Minor-League Free Agents, Redux

BA has released the official list of six-year MLFAs

As mentioned last week, the official list has been released by Baseball America and here’s the rundown:

Catchers
Devin Ivany
Nolan Brannon

Infielders
Chase Lambin
Ofilio Castro
Pete Orr
Wilberto Ortiz
Pedro Lopez

Outfielders
Jason Botts
Leonard Davis
Chris Duncan
Marvin Lowrance
Edgardo Baez
Brad Coon
Jerry Owens
Jamar Walton

Starting Pitchers
Andrew Kown
Jason Jones
Jimmy Barthmaier

Relievers
Zach Dials
Luis Garcia
Dan Leatherman
Carlos Martinez
Jesse English
Victor Garate
Glenn Gibson
Chuck James
Yunior Novoa

So Where Did You Screw Up?
Actually, all things considered, BinM caught most of my mistakes, of which most were guys in the lower levels (Nolan Brannon?!). Rafael Martin appears to be still with the organization, as is Brian Peacock. Considering that the most up-to-date transactions on BA are through October 31, it’s more than possible that there are some more guys that resigned in the interim.

Perhaps more interesting is the trend of fewer and fewer guys testing the waters. In ’07, there were 602. In ’08, there were 561. In ’09, there were 536. This year, it’s 533. The only obvious theory? The poor economy has convinced some guys that maybe another year of a known quantity is better than taking their chances with hooking on elsewhere.

AFL Update: November 10, 2010

Tidbits from Tuesday’s AFL action

A better game for the Nats, but the Scottsdale Scorpions fell 7-4 to Phoenix Desert Dogs to snap their four-game win streak. Highlights included:

  • Michael Burgess smacked a two-run HR (his 1st in the AFL), doubled, and scored two runs while going 2-for-4 and playing RF
  • Steve Lombardozzi went 0-for-1 off the bench and played 2B
  • Adam Carr tossed two scoreless innings, allowing no hits and just one walk
  • Cole Kimball gave up a hit but struck out two while keeping the Desert Dogs off the scoreboard in the bottom of the 8th

The Mesa Solar Sox also lost, thus the Scottsdale lead remains at two games with eight to play. Sammy Solis (0-0, 5.17)  is slated to take the hill this afternoon against former National farmhand Daryl Thompson as the Scorpions visit the Peoria Saguaros this afternoon. Bryce Harper is also expected to play.

Season Review: 2010 Harrisburg Senators

The sixth of seven season reviews, featuring the second Nats affiliate to make the postseason

In the upper minors, there is no half system, which makes the 2010 Harrisburg Senators playoff run even more impressive. At the halfway mark, their record stood at 34-37, more than a dozen games back and in fourth place. Down the stretch, they would go 43-28 and shave that lead to five games to earn the Eastern League’s Western Division wild card, beating out Bowie and Akron by a game and two games respectively.

The Senators would lose to the eventual Eastern League champions, the Altoona Curve — a team that featured several players with playoff experience in winning the 2009 Carolina League championship with the Lynchburg Hillcats. Like Potomac, this team gelled at just the right time, and got some significant help with the addition of two starters — Ryan Tatusko and Tanner — that would become known as “The Guz Two” because they were acquired from Texas in the Christian Guzman trade.

You know the drill: Let’s look at how the Senators compared to the Eastern League…

HITTING

TEAM AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA SB
Harrisburg 4726 598 1188 121 398 948 .251 .314 .390 .239 86
Lg. Avg. 4755 656 1232 113 470 1008 .259 .332 .397 .249 97

Italics = League Trailer

PITCHING

TEAM IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
Harrisburg 1252.0 3.51 3.94 1.255 102 400 1108 8.4 2.9 8.0 2.77
Lg. Avg. 1244.0 4.21 4.63 1.370 113 470 1008 8.9 3.4 7.3 2.14

Bold = League Leader

As we just saw from our most recent World Champions, great pitching can carry mediocre-to-poor hitting and the Senators were no different. Offensively, the Sens were in the bottom third of the league for runs scored, hits, doubles, RBI, SBs, walks, OBP, and SLG percentage. They were middle of the pack for HRs and triples, and surprisingly for a team that was dead-last in BBs, they stuck out the third-fewest.

