Eleven From ’11

We’re at the end of Year Two of NationalsProspects.com; time for the obligatory “Year In Review” piece.

Oh, I know that sounds curt and cynical. News slows down during the holidays, but it doesn’t stop. So these kinds of pieces are trotted out to fill the void.

Looking over the storylines that I decided to revisit, there does seems to be a theme of transition. The minors are still a source of hope, but it’s a different kind of hope. As the depth of the system has improved, the eggs aren’t all in one basket anymore.

Sure, we used to think that in the abstract with certain players — Chris Marrero especially and in particular — but as we saw last week, it’s become apparent that tagging a prospect as the next X in Washington is no longer a given.

(Before you say “Bryce Harper,” consider that he might end up in left field rather than right field.
What?! I’m just sayin’…)

Of course, that won’t stop anyone from trying. People will still get attached to certain players, hoping they make The Show in DC, but now the farm has improved to the point where it can produce players for both the long-term (replacements) and the short-term (trade bait).

This, I think, is progress — much the way we’re seeing a whole lot less of the Natmosphere praising players for their production (e.g. Tyler Clippard) rather than their personality (e.g. Chad Cordero).

So without further ado, let’s delve into the 11 stories to remember from 2011…

The Rain
Every year I ask for a drought that lasts roughly five-and-a-half months: second week of April to third week of September*. It would be one thing if I were merely referring to the poor drainage at the Pfitz, but this also includes the flooding at Metro Bank Park, and fallen light tower at Hagerstown. The four full-season affiliates averaged nearly a dozen rainouts apiece, the three short-season teams averaged nearly a half-dozen postponements each.
*Maybe I got too spoiled by my time in the Pacific Northwest, where there are two seasons — Rain (Oct-Apr) and Not Rain (May-Sep)

The Gorzelanny Trade
Eleven months later, and with the benefit of hindsight, this trade doesn’t look nearly so bad. Prior to this, however, most of the Rizzo trades were of the MLB for prospects instead of vice-versa. I liked the trade immediately, in part because it affirmed what I had long suspected: Michael Burgess was never going to figure it out (2011 saw him revert to the mean, posting a .225/.323/.427 line in his third A+ season).

The Jonny Gomes Trade
This one, however, still stings. Unlike the Gorzelanny trade, even Stevie Wonder could see this was a short-sighted trade designed to snag a sandwich pick. Thankfully, the new CBA will make this debacle less likely to recur. Maybe we’ll be proven wrong on this eventually, but watching a hard-throwing, left-handed strikeout machine (Chris Manno) move up a level and into a hitter’s league and still mow ’em down was not fun, especially when the system is sorely lacking age-appropriate left-handed relief prospects.

The Gio Gonzalez Trade
Unlike the previous two trades, this trade got the attention of more than just the seamheads. The initial reaction was mostly sour, but I think a lot of that is simply that the trade involved four names that casual fans would know (imagine if it had been Demny/Rosenbaum/Freitas/Estevez) because all were in the most recent Top 10. I think Mark Zuckerman’s effort today expands/riffs on what I wrote in the comments to my story on the trade: “You can count me among the folks that feel a little disheartened that the farm has been weakened, but at the same time the parent club has been strengthened. Sometimes we need a little reminding that that’s *always* the endgame.”

Bryce Harper
There’s not much left that hasn’t been written about Harper. I think I’ve been fairly consistent in my ambivalence because I am professionally trained to be cynical and will instinctually gravitate towards the contrarian position to the hyperbole that has surrounded him since he was put on the cover of SI as a 16-year-old. But it’s also true that he’s met those expectations and impressed nearly every prospect guru along the way (yes, even Keith Law). Maybe the Nats will shock us and put Harper on the Opening Day roster, much like the Braves did with Jason Heyward in 2010. Maybe they’ll decide he needs to work on his fielding at Syracuse. But he will undoubtedly dominate Spring Training 2012’s headlines

Stephen Strasburg
We knew he was just visiting the minors in 2010. But in 2011, the road back from Tommy John surgery gave the 2009 #1 overall draft pick a six-game tour through the full-season minors. Three of those came in Hagerstown. And on a hot August night Brother Strasburg’s Travelling Salvation Show came to Woodbridge. Ordinarily, rehab starts are wildly overrated. But this was the exception, as the 23-year-old took just 33 pitches to retire 12 batters. No batted ball left the infield in fair territory.

Steve Lombardozzi
For the second time in two seasons, a middle infielder made his way from AA to the majors, as Steve Lombardozzi went from Harrisburg to Syracuse to Washington. While the odds of him making the 2012 lineup are slimmer than his predecessor, Danny Espinosa, it was still fun to watch and track from afar one season removed from seeing him day-in and day-out. As we head in 2012, the question is whether or not Lombardozzi is asked to man the bench or be sent to Syracuse to wait.

