By Michael Marzzacco
The Nationals Minor League season is underway. We have you covered with updates on the Nats’ prospects throughout the season. The season was initially supposed to start Thursday but every single game got washed out due to rain so MiLB Opening Day for three of four clubs happened Friday. Chiefs (AAA) get a doubleheader today.
From staff and wire reports:
SYRACUSE (AAA International League): Due to impending storms and the threat of rain during Thursday afternoon and Friday throughout the day, the Syracuse Chiefs’ first two games of the season against the Rochester Red Wings have been postponed. Saturday’s game will remain as scheduled at 1:05 p.m. and will be the Chiefs home opener. Thursday’s game will be made up on Sunday as part of a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m. Friday’s game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Friday, August 4th, starting at 6:05 p.m.
HARRISBURG (AA Eastern League): Edwin Espinal singled twice, driving home two runs as the Altoona Curve beat the Harrisburg Senators 5-3 on Friday.
Kevin Newman doubled and singled twice with an RBI and a run for Altoona.
Montana DuRapau got Neftali Soto to fly out with a runner on first to end the game for his first save of the season.
Altoona started the scoring in the first inning when Pablo Reyes hit an RBI single and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Espinal.
Trailing 5-1, the Senators cut into the deficit in the sixth inning when Andrew Stevenson hit a two-run single.
Altoona right-hander Alex McRae (1-0) picked up the win after allowing one run on seven hits over five innings. Opposing starter Jaron Long (0-1) took the loss in the Eastern League game after allowing four runs and seven hits over five innings.
Several Senators chipped in at the plate, as five players picked up at least a pair of hits. Stevenson singled twice, driving home two runs.
POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): Despite an early lead and three perfect innings to start by RHP Luis Reyes (L, 0-1), the Potomac Nationals (0-1) dropped their season opener 6-2 to the Wilmington Blue Rocks (1-0). The P-Nats managed just two hits against LHP Foster Griffin (W, 1-0), as the southpaw allowed only one run over five innings. Reyes allowed just one hit, but six walks contributed to two runs.
Potomac got the scoring started in the third inning, as RF Rhett Wiseman tallied the first hit of the season with a leadoff double. After SS Edwin Lora’s sacrifice bunt put Wiseman at third base, LF Telmito Augustin failed to drive in the run. With two outs, CF Victor Robles struck out on a pitch in the dirt, but C Chase Vallot failed to handle it, as the wild pitch plated Wiseman and made it 1-0 Potomac. The P-Nats left Robles at third base, as the club went 0-11 on the night with RISP.
The Blue Rocks managed to tie the game without a hit in the fourth inning. Reyes issued a leadoff walk to SS Nicky Lopez, and one-out walks to RF Elier Hernandez and CF Brandon Downes. With the bases loaded, LF Anderson Miller grounded into a run-scoring fielder’s choice. Reyes then hit Vallot in the elbow, but induced a double play off the bat of 1B Roman Collins.
Reyes walked another three batters in succession in the fifth inning after DH Travis Maezes led off with a single. A four-pitch, bases loaded walk to Hernandez put Wilmington on top 2-1. LHP Taylor Guilbeau relieved Reyes to start the sixth inning, but four straight hits opened his outing. Miller and Vallot singled, while Collins put Wilmington ahead 5-1 with a three-run home run over the right field wall. 3B Wander Franco followed with a double, took third base on a missed catch error by 2B Bryan Mejia, and scored on a missed catch by Guilbeau on a throw from C Taylor Gushue following a pitch.
Three left-handed relievers finished the night behind Griffin, as LHP Luis Rico retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh innings, LHP Richard Lovelady allowed an unearned run in the eighth, and LHP Jake Kalish stranded a pair in a scoreless ninth. In the eighth inning, LF Telmito Augustin reached on a two-out single, Robles followed with a single, and Augustin scored on an error by Franco at third base. Potomac left the tying run in the on-deck circle in each of the final two innings.
After an Opening Night loss, the P-Nats will look to veteran LHP Hector Silvestre (0-0, 0.00). Silvestre made three starts towards the end of the 2016 season for Potomac, and will pitch for the P-Nats for the fourth different season. In an effort to improve to 2-0, Wilmington will start RHP Scott Blewett (0-0, 0.00). The second round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft by Kansas City has spent each of the last two seasons with Single-A Lexington. First pitch Saturday night is set for 7:05pm.
HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic League): Nationals teen prospects Carter Kieboom and Juan Soto tallied two hits each in their South Atlantic League debut, but the Suns (0-1) couldn’t overcome defensive errors in an 11-1 loss to the Asheville Tourists (1-0) on Opening Night at Municipal Stadium.
18-year-old Soto and 19-year-old Kieboom, batting second and third in the Suns order, combined to go 4-for-7 at the plate with a walk and no strikeouts. The other seven Suns hitters went just 3-for-26 with second baseman Jake Noll notching the only RBI on a solo home run in the fourth inning.
Erick Julio (Win, 1-0) picked up the victory in his first start as a Tourist with just one earned run allowed in five complete innings.
19-year-old Suns starting pitcher Tyler Watson (Loss, 0-1) gave up a two-run double to Colton Welker in the opening frame and a solo home run to Vince Fernandez in the third as the Tourists grabbed the early lead and never trailed.
Watson rebounded with six strikeouts to limit the damage through the first four innings, but cold winds gusting up to 25 miles per hour at Municipal Stadium troubled Hagerstown fielders on a night when five different Suns committed errors.
Hagerstown trailed 3-1 entering the seventh before returning Suns relievers Mick Van Vossen and Sterling Sharp allowed eight combined runs in 3 1/3 innings. All nine Tourists batted in the top of the eighth during a five-run outburst that included a Welker home run; the third round-tripper of the night for Asheville.
Following Thursday’s postponement, the Suns and Tourists will play a Saturday doubleheader with the first of two 7-inning games beginning at 4:05 p.m. Suns right-handed starter Carlos Acevedo heads to the mound in Game 1 followed by lefty McKenzie Mills for his Hagerstown debut in Game 2.
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