What this team could do well, however, was pitch. They managed to lead the league in ERA despite their #2 pitcher (in terms of IP, of course) sporting a 5.80 ERA. Seven of the Top 16 pitchers had ERAs below 3.00. As you can see from the bolded categories, they led the league in some of the most important ones: runs allowed, earned runs allowed, and ratio, and were second in baserunners allowed (WHIP) and walks, and third in strikeouts. In fact, we almost had a microcosm of Harrisburg vs. the Eastern League on the same staff, with Jeff Mandel as the former and Jason Jones as the latter.

In terms of batters, the stalwarts of the 2009 Potomac Nationals — Chris Marrero, Danny Espinosa and Jesus Valdez — were the top three batters in terms of plate appearances, runs, and RBIs. But beyond that it was the usual mix of formers, might-haves, were-it-nots (whatever euphemism you’d prefer for the “other guys” on the team) that were complementary parts, of which the best can be said is that they played league-average defense, with the exception of the catchers, who led the league in baserunners caught and worked with the pitchers to tie for the fewest stolen bases allowed.

As in previous season reviews, let’s look at the Top 16 (in terms of Plate Appearances or Innings Pitched) which puts the cutoff at 100PA and 32⅓ IP. The full team statistics can be found here.

Name Age Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err PA GPA
Chris Marrero 21 1B 129 .984 18 577 .270
Jesus Valdez 25 RF/LF 67/58 .990 2 569 .242
Danny Espinosa 23 SS 98 .964 15 434 .266
Brad Coon 27 CF 107 .996 1 413 .232
Michael Martinez 27 2B/OF/SS 83/17/3 .969 14 387 .234
Marvin Lowrance 25 LF 61 .978 2 357 .283
Jhontan Solano 24 C 89 .993 5 345 .225
Tim Pahuta 27 3B/1B 50/12 .956 9 303 .208
Edgardo Baez 24 RF/CF/LF 52/22/7 .983 3 300 .235
Josh Johnson 24 SS/2B/3B 35/19/17 .977 6 258 .280
Ofilio Castro 26 3B/2B 57/10 .981 3 225 .197
Adam Fox 28 3B/2B/LF 36/5/1 .875 13 171 .175
Leonard Davis 26 OF/IF 27/8 .952 4 123 .243
Steve Lombardozzi 21 2B 27 .971 3 118 .299
Sean Rooney 24 C 30 .982 14 109 .165
Devin Ivany 27 C/1B 24/1 .988 3 100 .297

Believe it or not, the average age of the batters (24.7) wasn’t that far off from the league average (24.3) nor were they the oldest in the league. With three 22-year-olds (Norris, Lombardozzi, and Burgess) expected to begin the season in 2011, that number may trend downward unless more than one of them gets the bump to Syracuse. Just six of these sixteen were above the league-average for GPA, as you’d expect for team as a whole being in the bottom third of the league. But the good news was the pitching…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HBP WP
Tom Milone 23 27/27 12-5 2.85 158 161 23 155 1.165 4 7
Aaron Thompson 23 26/26 4-13, 0 5.80 136⅔ 164 53 95 1.588 5 5
Andrew Kown 27 15/15 6-4, 0 3.83 84⅔ 83 19 47 1.205 3 1
Hassan Pena 25 48/0 2-2, 1 4.29 71⅓ 73 30 64 1.444 6 8
Rafael Martin 26 21/14 5-4, 0 3.61 67⅓ 55 26 58 1.203 1 6
Cole Kimball 24 38/10 5-1, 12 2.33 54 33 31 75 1.185 5 13
Jack Spradlin 25 39/1 1-1, 1 4.09 50⅔ 51 18 49 1.362 4 2
Adam Carr 26 36/0 6-1, 5 3.04 50⅓ 43 14 48 1.132 1 3
Chuck James 28 21/2 8-0, 2 1.59 45⅓ 28 7 50 0.772 6 3
Erik Arnesen 26 13/5 2-2, 2 2.81 41⅔ 36 7 35 1.032 1 1
John Lannan 25 7/7 1-4, 0 4.20 40⅔ 49 10 28 1.451 4 0
Jeff Mandel 25 7/7 1-4, 0 3.82 40 37 13 27 1.250 2 1
Brad Peacock 22 7/7 2-2, 0 4.66 38⅔ 33 22 30 1.422 0 0
Ryan Tatusko 25 6/6 3-1, 0 1.72 36⅔ 30 13 36 1.173 1 1
Tanner Roark 23 6/6 1-1, 0 2.50 36 35 9 33 1.222 0 0
Ross Detwiler 24 7/7 2-2, 0 2.48 32⅔ 38 7 31 1.378 2 1

