Happy Thanksgiving

As it did a year ago, it seems quiet on the minor-league front, like January before the prospect books arrive. The two major Top 10 lists — Baseball America and John Sickels — haven’t been published yet and most of the online stories center on the exploits of the AFL contingent.

Yesterday, the first salvo in the PR war for the new CBA was fired, with MLB threatening a lockout if a deal’s not agreed to by next Thursday. Who shot first is telling because ownership knows it has a built-in advantage — casual/uninformed fans will favor them over the players because the former is jealous of the latter — but I sincerely doubt we’ll see an international draft rather than some changes in the new rules regarding IFAs.

This may explain some of the quiet, of course, so I’ll let this lie here — especially since some of the national writers who actually understand law and labor negotiations haven’t weighted in yet.

Back to the original purpose of the post...

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I’m nine days removed from stomach surgery. I’ll be stuffing nothing, just eating sides and in small portions. But we’ll be celebrating my oldest son’s 17th birthday, and not out on the roads in any way, shape, or form.

This is by no means the worst Thanksgiving I will have ever had because I’ll be home and with family; 20 years ago, as I was finishing up my master’s degree in Oregon, I was neither.

So with that, I’ll dispense with the usual Thanksgiving instructions:
• Stay safe
• Show some plate discipline
• Call your mother

Saturday Smorgasbord

A lot of this has already been discussed in the comments, but for the sake of posterity…

NATS ADD FIVE TO THE 40-MAN AHEAD OF THE RULE 5 DRAFT
• Matt Skole
• Austin Voth
• Rafael Bautista
• Raudy Read
• Jose Marmolejos
Let’s be blunt: the Rule 5 Draft is like the pickings at a singles bar at the end of the night (or so I’m told 😉 ) – it’s a function of attention relative to what else is available. It’s not difficult to break down: They’re all relatively cheap backups to the backups, as were Bostick, Lee, and Kieboom a year ago. I’m always happy to see our guys win this “lottery” because the system otherwise is stacked against them — especially the guys from the D.R.

But let’s not kid ourselves that this is anything more than procedural maneuvering. GM Mike Rizzo just raised the price on five trading chips as the Winter Meetings approach (yeah, I know they’re local this year, but I don’t think I have the guts to go *rimshot!*).

AFL THOUGHTS
Very little that’s been posted in the comments I would disagree with… Andrew Stevenson has raised his stock and scouts have noticed, which makes other folks more tradeable. It’s no secret that the ideal path for Trea Turner is Robin Yount in reverse, but Rizzo appears to be showing folks with the placements of Stevenson and Bautista that he does have CF depth and therefore Victor Robles may be had (albeit along with someone else, no doubt).

Drew Ward had the kind of fall that everybody has been waiting for while Osvaldo Abreu held his own, thought not enough to be protected from next month’s Rule 5. Nick Lee wasn’t re-added, so he’s eligible to be drafted, as is Jake Johansen, whom I suspect the Nats wouldn’t mind terribly if he were taken because it’d take away some of the disappointment that’s almost entirely due to his draft position. Ryan Brinley, who got lit like Kennedy at an open bar at AA, seems to have re-established himself.

IT’S THE BUIES CREEK ASTROS
Those of you on the Twitters have already seen this rant, but for the rest of you: Yesterday, the new, 10th team in the Carolina League was officially introduced — the Buies Creek Astros.

Ultimately, the team will be located in Fayetteville, but for two seasons the Astros affiliate will call tiny (pop. 2,942) Buies Creek, NC its home on the campus of Campbell University.

It’s a boon for the small, private college, which will see its facility upgraded by the Astros and will reportedly collect all revenue generated by the games. And it’s a HUGE MISSED MARKETING OPPORTUNITY.

Why? Well, anything with “Buies Creek” is already a collector’s item. But they could have had fun with that it’s a dry town and (mostly) a dry county and called themselves the Buies Creek Bootleggers. Instead, they chose the least imaginative name and logos.

AFL Update: Nov. 18, 2016

andrew-stevenson-11-18-16Alas, the Desert Dogs’ three-game win streak—capped by a 3-1 win over the Javelinas—to close out the 2016 AFL campaign wasn’t enough to get them to the title game, but did secure a winning record at 17-15.

Five Nationals appeared in the season finale: two of the three position players and all three relievers.

