August 5, 2015

Washington Nationals Minor League Report for June 2

Compiled from team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs lost both games of a doubleheader against the Louisville Bats on Tuesday evening at NBT Bank Stadium. Scott McGregor threw six and two-thirds strong innings in game one, but Syracuse fell 8-5 in nine innings. The Bats held the Chiefs to just two hits in game two and won by a score of 6-1.

There was no score in game one until the bottom of the fifth inning when Syracuse (17-35) finally tallied first with two runs in the frame against right-hander Dylan Axelrod. Caleb Ramsey chopped a soft ground ball to second and beat it out for an infield single with one away in the inning. Josh Johnson followed with a single to right field to put two runners on. Two batters later, Darin Mastroianni drove a double into deep right-center field to plate two to give Syracuse a 2-0 lead.

Scott McGregor put together his sixth quality start in a row in on Tuesday. The right-hander kept Louisville scoreless until the final inning when he surrendered a two-out home run over the left-center field fence to Eugenio Suarez to end his bid for a shutout. In six and two-thirds, McGregor allowed two runs on only four hits and struck out one Louisville hitter.

After Louisville (27-25) made a comeback in the top of the seventh, Syracuse fought back in the bottom half of the seventh against Nate Adcock to tie the game at five. Johnson led off the inning with an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error by the shortstop Suarez. After Adcock retired the next two Chiefs, Tony Gwynn Jr. kept the game alive and shot a single into left field to plate Johnson and close the gap to 5-3. Emmanuel Burriss followed Gwynn with a single to center field to put runners on the corners. The next batter, Mark Minicozzi, dunked a line drive in the right-center field gap to plate Gwynn from third and Burriss from first to tie the game at five and send the game into extra innings.

The game remained tied until the ninth inning when the Bats broke loose for three runs against Evan Meek. Final score 8-5.

In game two, Louisville got out to a 6-0 lead.  Syracuse scored its only run of game two in the final inning against Carlos Contreras. The right-hander struggled with his control in the bottom of the seventh and walked three hitters in the frame. With one out and the bases loaded, Gwynn lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to score Butler for the Chiefs’ only run.

The Chiefs and Bats finish off this three-game set on Wednesday at 10:35 a.m. at NBT Bank Stadium. Syracuse sends Bruce Billings to the mound against Louisville starter Josh Smith to try and salvage the final game of the series.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern): The game scheduled for Tuesday, June 2 between the Harrisburg Senators and Akron RubberDucks has been postponed due to rain.

The game on Tuesday will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday, June 3 beginning at 5:00 p.m. The doubleheader will consist of two seven-inning games with a break of approximately 30 minutes between games.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): Potomac (23-29-Overall, 14-14-Home), after a game suspension an evening ago, walked it off in the bottom of the 11th courtesy of SS Stephen Perez’s RBI single. The Nationals then picked up back-to-back 4-3 wins over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (31-18-Overall, 20-8-Road) in the nightcap when SS Christopher Bostick gave Potomac the lead in the bottom of the eighth to close out the series and earn the split at Pfitzner Stadium on Tuesday night.

The defacto doubleheader began on Monday evening with RHP Lucas Giolito on the mound against the righty for Myrtle Jen-Ho Tseng. Neither starter factored in the decision as the ballgame was scoreless through five frames.

Gio, after walking back-to-back hitters in the fourth, proceeded to strike out the side of the Pelicans in the frame. The Santa Monica, CA native finished with nine strikeouts under his belt in his five innings of work. He allowed two hits and he walked two batters in addition to the strikeouts.

LHP Matthew Spann came out of the bullpen for the first time in 2015 in the sixth inning in relief of Giolito. Spanner walked RF Mark Zagunis to begin his day of work. After a sacrifice bunt and then a DH Chesney Young single, 3B Jeimer Candelario walked to load the bases. The C Victor Caratini knocked in two with a double for a 2-0 Pelican lead.

In the bottom of the sixth against Tseng Potomac tied the ballgame after back-to-back singles with one out. The equalizers came off the bat 1B John Wooten, scoring C Spencer Kieboom and 3B Drew Ward, and the two-bagger chased Tseng from the affair tying it at 2-2.
The contest remained tied at two runs apiece until the top of the tenth when the rain began to fall. LHP Nick Lee came into the game with a runner on first courtesy of a CF Pin-Chieh Chen single and allowed another one by Young. The next hitter Candelario put the ball into the air towards Bostick in the rain drops. Bostick had the ball go off the leather for an error and scoring was Young to give Myrtle a 3-2 lead.

