AFL Update: Nov. 15, 2017

Glendale got two in the 1st and never trailed as they handed Mesa another loss, 5-1.

Just two Nationals played in yesterday’s game:

• Kelvin Gutierrez got the start at first base, where he played error-free and took par in a double play. At the plate, he was 0-for-3 to lose his modest hit streak but drew a walk to reach base for the 10th time in the last 10 games.

• Jimmy Cordero (pictured) pitched two innings, giving up a run on three hits and a walk. He threw 40 pitches, 22 for strikes.

Despite the loss, the Solar Sox still hold a 1½ game lead with two games to play. They play the Saguaros this afternoon with a chance to clinch a spot in Saturday’s title game with a win.

AFL Update: Nov. 14, 2017

Mesa is still on track to the Finals, but it was over early as Glendale lit up both Kyle McGowin and Austen Williams for five runs in a 10-3 loss.

McGowin got knocked from the box in the second after giving up five hits, including a three-run homer an a solo shot. Williams got the last out of the 2nd on a strikeout and the first two of the 3rd but was lit up for five hits before he hit the showers. McGowin took the loss, his first of the fall.

Victor Robles walked, singled, and scored a run to improve his fall line to .263/.388/.526 in 12 games. He had three putouts in centerfield.

Kelvin Gutierrez had an infield single to drive in a run and extend his hit streak to five games, but fell below .400 with the 1-for-4 effort. He played third but had no defensive chances.

The Desert Dogs also lost yesterday, which keeps the Solar Sox’s lead at 2½ games with three games to go. Mesa and Glendal switch venues and rematch this afternoon.

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Some sad new to pass along: former Nats farmhand Richie Mirowski passed away earlier this month at the age of 28. Folks who don’t feel comfortable posting to Facebook should probably express their condolences here.

I’d also like to ask folks to not speculate on the manner of his death out of respect for his friends and family, and in particular, his parents.

AFL Update: Nov. 12, 2017

Mesa went to town on Salt River with a seven-run 5th en route to a 16-2 demolition to take one giant step closer to securing a spot in next Saturday’s championship game.

Victor Robles (pictured from Friday afternoon) was the only National to appear in the game. The 20-y.o. reached base twice with (*gasp*) a hit-by-pitch and a walk and scored twice. He also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and stole his seventh base in his eleventh AFL game.

The Solar Sox return to action on Monday with a visit to the Desert Dogs, the first of just four games in this, the final week.

AFL/Offseason Update: Nov. 11, 2017

A pitcher’s duel went into extras, but Mesa’s two runs in the final inning (by rule) were matched by Salt River for a 3-3 tie in 11 innings.

Victor Robles, who signed for eBay investors the fans prior to the game, led off the game as the DH with a infield single and homered for the third time this fall in the 8th to tie it up at 1-1.

Kelvin Gutierrez has yet to cool down as he put up another 2-for-5 effort and his fourth multihit game while playing first base again. He did, however, strike out twice and got thrown out trying to steal third base.

Daniel Johnson’s hitless streak extended to six games with an 0-for-4 game and one walk. Defensively, the centerfielder had one putout.

Jimmy Cordero worked around two hits in the 7th and struck out in his lone inning of work. He threw 19 pitches, 11 for strikes.

With the tie, the Rafters and Solar Sox remain 1½ games apart in the AFL East with five games left to play. They rematch this afternoon for the final time this season.

# # #

Minor-league free agency began this week with a fairly sizable contingent of guys – 26 though that does include a couple of player-coaches:
RHPs РGabriel Arias, Taylor Hill, Kevin Jepsen, Jaron Long, Rafael Martin, Gilberto Mendez, Sean O’Sullivan, Neil Ramirez, Andrew Robinson, Cody Satterwhite, Kyle Schepel
LHPs – Tim Collins, Neal Cotts, Braulio Lara
C – Devin Ivany, Andruth Ramirez
IF – Michael Almanzar, Emmanuel Burriss, Benji Gonzalez, Corban Joseph, Mario Lisson, Matt Skole, Brandon Snyder, Neftali Soto
OF – Joey Butler, Chad Huffman

Eyeballing it, there’s roughly half-a-dozen homegrown players here, including the two player-coaches so we’re not looking at sizable farewell here for longtime farmhands.

