Friday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Postponed Postponed N/A
Harrisburg Postponed vs. Altoona,
7:00 p.m.
Long (3-3, 2.37 in ’16) vs.
McRae (8-6, 4.79 in ’16)
Potomac Postponed @ Wilmington,
7:05 p.m.
Reyes (4-8, 5.60 in ’16) vs.
Griffin (5-10, 6.23 in ’16)
Hagerstown Postponed @ Charleston,
6:05 p.m.
Watson (1-1, 4.80 in ’16) vs.
Julio (4-6, 4.05 @ SS-A in ’16)

Let’s try this again…

As previously reported, Syracuse (pictured above) has called it off for both yesterday and today, opting for doubleheaders on Sunday and Friday, August 4th to make up the games.

Temperatures at the games today are forecast to range from the low-to-high 40s – t-shirt & shorts weather for Minnesotans, but not conducive to baseball. In other words, don’t be surprised if one or more of these games is called off, too.

Opening Day Washed Away

Well, as predicted, all four affiliates were indeed washed out today. It was bad enough in upstate New York wash away tomorrow’s game, too.

Still no word on who will start and when in Harrisburg, just a clue that it’s not RHP Gabriel Arias, who was placed on the DL and replaced with RHP Mark Blackmar (who did start nine games for the Senators). There’s been a couple of stories focused on Erick Fedde, and then there’s been this.

Via Insidenova.com, we’ve learned Hector Silvestre, Jefry Rodriguez, Joan Baez, Wirkin “For the Weekend” Estevez will follow Luis Reyes in the rotation. Take a peek at the link to see how the lineup shapes up.

Finally, in the the latest BA Transaction post, some more Washington minor-leaguers have been released…
• RHP Matt Tindall
• LHP Stone Speer
• C Brian Jeroloman
• 1B Shawn Pleffner
• OF Fernelys Sanchez

Finger crossed we can finally get this party started on Friday.

Opening Day!

The enthusiasm is to be tempered by the forecast of rain at all four games today, as the Chiefs, Senators, and Suns open at home, while the P-Nats visit Wilmington.

Team Today’s Game Pitching Matchup (’16 Stats at Level)
Syracuse vs. Rochester,
2:05 p.m.
TBD vs. Berrios (10-5, 2.51)
Harrisburg vs. Altoona,
7:00 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD
Potomac @ Wilmington,
6:35 p.m.
Reyes (4-8, 5.60) vs.
Griffin (5-10, 6.23)
Hagerstown vs. Asheville,
6:05 p.m.
Watson (1-1, 4.80) vs.
Julio (4-6, 4.05 @ SS-A)

Now for the annual reminder: These pitchers are not necessarily the team’s #1 starter. They are, within a spot or so, how the Nationals would like the starters to align from Low-A to MLB in the event of promotions or injuries.

The Hagerstown rotation will reportedly be Carlos Acevado, McKenzie Mills, Weston Davis and Carlos Pena. In Syracuse, Taylor Hill starts it off, followed by (for now) Joe Ross*, Jacob Turner, Austin Voth, and A.J. Cole.
* Personally, I’m picturing the Lerners, fretting today’s “Big Nats” game will get postponed, and Mike Rizzo, worrying that it won’t.

In between, it’s a bit of a guessing game. Potomac’s first listed starter is Luis Reyes, and it’s probably a good bet that Matt Crownover, Joan Baez, and Jefry Rodriguez are among the top four, but after that? Like a biker bar or a vegan co-op, it gets hairy: Hector Silvestre, Taylor Guilbeau, Grant Borne, and Dakota Bacus are all candidates. And probably in that order.

Phillips Valdez and Erick Fedde are locks as top two guns for Harrisburg. Austen Williams may not be the No. 3 starter but he’s yet to appear in relief, which leaves a similar musical chairs between Greg Ross, Jaron Long, John Simms, and Gabriel Arias (assuming, which is foolish, that Tyler Mapes is actually hurt) for the last two spots.

Finally, a little housekeeping… I’m hearing that some of you are having problems with seeing the comments. I’ll be honest: I don’t what I can do, but if this happens to you, let me know via email (since you can’t tell me in the comments, duh). At the very least, I can report it to my hosting provider and see what they can do.

