Nats Trade for Hard-Throwing Reliever

Out-of-options southpaw sometimes gets it over the plate, too

If you’re left-handed, you get more chances. If you throw hard, you get more chances. And if you’re both, well, someone might trade for you, as the Nats did yesterday when they dealt RHP Jeffrey De La Rosa to Tampa Bay for LHP Enny Romero.

Truth be told, the Nats got Romero for a song: De La Rosa has been old for the level at both stops in the DSL and GCL the past two seasons and was—at best—ticketed for a stop in the NYPL this season.

The Nats will try to leverage Romero’s 96.7mph average fastball while lowering his walk rate, which is daunting because the 26-y.o. has averaged 5.0 BB/9 in 80⅓ MLB innings and 4.4 in 698⅓ MiLB innings. He’s also given up nearly a hit per inning for his career (713 in 810⅔IP).

If it works out, the Nats will have perhaps as many as three lefties for manager Dusty Baker to abuse out of the ‘pen. If it doesn’t, Romero could be the next Henry Rodriguez.

The gamble does also come at the cost of a 40-man slot and GM Mike Rizzo’s ego. The former will make it less likely for anyone not already on the 40-man roster to make the Opening Day roster. The latter will make it more likely that Romero will be held onto for far, far longer than he deserves (see two sentences ago).

Transaction Update

Back to the offseason grind, where we pass along the signings of journeymen with non-roster invitations and pretend that it’s meaningful:

• RHP Matt Albers
• RHP Joe Nathan
• RHP Vance Worley
• 2B Grant Green

[Crash Davis] They’re just happy to have the opportunity to see if they can help this ballclub win, and if they can’t make the Opening Day Roster, showcase themselves to the other 29 teams. [/Crash Davis]

Transaction Update

Yes, it’s so slow that we’re doing back-to-back transaction posts. Yesterday, the folks at Baseball America posted their latest, which contained two signings for the Nationals:

LHP Jordan Mills – It’s no secret that the Nats are loading up on lefties. What’s not clear is why Mills was cut loose by the Astros after a single season at High-A in which he posted a line of 3.81/5.16/1.77 in the notoriously hitter-friendly California Lg. Last summer, he pitched in the Can-Am Lg. with good nos. 6-0, 1.96 in 44 appearances (which is a lot considering it’s a ~90-game season).

IF-OF Mario Lisson – Lisson, who split time between Harrisburg and Syracuse in 2015, returns to the Nationals after spending 2016 in Mexican League. He turns 33 in May, so it’s pretty clear he’s a roster-filler first and an emergency fill-in second.

A Few More Minor-League Signs

minor leagues signs 2Baseball America released its latest transaction post, and with it comes a few more signings:

LHP Neal Cotts
Irving Falu
Alex Santana

Cotts and Falu are the classic minor-league deals with a non-roster invite to spring training, i.e. longshots who will most likely get mentioned here again when they are released in about eight weeks. They are insurance policies against injuries and folks to push the backups along with the younger players in camp.

It should come as no surprise to learn that Santana is the son of a former major-leaguer (Rafael), continuing the fetish fascination with legacy players. Santana was released at the end of spring training in 2016 by the Dodgers, who drafted him in the 2nd Rd. of the 2011 Draft. He had risen as high as Low-A, but despite his 6’4″, 200-lb size slugged just .324 in 64G at the level in 2015. He did not play professionally last summer, in which he turned 23.

Bak

Transaction Update

As expected, the post to refresh the site came a few hours too early, as Baseball America released its first transaction post of 2017.

Four pitchers were listed, three of which were not previously reported:

• RHP Pedro Gonzalez
LHP Josh Outman
LHP Stone Speer

It’s not clear which Pedro Gonzalez was signed, as there are multiple candidates choose from when searching baseball-reference.com (none of the most likely candidates have been pitchers).

Outman, who was released by the Pirates organization last August, hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2014. He spent 2015 in the Braves organization, though shoulder soreness limited him to just 8⅔ innings and nine appearances. He pitched 105 innings last season combined, 85 as a starter for independent New Britain (Atlantic League), 20 as a reliever for AAA Indianapolis.

Speer also spent time in the indys in 2016, pitching 18 innings over 18 appearances for Sussex County of the Can-Am League after missing all of 2015 (unable to confirm surgery).