Danny Rosenbaum
Sammy Solis gets the press, but Rosenbaum simply produces: 171⅓ innings over 26 games, 25 of them starts. That’s nearly six and two-thirds innings every time out. The 24-year-old has been constantly compared to Tom Milone**, which is a double-edged sword like any comparison because it frequently assumes too much. Rosenbaum doesn’t have pinpoint control. But he can break a pane of glass, throwing in the low-90s. That jump in speed from 2010 (high-80s) to 2011 seemed come at the cost of his control and seemed like most of his time at 2011 was spent regaining it. But you’d never have known it if you simply followed the box scores. He has that rare knack of being able to get guys out without having all his pitches working. Now what remains to be seen whether or not he’ll be the 2012 version of Brad Peacock**.
**I purposely decided not to include Milone and Peacock in the “11” because I wanted this piece to still be as forward-looking as possible.

Destin Hood
Earlier, I’d referenced Michael Burgess, a “toolsy outfielder” that sputtered. Destin Hood may be that rare bird that doesn’t. Going into 2011, there was a low level of frustration: When he is ever going to tap that raw talent and turn it into skill? Well, this was the year. He nearly doubled his walk total (33 to 58), nearly tripled his HR total (5 to 13), and despite some knee troubles, swipe some bases (5 to 21). He’ll turn 22 just before the 2012 season, so the expectation that he can make another quantum leap will be there, fair or not.

Auburn Goes To The NYPL Finals
A year after watching the short-season A Vermont Lake Monsters start strong, then fade late had to lead some to wonder if history would repeat in ’11. It didn’t, as they managed to mash their way into the finals, leading the league in runs scored, hits, doubles, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. It’s probably true that a lot of this is attributable to the Nats’ tendency to draft college seniors, but it made for a fun pennant race to cover in August as part of the daily “News & Notes.”

Potomac Rallies To Make The Playoffs
After a 29-40 first half — the worst in recent memory — the idea of a second straight second-half surge seemed far-fetched. But that’s exactly what happened. Unlike 2010, there was no Tyler Moore having a monster half-season, or Hagerstown sending up its top two pitchers. It was the more traditional, stabilize the pitching (veteran reliever into the rotation) and improve the offense just a little, enough to stop losing 5-4 and start winning 4-3. Sure, it ended with a playoff exit instead of a Mills Cup hoisting, but it was quite an unexpected turn of events.

AFL Update: November 15, 2011

Just one National appeared in yesterday’s Scottsdale’s 6-5 win over Salt River. Yeah, you know it.

Batting fifth and playing left field, Bryce Harper went 1-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored, an RBI double, and two strikeouts. Defensively, he made four putouts and made no errors.

The two teams rematch this afternoon, with Rafters hosting the Scorpions.

Bryce Harper And Two Other Sens Named To BA’s Top 20 Eastern League Prospects

If you think that’s a contrived headline that does a disservice to Brad Peacock and Derek Norris while attempting to leverage a certain prospect’s “juice” to get more attention… you got me!

But it’s been done before, you know.

Harper, of course, was ranked as the #1 Prospect in the Eastern League by virtue of the .256/.329/.395 line he put up in 147 plate appearances with the Harrisburg Senators. As aforementioned, Brad Peacock (#4) and Derek Norris (#12) were the other two Sens to make the list. Will, however, Peacock be another two-fer with the International League’s Top 20? We’ll find out on Friday (unless BA flip-flops its schedule for a third time).

Harper, Norris, and Peacock were all teammates on the 2010 Scottsdale Scorpions, who begin their title defense tonight against Surprise. No, really: They’re playing the Saguaros.

Norris and Harper are back, along with 2010 teammate Sammy Solis, 2011 draftees Matt Purke and Anthony Rendon, and fellow Senators Rafael Martin and Pat Lehman. Zach Walters is listed on the roster without a number, a strong indicator that he is — as commenter Ernie Salazar first noted (H/T) — on the taxi squad.

As before, some highlights from the BA scouting reports…
Harper has excellent strength and bat speed and near-legendary power. He refined his two-strike mindset and learned to spread out and let balls travel deeper, an approach that culminated with a game-winning, 450-foot homer over the batter’s eye in center field against Trenton on Aug. 12. He does have some excessive movement in his swing that gives scouts and managers pause while grading his hit tool, though his fearsome presence ensures that he’ll draw plenty of walks.

Using a fastball that sat at 91-94 mph and touched 97, Peacock was leading the league in strikeouts when he departed for Triple-A in mid-July. He commanded the pitch much better this year than he had in a seven-game EL trial in 2010, thanks in part to working with Harrisburg pitching coach Randy Tomlin on keeping his front shoulder closed longer. The adjustment also added to his deception.

