each going seven innings and the trio striking out 29 batters combined while allowing just five runs total.

The Potomac Nationals decided to wait until the next-to-last chance they had on a Sunday Afternoon In Woodbridge to beat the Keys and force a Game Five in the Northern Division Championship Series tonight in Frederick. The winner will meet Kinston for the 2011 Mills Cup.

It’s the final home game of the 2011 season in Auburn, New York as the Doubledays play host to the Staten Island Yankees in Game One of the best-of-three New York-Penn League Championship Series. The two teams split the only two games they played during the regular season. Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez gets the start against 2010 9th-round pick 19-year-old Taylor Morton, who threw all but five of his 55 innings in the regular season in the GCL.

Sunday Afternoon In Woodbridge – Playoff Edition

For the second straight afternoon game, the Potomac Nationals scored six times in the bottom of the eighth. Last time, it secured the second-half title. This time, it forced a deciding Game Five in the Carolina League’s Northern Division Series.

After 16 innings of offensive futility — four baserunners last night, five through the first seven innings today — the rally started as one might expect: with a whimper, not a bang. Eury Perez chopped an infield single to the 5/6 hole and beat it out. After unsuccessfully trying to sacrifice, Francisco Soriano worked a walk to push Perez to second. Kobernus likewise “failed” to lay one down, but paid the price with a hit-by-pitch to his wrist to load the bases with nobody out. He was replaced by Sean Nicol.

Do I need to tell you who was up next?

With the infield drawn in, the Potomac right fielder bounced one up the middle to give Potomac the 2-1 lead. Justin Bloxom followed with the third sacrifice attempt, and this time, the cleanup hitter got the job done, moving up Nicol and Destin Hood. Brian Peacock got the intentional pass to reload the bases.

After Sandy Leon, who had the audacity to throw out three of the four runners to try to steal against him, struck out for the second out of the inning, Frederick still looked like they might recover and have a chance to tie, down just 2-1.

Instead, Jose Lozada took out a two-run policy with a single to center and Zach Walters attached a similar rider with a triple over Keys right-fielder for a total of four insurance runs and a 6-1 lead.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without some stellar pitching prior to the eighth. Adam Olbrychowski let in the one Frederick run on six hits, but walked just one and struck out five in his five and a 1/3rd innings of work. Neil Holland was the first man out of the ‘pen and while he did hit a batter, he got a critical strikeout and some help from Keys manager Orlando Gomez, who hasn’t quite grasped the concept that running on Leon is not a good idea, as he sent Miguel Abreu on a steal of third with two outs to end the threat.

Joe Testa took the hill in the 7th and got two quick outs before giving up an infield hit by Dale Mollenhauer, the leadoff lefty that was his raison d’être. Unlike Gomez, manager Matt Lecroy wasn’t about to play with fire and let Testa face Jonathan Schoop, calling instead upon Cameron Selik.

“Win or go home today” Selik tweeted and he backed it up by inducing Schoop to fly out to end the 7th and working around a hit and an error in the 8th. As the pitcher of record for the 8th-inning rally, he got the win for today’s game.

Hector Nelo got three ground outs in the 9th, but, as usual, made it less than automatic by giving up a one-out double and balking the runner over to third.

The series resumes tomorrow night in Frederick. MiLB.com is listing Mitchell Clegg and Nick Haughian as the probables, but the smart money is on a rematch of the Game One starters Sammy Solis Paul Demny and Jacob Petit.

Sunday’s News & Notes – Playoff Edition

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 4-2 @ Richmond,
1:05 p.m.
Tanner Roark (9-9, 4.69) vs.
Justin Fitzgerald (9-9, 3.51)
Potomac Lost, 5-1 vs. Frederick,
1:05 p.m.
Adam Olbrychowski (5-7, 4.16) vs.
Ryohei Tanaka (9-5, 3.33)

Two losses on Saturday night have pushed both Harrisburg and Potomac to the brink of elimination in the best-of-five format, with the Senators trailing Richmond in its series 2-0 and the P-Nats down 2-1 to Frederick. Both teams could be finished by late this afternoon.

