Final AFL Stats & Thoughts

A look at the final AFL numbers and thoughts on the Nats in the AFL for 2010

First, the stats…

BATTERS

PLAYER G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Lombardozzi 21 82 16 24 8 2 0 4 10 8 .293 .385 .439 2
Burgess 18 65 8 16 3 3 2 20 4 20 .246 .286 .477 1
Norris 16 54 10 15 5 2 4 19 11 18 .278 .403 .667 2
Harper 9 35 6 12 3 2 1 7 4 11 .343 .410 .629 1

PITCHERS

PLAYER W L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO WHIP HLD GF
Solis 1 0 0 3.80 6 23⅔ 22 13 10 7 12 1.225 0 0
Carr 1 0 1 2.08 10 13 6 3 3 3 8 0.692 1 4
Peacock 0 0 0 4.50 9 12 10 6 6 3 17 1.083 2 1
Kimball 0 0 1 0.82 11 12 8 1 1 2 15 0.833 0 11

Now, the thoughts…

  • Bryce Harper managed to make his mark despite only playing twice a week. Now, we will wonder for the next four and a half months where Rizzo will have him start. Hagerstown is the official word, but I can’t see him starting there unless he has a terrible spring, or unless the plan is to have Harper make a tour of the full-season minors no matter what.
  • Lombardozzi did nothing to dissuade our opinion of him, but now we’ll have to wait until the prospect guides to come out whether or not he changed anyone else’s minds. I suspect not because even in our own Natmosphere his game-winning double in the AFL title game was barely mentioned.
  • Derek Norris has shown that much of his “struggles” this season were because he was hurting, finishing the AFL with the third-highest slugging pct. and the fourth-highest OPS. His defensive deficiencies were also displayed but a full season under the tutelage of Randy Knorr in Harrisburg ought to help immensely.
  • Michael Burgess also did nothing to dissuade the growing perception that his prospect days are behind him. He’ll start as the Harrisburg RF in 2011, but how long he’ll stay is the question. The signal may just be when he starts playing LF and DH more often than RF.
  • Brad Peacock showed flashes of brilliance as a reliever, leading to some speculation that he was auditioning for a midseason ’11 callup, but by the end of the AFL season it was clear that this was done to limit his innings. Possible Opening Day starter for the Senators.
  • Sammy Solis got a baptism by fire, but nothing that one couldn’t attribute to his lack of pro experience or the long layoffs between the draft and after the end of the regular season. Some question as to whether he’ll start in Hagerstown or Potomac, but given Rizzo’s track record, I’d bet on Potomac until late June, then Harrisburg through late August.
  • Cole Kimball is probably the biggest surprise of the AFL, at least relative to the success shown in twelve appearances. I’m not entirely sold that he’s for real, but hopeful that he can continue to contribute and assist the parent club in its quest to build middle relievers from within and not overpay for FA relievers. Could make the parent club with a strong spring.
  • Adam Carr has come a long way in just a year. In November ’09, he was finishing up his first season as a starting pitcher, including an August in which he posted a 7.34ERA and walked more batters than he struck out. He returned to Senator ‘pen and found his niche as the two-inning man, then had success as a closer for Syracuse. Like Kimball, he’s a dark horse to make 25-man roster by March 31, the day before his 27th birthday.

Scottsdale Wins AFL Championship

Wrapup on the championship and some quick takes…

The Scottsdale Scorpions survived three errors to capture the 2010 Arizona Fall League Championship with a 3-2 win over the Peoria Javelinas.

Washington’s Sammy Solis got credit for the win, allowing both runs (one unearned) on three hits and a walk while striking out three over his four innings of work. Cole Kimball was the last of five relievers to follow, tossing a 1-2-3 ninth with a strikeout to earn the save.

Bryce Harper, who started and played right field, drove in the Scorpions’ second run of the ballgame in the second inning with a first-pitch, opposite-field line drive to left but struck out twice to finish 1-for-4. Harper caught three fly balls and handled both singles hit to right.

Derek Norris, who caught and batted cleanup, legged out an infield single earlier in the second and scored on a sacrifice fly one batter before Harper, and went 1-for-3 for the game. No baserunners attempted to steal against him.

Steve Lombardozzi got the nod at shortstop and drove in the gamewinner in the fourth inning with a double to right for his 1-for-4 afternoon. He handled both chances he got before being lifted for defense in the seventh.

Michael Burgess pinch-hit for the DH in the bottom of the eighth and drew walk after balling behind 1-and-2.