The baseball gods gave Bostick an opportunity to atone for his sins immediately, as he led-off the bottom of the tenth. The former Pelican tripled to start the frame RHP Jasvir Rakkar (1-1, 2.29) in his first inning of work. Bostick enthusiastically scored on Perez’s sacrifice fly to knot the game at 3-3 in the tenth.

LF Isaac Ballou, the next hitter, had a 2-2 count when the game was suspended until tonight, being resumed at The Pfitz on Tuesday.

Once play resumed RHP Derek Self (2-0, 1.86) pitched a scoreless top of the 11th and it headed to the home half. RF Estarlin Martinez singled with one out for Potomac to begin the frame. CF Narciso Mesa then singled behind Martinez and with two outs Perez knocked in Martinez for the 4-3 walk-off win.

Self picked up the win in the walk-off and Rakkar took the loss for his 1.2 innings allowing six hits and a run. Self allowed two hits but nothing else in his one-inning of work for Potomac.

The nightcap, after the suspended game was finished, began shortly thereafter with RHP John Simms on the mound against RHP Jonathan Martinez.

Mesa, for Potomac, in the fifth connected for his first home run of 2015, a solo shot, to cut the Myrtle Beach lead in half at 2-1.

Simmsy went 6.1 for Potomac giving up six hits and two runs, he walked two and struck out a season-high tying four strikeouts.

RHP Josh Conway entered the game against Potomac in the sixth and a run after two straight singles from Potomac. DH Brandon Miller knocked in Kieboom, who walked to reach the bases and the game was tied at two.

Myrtle took the lead in the top of the eighth when SS Carlos Penalver doubled to begin the inning against Potomac’s RHP Wander Suero (5-2, 2.85). Two batters later Zagunis singled into right field bringing home Penalver for a 3-2 ‘Birds lead. For Suero the run allowed snapped a consecutive scoreless streak of 13.1 innings in six appearances out of the bullpen.

RHP Zach Cates (1-1, 1.50) came in for the Pelicans in the eighth and Wooten led-off the inning with a double, his third two-bagger in two games. Martinez, two batters later, hit a fielder’s choice ball to first base. 1B Jacob Rogers came to the plate with a high throw and the ball went off the glove of the backstop Caratini allowing Wooten to slide in safely for a 3-3 tie. Martinez ended up at second base and after a Mesa infield single Bostick drove in Martinez for a 4-3 Potomac lead on a single.

Suero remained in the game and picked up a double play ball off the bat of Caratini to seal the second consecutive 4-3 Potomac win of the day.

Potomac earned the series split against the first-place ballclub and now, after an off-day on Wednesday, will open up an eight game road trip with four in Salem and four in Carolina.

Both clubs are to be determined regarding the starting pitchers in the opener and first pitch is set for 7:05 pm in Salem, VA.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic): The Hagerstown Suns (25-25) game against the Hickory Crawdads (34-16) scheduled for tonight (June 2) has been cancelled due to rain/wet grounds. The teams will play a double-header as part of a shortened two-game series at Municipal Stadium on Wednesday June 3. The first game of the double-header will begin at 11:05am. In the South Atlantic League double-headers consist of two seven-inning games.

Washington Nationals Pregame Notes: Rendon to rehab, Cedeno to Dodgers

Before tonight’s matchup between the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals, featuring Doug Fister (1-0, 0.69) against John Lackey (1-0, 2.77), manager Matt Williams conducted his usual pregame press conference. The big news was 3B Anthony Rendon played five innings in a simulated game at extended spring training in Viera, Florida and will fly to DC to work out with the Nats tomorrow before starting a rehab assignment with AA-Harrisburg on Friday.

Williams said Rendon will mostly play third, but might see some time at second base as well.

When he will return to the Nats lineup is still in question.

“He’s got to get to nine innings for sure,” Williams said. “So, five innings today, day off, we’ll start that process again and go five [innings] and seven in back-to-back games and then another day off and then go seven, nine and see where he’s at.

“As long as he feels good, that’s all we’re concerned about.”

The Nats start a three-game series at the Braves on Monday, then travel to New York for a four-game series with the Mets on Thursday. If all goes well with Rendon over the weekend, he could be activated in advance of either series.