Though scouts still consider Norris an offensive catcher, he has improved defensively, so much so that his bat doesn’t completely have to carry the load. His receiving still needs polish, as evidenced by his 15 passed balls, but he doesn’t box nearly as many pitches as he used to. He’s refined his throwing technique and used his average arm strength to throw out a league-best 40 percent of basestealers.

Harper, of course, skipped Potomac so I have nothing to add or detract to the BA report. Methinks there are few other folks that might have an opinion that’s been written elsewhere.

Having watched Peacock last summer and in his September callups, I still maintain that his success as a starter will hinge upon his breaking pitches, particularly the changeup. Next spring should be fun as he, Tommy Milone and Ross Detwiler will be battling for a spot in the rotation.

As we’ve seen in the comments here and on Nats Insider, Norris inspires strong opinions on his future as a catcher, with his supporters pointing to his OBP and SLG and his detractors pointing to his PB and BA. I personally suspect that most of the Norris naysayers have never seen him for more than a game or two (if at all), but would also argue that most of his fans (disclosure: myself included) have seen him a lot and simply like his cut of his jib, as it were. He’ll be 23 in mid-February so time is still on his side, but the “should he shift to first base” question will be with us all winter long, I suspect.

UPDATE: As noted in the comments, Purke has replaced Rendon on the AFL roster per Adam Kilgore’s post this morning in Nationals Journal.

UPDATE #2: A couple of tidbits from the BA chat, which speak to some of the comments thus far:

Q: [JC (VT)] How much of Derek Norris’s contact issues can be traced to lingering effects of his wrist injury?
A: [John Manuel] Not sure we can blame that anymore, we have a two-year sample size of Norris not hitting for average, and the scouts and managers I talked too attributed it more to not knowing when to be aggressive and when to be selective. I ranked him as high as I did because they all like his swing, athletic ability and improved defensive ability behind the plate. He went from being an American League player to a legit option at C, though his defense is still such that he’s going to have to be an offensive catcher. He’ll never be a plus defender, it seems.

To repeat for the folks that haven’t been reading all along… Norris moves extremely well for his size and IMO, a switch to 1B would not take nearly as long as it did for Marrero.

Q: [Matt (West Chester, PA)]: I was surprised to see Peacock get grouped together with Turner and Banuelos, let alone rank ahead of both. Considering Peacock’s year and development, has his ceiling jumped from #3 to #2?
A: I really like Peacock a lot, and gave him the edge because of my single-minded (probably to a fault) emphasis of guys pitching off their fastball. Peacock went through lineups three times using mostly his heater. I like his fastball command…[it’s] electric… and he’s a good athlete. I like him as a future No. 3 starter, which is convenient as he slots in behind Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman[sic].

Manuel goes on to say that Peacock has “average” fastball command, but I believe he meant it in terms of MLB average, not AA prospect.

Last but not least…

Q: [@Jaypers413 (IL)] If you’re Nats management, do you start Harper back at Harrisburg come April, or bump him to Syracuse?
A: I’m not sure why you wouldn’t include Washington as an option there. He’s probably the best CF in the organization, and I bet they are tempted to put him there. More likely they get a CF this offseason (they made a run at Denard Span in July), keep Harper on the corners and start him back at Harrisburg.

Just when I was starting to have my love/hate disdain with BA dissipate, that first sentence in Manuel’s answer reminds me that I can both respect them and mock them as I see fit 😉

Nats Name AFL Roster

While I’ve yet to see an official press release, buried in one of the Strasburg/Milone stories were the names of the prospects selected for the Scottsdale Scorpions, Washington’s AFL team for 2011.

• OF Bryce Harper

• C Derek Norris

• LHP Sammy Solis

• RHP Rafael Martin

• RHP Pat Lehman

Taxi squad members (which Harper was last year) will be revealed at a later date, and as the above story mentions, 2011 picks such as Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke are still possibilities to play in that capacity. Unlike last year, the focus doesn’t appear to be on figuring out who to protect for the Rule V draft (still not sure if Martin is eligible) but the more mundane task of supplying the roster with players that fit the description of the AFL as a “finishing school for AA/AAA players.”

Harper One of Five Suns Named To Sally League All-Star Team

A look at the five Suns on the Sally League Northern Division squad

The South Atlantic League has officially announced its All-Star representatives, which will include Bryce Harper and four of his teammates. Manager Brian Daubach and pitching coach Chris Michalak will also be among the coaches for the All-Star Game on June 21 at Delmarva’s Perdue Stadium.

Catcher David Freitas and third baseman Blake Kelso will join right fielder Harper in the starting lineup while Taylor Jordan and Chris Manno will be among the pitchers.

