AFL/Offseason Update: Oct. 14, 2017

The Solar Sox got three in the first and never looked back as they held on for a 4-2 win over the Javelinas.

Daniel Johnson got the start in right field and led off again but was 0-for-4 at the plate with two strikeouts. Defensively, he had just one putout.

Taylor Gushue started at catcher but was also 0-for-4 but with only one whiff. He threw out two of three runners trying to steal against him.

Dakota Bacus made his second appearance, a scoreless 8th inning with one hit allowed and one K on 12 pitches.

Mesa remains on the road to close out the week, visiting Glendale this afternoon.
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BA TOP PROSPECT LISTS
Baseball America completed its fall SEO campaign swing through the League Top 20s this week and, as mentioned in the comments, Luis Garcia and Yasel Antuna came in at nos. 4 and 5 respectively. Garcia is obviously more advanced defensively, but Antuna is proving the inference that there must be a reason why they’re tolerating 26 errors in 36 games, and that reason is that he can hit (.301/.382/.399). With more than $5M “invested”* between them, the 2017-2018 offseason question is whether one or both start next spring in Hagerstown.
* Quotes because the signing bonus is reflection of the IFA system, not the players. About the only thing that makes it better than the NCAA is that nobody’s pretending that it’s not about the money.

TRANSACTION UPDATE
Just some releases from the DSL:
• RHPs Christian Flores, Hector Ramirez, Francisco Constanzo, Rafael Melendez
• LHP Yelmery Sisnero
• 1B Luis Santana
• LF David Escobar

WINTER LEAGUE SIGHTINGS
Winter Leagues have already begun in Venezuela, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. Rosters are incomplete, but there is a sizable contingent on Los Tigres de Licey in the DWL.

THE HAGERSTOWN SUNS
Finally, we’ve reached the full-season teams – where we have some semblance of non-team coverage – but we’re also hitting the divide between prospects and minor-leaguers. This is the apex, after this week it’s going to be Victor Robles and a whole lot of “well, maybe if…”

We’re also at the first of two levels where we have some eyes on the field. My “Hagerstown Guy,” who has a love-hate relationship with both the Suns and the Nationals (i.e. he loves to hate on them 🙃), has his thoughts on the hitters as well as the throw…er, pitchers.

The Suns were one of two (2) affiliates with a winning record in 2017. However, unlike the G-Nats, they did not make the playoffs as the first-half champion Intimidators swept them by a combined score of 28-7 in a pair of doubleheaders in the final week before the All-Star break and they missed the mark by 1½ games. A tailspin on 13 losses in 17 games in mid-to-late August sealed their fate in the second half, as four straight wins to finish out sliced the margin to 2½ games.

Injuries (Juan Soto, Carter Kieboom) and trades (Tyler Watson, Sheldon Neuse) ate into the Hagerstown’s production, which was third in the 14-team Sally Lg., while the pitching was 11th. The team outperformed its Pythagorean projection of .500 as it scored 643 runs and allowed 643 runs. Oddly, the Suns allowed the fewest stolen bases and threw out the fewest baserunners.

Now, for the Obligatory Top 5’s (of the players who remain)….

TOP 5 BATS TOP 5 ARMS
1. Carter Kieboom, SS
.304 GPA, .497 SLG%
1. Sterling Sharp, RHSP
3.69/3.81/1.23, 1.36 BB/9
2. Daniel Johnson, OF
.295 GPA, 17HR in 88G
2. Hayden Howard, LHRP
2.95/3.63/1.31, 3.22 K:BB ratio
3. Juan Soto, OF
.323 GPA, .523 SLG%
3. Ben Braymer, LHSP
5.26/3.47/1.43, 8.84 K/9
4. Tres Barrera, C
.275 GPA, 3PB, .995 FA
4. A.J. Bogucki, RHSP
3.56/3.78/1.24, 3HR in 55⅔ IP
5. Blake Perkins, OF
.254 GPA, 31SB, 7E, 8 Assists
5. Matt DeRosier, RHSP
3.60/3.45/1.18, 8.5 K/9

Picking the hitters was easy. I’m sure someone will argue for Jake Noll over Perkins or Barrera; I saw him in Potomac in August and he didn’t impress me. Maybe I’m being unfair to Aldrem Corredor, but he’s just 22 and with a shortage of 1B in the system, he’ll more than likely make the 2018 watchlist.

Picking the pitchers was not easy. Trades took away the no-doubt guys, and no one (even the traded pitchers) had a league-average FIP.

As always, folks interested in seeing the full stats can find them here.

AFL Update: Oct. 13, 2017

Mesa rallied for five in the bottom of the 8th but still fell one run short (how novel) for a 9-8 loss to Peoria.

