Washington Nationals Minor League Notebook: April 9

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Courtesy of the Harrisburg Senators

By Michael Marzzacco
Update on the Nationals farm from Sunday’s games. Compiled via team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs dropped both games of Sunday’s doubleheader to the Rochester Red Wings at NBT Bank Stadium. The first game’s score was 6-2 while the second game ended 10-4.

Syracuse (0-3) started the scoring early in game one. After Rochester (3-0) starter Nick Tepesch walked Chiefs third baseman Matt Skole to load the bases in the top of the first, Tepesch walked his second consecutive batter in Pedro Severino, plating Syracuse center fielder Rafael Bautista, who had singled to lead off the game. Just an inning later, the Chiefs struck again. In the second at-bat of the inning, Syracuse second baseman Corban Joseph collected his first hit as a Chief on a line-drive double down the first-base line. Just two batters later, Chiefs veteran Brian Goodwin singled home Joseph with one of his three hits on the game, for his first RBI of the season. The Red Wings, however, would not go down without a fight. Rochester got on the board in the fourth inning against Chiefs starter Jacob Turner, when first baseman Kennys Vargas slapped a single to right field, as Tommy Field came all the way around from second base to score. In the sixth inning, Rafael Martin replaced Matt Grace after Grace gave up lead-off and two-out singles, and Rochester broke the game open as four runs came across to score. After Daniel Palka’s single to right field advanced Vargas to third base, catcher Mitch Garver knocked in Vargas on an RBI single to tie the game at two. One batter later, left fielder Ben Paulsen cranked a home run over the right field wall for the second consecutive game, driving in three runs and giving the Red Wings their first lead of the game at 5-2. In the seventh and final inning, the Red Wings extended their lead to four as Vargas smacked a double down the right-field line. That brought in Matt Hague, who had walked earlier in the inning. In the second game of the afternoon, the teams combined for eight home runs, with each smacking four.

Rochester took its first lead courtesy of some small ball in the third. ByungHo Park singled to bring in Tommy Field, who had been hit by a pitch. The first home-run came from Irving Falu in his debut for the Chiefs. In his first at-bat in the bottom of the third, the veteran blasted a solo shot to put Syracuse on the board. In the fourth, shortstop Niko Goodrum also homered on a shot to center field to give the Red Wings the lead. Rochester never relinquished its advantage. The homers kept coming from the Red Wings in the fifth. Palka blasted a two-run shot. Paulsen followed immediately with his third home run in as many games. Syracuse pitcher Taylor Hill gave up five runs and eight hits through four and two-third innings. The veteran struck out four. The Red Wings’ offense burst again in the sixth. Hague singled on a ground ball to bring in Quintin Berry and Field. Park next doubled on a fly ball which brought home Hague. Finally, with Park on second, Palka homered to extend Rochester’s lead. It was his second of the game. Syracuse’s bats exploded late in the seventh. The Chiefs hit three straight home runs to kick off the inning. Clint Robinson, Brandon Snyder, and Skole all hit balls out of the park. Alex Wimmers recovered to retire the final three batters of the game, sealing the sweep. The Chiefs travel to Pawtucket Monday to begin a week-long road trip. The game is set to begin at 6:15 PM. Austin Voth, recently added to the Nationals’ 40-man roster, will make his season debut for the Chiefs. Meanwhile, Kyle Kendrick will start for the PawSox.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern): Raudy Read hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning, leading the Harrisburg Senators to a 6-2 win over the Altoona Curve on Sunday. The home run by Read scored Drew Ward and Neftali Soto to give the Senators a 4-2 lead. The Senators extended their lead in the eighth when Andrew Stevenson hit a two-run single. Harrisburg right-hander Austen Williams (1-0) picked up a quality start and the win after allowing two runs on five hits over six innings. Opposing starter Jonathan Brubaker (0-1) took the loss in the Eastern League game after allowing four runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings. POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): After a lengthy 12-inning game Saturday night that featured only one run after the fifth inning, the Potomac Nationals (2-1) scored early, often, and just enough, in an effort that knocked off the Wilmington Blue Rocks (1-2). The P-Nats scored two runs in four different innings, and held off a late rally in route to a second consecutive one-run victory in Sunday’s 8-7 win.

After SS Edwin Lora played the hero Saturday night with a 12th inning home run, the P-Nats quickly jumped on LHP Emilio Ogando (ND) Sunday afternoon. CF Victor Robles led off the game with a double and scored just a few pitches later on an RBI double by DH Bryan Mejia. After RHP Jefry Rodriguez (ND) gave back a run in the bottom of the first inning, the P-Nats extended their lead with a pair of runs in the second inning. Lora led off the frame with a single and stole second base. A pair of wild pitches moved Lora to third base and then allowed him to score, which made it 3-1 Potomac. The second wild pitch was ball four to Robles, as he then stole second base and scored on an RBI single by Mejia. Potomac led 4-1 after 1.5 innings.

The Blue Rocks continued to battle, as they answered immediately with a run in the bottom of the second inning. LF Anderson Miller led off with a walk, while DH Anderson Franco made it 4-2 with an RBI triple. Rodriguez buckled down and struck out the next two batters, as Potomac took a two run lead into the third inning.