Nats Make Some Minor-League Signs

As noted yesterday, the latest BA transactions post—first in nearly two weeks—was published yesterday. Here are Washington’s signees:

• RHPs – Dustin Antolin, Derek Eitel
• LHPs – Yoan Aponte, Braulio Lara
• C’s – Brian Jeroloman, Adderling Ruiz
• 2B – Corban Joseph

Antolin, whose full name (Dustin Kamakana Mai Ku’u Makualani Antolin) makes for a difficult time at the DMV, Aponte and Eitel appear ticketed for Syracuse as inventory while little can be found on Aponte, which leads to the inference that he’s low-tier IFA.

Jeroloman and Ruiz are re-signs and will likely continue in their roles as player and player-coach, respectively. Jospeh spent 2016 with the Orioles organization as a stopgap at AA and AAA and will likely do the same for the Nationals in 2017

Nationals Trade Pedro Avila for Derek Norris

Derek Norris for NPPAs semi-predicted in the penultimate post, the Nats have begun the plug holes via the trade route with the acquisition of former farmhand C Derek Norris from San Diego for RHP Pedro Avila.

Norris, who was traded away nearly five years ago to Oakland, will most likely split time with Jose Lobaton while Pedro Severino becomes trade bait or insurance, given his age and option status.

Avila, 19, rose quickly through the Nationals farm system making the jump from the DSL in 2015 to Low-A in 2016. He went 5-5 with 2.91 ERA in the first half, but 2-2, 4.18 in the second half, which is not uncommon for young pitchers in their first full season. The Venezueln teenager had been rated as the #23 prospect in the most recent listing by the MLB.com.

Offseason Update: Sept. 27, 2016

Fallball2014A few news items to pass along “out of cycle”…

NATS TRADE BOSTICK
To the chagrin of some, the Nats did indeed trade Christopher Bostick, but to the Pirates, not the A’s. As the scouting report in the linked story indicates, the selection of a light-hitting, defensively challenged catcher seems rather odd, given the glut of the latter in the system right now.

TWO NATS MAKE THE BA TOP 20 PROSPECTS FOR THE GCL
As expected, Juan Soto – GCL MVP – made the list at #3 as did Carter Kieboom, the Nats’ 2016 1st Rd. pick, at #14. A tidbit from the BA chat:

Dan (Western MD): Might Juan Soto begin next year in Hagerstown? How does his development compare to Robles at the same stage?

Ben Badler: Yes, he almost certainly will start in the South Atlantic League next year. He’s a completely different player than Robles though. Soto is a more polished hitter than Robles was at the same age, both in terms of his swing and his approach, but he’s just an ordinary athlete at best on a corner, while Robles is one of the best athletes in the game with premium tools outside of the batter’s box.

MATT SKOLE NAMED MiLB GOLD GLOVER
The folks at Rawlings did little to diminish the perception that defensive awards are offensive awards in disguise [insert Rafael Palmeiro reference here] as Matt Skole was among the nine named for 2016. He joins Steve Lombardozzi and Taylor Hill as previous honorees. (In fairness, it’s possible he’s developed more range and quicker footspeed, but I can’t recall anyone else who has at that age/size/weight in 11 seasons I’ve been following the Nats minor-leaguers).

TRANSACTION STUFF
• Released – RHP John Feliz, SS Luis Rengel
• Re-signed – RHP Mark Blackmar, Jaron Long, and RHP Andrew Robinson

No surprises here: three veterans re-upping, two DSL guys who’ve been MIA since 2015 and 2014 (respectively).

Tuesday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-3
(10 inn.)
END OF SEASON N/A
Harrisburg Won, 5-4 END OF SEASON N/A
Potomac Won, 3-1 OFF DAY N/A
Hagerstown Won, 9-5 OFF DAY N/A
Auburn Lost, 4-3 END OF SEASON N/A

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 4 Syracuse 3 (10 inn.)
• Ross 3IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, 2K, HR
• Voth (L, 7-9) 6⅔ IP, 4H, 3R, 1ER, 5BB, 7K
• Solano 2-3, 3RBI
• N. Soto 3-5, R
• Martinson 2-5, 2R

Syracuse secured the worst record in the I.L. with a 4-3 loss in 10 innings to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the season finale. MLB Rehab Joe Ross went the first three frames, giving up a run on a home run and three hits total over the first three innings. Austin Voth followed and took the loss, pitching the final six and 2/3rds and charged with three runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks (two intentional) while striking out seven. Jhonatan Solano drove in all three Chiefs runs while Neftali Solo singled three times to lead the Syracuse offense. Roster moves: IF Wilmer Difo reassigned from Harrisburg.