Freitas, who homered on Saturday night, has caught fire in the month of June, batting .435 with 7RBI. Kelso has been chasing Harper in the Sally League batting race all season long, currently at .344, which is good for fifth-best and .002 ahead of Harper’s .342 mark.

Jordan has posted a line of 6-1, 2.48 — the second-most wins and third-lowest ERA (fifth best in the more advance FIP metric) in the Sally League. Chris Manno recently had his perfect ERA tarnished, but has been striking out batters at a rate 14.67 per 9IP (best in the Sally with 20+ IP) and and opponents have hit just .100 against him.

Harper, of course, continues to make the case for a callup that folks continue to campaign for in their haste hunger to see him in DC, with a .342/.435/.623 line, 14HR, 12SB, and 42RBI.

Monday’s News & Notes

All four affiliates win on Sunday (well, at least once)

The Quick Rundown…

Team Yesterday’s Result Today’s Game Pitching Matchup
Syracuse Chiefs Won, 4-2; Lost, 7-2 @ Indianapolis, 7:05 p.m. Tom Milone (3-4, 3.63) vs.
Brian Burres (2-6, 3.94)
Harrisburg Senators Won, 7-4 OFF DAY N/A
Potomac Nationals Won, 5-4 vs. Frederick, 7:05 p.m. Evan Bronson (1-2, 3.18)*
vs. Robert Bundy (5-3, 2.91)
Hagerstown Suns Won, 6-5 vs. Greensboro, 7:05 p.m. Robbie Ray (2-0, 0.38) vs.
Zachary Neal (3-3, 4.18)
DSL Nationals OFF DAY vs. DSL Rangers, 10:30 a.m. Felix Moscat (0-1, 7.36) vs.
David Perez (0-0, 0.00)

*Officially, TBD, but this is an educated guess

Syracuse 6 Indianapolis 4 (comp. of susp. game)
• Detwiler (W, 4-5) 6IP, 5H 2R, 1ER, 2BB, 7K
• Balester (H, 3) 1⅓ IP, 2H, 0R, 1BB, 3K
• Antonelli 2-4, R
• Marrero 2-4 R, GS HR, 5 RBI
Chris Marrero quickly announced that the suspended game was all but over with a 7th-inning grand slam off Indianpolis reliever Cesar Valdez. Hassan Pena gave up two doubles and was responsible for two runs that made the final score 6-4. Ross Detwiler earned a much-needed win with six strong innings, allowing two runs, only one of which was earned. Jhonatan Solano was placed on paternity leave while Carlos Maldonado was activated to take his place.

Indianapolis 7 Syracuse 2
• Meyers (L, 3-2) 6IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, 6K, 1HR
• Marrero 2-4, R
• Blanco 1-3, R, 2BB, SB

Syracuse engineered a first inning run using small ball that would make Interim Jim proud. Blanco reached on a fielding error from Indianapolis first baseman Miles Durham. Blanco steals second. Blanco advances to third on an at ’em ball by Matt Antonelli and former Harrisburg Senator great Jesus Valdez plates Blanco on a sac fly. Classic gift ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in that gets Blanco one of our hitting stars for the game. The rest of the game didn’t go so well and Syracuse didn’t see the lead again in a 7-2 loss. In the second, Miles Durham went from friendly gifting errors Miles to evil raking RBI triples off Brad Meyers. He later scored to give Indianapolis a 2-1 lead. Marrero singled on a sharp grounder in the fourth and later scored, but that would be all for the Chiefs.

Harrisburg 7 Erie 4
• Roark (W, 3-1) 7IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 4BB, 3K
• Zinicola (S, 2) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Moore 1-5, R, 2R HR (#11), 2RBI
• Lombardozzi 2-4, R, RBI, BB
• Gilbert 3-4, R, 2RBI
• Derek Norris: 0-3, R, 3BB (Ed. Note: A SoulD fave)
If small ball is textbook AAA, AAAA offense for the Nats, the fifth inning of Sunday’s contest is typical AA offense of the future for the Nats we hope. An unknown quantity, Chris Rahl, gets a leadoff double. Tyler Moore escorts him home with a long ball. Three more runs score and the Sens find themselves up 5-1. In the 7th inning another rally was keyed by…another Derek Norris walk, as the Harrisburg backstop was walked to load the bases with two outs after a Tyler Moore strikeout. Archie Gilbert puts his name in the boxscore big time with a two-run single and that give the Sens all they would need in an eventual 7-4 win.

