AFL Update: October 18, 2010

Updates on AFL action over the weekend

Here’s a look at how the Nationals fared over the weekend in the Arizona Fall League…

The Scottsdale Scorpions pounded the Phoenix Desert Dogs, 11-4

  • Michael Burgess went 1-for-4 with 3 K’s as the DH
  • Brad Peacock struck out the side while pitching the sixth but gave up a run on two hits
  • Cole Kimball pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and struck out one

With a 6-4 win over the Peoria Javelinas, the Scottsdale Scorpions improved to 4-1

  • Sammy Solis got the start and allowed a run on two hits and a walk over three innings while striking out one. He also picked off a runner
  • Adam Carr pitched two scoreless innings to get the win while walking one and striking out one
  • Steve Lombardozzi played 2B and batted leadoff, going 1-for-3 with a double and a walk and scored two runs
  • Derek Norris caught and batted cleanup, going 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, a run scored, and a stolen base. He threw out the only runner to attempt a steal against him

After five games…


Lombardozzi 4 14 3 4 3 0 0 1 1 2 .286 .375 .500 0
Norris 3 9 3 4 1 0 1 3 4 3 .444 .615 .889 1
Burgess 3 10 0 2 0 0 0 0 3 4 .200 .385 .200 1


Peacock 0 0 0 3.00 2 3 1 1 0 0 7 1.000 0 0
Solis 0 0 0 3.00 1 3 2 1 0 1 1 1.000 0 0
Carr 1 0 0 3.00 2 3 2 1 0 2 1 1.333 0 0
Kimball 0 0 0 0.00 2 2 0 0 0 0 4 0.000 0 2

AFL Update: October 15, 2010

A quick rundown on how the Nats fared in Thursday’s AFL action

Four Nats saw action in yesterday’s 5-1 loss by the Scottsdale Scorpions to the Phoenix Desert Dogs…

  • Steve Lombardozzi was the DH and went 1-for-5 with a run scored
  • Derek Norris caught and went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout; he was 0-for-1 in throwing out runners
  • Michael Burgess played RF and went 1-for-3 with a walk, a strikeout, and a stolen base; he committed an error
  • Adam Carr pitched the 8th inning and allowed a run on two hits and walk and did not strike out a batter

AFL Update: October 14, 2010

Today’s tidbits from Arizona

By now, you’ve heard that Bryce Harper has been assigned to the taxi squad and will play twice a week. As I put in one of the comments last night, I believe this is a move that has more to do keeping Harper under the watchful eye tutelage of one of the best baseball men in the system (Randy Knorr) than it is exposing him to high-level competition. From a PR standpoint, it’s also a nice gesture to appease the impatient DC fans (today’s submission from the department of redundancy department).

Anyway, just two Nationals saw action in yesterday’s 9-1 win by the Scottsdale Scorpions, but the results are what we love to see…

…Steve Lombardozzi doubled in his first two at-bats and went 2-for-6 overall while scoring a run. Defensively, he made just one play.

…Cole Kimball pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out the side, which included Minnesota’s Joe Benson, and San Diego farmhands Luis Martinez and Cole Figueroa (seriously, what was up with the name “Cole” in the mid-to-late 80s?).

AFL Update: October 13, 2010

Update on how the Nats in the AFL did last night, plus a few odds and ends

Here’s a peek at how the Nationals did yesterday for the Scottsdale Scorpions, who won 4-3 over the Peoria Saguaros…

  • Derek Norris 1-2, 2R, 2BB, HR, 2 RBI
  • Mike Burgess 0-3, BB
  • Brad Peacock 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 4K

UPDATE:’s Bill Ladson is reporting that Bryce Harper will be assigned to the Scorpions’ taxi squad and will play roughly twice a week.

A few other odds & ends (be thankful I opted not to lead with that for the picture ;-)…

…Wilson Ramos was the lone National in the Baseball America International League Top 20, coming in at #18. The good news is that scouts like him defensively, and describe him as having “above-average raw power.” The bad news: He needs to work on game-management and pitch-calling. Before folks chime in about having Ramos and Rodriguez working together, remember that the knock on Pudge for his entire career has been in these two areas.

