Wooden's World of Baseball

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Still Hanging In There

Regardless of the outcome of this afternoon's game, the Potomac Nationals will come back to Woodbridge in first place. Considering that they've "cooled" to just playing .600 ball, that's pretty good. But better is that they've played toe-to-toe with their primary divisional foe, the Frederick Keys, and have held even.

Four weeks into the season, my opinion/assessment of this team as a contender has held up. They're second in the Carolina League in pitching in terms of ERA and also second in terms of runs scored. Zimmermann remains the team's true #1 pitcher while (Baseball) America's choice, Ross Detwiler, continues to struggle. This is also the case with Chris Marrero, whose saving grace is that he has remained somewhat patient with eight walks in 80+ plate appearances.

Detwiler, on the other hand, has been no mystery to the opposition. As previously reported, he seems to have no problem getting ahead, but just can't seem to put 'em away. Allegedly, Detwiler was pulled from his last start in the first inning after hitting a pitch count of 40, but I'd prefer to think that manager Randy Knorr was sending him a message. Some folks were carping about not letting him work though it, but I think it was the right call; it'd be one thing if it was the first time, but it's been every time so far this year.

Roster Moves
Leonard Davis has come off the DL with a vengeance, hitting .368 with 4 HR and 7 RBI in his first six games back. Movin' on up was Ofilio Castro, which not much of a surprise, given that he was promoted from Potomac last year and Davis finished the season at Potomac. At this pace though, the two may be switching places.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What a difference a year makes...


Three walkoffs in one week.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if they haven't surpassed last season's total, the Potomac Nationals are mighty close. Granted, while I'm excited about the wins, the sportswriter in me is inclined to point out that walkoffs are often a function of the loser than the winner.

Case in point:
  • On Tuesday, the Myrtle Beach starter, Tyler Hanson, held them to one hit over the first six innings. Chris Marrero connected for a three-run blast in the 8th and then the team rallied with two outs and nobody on to load the bases and scratch for a victory.
  • On Wednesday, a much wilder (5 BB) Deunte Heath held them scoreless over 5⅓ innings before Devin Ivany homered in the bottom of the 7th and Matt Rogelstad homered to lead off the 10th.
  • Last night, the Potomac Nationals were down 7-1 after six, with starter Steven Wright holding them down to 4 hits and striking out eight, before the P-Nats rallied for four in the 7th and two more in the 8th, benefiting from strong winds (at least 20mph, blowing in) and three errors before Marrero delivered the gamewinner in the 11th.

Still, it's not all naysaying here. There are reasons to be excited. Marrero has obviously shown why he's the organization's top hitting prospect, though the number of strikeouts is a cause for concern. Detwiler had difficulty putting hitters away last night, seemingly getting ahead 0-2 on every batter before eventually evening the count. And Jordan Zimmermann looked great on opening night, following Shawn Hill for a four-inning save with four innings pitched, two hits allowed, three walks and six strikeouts.

The bullpen has been outstanding in this first homestand, which concludes this afternoon. Discounting the Zimmermann "save" and Chad Cordero's "start," they've allowed 4 runs in 20⅓ innings and have been credited with three wins and a save, making all these late-inning heroics possible.

In terms of the position players, as previously noted, it's an older squad with six players 25 or older. I fully expect some shifting in about six weeks, preferably with OFs Edgardo Baez (22) and Marvin Lowrance (23) moving up. Only Marrero has a lock for slot and position (3rd in the order, playing 1st base), with manager Randy Knorr rotating the OFs and DH slot to keep veterans Dee Brown and Frank Diaz in the lineup consistently.

Ivany has been getting the lion's share of playing time behind the plate, but you have to think that that will change, especially once the catchers shift in the organization to send Flores down from DC. Likewise, I expect someone to get released when Leonard Davis comes off the DL, with either Seth Bynum or Jemel Spearman, the hero from the first walkoff, the most likely candidates. It's pretty obvious that once the crop of Dominican infielders start to mature, the infield is going to start getting a whole lot younger in a hurry.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

P-Nats Rosters Announced

It's taken some time to adjust to the standards of affiliated ball, but for the first time in three years, it appears I'm going to get to see some real prospects. If nothing else, I don't think I'll be leaving early so much this April and May as it looks like the early edition of the 2008 Potomac Nationals will be able to pitch.

Without further ado...

Starting Pitchers
Adrian Alaniz, Ross Detwiler, Yunior Novoa, Jhonny Nuñez, Cory VanAllen, Jordan Zimmermann

Relief Pitchers
Adam Carr, Carlos Martinez, Jack Spradlin, Zech Zinicola, Josh Wilkie, Craig Stammen

Devin Ivany, Brian Peacock

Chris Marrero, Ofilio Castro, Matt Rogelstad, Seth Bynum, Jemel Spearman, Leonard Davis (DL)

Frank Diaz, Marvin Lowrance, Edgardo Baez, Dee Brown, Steve Doetsch

Granted, as you can see from the itals, there are a fair amount of 2007 players but what's exciting is that a few of them dropped down from Harrisburg, which stands to reason since that particular team was woefully overmatched, consisting largely of 2006 P-Nats that were the equivalent of middle-school social promotions. Folks in Harrisburg will now enjoy what they should be enjoying: guys moving up based on ability not age, such as Justin Maxwell, Mike Daniel, and Ian Desmond.

The season opener is Friday, the Home Opener is next Tuesday. Let's hope the optimism is rewarded.

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Just quick PS: Shawn Hill will be making a rehab start for the Home Opener, weather permitting. Let's hope he doesn't give me the chance to rant about how major-leaguers treat these games like spring training and dog it.