Potomac 5 Wilmington 4
• Clegg 4⅓ IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 1K
• Frias (H, 2) 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Peacock 2-4, R, 2B, SB, CS
• Cuevas 3-4, R, RBI
• Perez 1-5, R, 3B, 4K

They needed five pitchers to do it, but the Potomac Nationals outlasted the Wilmington Blue Rocks for 5-4 decision for a series sweep and their fourth straight victory. Starter Mitchell Clegg faltered in the fifth, leaving with one out and two on but ahead 3-1. Josh Smoker let in both runners and one of his own to fall behind 4-3, but the offense, which had gotten three runs in the top of the fifth, got two more in the sixth to give Smoker the win. Adam Olbrychowski and Marcos Frias earned holds with three scoreless innings combined while Hector Nelo pitched the ninth for the save, his second of the season.

Hagerstown 6 Greensboro 5
• Cole (W, 1-4) 5IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 8K, 2HR
• Eusebio (S, 2) 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Kelso 2-5, R
• Freitas 1-3, R, 2B, BB, 2RBI
• Zimmerman 2-2, 2R, 2B, 3B, BB, RBI (All luck, this guy will never make it)

Even when the face of the franchise is in town, Bryce Harper can steal the headlines. Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-2 with a double and a triple, a walk, and an RBI to help lead Hagerstown past Greensboro, 6-5. A.J. Cole got his first professional win, though he did give up two solo HRs, pitching the requisite five innings and allowing four hits total, no walks, and striking out eight. The win extended the Suns lead over the Grasshoppers to 2½ games and reduced their magic number to 12.

Friday’s News & Notes

Three wins and two streaks snaps. Plus, some 18-year-old hits a walkoff in Hagerstown

The Quick Rundown…

Team Yesterday’s Result Today’s Game Pitching Matchup
Syracuse Chiefs Lost, 5-1 @ Indianapolis, 7:15 p.m. J.D. Martin (0-3, 5.70) vs.
Brad Lincoln (4-5, 4.71)
Harrisburg Senators Lost, 10-5 @ Erie, 7:05 p.m. Erik Davis (2-1, 3.29) vs.
Jacob Turner (1-1, 2.69)
Potomac Nationals Won, 8-5 @ Wilmington, 7:05 p.m. Cameron Selik (0-4, 6.43) vs.
Noel Arguelles (2-2, 2.84)
Hagerstown Suns Won, 9-8 (10 inn.) @ Greenville, 7:05 p.m. Matt Grace (5-4, 4.44) vs.
Brandon Workman (1-3, 3.63)
DSL Nationals Won, 6-1 vs. DSL Yankees1 vs. DSL Mets1, 10:30 AM TBD vs. TBD

Louisville 5 Syracuse 1
• Stammen (L, 5-3) 6⅔ IP 7H 4R 4ER 2BB 7K 2HR
• Wilkie 1⅓ IP 1H 1R 1ER 0BB 1K 1HR
• Valdez 3-4, SB
• McConnell 1-3, 2B

All five runs came via home runs, as Louisville slugged Syracuse, 5-1 to send the Chiefs to their fifth straight defeat. Craig Stammen pitched into the seventh, giving up seven hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. He left, down 2-1 with two runners on and two outs, and Josh Wilkie couldn’t strand them, instead allowing a three-run blast — his first HR of the 2011 season. Offensively, Jesus Valdez led the Chiefs with a 3-for-4 night but Syracuse managed just seven hits total, going 1-for-10 with RISP and leaving eight men on base.

New Hampshire 10 Harrisburg 5
• Tatusko (L, 1-4) 6+ IP 3H 5R 5ER 4BB 3K
• VanAllen (BS, 1) 1IP 2H 1R 1ER 1BB 1K 2-2 IR-S
• Lombardozzi 2-5, R, RBI
• Moore 2-5, 2B, RBI
• Valdez 2-4, 2R, 2B, 3B, BB

The Sens streak was stopped with a 10-5 loss to New Hampshire. In a classic case of why folks need to look for “Inherited runners-scored” (IR-S above) in the box score, starter Ryan Tatusko left with a 4-3 lead and two runners on and no outs in the seventh. Reliever Cory VanAllen allowed both runners to score, blowing the save and changing what might have been a quality-start win into another loss. The Sens had no problem getting runners on, with five batters collecting multiple hits and every batter reaching base, but left on 12 in the loss. LHP Patrick McCoy was removed from the 7-Day DL, bringing Harrisburg back to a full, 24-man roster.

Potomac 8 Winston-Salem 5
• Demny (W, 2-5) 5⅔ IP 6H 3R 2ER 2BB 5K 2HR
• Bloxom 3-5, 2-2B, 2RBI
• Kobernus 2-5, 2-2B, 2RBI, SB
• Cuevas 2-3, R 2B

A three-run sixth broke a 3-3 tie as the Potomac Nationals snapped an 11-game losing streak with an 8-5 win in Winston-Salem. While aided no doubt by the hitter-friendly confines of BB&T park, the P-Nats bat rapped out 15 hits including seven doubles and a triple, with Justin Bloxom leading the charge with a 3-for-5 night. Starter Paul Demny got the win despite giving up two home runs among his six hits over five and 2/3rds innings, while walking two and striking out five.