…The folks at Ballpark Digest named the new Metro Park in Harrisburg as the renovation of the year and I couldn’t agree more.

…Sickels weighed in on an age-old question of young pitcher development.

Arizona Fall League Starts Today

Our thoughts on the Nats’ AFL representatives

By now, you’ve read that the Arizona Fall League starts up today. And some 18-year-old named Bryce Harper won’t be playing. So there’s little I can add to that, except for some thoughts on the players I’ve seen…

Adam Carr – RHRP
Carr has been here before, playing in 2007 after his first full season in the minors and looked to be on the verge of becoming a factor for the parent club in late ’08 with a 1.78ERA at Potomac and Harrisburg. Unfortunately, he hit wall the next season, and struggled mightily at both levels. In ’09, he was converted to a starting pitcher in an effort to both salvage something out of a hard-thrower as well as give him a chance to pitch more often and learn more of the finer points of pitching. In ’10 he returned to relieving, mostly as a setup guy and long-man, but was solid and consistent enough to get a callup to AAA where he racked up nine saves in 10 chances and posted a 2.08ERA.

Cole Kimball – RHRP
Kimball is a similar pitcher to Carr, but started for his first three seasons before being turned into a reliever in ’09. Kimball doesn’t throw quite as hard, but can (and does) throw more breaking pitches. Served as the closer for Potomac in ’09 and to begin ’10 with solid numbers. At Harrisburg, Kimball saw his strikeout rate jump from the one-per-inning rate that’s relatively common to a more dominant 12.3/9IP.

Brad Peacock – RHSP
The last of the draft-and-follow picks, Peacock is a perfect example of what the A+ level is — a place where a guy needs to work on one more thing before making the biggest jump in the minors. That one thing? The changeup. Early in the ’10 season, Peacock would rack up double-digit strikeouts but couldn’t get much past the fifth or sixth inning because once folks realized he couldn’t throw anything offspeed for strikes, they’d wait him out and sit on that 94-95 heat. In late June, Peacock started to figure out, resulting in a complete-game shutout in early July. By month’s end, he was in Harrisburg and was a factor in the Sens’ playoff run.

Steve Lombardozzi – 2B
Lombardozzi is often overlooked because of what he is not. He’s not big. He’s not flashy. He’s not a home run hitter. What is he? A steady, reliable fielder (though not the strongest of arms) and a consistent hitter with gap power and slightly above-average speed but terrific baserunning instincts. Arguably the most consistent P-Nat this season and was able to bat anywhere in the top third of the lineup with little change in his production.

Michael Burgess – OF
Burgess was an enigma this season. Early on, it looked like he had finally solved his weakness against lefties and began rapping the ball the other way (in ’09, an opposite-field hit for Burgess was a grounder that went just to the left of the 2nd base bag). But after the league adjusted to him, his well-known weakness re-emerged — the inability to lay off soft-and-away pitches came back. He appeared to be readjusting his approach when a death in his family kept him out for a couple of weeks. In the final analysis, Burgess is still trying to figure out how to hit to all fields without sacrificing power and keeping the strikeouts down. There were times when he did, which is why he’s been given this challenge.

Derek Norris – C
Injuries wreaked havoc on Norris’s season and it was not until late August that he began to look comfortable as a hitter. As mentioned last week, Norris does struggle some with breaking pitches but as many people have remarked, you can close your eyes and pick him out of a BP lineup — the ball has a distinctive sound coming off his bat. The most promising thing is that no matter how low his batting average got, Derek did not press and held his OBP at the .400+ level all season long. Defensively, Norris is still a project, struggling with wild pitches and passed balls, but still threw out 51% of the runners that tried to steal off him.

Sammy Solis – LHP
Solis made just two appearances in Hagerstown, so I did not see him. Here is what the estimable John Sickels wrote about him prior to the draft:

A back injury redshirted Solis in 2009, so he’s a draft-eligible sophomore this year… Sizeable at 6-5, 220, he has an 89-92 MPH fastball, and both his curveball and changeup are major league quality. His command is considered excellent, and there is nothing wrong with his statistical performance this spring: 2.94 ERA with a 52/15 K/BB in 52 innings, 51 hits allowed. He should… interest any team looking for a lefty with polish who won’t need much minor league time.