Harrisburg fell 4-2 to Richmond in 11 innings, blowing a 2-0 lead in the 8th. Like the night before, clutch hitting was not to be found as the Senators went 0-for-6 with RISP and stranded seven runners. Derek Norris accounted for the first Harrisburg run and lone RBI while Tyler Moore scored on a wild pitch.

Shairon Martis walked four batters but allowed just one hit and no runs over seven innings while setting down nine on strikes. Rafael Martin let in the tying runs (both unearned) on two hits. Pat Lehman took the loss in the 11th by loading the bases with nobody out after pitching a scoreless 10th. Cory VanAllen couldn’t strand them and the Sens couldn’t get them back in their half of the 11th.

Potomac was held to just three hits total while Frederick’s two true prospects were both outstanding Last Night In Woodbridge. It needs to be mentioned somewhere that despite the deluge of rain on Thursday, the field was restored to playable condition on Friday and Saturday and was not a factor in the game.

Finally, the Staten Island Yankees defeated the Brooklyn Cyclones by the slimmest of margins, 1-0. They will play the Doubledays in Auburn for Game One of the New York-Penn League Championship, then return to New York City on Tuesday for Games Two and Three (if necessary).

Last Night In Woodbridge – Playoff Edition

With just three balls hit out of the infield, the Potomac Nationals were manhandled by the Keys pitchers and outclassed by their two teenage prospects tonight in Woodbridge.

It’s been fashionable to complain about the veteran-laden Frederick lineup, but 19-year-olds Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado were simply awesome… and nearly beat the P-Nats all by themselves. In 10 plate appearances, P-Nats pitchers were able to get them out just twice — a grounder to short (Schoop) in the first inning, a foul popup to catcher (Machado) in the eighth inning. In between, they scored four runs, singled twice, walked twice, doubled three times, and drove in two runs.

Oh, it gets worse. The two also combined on defense for 10 assists, two putouts, and turned a nifty 6-4-3 DP in the bottom of the seventh to erase the fourth and final Potomac baserunner. I can only imagine that this must have been what it was like for fans of the 1977 Montgomery Rebels, watching Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker become of one of the all-time great middle infield combos.

Getting back to Potomac, if you’re thinking three balls out of the infield means three hits, well, yes… but not exactly. That’s two flyouts and a Destin Hood home run to lead off the fourth, the only ball Potomac hit solidly all night long. There were indeed three hits collected, but the other two were a one-out tapper to third base that Steve Souza beat out in the second inning and bunt to the shortstop Machado with two outs in the third inning. Souza would be hit by a pitch in the seventh and be erase, as aforementioned.

Evan Bronson took the loss with three runs given up over four and 2/3rds innings on seven hits and two walks. He was followed Marcos Frias, who went an inning and a 1/3rd, giving up the last two (unearned runs), Trevor Holder, who tossed a two scoreless innings, and Josh Smoker, who worked around a leadoff walk to keep the Keys off the board in the ninth.

Frederick’s Scott Copeland got the win with just the three hits allowed, no walks, and five strikeouts. Ryan Berry retired all six batters he faced to finish out the game.

With a 2-1 lead, the Keys have a chance to take the Divisional Series tomorrow, sending Ryohei Tanaka to the hill while the P-Nats’ Adam Olbrychowski gets the task of forcing a Game Five, which would be held in Frederick on Monday night.

Lombardozzi and Peacock Named Nats’ Minors Players of the Year

Instead of waiting until the final weekend of the year, the Washington Nationals have named Steve Lombardozzi and Brad Peacock as their Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year. Both players will be honored prior to the game tonight.

Both players began the year with Double-A Harrisburg, both having been called up last year from Potomac — key cogs in the machine that would win the 2010 Carolina League Championship. Both were also a part of the Arizona Fall League Championship team.

Lombardozzi has had the double-edged sword of being the son of a former major-leaguer: the sneer of “legacy pick” as well as the expectations of living up to the name. The 22-year-old (turns 23 in two weeks) was drafted in the 19th round of the 2008 Draft out of St. Petersburg (FL) Junior College and has steadily moved up the ladder, hitting for average at each stop, and developing some gap power along the way.