Just ahead of the free-agency, the Nats made the following moves:

Released – OF Matt Page, C C.J. Picerni, RHP Michael Rishwain
Re-signed – IF Irving Falu, IF Dan Gamache, C Jake Lowery

For some reason, the Nats decided to hold onto 24-y.o. Picerni this season after a 2-for-8 showing in the GCL last summer. Our semi-annual reminder that “our guys” are treated like cattle (chattel?) when it suits the organization.

A fair amount of Nats in the Winter leagues are now ex-Nats in the winter leagues, so here’s a selection the more notable minor-leaguers, all in the Dominican Winter League except Aldrem Corredor, who’s in the Venezuelan Winter League:

  • Osvaldo Abreu .267/.313/267 in 6G
  • Rafael Bautista .125/.214/.357, 4SB in 7G
  • Jose Marmolejos .231/.324/.354, 2HR, 7RBI in 18G
  • Raudy Read .267/.267/.667, 2HR, 4RBI in 4G
  • Pedro Severino .125/.200/.125 in 3G
  • Aldrem Corredor .091/.130/.091 in 11G

AFL Update: Nov. 10, 2017

Mesa couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead late and and couldn’t outslug Peoria as they fell in 10 innings, 5-4.

Just one National appeared in the starting lineup. Kelvin Gutierrez (pictured above, throwing out speedster Lourdes Gurriel) lowered his batting average again with a 2-for-5 afternoon but extended his on-base streak to seven games. He also drew a walk, stole a base, and struck out.

Two relievers made an appearance. Dakota Bacus turned in a perfect inning, mowing ’em down on 13 pitches (10 strikes) in the 7th. Austen Williams struck out the side in the 8th but was also lit up for two runs on two hits for a blown save.

The Solar Sox, who still lead the AFL East by 1½ games, visit the Rafters this afternoon.

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Today is the observation Veterans Day. If you’ll permit me a plug from my day job, please read A Practical Guide to Honoring Vets on Veterans Day.

AFL Update: Nov. 8, 2017

The Javelinas got a run in the 1st but it was all Mesa after that as the Solar Sox took this one, 5-1.

Victor Robles fouled a ball off his foot in his second plate appearance, a walk, which didn’t stop him from swiping second and third but did give him the rest of the afternoon off. He finished 0-for-1.

Kelvin Gutierrez got the start at 1B and lowered his BA to .421 with a 1-for-3 game, driving in two with a single and a sacrifice fly.

Taylor Gushue’s hit streak ended with an 0-for-4 game at catcher. No opposing baserunners tried to steal yesterday.

Daniel Johnson started in left field and took over in center field after Robles left the game. He drew a walk but was 0-for-2 with a run scored.

The league off today as they down towards next Saturday’s championship game. Mesa leads the AFL East by 2½ games with seven left to go.

AFL Update: Nov. 7, 2017

Kelvin Gutierrez drew a leadoff walk in the 4th and scored ahead of A.J. Simcox’s two-run HR that gave the Solar Sox a 2-1 lead en route to a 5-2 win over the Scorpions.

Kyle McGowin (pictured) won for third time in five starts with one run let in on a home run and five hits total over four innings. He walked none, struck out five, and threw 55 pitches, 37 for strikes.

Jimmy Cordero also pitched but saw his scoreless inning streak end at 8⅓ innings as he gave up a run in his second inning of work on two hits and a walk. He struck out four and earned a hold.