The other pregame news from Nats Park concerned left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno, who was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for “cash considerations.” Cedeno was designated for assignment last week after pitching poorly the first week of the season, allowing two earned runs on three hits and two walks in three innings.

Cedeno is a classic AAAA pitcher; able to play well in AAA but unable to achieve long-term success in the Major Leagues. The Nats recalled Felipe Rivero, a promising young arm, to function out of the pen as the second lefty, and still have veteran Rich Hill in Syracuse, though Hill is not on the 40-man roster and would require a move should the Nats want to bring him to DC.


Joel Ward hasn’t seen his own Reebok ads, wants to keep them “on the downlow”

Earlier today, on my way back from Nationals Park, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the giant banners that were smattered around the Navy Yard metro station. The ads, by Reebok, depict Joel Ward engaging in a plethora of manly activities, all while sporting a Reebok Winter Classic toque.

The one that got the most attention showed Ward, shirtless, sitting in a hole in an iced-over lake in the middle of nowhere.


So many questions.

I had a hunch that he’d already gotten some guff from his teammates about the ads, namely his linemate, Jason Chimera, also know as his “twin”.

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As it turns out, Ward hasn’t even seen the ads, and isn’t in a rush for his teammates to find out, either.

“The best thing about it is no one’s said a word except for you,” said Ward. “If we could keep that on the downlow, that’d be great. I’m sure I’ll hear at some point.”

The Reebok campaign also features Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa in similar poses to Ward.


So far, the only place these ads have been seen is at the Navy Yard Metro at the Half Street entrance, which is the one you’ll be taking to get to Nationals Park if you’re attending the 2015 Winter Classic.

Check out our friends at RMNB for a full gallery of the toques. Photos by yours truly.

Washington Nationals acquire Trea Turner, Joe Ross from Padres; send Steven Souza to Rays

According to multiple sources, the Washington Nationals completed a three-way deal with the San Diego Padres and the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Nats will acquire SS Trea Turner and RHP Joe Ross from San Diego and sent OF Steven Souza, Jr. and LHP Travis Ott to Tampa. Tampa sent Wil Myers and others to San Diego.

Turner and Ross are both former first round picks and were on the Padres Top 10 Prospect List.

Since Turner was drafted this past summer, he will have to be included in the deal as a “player to be named later” and will most likely play in extended spring training next season until the deal can be consummated.

Turner, 21, was the 13th overall pick by the Padres in last summer’s amateur draft. He hit .323/.406/.448 with four home runs and 23 steals in 27 opportunities between low- and high-A last year in 321 plate appearances. He grades out with 80 speed according to MLB scouts with the defensive ability to stick at shortstop.

Ross, 21, was the 25th overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Padres. In 62 minor league appearances (60 starts) he’s 15-18 with a 3.90 ERA, 1.308 WHIP, 7.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. His strikeout numbers took a tick up last season moving from low- to high-A and he made four appearances in AA at the end of last season. According to one report, Ross features a plus fastball in the low 90’s with heavy life, a slider that projects as above average, and a changeup that is still mostly a show-me pitch.

Souza, 26 on opening day, enjoyed his career last season in Syracuse, hitting .350/.432/.590 with 18 home runs in 407 plate appearances. He will forever be remembered by Nats fans for making the spectacular diving catch to save Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter on the last day of the 2014 season.

Ott, 19, is a former 25th round pick in the 2013 draft. He’s 4-4 with a 3.96 ERA, 1.310 WHIP, 6.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 23 appearances, mostly in rookie league and short-season A ball. He’s a soft-tossing lefty with limited MLB upside.

This trade, as with last season’s deal for Doug Fister, is a bona fide and clear win for Nats GM Mike Rizzo. He moved an older prospect and a fringe at best lefty for two of the Padres top minor league prospects, both legitimate MLB talents. Turner obviously becomes the Nats best middle infield prospect, providing strong insurance if the Nats can’t — or won’t — re-sign Ian Desmond to a long-term contract. Ross is added to an already crowded stable of hard-throwing right-handed starters in the Nats minor league system.

Souza was clearly a fan favorite for his catch and power potential, but he had no place in the Nats outfield and, frankly, has limited MLB potential. He owns a long swing and is not a quality defender, despite his tremendous diving catch. The Nats got two of the three best players in this 11-player deal and didn’t give up the third. The Nats got better for the future without giving up any of the present.

Win-win for Rizzo and the Nats.