A shortstop in college, both Baseball America and John Sickels praise the move to second, citing a fringy arm, which is most apparent on balls to his right. That said, Lombardozzi has above-average hands and further compensates for his average range by positioning himself well on defense. Consequently, he’s made just 27 errors in 442 minor-league games for a .987 fielding percentage.

Peacock has had a longer road to The Show, drafted in 2006 as “draft and follow” out of Palm Beach (FL) Community College. A shortstop in high school, Peacock has learned the craft along the way. The 2011 season was actually his first minor-league season in which he (A) had more wins than losses, a.k.a. “a winning record” (B) more than 10 wins. It’s actually just his second season with a sub-4.00 ERA.

As Sickels put it in his 2011 book:

I know… won-loss record is irrelevant to prospect status but you have to admit it looks weird to see a guy who is actually a good prospect have a 19-35, .352 record in his career… His FIPs are consistently much better than the ERAs [but] he’s got the stuff to succeed and I think he’s a sleeper.

Indeed. Peacock caught my eye last summer and became a favorite subject, especially as he figured out that striking out in double-digits wasn’t as important as going seven innings, which culminated in a five-hit shutout shortly before his callup to Hagerstown.

Unlike last year, both men figure to be “in the conversation” for the 2012 ballclub. What remains to be seen is in what capacity: starter or reliever, everyday player or off the bench.

Saturday’s News & Notes – Playoff Edition

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 6-0 @ Richmond,
7:05 p.m.
Shairon Martis (8-6, 3.05) vs.
Jason Stevenson (1-0, 1.29)
Potomac Won, 8-0 vs. Frederick,
6:35 p.m.
Evan Bronson (5-5, 3.64) vs.
Scott Copeland (3-2, 2.14)
Auburn Won, 7-2 OFF DAY N/A

Two of out three Nats playoff teams won last night, with Harrisburg dropping the opener, Potomac evening its series, and Auburn advancing to the New-York Penn League Championship Series.

The lack of clutch hitting that bedeviled the Senators late in the season returned with a vengeance as Harrisburg went just 1-for-11 with RISP and stranded 10 baserunners in the loss. The Sens managed just seven hits total in the loss, with Chris Rahl, Tyler Moore and Leonard Davis each going 2-for-4.

Erik Arnesen was more than adequate with three runs given up on eight hits and no walks over seven innings while striking out 10 batters, tying his season high. Jimmy Barthmaier put on the first two runners in the eighth and was lifted for Oliver Perez who gave up two straight singles to let them in, the 3-0 deficit extended to 5-0. Hassan Pena let up back-to-back doubles to make the final score 6-0.

In Frederick, the P-Nats used the longball to put this game away early, as Brian Peacock hit a two-run shot in the 1st and Francisco Soriano smacked a three-run blast in the 2nd en route to an 8-0 shutout of the Keys. Eury Perez scored four runs while going 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base as Potomac pounded out ten hits total.

Sammy Solis walked just one, the 20th batter he faced, but a tight strike zone pushed his pitch count to 91 and prompted manager Matt LeCroy to call upon Neil Holland to escape a two-out, first-and-third jam in the 5th. Holland retired Manny Machado to preserve the shutout and went two more innings to earn the win. Joe Testa and Cameron Selik combined to shut down the keys over the final two frames, with Selik striking out the side in the 9th.

Finally, the Auburn Doubledays scored early and often, building a 7-2 lead after three that four relievers combined to stifle the Vermont Lake Monsters over the last six innings for the win and a berth in the NYPL finals. Brian Dupra got the start but was lifted with two outs in the fourth after allowing six hits and three walks. Alex Kreis got the win with an inning and a third pitched as the first man out of the ‘pen. Carlos Alvarez and Angel Montilla each had three hits in the 10-hit attack, while Bryce Ortega and Matt Skole each drove in two.

Which team and where the Doubledays will play on Monday will be determined tonight, as the Staten Island Yankees and the Brooklyn Cyclones face off in Game Three of the “Battle of the Boroughs.” If Staten Island wins, Auburn hosts Game One, with the series returning to NYC for the deciding game(s); if Brooklyn wins, the Cyclones play host first and the Doubledays get the home field for the rest of the series.