Daniel Johnson (pictured above) led off and played right field. He reached base three times with a walk in the 1st, a single in the 2nd, an a single in the 8th. He scored twice, stole two bases, and drove in two. Defensively, he made three putouts and threw out a runner trying to advance to second on a two-out RBI single.

Kelvin Gutierrez started at third base but was removed when his hand was stepped on in a play at third base in the top of the first inning.

The two teams rematch and switch venues with Mesa visiting Peoria.

AFL Update: Oct. 12, 2017

Scottsdale built a 4-1 lead midway through yesterday’s tilt against Mesa but a four-spot in the 6th and a grand slam by former National farmhand Sheldon Neuse in the 7th powered the Solar Sox to a 9-8 win.

Kyle McGowin got the start, but was knocked around for three runs (two earned) on six hits over four innings. He walked none and struck out six.

Austen Williams was the first man out of the Mesa ‘pen, but wasn’t much more effective as he allowed one run on two hits and a walk over two innings. He was the pitcher of record when the Solar Sox rallied and got credit for the win.

Jimmy Cordero also made his first appearance, working around two hits in a scoreless 8th inning while striking out one.

Daniel Johnson (pictured above; he was safe) got the start in centerfield and went 2-for-4 with a triple and scored twice. Defensively, he made one putout.

Taylor Gushue was behind the dish and threw out two of four runners trying to steal, though he committed an error and racked up 10 putouts. To the left of the plate, he went 1-for-4.

Mesa plays Peoria over the next two afternoons with a home game today and in Peoria tomorrow.

AFL Update: Oct. 11, 2017

The Nats’ 2017 entry in the Arizona Fall League—the Mesa Solar Sox—hit the ground face-first as the Scottsdale Scorpions dropped a four-spot in the 3rd and a deuce in the 4th en route to a 7-4 win.

Just two Nationals appeared in the game. Dakota Bacus (above) came on to put out the fire with two outs in the 4th. He stranded one runner, then pitched a 1-2-3 fifth to finished with one and 1/3 scoreless innings pitched with one strikeout.

Kelvin Gutierrez (below) got the start at third base but went 0-for-4 at the plate and made an assist on a groundout in the 5th.

The two teams switch venues and play day game this afternoon. Mesa plays day games the rest of the week before an off day on Sunday.

As noted in the comments, Daniel Johnson has replaced Victor Robles on the Mesa roster. There has been speculation that Robles will join the team if/when the Nationals are eliminated from the playoffs, but nothing official has been released.

AFL Update: Nov. 18, 2016

andrew-stevenson-11-18-16Alas, the Desert Dogs’ three-game win streak—capped by a 3-1 win over the Javelinas—to close out the 2016 AFL campaign wasn’t enough to get them to the title game, but did secure a winning record at 17-15.

Five Nationals appeared in the season finale: two of the three position players and all three relievers.

Andrew Stevenson (pictured) led off and played CF yet again. He reached base twice with a single and a walk while going 1-for-3 with a strikeout. Defensively, he collected five putouts and fielded eight balls total.

Drew Ward followed Stevenson in the lineup and matched his boxscore line (1-for-3, BB, K). In the field, he had four assists while playing 3B.

Jake Johansen stranded two baserunners in the 6th with a strikeout to end the inning then put on two runners in the 7th before getting two out. His line – 1IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K

Nick Lee kept ’em on by inducing a flyout to finish the 7th, then got the leadoff man in the 8th for a line of ⅔IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K

Ryan Brinley completed the Nats reliever sequence with a flyout and strikeout to finish the 8th and a ⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K line.

It was the fourth, third, and first holds respectively for Johansen, Lee, and Brinley.

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Sad-SpicklesWith the completion of the AFL schedule, the 2016 minor-league season (the seventh this site has covered) is in the books. A shoutout to Lee Magenheim, our photographer in Arizona, who’s provided the AFL pictures for the past FIVE seasons.

AFL Update: Nov. 17, 2016

img_0067Glendale scored in each of the first four innings en route to a 10-0 shutout of Mesa. Combined with a loss by the Saguaros, the Desert Dogs remain alive in the hunt for the AFL West title.

All three Nats position players saw game action again:

  • Andrew Stevenson led off and played left field, reaching base three times with two walks and a single, and scoring three runs. He also stole two bases.
  • Drew Ward (pictured) got the start at first base and drove in two, going 1-for-5 with a walk and two RBI.
  • Osvaldo Abreu handled shortstop on defense and singled and doubled in a 2-for-5 effort that pushed his fall average to .267.

The AFL regular season concludes today. Glendale must win and Surprise must lose for the Desert Dogs to play in Saturday’s AFL Title game.

AFL Update: Nov. 16, 2016

img_0061Glendale got on the board first for a single run in the 1st and a quintet of pitchers, led by Austin Voth, (pictured) made it stand up for a 1-0 victory over Surprise.

Voth, who was named the AFL Pitcher of the week, tossed five scoreless innings and allowed just two hits and three walks to win for the third time this fall.