Washington Capitals Game 23 Recap: Leafs tromp Capitals 6-2 in Toronto

In likely their worst performance of the season, the Washington Capitals sustained a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Plagued by defensive breakdowns and shaky goaltending, the Capitals that bounced back to win on Long Island were not the same ones that entered the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

The Leafs’ first goal, scored but Morgan Rielly, came on a deflection that bounced off the shinpads of at least two Caps defensemen. There wasn’t much Justin Peters could do to prevent it. Defenseman Cody Franson added a power play goal during the final seconds, and the Leafs led 2-0 at the beginning of the first period.

Justin Peters was replaced by Braden Holtby after allowing 2 goals on 6 shots in the opening stanza. Holby didn’t fare much better than Peters, allowing 3 goals on 12 shots (a pair from Tyler Bozak and one from David Clarkson).  Troy Brouwer’s PPG got the Caps on the board before the period expired, but Bozak and Clarkson’s tallies put the game out of reach before 2nd intermission.

Trailing 5-1 at the start of the third, Barry Trotz made a strange decision to give Holtby the hook and put Peters back in net. Much like the previous goalie swap, it didn’t help.  It didn’t help because this loss wasn’t all about the goaltending. It was a product of defensive breakdowns and fatigue from playing 3 games in 4 nights.

Tom Wilson scored his second goal of the season in the final frame, but it was lipstick on a pig. Joffrey Lupul added insult to injury and the Leafs’ sixth goal of the night.


  • The pair of John Carlson (who assisted on both Capitals goals) and Brooks Orpik were on ice for 4 of Toronto’s 6 goals, which is less of an indictment of Carlson than it is of Orpik. It’s been discussed that Orpik is actually bringing Carlson down, and you certainly expect more than what we saw tonight from the team’s top defensive pairing. Orpik was caught coasting on more than one occasion that led to a Leafs goal. Bad night for everyone, but Orpik was exceptionally terrible. For as much as he’s making, he should be better.
  • Alex Ovechkin had 4 shots on goal in the first 4 minutes of the game, had a final total of 7 shots on goal for the game, and led all skaters in PP TOI with 5:33, and all forwards in TOI with 20:45. There’s a lot this guy can do, but he can only carry the team on his back so far.
  • Nicklas Backstrom collected assists on Brouwer and Wilson’s goals, and has 8 points in 5 games (1g, 7a.). Backstrom had the second most TOI of all forwards with 19:56, and logged 4:20 of PP TOI.
  • The Capitals outshot the Leafs 37-23. Peters made 11 stops, and Holtby stopped 12. Their respective SV%s were horrendous.
  • Tom Wilson had another strong showing, and if you ignore his shenanigans at the end of the third period, he’s been okay at keeping his nose clean. His resume for the night boasted one goal, 5 shots on goal, and 15 PIMS.


Fantasy Football: Week 2 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

NFL Survivor

Welcome back to DSP’s NFL Survivor Pool picks column for Week 2. I said Week 1 is the toughest week and we saw nearly a quarter of entries drop out with Chicago the main culprit. Hopefully you didn’t have too many of your eggs in the Bears’ basket.

Now, on to Week 2 where we can overreact [Read more…]

Washington Redskins Preseason Game 4 Review: Redd, Seastrunk Impress in 24-10 Preseason Finale

The fourth and final game of the 2014 preseason for the Washington Redskins was all about the competition for roster spots, so the resulting 24-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was almost immaterial. Colt McCoy went the distance at quarterback and went 22 of 29 from 321 yards and two touchdowns in the teams’ final tuneup before the regular season openers next week.

Several positions are still up for grabs and this game is more than likely the final chance for the proverbial “bubble players” to prove their worth to Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden and the rest of coaching staff.  The three position battles that stood out the most in this matchup were third/fourth running back, backup linebackers, and the kicking battle.

Chris Thompson, Silas Redd, and Lache Seastrunk all received considerable playing time tonight and it’s hard to say who will come out on top in Head Coach Jay Gruden’s eyes.  Redd averaged just under six yards a carry and Seastrunk caught a screen pass and took it 80 yards for a touchdown.  Redd looked to have improved from earlier in training camp in his pass protection as well and he picked up the blitz nicely, allowing McCoy to keep his eyes down field. Redd capped the night off with a late fourth quarter touchdown and amassed 79 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.