Season Review: 2010 GCL Nationals

Our second season review over the next several weeks…

With the decided shift towards college players in the Rule 4 draft (a.k.a. First-Year Players), it’s no surprise that the 2010 GCL Nationals were among the oldest in the league (batters, 20.4; pitchers, 21.5). Unfortunately, like the proverbial trailer park, if they weren’t putting a hurt a somebody (league-leading 5.21 R/G scored), they were getting hammered (third-worst 5.27 R/G allowed). Hence, a losing record at 24-32 that was four games under the 28-28 pythagorean projection.

Here’s a look at how they compared to the rest of the league…


GCL Nats 1895 292 505 18 194 404 .266 .343 .370 .247 76
Lg. Avg. 1887 253 466 23 174 432 .247 .321 .349 .232 64

Bold = League Leader


GCL Nats 483.0 4.29 5.27 1.346 30 167 412 9.0 3.1 7.7 2.47
Lg. Avg. 496.0 3.62 4.39 1.289 23 174 432 8.4 3.2 7.8 2.48

For an organization that’s been hurting for offense, leading the league in runs scored per game, RBI, hits, batting average, and on-base percentage is a good thing. They also drew the third-most walks and struck out at the fourth-lowest rate, and stole bases at a league-best 76% (76-for-100) success rate.

Unfortunately, the pitching wasn’t there and neither was the defense; both were third-worst on a rate basis (runs per game, fielding percentage). Even worse: Three of the bottom five in terms of runs allowed are DSL grads (Gregory Baez, Pedro Encarnacion, and Miguel Navarro).

Playing time was split much more evenly in the GCL vs. the DSL, so I’m listing the top 12 batters in terms of plate appearances, assigning positions by games appeared. The full statistics for the team can be found here.

Name Age Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err PA GPA
Angelberth Montilla 21 LF/CF/RF 20/20/11 .953 4 222 .253
Randolph Oduber 21 CF/LF 20/10 .986 1 175 .338
Mills Rogers 22 1B/3B/SS 26/13/2 .985 4 154 .249
Michael Taylor 19 SS/3B/2B 19/9/9 .882 22 149 .196
Hector Taveras 21 C 12 .978 2 145 .246
Wander Nunez 20 RF/LF 31/5 1.000 0 139 .220
Roberto Perez 19 2B/3B 31/4 .955 7 137 .223
Tyler Oliver 21 1B 25 .995 1 133 .220
Jeremy Mayo 22 C/1B 27/3 .991 2 133 .298
Adrian Sanchez 19 3B/2B/SS 14/8/7 .927 8 127 .312
Johan Rodriguez 19 SS/2B 18/11 .863 16 114 .191
Estarlin Martinez 18 3B/2B 24/1 .823 14 1 .231

Bold = 2010 Draftee (Notables not included above = Rick Hague, Rick Hughes, Rashad Hatcher)
Italics = 2010 IFA

Like the DSL, players were rotated defensively, with most positions having two or three primary starters. As VladiHondo pointed out in the DSL season review, the showing of ’09 DSL “graduates” was weak, with Martinez and Wander Ramos he only two getting significant playing time at 106 and 99 PAs respectively.

As the parenthetical indicates, there were three 2010 draftees that got playing time in the GCL but were not in the Top 12. Hague obviously impressed in his limited playing time to get the bump to Hagerstown, posting a .275/.380/.300 line in 50PA but Hughes was actually a little better with a .293/.359/.448 in 65 PA. Rashad Hatcher posted just a .200/241/.218 line in 59 PA.