There’s not much that I haven’t said already about the top dog on the pitching staff, Tom Milone. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how Sickels, BA, and the scouts at MLBA rate him this time around, now that he’s put up the numbers at the level that commands attention outside the prospect universe. Aaron Thompson was his counterweight in terms of affecting the team’s numbers as a group, and is likely to repeat this level in ’11, along with Brad Peacock and Tanner Roark.

Ryan Tatusko is the best candidate to join Milone at Syracuse next season, but beyond that is guessing game. Given the modern usage of AAA as a taxi squad, much will depend on the FAs that get signed between now and this spring. As mentioned in the comments, we’re still not at the point where the AA team has more prospects than organizational guys. While that will improve next year with the influx from Potomac, I expect to look over the ’11 Opening Day Roster and see a fair number of ’84s and ’85s in the DOB column.

Obviously, there’s some overlap with Potomac and some AFL bias in these lists. And like last week, naming a fifth bat is perfunctory. Johnson gets the nod because he’s versatile and handles the bat well. It’s no secret that next week will be even more of a, um, crapshoot when it comes to this part of the review.

OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS

Batters
1. Danny Espinosa
2. Chris Marrero
3. Steve Lombardozzi
4. Michael Burgess
5. Josh Johnson

Pitchers
1. Tom Milone
2. Cole Kimball
3. Brad Peacock
4. Adam Carr
5. Tanner Roark

AFL Update: November 9, 2010

How the Nats did on Monday in Arizona

The Scottsdale Scorpions won their fourth straight by a count of 8-3. Here’s how the Nats fared in the game:

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off and played shortstop, going 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored but committed his third error. He was also hit by a pitch.
  • Derek Norris caught and batted seventh. He had an RBI double in his five at-bats, but struck out three times. Nobody attempted to steal against him.
  • Brad Peacock was tagged for a three-run home run in the seventh, giving up two hits and a walk while striking out two.

The win, combined with a Mesa loss, puts Scottsdale three games up with nine to play. Sammy Solis is expected to start on Wednesday of this week.

###

In case folks haven’t heard, Brian Daubach has been hired as the new manager for the Hagerstown Suns while Matt LeCroy is reportedly taking the helm for Potomac in 2011. There is no word on the fate of Gary Cathcart. Officially, the Nats have not made any announcements for any of the affiliates coaching staffs for next year.

As stated in the comments, I had heard that Cathcart wasn’t returning to Potomac but with his assignment to the Florida Instructional League, I inferred that he is likely to remain and be reassigned within the organization. This is also the time of the year when coaches change jobs anyway, so it could also very well mean that Cathcart could be in the running for another managing job elsewhere.

It’s as good a time as any to also remind folks that what we see on the field is arguably the least important facet of a manager’s job. There are lots of funny saws about the art of managing (my favorites invariably come from Casey Stengel), but the common thread is about keeping young men prepared, engaged and motivated. I don’t think there’s any correlation between past playing success to those “people” skills.