Andrew Stevenson (pictured) led off and played CF yet again. He reached base twice with a single and a walk while going 1-for-3 with a strikeout. Defensively, he collected five putouts and fielded eight balls total.

Drew Ward followed Stevenson in the lineup and matched his boxscore line (1-for-3, BB, K). In the field, he had four assists while playing 3B.

Jake Johansen stranded two baserunners in the 6th with a strikeout to end the inning then put on two runners in the 7th before getting two out. His line – 1IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K

Nick Lee kept ’em on by inducing a flyout to finish the 7th, then got the leadoff man in the 8th for a line of ⅔IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K

Ryan Brinley completed the Nats reliever sequence with a flyout and strikeout to finish the 8th and a ⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K line.

It was the fourth, third, and first holds respectively for Johansen, Lee, and Brinley.

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Sad-SpicklesWith the completion of the AFL schedule, the 2016 minor-league season (the seventh this site has covered) is in the books. A shoutout to Lee Magenheim, our photographer in Arizona, who’s provided the AFL pictures for the past FIVE seasons.

AFL Update: Nov. 17, 2016

img_0067Glendale scored in each of the first four innings en route to a 10-0 shutout of Mesa. Combined with a loss by the Saguaros, the Desert Dogs remain alive in the hunt for the AFL West title.

All three Nats position players saw game action again:

  • Andrew Stevenson led off and played left field, reaching base three times with two walks and a single, and scoring three runs. He also stole two bases.
  • Drew Ward (pictured) got the start at first base and drove in two, going 1-for-5 with a walk and two RBI.
  • Osvaldo Abreu handled shortstop on defense and singled and doubled in a 2-for-5 effort that pushed his fall average to .267.

The AFL regular season concludes today. Glendale must win and Surprise must lose for the Desert Dogs to play in Saturday’s AFL Title game.

AFL Update: Nov. 16, 2016

img_0061Glendale got on the board first for a single run in the 1st and a quintet of pitchers, led by Austin Voth, (pictured) made it stand up for a 1-0 victory over Surprise.

Voth, who was named the AFL Pitcher of the week, tossed five scoreless innings and allowed just two hits and three walks to win for the third time this fall.

Nick Lee was the first man out of the Desert Dogs bullpen and struck out the side on 16 pitches (10 for strikes) in the 6th.

Andrew Stevenson scored the game’s lone run after leading off with a single, taking second on a wild pitch, and scoring on an RBI single by Nick Tanielu.

Osvaldo Abreu also appeared in the game but went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

The win returns the Desert Dogs to .500 (15-15) and into 2nd place in the AFL West. Glendale visits Mesa this afternoon, then Peoria tomorrow.

AFL Update: Nov. 15, 2016

img_0058Mesa broke open a 1-1 game with a four-spot in the 3rd and poured it on with multiple big innings in a 13-5 romp over Glendale.

Two Nationals appeared in yesterday’s game.

Andrew Stevenson (pictured) remains red-hot as he reached base four times with a walk, two singles, and a triple while batting leadoff and playing centerfield. He had two putouts on defense and fielded five balls total.

Drew Ward started at 3B and batted sixth. He walked twice and scored a run while going 0-for-3.

The loss lowered the Desert Dogs’ elimination number to one. They visit the first-place Saguaros this afternoon, with Austin Voth scheduled to make his final start.

AFL Update: Nov. 13, 2016

ryan-brinley-11-13-16Glendale twice rallied back from one-run deficits to edge Scottsdale, 4-3.

Drew Ward was the Desert Dogs’ designated hitter and batted third. He went 1-for-4 with a double, his sixth of the fall season.

Two Nationals relievers saw game action. Jake Johansen dispatched the final two batters of the 8th inning to earn his third hold while Ryan Brinley (pictured) garnered the save with a 1-2-3, six-pitch 9th to notch his first save for Glendale.

The Desert Dogs remain 1½ games behind Surprise with four games left to play. Glendale hosts Mesa tomorrow, then hit the road for games against Surprise, Mesa, and Peoria.

PROGRAMMING NOTE
Tomorrow morning I go under the knife to fix what put me out of action in late August. Should be out of the hospital by the end of the week, but have no idea when I’ll be next be able to post. It’ll depend on the painkillers 😉

AFL/Offseason Update: Nov. 12, 2016

The Desert Dogs got two-spots in the 5th and 7th innings to overcome a 2-1 deficit and beat the Scorpions, 5-2. Combined with a Peoria loss, Glendale returned to within 1½ games of the AFL West lead.