Gutierrez also drove in a run in the 7th with an RBI single. The Mesa DH finished with a line 1-for-2 with a run scored and two walks and is now 7-for-16 in the six games he’s played with six runs scored and five RBI.
And of course, there was that Victor Robles guy… he led off and played center field, where he made two putouts. He only went 1-for-5 but stayed upright and scored on a steal of third (pictured) that coincided with a wild pitch.

Mesa returns to action this afternoon as they host Peoria. The two teams are both in first place, by 1½ and 4 games respectively, with eight games left to play.

AFL Update: Nov. 5, 2017

There was only one National in last night’s Fall Stars game, but Victor Robles delivered the hype that MLB gave him in a 4-2 win for the AFL East.

Robles delivered just one hit, but it was the first of three runs in the bottom of the 8th that turned a 2-1 deficit into the 4-2 lead. He also walked and stole second base in the 1st and scored the go-ahead run in the 8th on an RBI single by former National Sheldon Neuse.

For his efforts, which included the game-ending putout in centerfield, Robles was named the showcase’s MVP.

Regular-season play begins tomorrow with a night game for the 1st-place Solar Sox against the 2nd-place Scorpions. The two teams are separated by just a ½ game with two weeks and nine games left to play in the 2017 AFL season.

AFL/Offseason Update: Nov. 4, 2017

The Solar Sox were eclipsed on a one-hit shutout yesterday, 3-0 to end the week.

And because we can’t have one day without (contrived) Victor Robles drama, the Nats top prospect played just one inning yesterday and exited without official explanation. He popped up to short in the top half of the inning and caught the final out in the bottom half.

Daniel Johnson replaced Robles in center field but went hitless again (0-3, 2K), as did Taylor Gushue (ditto). Kelvin Gutierrez pinch-walked and played third base for the final two innings.

Austen Williams was the first man out of the Mesa ‘pen and gave up a run on four hits over two innings. He threw 31 pitches, 24 for strikes.

# # #

Minor-League Free Agency begins at 5 p.m. on Monday. Not coincidentally, Wander Suero was added to the 40-man roster yesterday rather than re-sign as he did last November 3rd. In other news, Erik Davis declared free agency while Esmil Rogers was released.

Baseball America’s fall SEO campaign 2018 prospect rankings began last week with the Braves, Marlins, and Mets and continued this week with the Phillies and the Nationals (paid sub to read all).

As noted in the comments, the list is skewed towards major IFAs who have yet to play a full season and the top two pitchers taken last June. Just three of the top 10 have played more than one full season, and given the current state of the big club, it’s not outlandish to consider that perhaps two of those players will be on the 25-man roster by the middle of next summer.

They were bad. Very, very bad.

There’s really not much more to say. The team was old, slow, and had no power on offense and the pitchers were hit-prone (both bats and bodies) and couldn’t miss bats. About the only thing they weren’t in the bottom third was defense, but that may be in part because the players were kept in good shape with all the balls they had to chase.

Somehow, there were enough home-grown, replacement-level players available to the big club when needed, including roughly half-a-dozen homegrown guys. But it would be foolish to infer that had there been fewer injuries in DC, the team would have been significantly better, and specious to even attempt to name/rank these players.

The best thing that could happen for all of them is for them to not be needed so they can indeed play every day and perhaps play well enough to get traded — or be more prepared for their next trip to the Show.

As always, if you’re so inclined to see the full team’s stats, you can find them here.

AFL Update: Nov. 3, 2017

Former National Sheldon Neuse capped off a see-saw battle with a two-run, walkoff homer in the bottom of the 10th to give Mesa an 8-6 win over Surprise.

Just two Nationals got into yesterday’s game.

Kelvin Gutierrez (pictured) remains red-hot since his return from a hand injury as he singled, homered, walked, and scored two runs. He had two assists and caught a foul pop while playing third base.

Daniel Johnson’s cool-down continues with another 0-for-4 effort. He fielded seven balls hit to him in left field and had three putouts on defense.

The first-place Solar Sox visit the second-place Scorpions with a chance to open up a 2½ game lead.