The two running backs who did not necessarily impress were Thompson and veteran running back Evan Royster.  It’s hard to fathom that Royster will make the roster, and Thompson faces an uphill battle as Redd and Seastrunk have both shown flashes of brilliance through the offseason, training camp, and the preseason games. Thompson rushed eight times for 18 yards and Royster lost one yard on four carries.  On a night that each running back was hoping to secure that roster spot, only two made a strong case.

The backup linebacker battle has become an interesting one, especially in the case of Gabe Miller. He was used on some blitz packages in the first quarter and showed that he is very physical and was able to generate penetration up the middle. Late in the first quarter, Miller strip-sacked Bucs’ QB Mike Kafka and recovered the fumble near the goal line leading to a Redskins score.  Akeem Jordan is also another interesting “bubble player” as he is a special teams ace, but we will have to wait and see the result of his knee injury he suffered early in the third quarter.

Then there are the kicking battles. Robert Malone seemed to be a shoe-in for the punting job after the release of Blake Clingan, but newly signed Tress Way impressed in this game.  His first two punts pinned the Bucs deep in their own territory and kicekd for 103 yards on only two punts.  Meanwhile, Malone punted once in the first half for 31 yards. 

For the place-kickers, both showed why each is still on the roster and the battle not yet been decided.  Kai Forbath was 1-for-1 for a 45 yarder, and made his extra point attempt.  Hocker, on the other hand, missed his only attempt, a 39-yarder, and made his extra point.  So, in essence, both have missed in the preseason from distances that NFL kickers should not routinely miss from.

The key in the kicking battle could be on kickoffs, and Hocker seems to be farther ahead than Forbath in this area.  The incumbant has already kicked one out of bounds earlier in the preseason, and Hocker just seems to be able to put the ball deep every single time.  This is crucial for a coaching staff that would like to boast one of the best special teams units in the NFL.

Now on to positions that seem to be decided.  Wide Receiver Ryan Grant is something special.  He was a consistent target for McCoy all night, amassing 71 yards on seven receptions and a touchdown.  He came back on his routes to receive underthrown balls, maintained awareness when making catches on the sideline, and went over a defender to catch his touchdown pass.  Needless to say, Gruden is happy with his draft pick that seemed like a head scratcher at the time due to the depth at wide receiver.

The amount of penalties in this game was another encouraging stat.  The Redskins were penaltized just four times for 45 yards.

There was some bad news. Both nose tackle Chris Neild and linebacker Akeem Jordan went down with apparent knee injuries.  MRI’s should be expected in the near future for both, but these are two players that could have been key role players and depth on this 2014 team that may now be potentially lost for the year.

Overall, this was a good final test for the Redskins reserves and “bubble players”.  It will be interesting to see just how much this final preseason game will factor into the final cutdown to the 53 man regular season roster.

Washington Nationals Game 104 Review: Offense leaves Strasburg out to dry against Marlins

When the offense dries up, it dries up hard.

With Ryan Zimmerman out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, and Jayson Werth out resting a sprained ankle acquired when unsuccessfully trying for an extra base Monday, the Washington Nationals were missing two of their most productive hitters entering Tuesday’s rematch with the Miami Marlins.

The results weren’t pretty. The Nats wasted six walks by four Marlins pitchers, went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base, spoiling another strong outing by Stephen Strasburg, to fall 2-0 to Miami at Marlins Park. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 100 Review: Roark, Span lead Nats over Reds


Behind a masterful performance from starter Tanner Roark — and a four-hit effort from Denard Span — the Washington Nationals knocked off the Cincinnati Reds 4-1 Friday at Great American Ballpark.

Roark allowed just three hits and a walk over seven innings to earn his 10th win of the season, tops on the Nationals staff. [Read more…]

D.C. United Game 13 Preview: Defending MLS Cup champs visit RFK tonight

D.C. United looks to make up ground in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference tonight when Sporting Kansas City comes to RFK for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The game will be broadcast locally on CSN. Given the combination of United forward Eddie Johnson having his red card from last week rescinded, and the lack of availability for a couple key Sporting Kansas City players, United are presented with a decent chance to get all three points and move to 6-4-3 on the season.

United comes into tonight’s match off a 2-1 loss at Eastern leaders New England last week. D.C. sit five points behind the Revolution in the race for first place, and one point back of SKC for second. United are 4-0-2 in the last six home matches following a season-opening loss to the Columbus Crew. Sporting Kansas City is 2-3 away from home in 2014. [Read more…]

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