Nick Lee was the first man out of the Desert Dogs bullpen and struck out the side on 16 pitches (10 for strikes) in the 6th.

Andrew Stevenson scored the game’s lone run after leading off with a single, taking second on a wild pitch, and scoring on an RBI single by Nick Tanielu.

Osvaldo Abreu also appeared in the game but went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

The win returns the Desert Dogs to .500 (15-15) and into 2nd place in the AFL West. Glendale visits Mesa this afternoon, then Peoria tomorrow.

AFL Update: Nov. 15, 2016

img_0058Mesa broke open a 1-1 game with a four-spot in the 3rd and poured it on with multiple big innings in a 13-5 romp over Glendale.

Two Nationals appeared in yesterday’s game.

Andrew Stevenson (pictured) remains red-hot as he reached base four times with a walk, two singles, and a triple while batting leadoff and playing centerfield. He had two putouts on defense and fielded five balls total.

Drew Ward started at 3B and batted sixth. He walked twice and scored a run while going 0-for-3.

The loss lowered the Desert Dogs’ elimination number to one. They visit the first-place Saguaros this afternoon, with Austin Voth scheduled to make his final start.

AFL Update: Nov. 13, 2016

ryan-brinley-11-13-16Glendale twice rallied back from one-run deficits to edge Scottsdale, 4-3.

Drew Ward was the Desert Dogs’ designated hitter and batted third. He went 1-for-4 with a double, his sixth of the fall season.

Two Nationals relievers saw game action. Jake Johansen dispatched the final two batters of the 8th inning to earn his third hold while Ryan Brinley (pictured) garnered the save with a 1-2-3, six-pitch 9th to notch his first save for Glendale.

The Desert Dogs remain 1½ games behind Surprise with four games left to play. Glendale hosts Mesa tomorrow, then hit the road for games against Surprise, Mesa, and Peoria.

PROGRAMMING NOTE
Tomorrow morning I go under the knife to fix what put me out of action in late August. Should be out of the hospital by the end of the week, but have no idea when I’ll be next be able to post. It’ll depend on the painkillers 😉

AFL/Offseason Update: Nov. 12, 2016

The Desert Dogs got two-spots in the 5th and 7th innings to overcome a 2-1 deficit and beat the Scorpions, 5-2. Combined with a Peoria loss, Glendale returned to within 1½ games of the AFL West lead.

Osvaldo Abreu got the start at shortstop and batted ninth. He reached base three times with a single and two walks and stole his fourth base. Defensively, he committed his fourth error while collecting five putouts and two assists, including a double play.

Nick Lee made his eighth fall appearance and got four outs in relief, allowing one hit, no runs, no walks, and struck out one. In ten innings, he’s allowed four runs (two earned) on ten hits and nine walks while striking out eleven.

The two teams switch venues this afternoon to finish out the last full week of the 2016 AFL season.

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FREE AGENTS
On Tuesday, minor-league free agency began, which saw 20 guys become former Nationals farmhands, some for the first time:
RHP – Erik Davis, Justin DeFratus, Paolo Espino, Michael Brady, Mitch Lively, Sam Runion, Boone Whiting
LHP – Aaron Laffey
C – Brian Jeroloman, Devin Ivany, Andruth Ramirez, Adderling Ruiz
IF – Steve Lombardozzi, Jose Lozada, Jason Martinson
OF – Matt den Dekker, Kevin Keyes, Narciso Mesa, Drew Vettleson

It’s worth noting that Ivany and Ramirez were player-coaches, so their free agency may merely be a formality. As aforementioned, for a few of these guys it’s their chance to hook on elsewhere and get a second chance (or an easier path) to The Show.

WINTER LEAGUES

To me it seems like a smaller group than usual, but let’s a take a quick peek at how some of the non-AFL guys are doing:

DWL – Rafael Bautista, .276/.338/.293, 5SB, 6BB, 8RBI in 15G
DWL – Jose Marmolejos, .231/.268/.410, 1HR, 2BB, 8RBI in 13G
DWL – Raudy Read, 1-for-2 in 2G
DWL – Wander Suero, 1IP, 1H, 0R, 1BB, 2K in 1G
DWL – Philips Valdez, 0-0, 0SV, 0.00ERA, 1.07WHIP in 3G
MWL – Matt Skole, .237/.367/.320, 2HR, 7RBI, 24K in 27G
PWL – Neftali Soto, .442/.444/.674, HR, BB, SF, 5RBI in 10G
VWL – Aldrem Corredor, .133/.235/.133, 2SB, 2BB, in 9G
VWL – David Ramos, 1-0, 0SV, 2.45ERA, 1.23WHIP in 6G/7⅓ IP
VWL – Greg Ross, 3-1, 2.25ERA, 1.16WHIP in 7GS/32IP