Instructional League Roster Notes – Position Players

Player Pos. Age 2011 Team(s) 2010 Invite Notes
David Freitas C-1B 22 HAG Y Spent most of ’11 at C (86 of 123G) and posted another strong triple-slash of .288/.409/.450
Sandy Leon C 22 POT Y Defensively, he’s MLB-ready. Offensively, he’s still a work in progress but getting better.
Cole Leonida C 22 HAG Y Improved his offense, but has been a backup to both Leon and Freitas. POT in ’12?
Adrian Nieto C 21 AUB, HAG, POT Y PED suspension will dog him, but put up career offensive numbers across the board
Raudy Read C 17 DSL N Poor offensive and defensive numbers but age and status as six-figure IFA signee will buy him time and attention
Pedro Severino C 18 DSL N Another IFA with poor offensive numbers, but serviceable defensive numbers in the DSL
Justin Bloxom 3B-1B 23 POT N One of Potomac’s best hitters that the org seems hell-bent into making a 3B despite 39E in 77G there
Diomedes Eusebio 3B 19 DSL N Turned 19 yesterday. Especially good power numbers for a DSL teen: .451 SLG, 6HR, 30RBI in 59G
Blake Kelso 3B-SS 22 HAG Y Undersized IF that can hit for average but not much power and serviceable on defense = utility guy
Jeff Kobernus 2B 23 POT N Has shaken the fragile label, and has great baserunning skills but doesn’t take many walks and has only gap power
Estarlin Martinez 1B-OF 19 GCL N A hitter in search of a position, with exceptional power/on-base numbers for a teen in the GCL
Jason Martinson SS 22 HAG Y An intriguing combination of power and speed but has the hallmarks of an athlete trying to translate athleticism into skill. Could be the 2012 edition of Destin Hood.
Bryce Ortega SS 22 AUB N 41st-Rd Col Sr. that put up strong numbers in Auburn and plays a position where the Nats are very thin (SS)
Arialdi Peguero 1B 18 DSL N Another young IFA that struggled in the DSL on both offense and defense.
Anthony Rendon 3B 21 N/A N The Nationals #1 2011 Draft Pick that fell to the Nats due to injury concerns, but many scouts believe was the best player available
Adrian Sanchez 2B/SS 21 HAG Y If Kobernus feels someone breathing down his neck, that would be Adrian Sanchez, who put up an even stronger second half than his first, which is precisely what you want out of a turning-21 DSL grad in his first full season stateside.
Matt Skole 3B 22 AUB N 5th Rd ’11 pick that’s a suspect on defense but a prospect on offense
Steven Souza 1B 22 POT Y Converted from 3B to 1B last offseason, and tripled his walk total but had long homerless streak that’s intolerable for a CI
Zach Walters SS 22 POT N Acquired in deadline deal with AZ for Marquis, Walters has a slick glove and finished the season batting .366 in last 10G
Deion Williams SS 18 GCL N 16th Rd. HS Pick in ’11 Draft. Tall, lean, toolsy SS who struggled in the GCL. Grandson of George Scott.
Billy Burns OF 22 AUB N Gets on base, runs well, solid glove and he plays CF. Excuse Mr. Rizzo while he takes a cold shower.
Brian Goodwin OF 20 N/A N Supplemental Rd. Pick that might have been a 1st rounder before his transfer from UNC to Miami-Dade CC. Scouts aren’t high on his defense and some question if the power will ever be there, but most believe the upside is worth the risk.
Kevin Keyes OF 22 HAG Y Arguably the biggest surprise of the entire Nats organization in ’11, going from an abysmal .278 SLG to a robust .510 SLG
Narciso Mesa OF 19 GCL N Made the jump from DSL to GCL successfully, and was said to be “plus-plus” for his arm and speed, though neither attribute showed up much in the numbers.
Randolph Oduber OF 22 GCL, HAG Y Injuries limited the “Groovin’ Aruban” to just 60G but his ’11 numbers were fairly similar to ’10 despite playing a level higher.
Eury Perez OF 21 POT Y Defensively, he’s fairly close to MLB-ready, but his on-base skills are woeful — especially when you take away the small-ball chances
Caleb Ramsey OF 22 AUB N 11th Rd Pick in ’11 Draft that stole 15 bases in 64G despite the “not very fast” knock. Good glove, good on-base skills.
Michael Taylor OF 20 HAG Y Last year, we wondered why he got the invite. This year, we got the answer with 23SB and a .253/.310/.432 line from a 20-y.o.