Quick hits…

…Solis had moments of brilliance and moments where it looked like he was about to get clobbered, leaving pitches up in the zone. It’s not hard to imagine how in the second turn through the lineup that hitters would be looking for something up and if it’s a game in which his offspeed stuff isn’t working, he’ll get hit hard as he has at times this fall. Nice, smooth delivery.

…Harper is definitely old-school a la Pete Rose in terms of his hustle and intensity. What worries me is that that will be perceived as dirty pool by some opponents, particularly on double-play balls during blowouts. He can be had with elite heat and straight changes, but I suspect very strongly that he will learn to adjust to that very quickly because this kid’s got the Motts, as it were.

…Norris and Lombardozzi turned in the effort and produced the results I’d seen all season long. The announcers prattled about Norris being “too patient” and then said nothing when he worked the count to his favor and got a leg hit. Lombardozzi got the “well, I remember his Dad in the ’87 Series” treatment that seems to be de rigeur. The fault must be mine for expecting more.

Saturday Smorgasbord

Notable Nats News on an offseason Saturday

Too much to report before Monday, so it’s a weekend offseason special. Let’s dish on the Nats News…

RULE 5 DRAFT
As expected, the Nationals protected Chris Marrero. A little less expected, both Adam Carr and Cole Kimball were added to the 40-man. A mild shock: Brad Peacock was not. While the folks at NationalsArmRace overlooked Carr and favored Jeff Mandel and Brad Meyers, their rundown (linked) is still worth a look.

AFL CHAMPIONSHIP
This afternoon at 3 p.m. is the Arizona Fall League Championship. Michael Burgess is expected to start in RF, while Bryce Harper is slated to come off the bench — I’d expect Harper to pinch-hit for Burgess after he gets two at-bats, unless there’s a rally in the middle innings where Harper could come up and deliver a killshot. Sammy Solis will be the starting pitcher. Yours truly has set the DVR and will write up what he sees.

PROPS FROM MAYO
That would be from Jonathan Mayo from MLB.com, not the clinic. Harper, Derek Norris and Solis made the cut. And to shift away from the AFL momentarily, here’s a story about Danny Espinosa in case folks may have missed it.

AFL Update: November 19, 2010

Steve Lombardozzi was the lone Nat to play in yesterday’s seven-inning 1-0 loss by the Scottsdale Scorpions to the Peoria Javelinas. Lombardozzi led off, played 2B, but went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

If folks haven’t seen them in their online travels, Mark Zuckerman had a good preliminary post about the Rule 5 draft. As folks pointed out in the comments, the last CBA changed the Rule 5 rules, so that list isn’t quite correct. Here’s what Brian had on his draft tracker (I know, something I need to rebuild/update):

2004 H.S. pick
Brian Peacock (DFE)

2005 College picks
Tim Pahuta
Jack Spradlin

2006 H.S. picks
Chris Marrero
Stephen King
Brad Peacock (DFE)

2006 College picks
Cory VanAllen
Zech Zinicola
Cole Kimball
Hassan Pena
Erik Arnesen
Adam Carr
Sean Rooney
Robert Jacobsen

2007 College Picks
Brad Meyers
Adrian Alaniz
Jeff Mandel
Justin Phillabaum
Martin Beno
Shane Erb
Boomer Whiting
Dan Lyons
Bill Rhinehart

I’ve got a query out to see if/how I can determine which players are on the AA and AAA reserve lists for the minor-league phase of the draft, but I’m not terribly hopeful that I’ll have much success. Generally speaking, the minor-league phase of the draft will move around mostly pitchers and the plug holes. Last year, for example, the Nationals lost Terrence Engles and picked up Nick Moresi.

AFL Update: November 18, 2010

Four Nats make their mark in the scorebook for Wednesday’s AFL game

The Scottsdale Scorpions got back on the winning track with a 6-0 shutout of the Mesa Solar Sox. Two pitchers and two position players got into the game…

  • Derek Norris was the DH and batted cleanup, going 2-for-4 with a triple and a strikeout
  • Bryce Harper played RF and batted 6th, smacking an RBI double in a 2-for-4 effort
  • Adam Carr pitched a scoreless eighth, allowing a hit, but striking out one while earning a hold
  • Cole Kimball pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and also struck out one

As reported yesterday, today’s game will be a seven-inning affair to reduce pitcher workloads entering the final week of play. Sammy Solis will indeed start on Saturday for the AFL Championship and it’s widely expected that Bryce Harper will also play.

AFL Update: November 17, 2010

Three Nats bats saw action on Tuesday

The Phoenix Desert Dogs edged the Scottsdale Scorpions in a seven-inning contest* by a count of 2-1. Three Nats bats saw game action…

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off and played SS, turning a double play, and going 2-for-4 with a strikeout to raise his average to .308
  • Derek Norris caught and batted cleanup but went o-for-3. There were no steal attempts against him.
  • Michael Burgess was the DH and batted 7th, but was hitless in three at-bats. He did not strike out.