Osvaldo Abreu got the start at shortstop and batted ninth. He reached base three times with a single and two walks and stole his fourth base. Defensively, he committed his fourth error while collecting five putouts and two assists, including a double play.

Nick Lee made his eighth fall appearance and got four outs in relief, allowing one hit, no runs, no walks, and struck out one. In ten innings, he’s allowed four runs (two earned) on ten hits and nine walks while striking out eleven.

The two teams switch venues this afternoon to finish out the last full week of the 2016 AFL season.

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FREE AGENTS
On Tuesday, minor-league free agency began, which saw 20 guys become former Nationals farmhands, some for the first time:
RHP – Erik Davis, Justin DeFratus, Paolo Espino, Michael Brady, Mitch Lively, Sam Runion, Boone Whiting
LHP – Aaron Laffey
C – Brian Jeroloman, Devin Ivany, Andruth Ramirez, Adderling Ruiz
IF – Steve Lombardozzi, Jose Lozada, Jason Martinson
OF – Matt den Dekker, Kevin Keyes, Narciso Mesa, Drew Vettleson

It’s worth noting that Ivany and Ramirez were player-coaches, so their free agency may merely be a formality. As aforementioned, for a few of these guys it’s their chance to hook on elsewhere and get a second chance (or an easier path) to The Show.

WINTER LEAGUES

To me it seems like a smaller group than usual, but let’s a take a quick peek at how some of the non-AFL guys are doing:

DWL – Rafael Bautista, .276/.338/.293, 5SB, 6BB, 8RBI in 15G
DWL – Jose Marmolejos, .231/.268/.410, 1HR, 2BB, 8RBI in 13G
DWL – Raudy Read, 1-for-2 in 2G
DWL – Wander Suero, 1IP, 1H, 0R, 1BB, 2K in 1G
DWL – Philips Valdez, 0-0, 0SV, 0.00ERA, 1.07WHIP in 3G
MWL – Matt Skole, .237/.367/.320, 2HR, 7RBI, 24K in 27G
PWL – Neftali Soto, .442/.444/.674, HR, BB, SF, 5RBI in 10G
VWL – Aldrem Corredor, .133/.235/.133, 2SB, 2BB, in 9G
VWL – David Ramos, 1-0, 0SV, 2.45ERA, 1.23WHIP in 6G/7⅓ IP
VWL – Greg Ross, 3-1, 2.25ERA, 1.16WHIP in 7GS/32IP

AFL Update: Nov. 11, 2016

ryan-brinley-11-11-16Glendale fell behind 3-0 after the first three outs and couldn’t catch Surprise as they lost another one, 3-1.

Andrew Stevenson and Drew Ward were tablesetters in the Desert Dog lineup, playing LF and 3B respectively. Stevenson went 1-for-4 at the plate with two strikeouts and had four putouts on defense. Ward was 1-for-3 with four assists and no errors.

Ryan Brinley (pictured) tossed a 1-2-3 eighth inning with two groundouts and a strikeout on just nine pitches, seven for strikes.

The loss lowered the Desert Dogs’ tragic number to four games with six games remaining in the fall campaign, but just one vs. the first-place Javelinas (next Thursday). Glendale visits Scottsdale tonight before switching venues tomorrow afternoon.

AFL Update: Nov. 10, 2016

austin-voth-11-10-16Led by Austin Voth, five Desert Dog pitchers combined on a six-hit shutout of the Rafters, 10-0.

Voth pitched the first five innings and allowed just three hits, no walks, and struck out three to lower his fall ERA to 6.20 even his AFL record at 2-2. He threw 74 pitches, 49 for strikes.

Three Nationals position players got the start.

Andrew Stevenson batted leadoff and played CF. He went 1-for-5 and had three putouts on defense.

Drew Ward was the cleanup man and reached base three times with a double, single, and a walk. He scored three runs and made a pair of 5-3 plays in the field.

Osvaldo Abreu batted eighth and drove in three with a two-run single and a sacrifice fly while going 1-for-4 overall. Defensively, he turned a double play and had four assists total.

Glendale hosts Surprise this afternoon and remains 1½ games behind Peoria in the AFL West.