AFL Update: November 8, 2010

Weekend Update from the AFL, featuring Bryce Harper

It’s a light update for the Nats in the AFL. Just one played in Friday’s game, obligatory SEO insert Bryce Harper, who went 1-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts and was caught stealing. John Sickels, who was presumably in Arizona to catch the AFL Rising Stars game (Burgess made the lone Nat appearance, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout), had this to say about what he saw:

I got to see Bryce Harper play last night for the first time. It is hard to believe he just turned 18. I would rate his raw power at an 80 on the traditional scale. He’s got outstanding bat speed, and while he can be fooled at this point, he did make an effort to work the count and showed the ability to make adjustments in the same at-bat. It was just one game but I saw enough to completely buy into the hype.

I’m sure more folks will weigh in next week, but as the snarky strikethrough suggests, it’s pretty clear that the comparisons to A-Rod and Griffey may in fact be justified… so the baseball world is watching with baited breath, which leads to an awful lot of one-handed typing. I’m excited, too, but the hype is something I hate — especially with a fanbase that’s both impatient and imbued with an enormous sense of entitlement. Hey, what’s this soapbox doing here?

As we’ve done the past few Mondays, here’s a look at the AFL stats through Friday (22 games):

BATTERS

PLAYER G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG SB
Lombardozzi 14 57 13 15 6 2 0 3 8 5 .263 .368 .439 1
Burgess 13 49 5 11 2 1 0 7 3 16 .224 .264 .306 1
Norris 12 36 7 9 3 1 3 15 11 13 .250 .429 .639 2
Harper 6 23 3 8 2 0 1 4 3 8 .348 .423 .565 0

PITCHERS

PLAYER W L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO WHIP HLD GF
Solis 0 0 0 5.17 4 15⅔ 19 12 9 6 8 1.596 0 0
Peacock 0 0 0 2.70 7 10 7 3 3 2 14 0.900 2 0
Kimball 0 0 1 1.00 8 9 6 1 1 1 11 0.889 0 8
Carr 1 0 0 3.00 7 9 5 3 3 2 6 .889 0 3

AFL Update: November 5, 2010

How the Nats did on Thursday in the AFL

The Scottsdale Scorpions won their second straight by a 9-5 count to remain in first place, two games ahead of the Mesa Solar Sox. Sources say that if they win today, it’ll be what’s known as winning streak.

Here’s how the Nats did:

  • Derek Norris caught, batted fifth, and went 1-for-4 with an RBI (his 15th in 12 games) but struck out three times and allowed another passed ball.
  • Michael Burgess played RF, batted seventh, and also went 1-for-4 but struck out just once and threw out a runner at 3B.
  • Adam Carr pitched a scoreless seventh and struck out one, dropping his ERA to 3.00
  • Cole Kimball struck out the side in the ninth

Bryce Harper will be eligible to play in Friday night’s game as the Scorpions visit the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Tomorrow night is the AFL Rising Stars Game, pitting the players from the Eastern Division against the Western Division. It will be televised on MLB Network and streamed on MLB.com.

AFL Update: November 4, 2010

Five Nats see action on Wednesday in the AFL

A busier-than-usual day for the Nationals in the AFL, as five of the eight saw action in a 9-3 Scottsdale win over Surprise.

  • Steve Lombardozzi returned to 2B and the #2 spot in the order and had a 2-for-5 afternoon with a triple and two runs scored.
    He also helped turn two double plays.
  • Bryce Harper batted sixth and played RF, walking twice (his first two BBs), and scoring two runs in a 1-for-2.
    He also collided with the opposing team’s catcher in scoring one of the runs.
  • Sammy Solis allowed two runs on five hits and one walk over four innings. He also gave up a home run and stuck out one.
  • Brad Peacock allowed a run on one hit (triple) while striking out one in his lone inning of work
  • Cole Kimball pitched a scoreless ninth, allowing a hit and striking out one , lowering his ERA to 1.13

Adam Foster from Project Prospect was tweeting from yesterday’s game, and besides the Harper takeout play, which he described as “Nobody f’s with Bryce Harper,” he had the following tweets that are of interest:

…[Bryce Harper has a p]lus arm, good instincts, good speed, aggressive. Should be at least MLB average in RF.

…Brad Peacock’s FB last inning: 96, 94, 95, 95, 95, 95, 96, 95.