The loss drops the Scorpions to 19-11 and with yesterday’s win by Peoria, the Javelinas will be Scottsdale’s opponent. I have been unable to confirm whether or not Sammy Solis will indeed get the starting nod, but will update in this space if/when I can. As mentioned yesterday, Frank Piliere was present for Solis’s start on Monday and filed this story about what he saw. My only quibble: If Solis was indeed tipping his pitches with a head tilt, that’s rather significant.

* Thursday’s games will also be seven innings in an effort to reduce workloads in the final week of the AFL

Season Review: 2010 Syracuse Chiefs

The final 2010 Nats affiliate season review

It’s been said that AAA is no longer where you’ll find the best prospects. As alluded to last week, some of this is because major-league teams now use AAA as an extension of its 40-man roster, i.e. it’s a taxi squad. But the 40-man roster has been in place since 1968, which begs the question: Why has this changed in the last decade or two? Unfortunately, there’s no pat answer.

My personal theory is that it stems from three developments that all happened in the 1990s: expansion (which created four more teams), the rebirth of independent baseball (which froze the number of affiliated teams at 160), and the advent of a three-man arbitration panel (which made it somewhat easier for players to “win” their cases).

Thus, it might be a little unfair to chastise the Syracuse Chiefs for having fewer prospects than an old maid. The landscape has changed such that there’s a financial incentive for teams to keep marginal major-leaguers (a.k.a. 4A’s) on board to fill holes and keep prospects down until they’re “really needed.” It’s become an annual rite of spring to discuss which prospects will be sent to AAA to avoid “Super Two” status, resulting in some rather comical attempts to deny it.

Thus, in an effort to separate the wheat from the chaff, I’m going to focus on the players that were league-average age or younger and were also among the upper third or so in terms of usage. But first, let’s do our look at the team as a whole against the rest of the league…

HITTING

TEAM AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA SB
Syracuse 4715 595 1190 110 487 1089 .252 .327 .387 .244 161
Lg. Avg. 4847 648 1274 127 455 1024 .263 .330 .410 .251 111

Italics = League Trailer
Bold = League Leader

PITCHING

TEAM IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
Syracuse 1255⅔ 3.84 4.17 1.337 115 440 932 8.9 3.2 6.7 2.12
Lg. Avg. 1261⅔ 4.15 4.51 1.370 127 455 1024 9.1 3.2 7.3 2.25

Italics = League Trailer

A very similar pattern to the Harrisburg Senators in terms of hitting and pitching: upper-third for the latter, lower-third for the former, middle-of-the pack on defense in the biggest categories (runs scored, runs allowed, errors committed). Syracuse actually outperformed their pythagorean projection by five games. It’s not hard to pinpoint where that may have come from, as you’ll note that the Chiefs led the league in steals (and caught stealing) which is a hallmark of Trent Jewett’s teams: He likes to run (something to remember very shortly).

Unlike the Senators, the Syracuse Chiefs faded in the second half, as one might expect from a pitching staff that was tapped for injury replacements by the parent club. But in the new world order, that’s its purpose. It’s also fair to state that most of the players that were called up from the lower levels were either sent right back down (i.e. filling in) or were of the marginal variety that could, would, and were used interchangeably at AA and AAA.

That said, let’s look at the players that fit the mold of not-the-oldest (under league-average), and used a fair amount (roughly: 100PA, 30IP, with two exceptions). The full team statistics can be found here.

Name Age Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err PA GPA
Boomer Whiting 26 LF/CF 59/34 1.000 0 375 .246
Leonard Davis 26 LF/RF/3B/2B 47/30/13/8 .981 4 361 .256
Justin Maxwell 26 CF/RF 59/5 .966 5 272 .285
Pedro Lopez 26 SS/2B/3B/P 43/7/4/1 .960 8 170 .208
Danny Espinosa 23 SS/2B 17/7 .979 2 108 .273
Wilson Ramos 22 C 18 1.000 0 82 .277

With possible exception of Pedro Lopez, most of these names are quite familiar to followers of the Nationals farm system. The one that was probably the biggest surprise was obviously Boomer Whiting, who made the jump from A+ to AAA while taking up switch-hitting at the same time. As aforementioned, Jewett likes his guys to run and Whiting thrived in a situation where he was asked to do what he does best.

On to the pitchers, in our abbreviated format..