Hagerstown 9 Greenville 8 (10 inn.)
• Jordan (ND) 6IP 6H 3R 0ER 0BB 5K
• Harper 4-5, R, HR, BB, 2RBI, CS
• Keyes 3-5, 2R, 2-2B, 3RBI, 2E
• Leonida 2-4, R, 2B, 2RBI

Bryce Harper was the hero with a two-run walkoff blast to dead center to give the Suns an 8-7 win in extra innings. Playing CF, the 18-year-old also went 4-for-5 on the night, raising his average to .346. The heroics however ought not to mask the shoddy defense and bullpen, with four errors and five runs given up respectively. The win lowered the Suns’ magic number to 15, as the 2nd-place and 3rd-place teams also won to keep pace.

DSL Nationals 2 DSL Yankees1 1
• Mendez (W, 1-0) 5IP 4H 1R 1ER 0BB 6K
• Vasquez (S, 1) 1IP 0H 0R 1BB 3K
• Gonzalez, E 1-2, R
• Eusebio 1-2, RBI
• Mercedes 1-2, RBI

The D-Nats struck for two runs in the bottom of the first with RBI singles by Diomedes Eusebio and Yermin Mercedes and the D-Yankees1 squad only managed one run against starter Gilberto Mendez for a 2-1 victory in six innings. Daury Vasquez got the save with with a walk issued and three strikeouts.

Thursday’s News & Notes

Harper’s grand slam highlights Wednesday night in the minors

The Quick Rundown…

Team Yesterday’s Result Today’s Game Pitching Matchup
Syracuse Chiefs Won, 4-2 @ Norfolk, 12:15 p.m. Yunesky Maya (1-2, 3.55) vs.
Chris George (2-2, 4.23)
Harrisburg Senators Lost, 13-2 @ Richmond, 7:05 p.m. Ryan Tatusko (1-3, 6.35) vs.
David Mixon (0-0, 0.00)
Potomac Nationals Won, 10-4 OFF DAY N/A
Hagerstown Suns Won, 11-5 vs. Delmarva, 6:35 p.m. A.J. Cole (0-1, 4.91) vs.
Jacob Pettit (3-0, 2.89)

Before folks comment on names you might see in the box score, I plan to do a transaction catchup post later this afternoon. Most notable: Sammy Solis has been assigned to Potomac

Syracuse 4 Norfolk 2
• Stammen (W, 2-2) 7⅓ IP 5H 2R 2ER 0BB 6K 1HR
• Wilkie (S, 3) 1⅔ 0H 0R 0BB 3K
• Brown 2-3, 2R, BB
• Aubrey 2-4, R, 2B, 2RBI
• Marrero 2-4, RBI

With a 4-2 win over Norfolk, the Syracuse Chiefs have put together their first three-game win streak of season. Starter Craig Stammen went seven and 1/3rd innings for his second win of the season while Josh Wilkie retired the last five batters, three by way of the K, for his third save. Corey Brown, Michael Aubrey, and Chris Marrero went 6-for-11 collectively with three runs and three RBIs, a double, and a walk between them.

Altoona 13 Harrisburg 2
• Davis (ND) 2IP 4H 2R 2ER 0BB 2K
• Barthmaier (L, 0-2) 3IP 7H 5R 5ER 0BB 5K 2HR
• Chico 2IP 5H 5R 4ER 0BB 1K 1HR
• Rhinehart 1IP 1H 0R 0BB 1K
• Antonelli 2-4, R
• Valdez 2-4, 2B, RBI

The bullpen woes of the Senators continued with three relievers coughing up 11 runs over six innings in a 13-2 beatdown. Starter Erik Davis went the first two innings but left with a knee injury after pitching to two batters in the third inning (both inherited runners scored). Bill Rhinehart became the first position player to pitch for Harrisburg and was the most effective pitcher yesterday, retiring three of four batters faced on 14 pitches. Matt Antonelli and Jesus Valdez both went 2-for-4 to lead the offense, which was held to just six hits.

Potomac 10 Winston-Salem 4
• Demny (W, 1-2) 6IP 4H 4R 4ER 2BB 6K 2HR
• Frias 2IP 2H 0R 0BB 1K
• Bloxom 1-3, 3R, 3B, 2BB, RBI
• Ramirez 2-5, R, RBI
• Perez 2-4, RBI

While perhaps aided by the cozy dimensions of BB&T park, the P-Nats scored a season-high 10 runs, highlighted by a four-run sixth and three ejections. Francisco Soriano and manager Matt Lecroy were both tossed after the shortstop argued a called third strike in the fifth. Two innings later Steven Souza followed suit. Starter Paul Demny notched his first win of the season with four runs allowed over six innings on four hits, two of which were home runs. Joze Lozada, subbing for Soriano, J.P. Ramirez and Eury Perez each collected two hits.