After both sides went scoreless in the third frame, both teams plated a pair of runs in the fourth inning. 2B David Masters doubled with two outs in the top of the frame, while Robles followed with his first home run of the season. Robles’ two-run blast made it 6-2, the largest lead of the game for Potomac. In the bottom of the inning, Wilmington used two singles, an error, and a wild pitch in route to two runs. Miller scored on a throwing error by Rodriguez, while 1B Roman Collins scored on a wild pitch.

Wilmington tied the game up at six with a pair of runs in the fifth inning, with one run charged to Rodriguez and the other to LHP Matthew Crownover (W, 1-0). SS Nicky Lopez led off the frame with a single, which knocked Rodriguez out of the game. Crownover walked the first man that he faced in 2B DJ Burt, but the lefty retired the next two hitters. With two men on and two outs, Miller tripled into the left-centerfield alley, which tied the game at six.

After surrendering what was a four run lead, Potomac quickly jumped back ahead courtesy of the long ball. Robles singled with one out in the sixth inning against RHP Jared Ruxer (L, 0-1). After Ruxer struck out Mejia, 1B Ian Sagdal hit Potomac’s second two-run home run of the game, which proved to be the difference. Crownover allowed just two hits over three innings in route to the win.

The P-Nats barely held on to the lead, as LHP RC Orlan (SV, 1) survived a scare in the ninth inning. After two quick outs, the left-handed reliever gave up a solo home run to CF Brandon Downes, which made it a one run game. Miller followed with a single, stole second base, and saw Collins draw a walk. With the tying run in scoring position and the winning run on base, Franco flied out to centerfield on the first pitch, as Potomac escaped with another one-run victory.

After starting the series off slowly, Robles broke out in the series finale. The #1 ranked prospect in the Nationals’ system reached base four times, scored four runs, came a triple shy of the cycle, and had his first home run and RBIs of the season. 3B Kelvin Gutierrez also reached base safely in his first four at-bats, as he tallied three singles and a double. The top four in Potomac’s lineup each had multiple hits in the win.

Off of the series victory, the P-Nats will head to Frederick, MD, where they will begin a three game series with the Keys. Both team’s starting pitchers will make their Carolina League debut, as RHP Joan Baez (0-0, 0.00) is set to start for the P-Nats, while RHP Cristian Alvarado is scheduled to make the start for Frederick. First pitch is set for 7:00pm.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic):

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Sheldon Neuse (Courtesy of Hagerstown Suns)

Less than 24 hours after the Suns (2-2) belted 16 runs on 14 hits, the Asheville Tourists (2-2) exacted revenge with 11 runs on 16 hits in an 11-3 win.

In his Hagerstown debut, Suns starting pitcher Weston Davis (Loss, 0-1) gave up three of those homers in his four innings of work. The 20-year-old righty allowed five earned runs and struck out one batter.

Asheville tallied five home runs while batting 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Tourists left fielder Vince Fernandez hit two home runs and finished with four RBI.

Suns batters threatened early against Colorado Rockies prospect Riley Pint. The teen flamethrower, who was taken fourth overall in last year’s MLB Draft, topped 100 miles per hour on his pitches and stranded six Suns baserunners through four innings, including a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the second.

Pint did not pitch long enough to earn the win, so reliever Trey Culbreth (Win, 1-0) earned the decision after he entered for Pint and gobbled up four innings while the Tourists kept scoring.

Hagerstown erased the shutout in the sixth on an RBI double to the centerfield wall by second baseman Jake Noll. Suns first baseman Anderson Franco added a sac fly RBI later in the sixth, cutting the Tourists lead to 7-2.

But Asheville answered in the top of the seventh with two more runs and pushed the lead to 11-2 in the eighth before Suns centerfielder Blake Perkins added a run-scoring single in the ninth.

The Suns settled for a series split with the Tourists on opening weekend and now look ahead to a rematch with their 2016 postseason opponent. The three-game series against the Lakewood BlueClaws begins Monday at 6:05 p.m.

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2 thoughts on “Washington Nationals Minor League Notebook: April 9

  1. I was at Sunday’s game in Harrisburg. It was a lovely day for a baseball game. Some observations:

    Austen Williams pitched well the first two times through the order, getting first pitch strikes on most at-bats and racking up eight strikeouts over his first five innings. His third time through the order, his pitching became hittable, and the Curve took the lead from him. His curveball is a work-in-progress; he had a tendency to bounce it five or six feet in front of the plate, which ironically helped him because when he got it to the plate the Curve batters had no idea what to do.

    The Senators are continuing with “The Matt Lecroy Show,” a short video segment pre-game where manager Matt Lecroy talks to radio broadcaster Terry Byrom about the team and the previous night’s game. In Sunday’s episode, Lecroy talked about Adrian Sanchez. This is a player I’ve seen a lot on City Island — this is his fourth season with the Senators, which isn’t a good sign — but Lecroy said that the Nationals front office is optimistic about Sanchez, considering him the franchise’s best defensive prospect, and they saw positive offensive signs from Sanchez in his winter ball and WBC stints.

    The Senators hang banners around the concourse for players who reached the majors. They replaced (and redesigned) the banners this year, and they now have banners for Anthony Rendon and Tanner Roark along the concourse in the outfield, along with banners for Stephen Strasburg (behind the batter’s eye) and Bryce Harper (along the third base concourse, with banners for other Senators players in the team’s Bobblehead Hall of Fame). The Senators like to play up their parent team connections, from the Nationals logo on the stairs to the stadium entrance to banners and logos. (I’ve been to minor league stadiums where there’s no indication who either team belongs to.)

    Liked by 1 person

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