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HBP WP
Shairon Martis 23 27/27 8-7, 0 4.09 152 156 60 99 1.421 2 2
Erik Arnesen 26 21/18 6-8, 0 3.95 107 107 31 70 1.290 7 8
Jeff Mandel 25 25/15 5-6, 0 4.75 94⅔ 120 33 60 1.616 6 1
Josh Wilkie 25 53/1 4-4, 8 2.45 69⅔ 57 22 62 1.134 2 3
Collin Balester 24 35/5 3-3, 0 5.87 69 74 32 52 1.536 3 7
Atahualpa Severino 25 54/0 6-3, 1 3.34 67⅓ 60 29 46 1.322 5 1
Stephen Strasburg 21 6/6 4-1, 0 1.08 33⅓ 18 7 38 0.750 0 1
Adam Carr 26 16/0 0-1, 9 2.08 21⅔ 16 10 19 1.200 0 1

Stephen Strasburg and Collin Balester are the outliers among this bunch. Strasburg is one of those “Super Two” cases discussed previously. Balester may very well prove to be that rare case of a kid that was rushed up too soon but didn’t actually kill his career. But the rest are career minor-leaguers that are on the cusp of a cup of coffee.

Atahualpa Severino is already on the 40-man roster, and it would appear that Adam Carr and Cole Kimball are auditioning in the AFL for inclusion as well. Josh Wilkie is a very dark horse, but given the Joe Bisenius experience, it would appear that hard-thrower has the edge over the soft-tosser, even one that gave up just two home runs this past season, and five over his last 202 innings (since 2008).

OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LIST

The singular is no accident; I’m plucking five out of the total of 11 bats and arms above that still have rookie status (the site does have “prospects” in the name after all). As the name suggests, it’s a list of five guys that I think could possibly “get the call” and/or get put on the 40-man roster. Without further ado:

1. Wilson Ramos
2. Danny Espinosa
3. Adam Carr
4. Atahualpa Severino
5. Josh Wilkie

AFL Update: November 16, 2010

Highlights from the Nats in the AFL on Monday

A five-run sixth inning powered the Scottsdale Scorpions past the Peoria Saguaros, as the Nats’ AFL entry improved to 19-10 with a 9-4 win. Two pitchers and two hitters saw action…

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off as the DH and went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a run scored.
  • Michael Burgess batted eighth and played RF, tripling and homering in four at-bats, scoring a run, driving in a run, striking out twice, and throwing out a runner at third.
  • Sammy Solis appeared in relief and allowed one hit and no walks over three innings to go with two strikeouts. AOL Fanhouse’s Frank Piliere tweeted him as “consistently at 93-94 and attacking hitters” but also cautioned that “he has to be fine with his stuff”
  • Brad Peacock pitched the ninth, allowing a hit but struck out a batter

The Scottsdale Scorpions clinched a spot in the playoff game, but await their opponent as the defending AFL champs (mandatory sportswriter cliché, sorry) — the Peoria Javelinas — lost yesterday but remain three games up with three to go. As luck would have it, Scottsdale and Peoria are also scheduled in the final game on Friday. And yes, Bryce Harper is eligible to play in the championship game on Saturday, which is due to be televised on MLB Network at 2:30 p.m.

AFL Update: November 15, 2010

Our weekend wrapup of the Nats in the AFL, plus updated stats

Here’s a look at how the Nats fared over the weekend in the AFL…

FRIDAY
A five-run fourth carried the Scottsdale Scorpions to their third straight win by a 6-4 count

  • Michael Burgess, batting seventh and playing RF, went 0-for-1 with a walk and a strikeout
  • Adam Carr earned the save with a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out the final batter

SATURDAY
The Surprise Rafters edged the Scorpions 4-3

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off and played 2B and went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. He was also caught stealing
  • Bryce Harper batted fifth and played RF, walking once, scoring a run, and was caught stealing. He also committed an error (fielding)./li>

Statistics through 28 games…

BATTERS

PLAYER G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Lombardozzi 18 69 15 19 6 2 0 4 10 5 .275 .386 .420 2
Burgess 16 58 7 14 3 2 1 11 4 18 .241 .286 .414 1
Norris 14 47 9 13 5 1 4 19 11 17 .277 .417 .649 2
Harper 8 31 6 10 2 2 1 6 4 10 .323 .400 .613 1

PITCHERS

PLAYER W L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO WHIP HLD GF
Solis 1 0 0 4.35 5 20⅔ 21 13 10 7 10 1.355 0 0
Carr 1 0 1 2.25 9 12 5 3 3 3 7 0.667 0 4
Peacock 0 0 0 4.91 8 11 9 6 6 3 16 1.091 2 0
Kimball 0 0 1 0.82 10 11 8 1 1 2 14 0.909 0 10