Instructional League Roster Notes – Pitchers

Player Pos. Age 2011 Team(s) 2010 Invite Notes
Gregory Baez LHSP 19 DSL, GCL Y Repeated GCL with much better success, lowering ERA from 5.92 to 3.30
A.J. Cole RHSP 19 HAG Y First full season as a pro, thus his second-half fade is understandable
Paul Demny RHSP 22 POT Y Prone to longball, but throws hard. Predicted move to ‘pen for ’11 last Sept, but his age and stamina say he’s a candidate for the HBG rotation in ’12
Brian Dupra RHSP 22 HAG N 7th Rd. Pick in ’11 draft with a low-to-mid-90s FB and improving secondary pitches that scouts like.
Pedro Encarnacion RHSP 20 AUB, GCL Y Challenged with SS-A but dropped back to GCL where like Baez, he put up better numbers
Wirkin Estevez RHSP 19 AUB Y Accepted the challenge to skip GCL and put up decent numbers for a 19-y.o.
Christian Garcia RHRP 26 AUB, SYR N Former Yankee farmhand that’s undergone TJ surgery twice. A project, a la Ryan Mattheus.
Matt Grace LHSP 22 HAG Y Threw a lot of innings, gave up more hits. Decent peripheral numbers and respectable FIP. And then there’s that lefthanded thing.
Taylor Hill RHSP 22 AUB N 6th-rd pick in ’11 Draft with SI/SL/CU arsenal that scouts feel might be refined with a pro coach
Greg Holt RHRP 22 AUB, HAG N 8th Rd Pick in ’11 Draft. Average FB, but good CV — projects as a middle reliever
Taylor Jordan RHSP 22 HAG Y Didn’t pitch after July 9, so the presumption is he was shut down due to injury.
Nathan Karns RHSP 23 GCL, AUB N ’09 Draft Pick that finally surfaced in pro ball in ’11
Jack McGeary LHSP 22 GCL N Recovering from mid-2010 TJ surgery, put up decent numbers in five late-season GCL appearances
Chris McKenzie RHSP 21 HAG, POT N 13th Rd. Juco Pick in ’10 Draft. Spent two-plus mos. on DL with much better results upon return
Alex Meyer RHSP 21 N/A N Deadline-sign 1st Rd. ’11 Draft pick. Live arm, poor control likely due to 6’9″ frame that’s reportedly not finished filling out.
Blake Monar LHRP 22 GCL, AUB N 12th Rd Pick in ’11 Draft. Had just five appearances, but likely limited due to his injury history
Ivan Pineyro RHSP 19 DSL N Led DSL club in games started, innings pitched, and strikeouts.
Matt Purke LHSP 21 N/A N Another 1st Rd ’11 Draft deadline sign. Fell to the 3rd round due injury concerns, sophomore leverage but considered a great value play by stock jocks risk-reward pick by draft gurus.
Elvin Ramirez RHRP 23 N/A N Dec. ’10 Rule 5 Draft Pick that was alleged to have amped up his fastball in winter ball then never pitched in ’11
Robbie Ray LHSP 19 HAG Y Stronger results than Cole, but similar late-season fade
Manny Rodriguez RHRP 22 AUB N 10th Rd. Pick in ’11 Draft. Small-college convert from 3B that throws 90-95 and is still learning to pitch.
Cameron Selik RHSP 24 HAG, POT N Started with a bang at HAG, but faded in second half in POT of first full season as a pro.
Matt Swynenberg RHSP 21 HAG N Lean, long-limbed and a slow riser in the Nats system, having been drafted in ’09 and repeating SS-A in ’11
Kylin Turnbull LHRP 21 N/A N 4th Rd Pick in ’11 and another deadline sign. A hard-throwing lefty with a projectable frame that the Nats talked out of going to UOregon