On to the pitchers, listing the top 12 in terms of innings pitched…

Kelvin Lopez 20 11/8 4-4, 0 4.44 46⅔ 54 12 26 1.414 3 6
Gregory Baez 18 11/6 1-2, 0 2.61 38 44 23 40 1.763 4 5
Tyler Hanks 20 10/4 4-1, 1 3.51 33⅓ 37 6 25 1.290 3 4
Nick Serino 21 14/1 2-2, 0 3.16 25⅔ 21 5 25 1.013 1 3
Pedro Encarnacion 19 8/6 0-3, 0 6.48 25 28 12 15 1.600 2 3
Christian Meza 19 9/2 1-2, 0 1.52 23⅔ 16 10 23 1.099 2 5
Billy Ott 22 7/0 1-0, 1 1.17 23 16 3 19 0.826 4 0
Manuel Rivera 22 13/0 2-2, 0 2.61 20⅔ 15 12 21 1.306 5 2
Tim Dupuis 21 16/0 3-1, 3 4.79 20⅔ 23 5 21 1.355 0 1
Miguel Navarro 17 14/1 1-1, 0 8.10 20 19 21 11 2.000 10 6
Mike Gallo 23 12/0 0-2, 0 8.38 19⅓ 25 11 11 1.862 1 1
Matt Grace 21 8/5 1-1, 0 4.32 18⅔ 23 3 14 1.393 1 1

The spring-training usage of pitchers in the GCL makes it impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions. This particular year saw a lot of rehab activity (seven full-season minor-leaguers, four major-leaguers) as thirty pitchers threw at least one inning, and as you can see the cutoff for the Top 12 was 18 innings (Chris Manno was #13)

The same caveat applies to the GCL as it does the DSL (sight unseen) and with the pitchers, it’s even more shaky, but folks love lists so here goes, along with some honorable mentions to account for the guesswork smaller sample sizes here.

Top 5 Batters
1. Randolph Oduber
2. Adrian Sanchez
3. Rick Hague
4. Mills Rogers
5. Michael Taylor

Honorable mentions: Estarlin Martinez, Angelberth Montilla

Top 5 Pitchers
1. Tyler Hanks
2. Nick Serino
3. Christian Meza
4. Matthew Grace
5. Christopher Manno

Honorable mentions: Billy Ott, Manuel Rivera

Danny Espinosa, BA’s #12 Eastern League Prospect

It’s Espy as the lone Nat from the BA Top 20 for the E.L.

Not surprisingly, just one Nationals farmhand made the cut for Baseball America’s Top 20 Prospects of the Eastern League: Danny Espinosa.

What did surprise me was this characterization of Espinosa’s defense in the scouting report:

Though Espinosa played exclusively shortstop at Double-A, scouts and managers agree he fits better at second base, where he mostly played in the majors. His infield actions aren’t quite good enough for a big league [sic] shortstop, but he has a chance to be a plus defender with a strong arm at second.

Whether this is kowtowing to the Nats’ decision to play the superior shortstop out of position or not is subject to debate. What’s more pleasing to read is that while the scouts still believe he’s a candidate to strike out frequently, they’re liking the power that first came on the scene in ’09, surprising nearly everyone.

Going into 2010, Espinosa’s task was to prove his power surge at Potomac was not a fluke, and clearly he’s succeeded. Now the scouts are predicting that he’s capable of hitting .260 to .270 with 15-20 HRs. Fun fact: Espinosa was one of three 20/20 players in the minors this past season.

As always, I’ll pass along any Nats-related comments I spot in the BA chat.

UPDATE: Here’s the lone Nat question in the BA chat…

    Ben (Leland Grove): Did Chris Marrero and Michael Burgess make your short list? Your thoughts on both at this point?

John Manuel: I asked one scout who’s better defensively at 1B, Adam Dunn or Marrero, and he answered Marrero, but he had to think about it. That tells you what you need to know on Marrero’s defense. As my son would say, he’s a 5 for strat-o-matic purposes. Burgess didn’t qualify, but I’d be leery of his big hack-no contact approach anyway.

Morning Reading

Some links to pore over with your coffee, Mountain Dew, Red Bull, etc.

You’ll forgive me for all the Bryce Harper news but when it comes to the Nats in the offseason it’s all Bryce Harper all the time. (Pay plenty of attention to that advertisement to your right 😉

Now that I’m done keyword stuffing, here’s a few links of interest before Chip Caray says something stupid on TBS this afternoon…

…As promised, a Bryce Harper update from Adam Kilgore, who has the time, salary, and budget that I don’t.