Harrisburg 5 Hartford 4
• J. Martin 8IP, 7H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 3K; 0-1, 2SAC
• Ross (W, 5-1) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Bautista 4-5, 2B, 2RBI, SB
• A. Sanchez 3-4, 2R
• Marmolejos 3-5, RBI

The Sens rallied for three in the 9th for a 5-4 walkoff win against the Yard Goats. Alas, it was too little, too late as Altoona beat out Harrisburg by one game for the playoffs. J.D. Martin replaced Erick Fedde and went the first eight innings, giving up all four Hartford runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three. Greg Ross got the “W” with a scoreless 9th. The Sens singled six times in seven at-bats in the final frame with Jose “Orange” Marmolejos driving in the deciding run on his third single of the afternoon. Rafael Bautista led the hit parade with three singles and a double, finishing September with a 15-for-36 flourish. Roster Moves: RHP J.D. Martin reassigned from Potomac, IF Khayyan Norfork reassigned from Syracuse.

Potomac 3 Myrtle Beach 1
• Mayberry (W, 4-4) 7IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 9K
• Mendez (H, 4) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Davidson 2-4, R, RBI
• Robles 3-4

Potomac won its third second-half title in four seasons behind a masterful outing by Whit Mayberry on a Monday Afternoon in Woodbridge.

Roster moves: RHPs Wirkin Estevez, Dakota Bacus activated from the 7-Day DL; C Adderling Ruiz reassigned from Hagerstown; C Jake Lowery placed on the 3-Day TIL.

Hagerstown 9 Asheville 5
• Borne (W, 5-2) 5IP, 5H, R, ER, 0BB, 5K
• Peterson 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Wiseman 4-5, R, 2RBI
• Noll 4-5, 2R, 2B, RBI
• Reetz 2-4, R, 2B, BB, 2RBI

The Suns battered Tourist pitchers for 19 hit as they took the season finale, 9-5. Grant Borne won his fifth game with five innings of one-run ball on five hits and no walks while striking out five. Beers were on Angelo La Bruna as the only Hagerstown batter to go hitless with Jake Noll and Rhett Wiseman leading the attack with eight hits, three runs, and three RBI combined.

Batavia 4 Auburn 3
• Sharp 5IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, 3K
• Ramirez (L, 4-3) 1⅔ IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 1K
• J. Soto 2-4, R, 2B, E(2)
• Ripken 2-4, 2B, RBI

Auburn completed its 0-for-September with its seventh straight loss, 4-3 to Batavia. ABC News 5 Anchorman Sterling Sharp got the callup from the GCL to make one more start and let in three runs on six hits and no walks over five innings for a no-decision. Yonathan Ramirez gave up the deciding run in the 7th to take the loss, his third. Juan Soto and Ryan Ripken both singled and doubled to lead the Doubledays offense, which managed nine hits but was 0-for-7 with RISP. Roster move: RHP Sterling Sharp reassigned from the GCL.

Monday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 5-4 @ Scranton/WB,
12:05 p.m.
J. Ross (0-2, 3.48) vs.
Bleier (2-3, 3.61)
Harrisburg Won, 6-3 vs. Hartford,
1:30 p.m.
Fedde (2-1, 3.99) vs.
Howard (5-6, 4.10)
Potomac Lost, 11-4 vs. Myrtle Beach,
1:05 p.m.
J. Martin (1-2, 5.96) vs.
TBD
Hagerstown Won, 10-5 @ Asheville,
2:05 p.m.
Reyes (0-2, 2.81) vs.
Johnson (7-4, 4.23)
Auburn Lost, 1-0;
Lost, 6-5
@ Batavia,
1:05 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 5 Syracuse 4
• Laffey 5IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 5K, HR
• Self (BS, 1) 2⅔ IP, 4H, 2R, 2BB, 0K
• DeFratus (L, 2-3) 1IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• den Dekker 2-5, R, RBI
• Ramsey 3-4, 2RBI

The RailRiders scored twice in the 8th and once in the 9th to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 win over the Chiefs. Aaron Laffey got the start and turned in five innings of two-run ball on five hits, including a two-run HR in the 2nd. He walked none and struck out five. Derek Self was pushed an inning too far as he blew the save in his third inning of work with two runs let in. Justin DeFratus coughed up the gamewinner in the 9th on a hit and two walks. Tablesetters Matt den Dekker and Caleb Ramsey combined for five of the ten Syracuse hits. Roster moves: RHP Reynaldo Lopez recalled to Washington; RHP Russell Harmening, LHP David Ramos reassigned from Auburn.

