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…

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.

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.

That would be from Jonathan Mayo from, 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…


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


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..

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).


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…

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

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…


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


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

AFL Update: November 12, 2010

Scottsdale wins again and three Nats see action on Thursday

The Scottsdale Scorpions took their second straight with a 5-1 decision over the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Highlights from the Nats included…

  • Steve Lombardozzi led off, played 2B, and went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base
  • Michael Burgess tripled and drove in two for is 1-for-4, playing RF and batting seventh
  • Cole Kimball closed out the game with a scoreless inning, allowing a hit, a walk, but striking out one

The win combined with a loss by the Mesa Solar Sox extends the Scottsdale lead to four games with six to play. They host the Peoria Saguaros tonight, then visit the Surprise Rafters tomorrow. Check back on Monday to see how they did, plus our weekly review of the AFL stats. Plus, the last of the affiliate season reviews is on tap for Tuesday.

AFL Update: November 11, 2010

Solis was solid, Norris and Harper combine to drive in five on four extra-base hits

While folks checking in to see the parent club’s new uniforms may have been disappointed, the news from Arizona was about as good as it gets. Scottsdale won 11-1 and all three Nats that played had a good day:

  • Sammy Solis went five innings, allowing one run on two hits (one was a home run) and one walk and striking out two and got credit for the win.
  • Derek Norris was the DH and batted cleanup, going 3-for-6 with a double, home run, two runs scored, and three RBI. He struck out once.
  • Bryce Harper played RF and batted seventh, tripling twice in five at-bats, scoring two runs, and driving in two runs. He struck out twice.

The win extended the Scorpions’ lead over the Mesa Solar Sox to three games with seven games left to play, a championship tilt against the Peoria Javelinas looming for next Saturday.


Just a quick note: It’s now known where Gary Cathcart will be reassigned: For the first half of the season, he’ll be a roving instructor (along with Bobby Henley), focusing on the GCL and Hagerstown. In the second half, he’ll be managing the Auburn Doubledays. Click here for the full story from MASN’s Byron Kerr.