…Your newest member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association, Washington, DC chapter (that and $2 gets me a cup of coffee, much like my two Journalism degrees) voted for Espinosa, Lombardozzi, and Milone for the Minor League Player of the Year in the 2010 Player Achievement Awards, taking quite seriously the part about most destined for big-league success.

…This is a blog dedicated to the minors, but because it affects the 2011 draft, here’s a look at how Adam Dunn might be a Type B free agent.

…Finally, with the new ownership in place at Hagerstown, they’re making some requests about Municipal Stadium.

Season Review: 2010 DSL Nationals

The first of seven season reviews over the next several weeks

Considering the turmoil from the spring of 2009, the seven-game improvement of the DSL Nationals to a winning season of 36-35 has to be considered progress. But perhaps more promising is that this was done with a crew that was younger than the year before (yes, even with “Smiley”) — the average batter was 18.9 years old, the average pitcher was 19.3 years old; a year ago, those figures were 19.3 and 19.7. Still more than the league averages (18.4, 18.8) but better than two years ago (19.3, 21.2).

As I ease into metaphorically big shoes of Mr. Oliver, let me also disclose fully that I’m modeling this review (and future reviews) after the ones he did back in ’07, which were the first ones I found while rummaging through his online morgue. Without further ado…


D-Nats 2246 312 534 14 274 459 .238 .338 .305 .228 110
Lg. Avg. 2184 301 512 15 275 481 .235 .334 .311 .228 99

* GPA = Gross Production Average. This is a stat that Aaron Gleeman invented several years ago that corrects the two problems with OPS: (1) it corrects the imbalance between OBP and SLG (simply put, OBP is about 80% more valuable) and (2) it puts it on a scale that everyone is familiar with (same as batting average). I like it because it’s relatively easily to calculate — (1.8*OBP plus SLG)/4 — compared to similar sabermetric exercises (wOBA, EqA) and achieves the purpose of an all-encompassing offensive stat nearly as well.


D-Nats 606.1 3.55 4.58 1.351 16 272 541 8.1 4.0 8.0 1.99
Lg. Avg. 590.1 3.39 4.27 1.333 15 275 481 7.8 4.2 7.3 1.75

As you might expect from a .507 team, the D-Nats were slightly above average on offense and slightly below average on pitching with the notable exception of strikeouts and walks, categories in which the Nationals were in the top third of the league.

Given the nature of the league, playing time is much more spread out but for the purposes of displaying who’s who, I’m using defensive games to determine “starters” and the 100AB mark as the cutoff for the bench. The full statistics for the team can be found here.

Position Name Age G/GP Fld% Err PA GPA
Catcher Adderling Ruiz 19 46/49 .978 8 153 .197
First Base Jean Carlos Valdez 17 25/60 .978 8 237 .228
Second Base Nelalexfred Ortega 17 63/63 .964 10 272 .204
Third Base Bienvenido Valdez 19 38/62 .893 12 245 .275
Shortstop Wilmer Difo 20 44/45 .911 20 169 .201
Left Field Jose Arismendy 17 39/51 .980 3 156 .183
Center Field Edgar Gonzalez ?? 53/59 .976 2 223 .256
Right Field Narciso Mesa ?? 45/58 .966 2 213 .193
Utility (1B, 2B, SS) “Smiley” Alvarez 24 14, 4, 24 .966 9 234 .320
Bench (1B, LF) Victor Chavez 21 3, 19 .850 3 167 .293
Bench (C, 1B) Paul Chacin 19 21, 13 .983 4 167 .244

I’m just as troubled as you might be to see those two “??” in the age column. Defensively, you can see that 1B, 3B, and C were a little bit of a merry-go-round in terms of playing time (fielding percentages are for the primary position only for the starters, the bench players are cumulative. Second base was the only stalwart, so it may be safe to say that “Fred” Ortega may be stateside by 2012 at the latest.