Harrisburg 6 Hartford 3
• Valdez (W, 6-4) 7+ IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 6K
• Benincasa (SV, 3) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• A. Sanchez 2-3, BB
• Stevenson 2-4, 2R, BB, RBI, CS
• Bautista 2-5, R, 3B, SB(55), CS

Harrisburg scored in each of the first four innings while doubling up Hartford, 6-3. Phillips Valdez pitched into the 8th for the fourth straight start, and earned his sixth win (12th overall) with three runs allowed on six hits and two walks. Nick Lee and Mitch Lively divvied up the 8th to each earn a hold while Rober Benincasa worked around a one-out single to get his third save. Andrew Stevenson and Adrian Sanchez both reached base three times to pace the Sens’ 11-hit, four-walk offense. Thanks to a third straight loss by the Curve, the Senators were not eliminated from the playoffs but need to win again while Altoona loses again to become the E.L. West wildcard.

Myrtle Beach 11 Potomac 4
• Williams (L, 4-6) ⅔ IP, 4H, 6R, 6ER, BB, 0K, HR, HBP
• Sanchez 6IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 5K
• Davidson 2-3, 2-2B, 2R, BB
• Robles 2-4, 2B

Mario Sanchez turned in six strong innings of pitching with two runs allowed on five hits and a walk while striking out five. The problem is that it came in relief after the P-Nats dug themselves into a 9-2 hole en route to a third straight loss to the Pelicans, 11-4. Austen Williams hit the 40-pitch-in-one-inning limit in the 1st as he retired just two of eight batters faced, giving up six runs on four hits and a walk and hitting a batter. Austin Davidson doubled twice and scored twice while Victor Robles singled and doubled to lead the Potomac offense. Playoff update: The Hillcats lost yet again to the Red Sox, 5-4 in 12 innings, to keep the P-Nats’ hopes of a 2nd half title alive.

Hagerstown 10 Asheville 5
• Baez (W, 9-7) 6IP, 3H, 4R, 3ER, 3BB, 0K, HBP, 4WP
• Held (SV, 1) 3IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, 3K, WP
• Sagdal 4-5, 3R, 2B, HR, 2RBI
• DeBruin 4-5, R, RBI
• Noll 2-5, R, HR, 2RBI

Hagerstown put up five in the 4th and four in the 8th as they outslugged Asheville, 10-5. Joan Baez managed to give up four runs on three hits and three walks over six innings. He struck out none while winning his ninth game. Sam Held closed it out with one run over the last three innings for the save. Ian Sagdal and Grant DeBruin both went 4-for-5 while and Jake Noll both homered as the Suns pounded out 16 hits total.

Batavia 1 Auburn 0 – COMP.
• Dunning (L, 1-2) 9IP, 6H, R, ER, BB, 8K
• J. Soto 1-3
• Dulin 1-3, 3B, BB

Dane Dunning picked up where he left off 22 days ago and threw another six innings for a complete-game, 1-0 Doubledays’ loss to the Muckdogs. Dalton Dulin was the only Auburn batter to reach base twice, going 1-for-3 with a walk as Batavia’s Sam Perez held the Doubledays to just three hits over seven innings of “relief.”

Batavia 6 Auburn 5 – GAME TWO
• Fuentes 4IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 7K
• Mooney (L, 0-2) ⅓ IP, 4H, 5R, 4ER, 2BB, 0K, 0HR
• J. Soto 2-3, R, 2B, BB
• A. Martinez 0-1, BB, 2HBP
• 1-for-16 RISP; 11 LOB

Batavia did all it could to give it away with six errors, but Auburn insisted on being a good guest by blowing a 5-1 lead in the 7th and final inning for a 6-5 walkoff loss. Steven Fuentes tossed four scoreless innings to start, while Hayden Howard followed with an unearned run over the next two innings. Kevin Mooney retired just one of seven batters faced in the final frame as he was lit up for five runs on four hits and two walks for his second loss.