2017 Rosters for the Affiliates Revealed

The wait is over, as the four full-season affiliates officially announced their Opening Day rosters. Let’s take a look at how it breaks down by the Watchlist:

SYRACUSE
Pitchers – A.J. Cole, Austin Voth
Batters – Rafael Bautista, Brian Goodwin, Pedro Severino, Matt Skole

HARRISBURG
Pitchers – Ryan Brinley, Jimmy Cordero, Erick Fedde, Tyler Mapes*, Phillips Valdez, John Simms
Batters – Osvaldo Abreu, Raudy Read, Andrew Stevenson, Drew Ward

POTOMAC
Pitchers – Joan Baez, Grant Borne, Matthew Crownover, Taylor Guilbeau, Tommy Peterson*, Mariano Rivera III
Batters – Telmito Agustin, Kelvin Gutierrez, Victor Robles, Ian Sagdal, Rhett Wiseman

HAGERSTOWN
Pitchers – Weston Davis, McKenzie Mills, Jorge Pantoja, Sterling Sharp, Tyler Watson
Batters – Nick Banks, Aldrem Corredor, Anderson Franco, Dan Johnson, Carter Kieboom, Sheldon Neuse, Jake Noll, Blake Perkins, Juan Soto
* = on the 7-Day DL

M.I.A. (Excluding DSL/GCL players) – Jakson Reetz, Gilberto Mendez, Francys Peguero, Jacob Howell
X.S.T. (and/or on Auburn roster) – Steven Fuentes, Yonathan Ramirez

I resisted the urge to include a W.T.F. category, but I’m sure folks will supply their own. Now for some thoughts…

That Hagerstown roster is something, isn’t it? Fortunately, I still have my spy out there—we just had a chat last weekend—so we should have some first-hand opinions and observations before these guys make their way to Woodbridge.

• Seriously, I think just about everyone we’d been hoping to make it there instead of Auburn did.

• You could complain about the composition of the Potomac roster, but this really par for the course — all eyes will be on Robles, perhaps Baez, but I’m looking forward to seeing Agustin, who has been Robles’s shadow for most of his time in the organization.

• Harrisburg is a lot like Potomac, but with a couple of more prospects, much older veterans, mixed in with some OG’s and a few social promotions.

• And Syracuse? Well, it’s the highest level and easily the oldest this year. It’s built to supply fungible replacements and stopgaps.

• Finally, my first post for MASN is scheduled for Wednesday. when it’s online, I’ll link to it here.

Nats Announce Opening Day Roster

Ross optioned, Guthrie assigned to AAA, Robinson outrighted

Rather than make a decision regarding several on-the-cusp players, the Nationals opted to send down #5 starter Joe Ross to Syracuse to start the 2017 season. They will begin with a four-man rotation, a six-man bench, and a seven-man bullpen.

Essentially, the Nats have kicked the can down the road until they have to either call up Ross, add Jeremy Guthrie—who accepted an assignment to Syracuse—to the 40-man roster, or place someone else on the D.L.

In the not-too-distant future, Washington will also have to activate or waive Jose Marmolejos, who was placed on the 60-day DL on Feb. 24 and can be technically assigned to Harrisburg for a rehab assignment later this week. Perhaps not coincidentally, Harrisburg’s season will roughly 20 days old when he is eligible to come off the 60-day DL.

Tuesday afternoon is media day for the Potomac Nationals, which is traditionally the last of the four full-season teams to set its roster. This means that announcements for the Syracuse Chiefs and Harrisburg Senators could come as early as Monday morning while the Hagerstown Suns will most likely happen on Tuesday morning.

Buckle up, kids. The ride’s about to start.

So Long, Boys

Alas, there is a flip side to the offseason signings and the reassignments. In the latest transactions post from Baseball America, we learned the following Nats minor-leaguers have been released:

• 2B Dalton Dulin (Auburn)
• RHP Russell Harmening (Auburn)
• RHP Conner Porter (GCL)
• 1B Ryan Ripken (Hagerstown, Auburn)
• RHP Brayan Serrata (Auburn)

These are just from the period of March 18-24; I suspect there will be more but no additional names have appeared on MiLB.com thus far. A reminder, as usual, that for most of these guys this is the end of their days as a professional baseball player.

Six More Cut, Two More to Go

Cole, Gott Optioned to AAA; Glover the last watchlist player standing

Six more players were sent packing as the Nationals play their final Spring Training game in Florida this afternoon.

A.J. Cole and Trevor Gott were optioned to Syracuse, while Neal Cotts, Jhonatan Solano, and Jacob Turner were re-assigned to minor-league camp. Journeyman Vance Worley was released outright.

As the headline suggests, there are two more cuts to be made – and it appears to be a battle between Michael Taylor and Wilmer Difo for the last bench spot, and whether or not the Nats opt to carry a long man. In the case of the latter, Jeremy Guthrie would be that guy as the Nats waived Clint Robinson on Tuesday because he is out of options, which would open up the necessary spot on the 40-man roster.