Hagerstown 11 Delmarva 5
• Jordan (W, 6-0) 6IP 7H 5R 2ER 0BB 0K
• Holland (S, 1) 3IP 3H 0R 0BB 2K
• Harper 4-5, 2R, HR, 5RBI
• Sanchez 4-5, 4R, 2B, 3B, RBI
• Martinson 2-3, 2B, RBI

Bryce Harper extended his hitting streak to 15 games in grand fashion, slamming in four runs in the bottom of the third as Hagerstown scored the last 11 runs in an 11-5 rout of Delmarva. The 18-year-old also went 4-for-5 to raise his average to a Sally-League-leading .396, his RBI total to 30 (tied w/ 2 others), and his slugging percentage to .712. Taylor Jordan returned from the DL to get his sixth win with all five runs allowed (two earned) on seven hits while Neil Holland got the rulebook save with three scoreless innings, allowing three hits, walking none and striking out two.

Saturday’s News & Notes

The Suns remain red-hot, the P-Nats are rained out, the Suns and Chiefs lose

The Quick Rundown…

Team Yesterday’s Result Today’s Game Pitching Matchup
Syracuse Chiefs Lost, 3-1 @ Durham, 5:05 p.m. Yunesky Maya (1-2, 3.73) vs.
Alexander Torres (2-2, 1.78)
Harrisburg Senators Lost, 7-4 vs. Reading, 7:00 p.m. Ryan Tatusko (1-2, 5.68) vs.
Ryan Edell (2-1, 3.86)
Potomac Nationals Postponed @ Kinston, 4:30 p.m.
Danny Rosenbaum (1-1, 2.15) and
Cameron Selik (A+ Debut) vs.
Drew Pomeranz (0-0, 1.54) and
Clayton Cook (1-2, 5.09)
Hagerstown Suns Won, 5-2 vs. Lexington, 6:35 p.m. A.J. Cole (Low-A Debut) vs.
Tanner Bushue (4-0, 3.13)

Durham 3 Syracuse 1
• Stammen 6IP 9H 3R 3ER 1BB 3K 1HR
• Kimball 2IP 1H 0ER 3BB 2K, 2-2 IR-S
• Maldonado 3-3, BB, RBI, E, PB
• Brown 1-4, 3B, 3K

After tying the game at 1-1 in the seventh inning, the Chiefs relief pitchers couldn’t do their part, allowing Durham to score both inherited runners in the bottom of the seventh, which turned out to be the difference as Syracuse lost to Durham, 3-1. Starting pitcher Craig Stammen pitched a decent game, going six full innings, allowing three earned runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out three. Despite Maldonado going 3-for-3 on the night (with an RBI) the Chiefs mustered only six hits, losing their 18th game of the season against just nine wins.

Harrisburg 7 Reading 4
• Davis 5⅔ IP 4H 5R 2ER 3BB 3K
• Arnesen ⅓ IP 3H 2ER 0BB 0K
• Martinez 2IP 0H 0ER 0BB 1K
• Moore 2-4, R, 2B,
• Rhinehart 1-3, R, HR, 3RBI
• Tucker 2-4, R

Despite the fact that the Senators were able to grab an early 3-0 in the first inning, thanks to Bill Rhinehart’s 3-run blast, his fifth of the season, Reading fought back, scoring two runs in the fifth and five runs in the sixth, winning the game by a score of 7-4. Starting pitcher Erik Davis went five and 2/3rds innings, allowing five runs, two earned, on four hits and three walks while striking out three. Tyler Moore, Jonathan Tucker, and Jesus Valdez each collected two hits as the Sens got ten for the night, but stranded eight runners.

Potomac-Kinston — PPD

The team’s sixth rainout will result in its fifth doubleheader on Saturday afternoon and evening in Kinston.