…If you like SP who command a low-90s FB with movement along with a changeup, you may like Sammy Solis. He has touched 94 today, too.

…Solis has a promising changeup, but his success with it will hinge on his ability to command it.

The only thing I can add is that Peacock’s velocity as a starter was 93-95. It’s not that hard to imagine that if he were being groomed as a setup man, he could could touch 97 or 98 after an offseason of rest and conditioning.

AFL Update: November 3, 2010

Tidbits from yesterday’s AFL action

The Scottsdale Scorpions lost again, falling to the Peoria Javelinas by a 7-4 count. Here’s a look at how the Nats fared:

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off and played SS. He went 3-for-4 with a triple, but was caught stealing for the second time.
  • Derek Norris batted sixth and drew two walks but went o-for-2 otherwise.
  • Michael Burgess batted eighth and extended his hitless streak to 15AB with another 0-for-4 game.
    He did, however, throw out a runner at the plate.
  • Adam Carr pitched a scoreless ninth and struck out one.

Sammy Solis, to clarify, is scheduled to start today as will (presumably) Bryce Harper. Yesterday, the AFL announced rosters for the 5th Annual Rising Stars Game and Burgess and Cole Kimball were named to the Eastern Division squad.

[Editorial]The selection of Burgess is mystifying as is the exclusion of Norris. At first glance, it would appear that catcher Tony Sanchez would have bumped Norris (the old “every team must have a representative” canard), until you notice that Pirate OF Andrew Lambo, who also plays RF, is batting .304/.351/.522. As noted yesterday in the comments, it would almost appear as if the managers got together, determined whose turn it was to play, and cobbled the rosters accordingly [/Editorial]

Minor-League Free Agency Starts Today, Too

A look at who’s a possible free agent in the Nats minors

Though much less heralded, it’s free agency for minor leaguers today with the close of the World Series last night. The official list will be made public later this month, but here’s a rundown of the unofficial/potential MLFAs in the Nats system:

Catchers
Devin Ivany
Brian Peacock
Jamie Burke
Carlos Maldonado

Infielders
Brian Bixler
Seth Bynum
Chris Duncan
Chase Lambin
Pedro Lopez
Michael Martinez
Luis Ordaz
Pete Orr
Ofilio Castro
Adam Fox

Outfielders
Marvin Lowrance
Leonard Davis
Jason Botts
Jerry Owens
Edgardo Baez
Jesus Valdez
Brad Coon
Jamar Walton

Starting Pitchers
Andrew Kown
Jason Jones
Robinson Fabian

Relievers
Chuck James
Rafael Martin
Yunior Novoa
Zach Dials
Carlos Martinez
Jimmy Barthmaier
Luis Garcia
Glenn Gibson

Now it’s certainly possible that some of these folks have already agreed to a successor contract, i.e. an agreement to to re-sign with the organization prior to the deadline for filing for MLFA, but that information isn’t exactly public. We’ll know more in a couple weeks, particularly as the Rule 5 draft comes onto the radar.

UPDATE: Seems I forgot to list the pitchers (cue Red Foreman) and missed an OF, but thanks to frequent reader BinM, here they are.

AFL Update: November 2, 2010

Tidbits from Tuesday’s AFL action

Three Nats bats saw time in yesterday’s game, which saw the Scottsdale Scorpions’ winning streak snapped with a 7-4 loss to the Peoria Javelinas:

  • Derek Norris caught and batted sixth, going 1-for-4 with a double, two RBI, and two strikeouts. He also committed two throwing errors and allowed a stolen base
  • Michael Burgess played RF and batted eighth and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout
  • Steve Lombardozzi played SS and batted ninth, and also went o-for-4 with a strikeout. He committed an error as well

Sammy Solis is scheduled to make his fourth start tomorrow. Solis was one of several pitchers recently featured in The Hardball Times which contains some video but it’s from the spring, not this fall.

Also on our radar is the 2010 AFL Rising Stars game, which will be broadcast on Saturday night on MLB Network and streamed on MLB.com. Rosters have not yet been released, but one would strongly suspect that they will find a way to make Bryce Harper available.