The choice between Difo and Taylor is not about options; both have one left. It’s about whether you value versatility (Difo) versus tools (Taylor).

This is a minors site, so I have to leave that there and shift to this unpleasant reality regarding the guy in the subhead, Koda Glover: He has multiple options left and he’s competing against guys with one (Sammy Solis) or none (Enny Romero). As well as he’s pitched this spring, Glover could still be the odd man out.

I’d love to be wrong about this, but I’ve never been one to go after Moby Dick and bring the tartar sauce. Nats GM Mike Rizzo has done nothing to change that, never mind where I’m from (New England), or what my parents lived through (the Great Depression). I root for “our guys,” but I know deep down they’re still going to be treated like chattel cattle more often than not.

I suspect we’ll see the first of these two final cuts if/when Robinson clears waivers, which should be tomorrow. The other cut may not be until Sunday, unless Rizzo pulls off another late-March trade.

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments.

Nats Option Four More to AAA

Well, ask and ye shall receive, no?

After yesterday’s 4-1 win over the Astros at the BotPB, the Nationals optioned Brian Goodwin, Matt Grace, Rafael Martin, and Pedro Severino were optioned to AAA while AAAA Emmanuel Burriss was reassigned to minor-league camp.

None of the moves were unexpected (just long delayed). There are now 37 players left in camp, including eight non-roster invitees and watchlist players Koda Glover and A.J. Cole.

Given his Glover’s role in the current closer soap opera, his continued presence in camp is expected, but Cole’s is not. This feeds into the other contrived drama* regarding manager Dusty Baker’s preference for a long man, and of course, the omnipresent third option of a trade, which is also expected to solve the “battle” between Adam Lind and out-of-options Clint Robinson. *Excluding this softer-than-a-baby’s-bottom story.

UPDATE: UT Brandon Snyder was also reassigned to minor-league camp on Sunday morning.

The Nationals have five games left in Florida before they head north to play a pair of cash grabs exhibitions against the Red Sox on Friday and Saturday.

Saturday Smorgasbord

Also, what the FAQ?

For what it’s worth, I’m mostly Irish, but I like the word smorgasbord.

As the subhead suggests, I’ve finished the FAQs, so take a look if you’re new here, curious, or, for the old-timer… just bored.

Thanks to the WBC, the timing and rhythm of spring training this year is a little off — about 5-6 days, I’d say. Usually by now, we get the first inkling of who’s been released, which is not something I relish writing about but it does help give us a clue as to what the minor-league rosters will be.

It also seems like the Nationals are taking their sweet time in making up their minds regarding Brian Goodwin, A.J. Cole, and Pedro Severino. This trio seems nearly guaranteed to start the season at Syracuse, which begs the question “Why are they taking so long?” All have options left and none of them are doing so well to entertain the idea of another team wanting to trade for them.

Erick Fedde was reassigned yesterday, which was no surprise, but if he dominates at AA early and/or Joe Ross struggles, I’m expecting a drumbeat from the Natmosphere.

Back to the minors, Hagerstown announced a new radio man/media director, Kevin Gehl, who is the third Suns broadcaster in three seasons, following Jordan Nicewarner (2016) and Eli Pearlstein (2013-15).

Finally, the transaction wire from BA has been largely insignificant. As some have noted in the comments, there have been a few low-level signings this month, including what appears to be two IFAs (RHPs Johan Gomez and Alejandro Vallejo) and a non-drafted free agent (2B Alian Silva).

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments while we wait for the minors to start up.

In Case You Hadn’t Heard…

About a month ago, the folks from MASN came to me—sans pitchforks and torches—and asked me to join their rotation of guest bloggers for this season. Now that I’ve thoroughly buried the lede, I said “yes.”

While my MASN posts will be posted on Wednesdays, I’ll probably write them on the weekends and file them early.

But this isn’t about me per se. It’s about you. No, really.

One of the first things that occurs to me is that there will be newbies, and they will have questions. This means we need some sort of glossary, which some of you may actually enjoy, too.

This is where you can help. Off the top of my head, I figure folks will ask:
• What’s up with the bulldogs?
• What is an OG?
• What is a “sportswriter’s win?”
• What is the “Hellenic flu?”
• What is the “Curse of the GBI?”
• What’s the difference between promoted, transferred, and reassigned?
• Seriously, what’s the deal with the dogs?

What are the others you guys (and gals) can think of? This is your chance to ward off the askholes or just simply to make this site a little better.

Please, discuss in the comments or send me an email.