Hagerstown 5 Lexington 2
• Grace (W, 3-3) 6⅓ IP 6H 2R 1ER 3BB 3K
• Eusebio (H, 3) 1⅔ IP 1H 0R 1BB 3K, 1-3 IR-S
• Harper 2-3, R, 2-2B, BB, two OF assists (1B, HP)
• Sanchez 2-5, R
• Freitas 2-4, R, 2RBI

Streaks are the story for the Suns. Bryce Harper’s two doubles now has his run at 10 games as Hagerstown won its eighth straight with a 5-2 decision over the Lexington Legends. Matt Grace spun his second quality start in as many starts with two runs allowed (one earned) on six hits and three walks over six and 1/3rd innings, while Wilson Eusebio notched his third hold with one and 2/3rds innings of relief for his third consecutive outing with no earned runs. Adrian Sanchez and David Freitas each got two hits as the Suns got ten for the night, though they also committed four errors. As mentioned in the comments, Neil Holland has been summoned from XST to replace Cameron Selik

Sunday’s News & Notes

Harper takes the Nats’ minors HR lead with #6, Syracuse snaps losing streak

The Quick Rundown…

Team Yesterday’s Result Today’s Game Pitching Matchup
Syracuse Chiefs Won, 3-0 vs. Toledo, 2:00 p.m. Ross Detwiler (2-0, 2.22) vs.
Kyle Gibson (0-1, 3.15)
Harrisburg Senators Lost, 5-2 @ New Britain, 1:35 p.m. Eik Davis (1-0, 1.15) vs.
Santos Arias (1-0, 6.00)
Potomac Nationals Lost, 7-0 @ Salem, 4:00 p.m. Evan Bronson (0-0, 0.00) vs.
Chris Hernandez (2-0, 0.64)
Hagerstown Suns Won, 4-2 @ Rome, 2:00 p.m. Matt Grace (1-3, 6.63) vs.
Ronan Pacheco (0-1, 4.66)

Syracuse 3 Rochester 0
• Maya (W, 1-2) 8IP 3H 0R 1BB 6K
• Kimball (S, 4) 1IP 0H 0R 1BB 0K
• Bernadina 2-4, R, 2B, SB
• Bynum 1-3, BB, RBI

Yunesky Maya and Cole Kimball combined on a three-hit shutout, as the Chiefs clipped the Red Wings, 3-0 and stopped a six-game losing streak. Maya turned in his best outing of the year, laying eight goose eggs on the bottom of the scoreboard with just three hits surrendered, one walk allowed, and six strikeouts. Cole Kimball followed suit with a scoreless ninth for his fourth save of the season. Roger Bernadina, fresh off his fill-in stint for Ian Desmond, went 2-for-4 with a double and stolen base to pace the Syracuse offense.

New Britain 5 Harrisburg 2
• Martis (L, 0-1) 4⅓ IP 8H 3R 0ER 3BB 5K
• Martinez 1IP 0H 0R 0BB 0K
• Gilbert 1-3, R, HR, RBI, BB
• Lombardozzi 1-3, BB, SB
• Norris 0-2, R, 2BB, 2K

When the offense is struggling, every error by the defense is magnified, if not multiplied. That was the case on Saturday night in New Britain as the two Harrisburg errors rendered all five Rock Cats run unearned in a 5-2 loss. A solo HR in the 8th by Archie Gilbert and RBI single by Chris Rahl were the extent of the Sens’ offense, which managed just five hits total. Starter Shairon Martis was less than sharp, allowing three unearned runs on eight hits in four and a 1/3rd innings and walking three. He did strike out five.

Salem 7 Potomac 0
• Demny 5IP 3H 0R 3BB 1K
• Testa 1IP 0H 0R 1BB 1K
• Kobernus 1-3, 2B, SB
• King 1-3

Salem’s Ryan Pressly needed just 62 pitches to get through his six innings against the P-Nats, who were blanked on two hits in a 7-0 loss. Potomac starter Paul Demny was nearly as good, with five scoreless frames and six baserunners allowed (three hits, three walks) but the bullpen wasn’t. The Red Sox walloped Rob Wort for a two-run shot in the sixth, and torched Ryan Demmin for five runs, all via the longball, in the seventh. Steven King broke up the no-no bid in the fifth with a single to center while Jeff Kobernus stole his 10th base in the fourth and doubled in the ninth, as those two were the only P-Nats to reach base for the game.

Hagerstown 4 Rome 2
• Selik (W, 3-0) 6IP 8H 1R 1ER 0BB 7K
• Brown (S, 2) 3IP 1H 1R 1ER 1BB 2K
• Martinson 2-4, R, 3B, RBI, E
• Harper 1-3, R, HR, RBI
• Taylor 1-4, 2 OF assists (2B, HP)

Cameron Selik saw his scoreless inning streak stopped at 26 with a fourth-inning run by the Rome Braves, while Bryce Harper went deep for his organization-best sixth HR as the Suns beat the Braves 4-2. Harper’s big fly was the first peg in the picket fence the Suns posted on the scoreboard from the 6th to 8th innings, turning a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 lead. Every Hagerstown batter had a hit as the Suns pounded out 10 for the night and left only five men on base. Michael Taylor gunned down runners at second base and home plate as the RF while Harper played CF for the fifth time this season, collecting his 9th putout in as many chances.