On to the pitchers, listing the top 12 in terms of innings pitched…

Antonio Guzman 22 14/13 4-5, 1 3.36 83 74 27 81 1.217 13 15
Wirkin Estevez 18 15/14 6-7, 0 2.61 82⅔ 74 12 95 1.040 5 8
Silvio Medina 20 13/11 5-4, 0 3.06 67⅔ 68 19 46 1.286 9 7
Adalberto Mieses 20 13/12 3-3, 1 2.98 63⅓ 57 33 40 1.421 5 7
Anthony Marcelino 17 14/7 0-2, 0 3.20 45 34 20 24 1.200 5 13
Inocencio Heredia ?? 26/0 3-3, 10 1.69 37⅓ 24 11 34 0.938 6 4
Wander Suero 18 15/4 2-3, 0 4.72 34⅓ 35 23 39 1.689 1 7
Jorge Hernandez 20 13/0 2-1, 4 2.05 30⅔ 21 9 38 0.978 1 1
Andy Santana 19 13/1 5-0, 0 1.27 28⅓ 19 14 24 1.165 0 1
Juan “Slim” Diaz 19 7/6 2-4, 0 5.74 26⅔ 25 10 28 1.312 4 5
Jesus Guzman 19 18/6 1-1, 0 3.43 21 18 18 23 1.714 3 3
Saskuel Herrera 20 18/6 1-0, 1 4.32 16⅔ 19 11 13 1.800 0 11

The too-old criticism may be valid here as it appears that only Wirkin Estevez and Anthony Marcelino will be Viera-bound in ’11, though the obvious caveat that perhaps one or two of the 19-year-olds may have that intangible that we can’t see from a box score (which is the caveat that applies to all of this review). Inocencio Heredia was a constant in our daily reports but the lack of a DOB has to raise a red flag.

Having seen these players as much as Rush Limbaugh has seen his name on college diploma, I present the five batters and pitchers to watch in ’11 with the full knowledge that I’m doing exactly what I hate: basing my judgment solely on stats and boxscores.

Top 5 Batters
1. Jean Carlos Valdez
2. “Fred” Ortega
3. Wilmer Difo
4. Adderling Ruiz
5. Paul Chacin

Top 5 Pitchers
1. Wirkin Estevez
2. Anthony Marcelino
3. Andy Santana
4. Wander Suero
5. Jesus Guzman

Three P-Nats Named To BA’s Carolina League Top 20

Derek Norris, Mike Burgess, and Tyler Moore make the cut

The shutout from Baseball America’s Top 20 lists is over with the naming of three P-Nats to the Carolina League Top 20 Prospects — catcher Derek Norris (#11), outfielder Mike Burgess (#14), and first-baseman Tyler Moore (#18).

This, quite frankly, is a bit of a surprise. With no disrespect to Mike Burgess, but off the top of my head I can think of two outfielders the same age that had better years and showed equal, if not more, promise: Brandon Short and Ronnie Welty. Likewise, the omission of Steve Lombardozzi is baffling to me — particularly when Kinston’s Jason Kipnis spent just 54 games in the league yet somehow made this list.

Here’s the highlights from each scouting report…


Norris has plus power and can drive the ball out of the park to all fields, projecting as a .260-.270 hitter with 20 or more homers annually in the big leagues. Though he does a good job of working counts and drawing walks, he needs to make adjustments against offspeed pitches and make more consistent contact. He has a solid arm and threw out 51 percent of CL basestealers who tested him, but he lacks soft hands and his receiving skills are substandard.


Burgess continues to chase pitches outside the zone, but he has toned down his aggressiveness and is using the opposite field more. He has well above-average raw strength, and he’s searching for a happy medium between power and patience. Though he’s a below-average runner, he plays a quality right field and opponents know not to challenge his arm.


Moore’s game is all about strength and power. He has some holes in his swing and isn’t very selective, so he probably won’t ever hit for a high average. Offspeed stuff can still give him fits, though he improved significantly this year. Though he lacks speed and quickness, he’s a solid defender at first base, and Cathcart said Moore has enough arm strength to play the outfield.

The last quote there is a little telling, seemingly cobbled from interviews with league managers versus a true scouting report like we got on Norris and Burgess. In fact, the subscriber-only version of this list has a quote from manager for nearly every prospect, which has a certain amount of use, but not what I really want to see because managers are loathe to criticize players.

The Eastern League is scheduled for Friday, and I’ll pass along any highlights from this afternoon’s chat.