Welcome back to District Sports Page’s weekly Minor League Update. Throughout the regular season we will continue to post up-to-date stats and brief scouting reports on the hottest and coldest prospects in the Nationals’ minor league system. We also will track the progress of top-rated players in this columb, and give injury and suspension updates.
Here are some of the system’s notable performances from the first week of May:
In The Spotlight
Last 10 Games: 3 APP, 6.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 9 K
The Nationals have had great success resurrecting the careers of pitchers that have fallen on hard times. Kris Kline’s scouting department has managed to find plenty of value in unlikely places over the past couple of years. They’ve inked injured arms off the scrap heap like Mike Gonzalez, Christian Garcia and Zach Duke, and have managed to turn them around remarkably quickly. Garcia is now a top prospect with the stuff to close one day, while southpaws Duke and Gonzalez (now with the Brewers) have made very useful contributions at the big league level. On the player development side, Bob Boone and Doug Harris’s team took Nate Karns’ and his torn labrum, and rebuilt him in to one of the hottest prospects in the high-minors.
Ty Herron is perhaps the most extreme example of the Nationals’ recent success in this regard. Only in his first season with the organization, it’s a little big premature to proclaim him a fixed or resurrected. But so far, he’s looking pretty darn good.
Nearly a decade ago, the St. Louis Cardinals drafted Herron out of his Florida high school with the 44th overall pick of the ’05 draft. Liking what they saw in the young right-hander, the organization pushed him rather aggressively despite his young age and only marginal success. And to be fair, Herron’s stuff and mechanics firmly supported the Cardinals’ thinking, but internally, the kid wasn’t ready. Herron, as he would describe in later interviews, was struggling with non-criminal off-the-field issues, as well as immaturity. His struggles eventually followed him on to the field, and after getting hit hard in the Texas League in ’08 and ’09, St. Louis released him. Shortly thereafter, the Pirates gave him a shot with their double-A team, the Altoona Curve, at the end of the summer in 2009. Herron however, allowed 45 baserunners in 26 innings and was once again axed a few months later.
Herron then spent the next year waiting for a phone call from a professional ballclub. It never came. To earn an income, he went to work as an exterminator and pool cleaner. As time went on, the former first-round pick started to reflect on his situation. He took a long, hard look at where he’d fallen to, and at how his once bright future appeared to be drastically more pedestrian. Month by month, he began to grow hungry to get back on the mound. He started to job and work-out, getting himself back in shape and practice on a daily basis. But he knew that wasn’t enough. He knew he wouldn’t find success if he tried to return to pro ball in the same form he left–so he set out to fix his life.
Herron first got back in the game by pitching in the Independent Leagues in 2010. He focused on improving his conditioning and flexibility, two areas he admitted that he largely overlooked during his time in the minors. In 2010 interviews, he told reporters that he was immature when he was young, believing he was good enough to get anyone out on talent alone. But now that he had grown and matured–and started to work his tail off–he was a different player and a different man. And as a member of the Kalamazoo Kings, he ended up pitching very well. Unfortunately though, things weren’t that easy. He went down with an arm injury just as he started to pick-up steam, and proceeded to miss all of 2011.
This time around though, Herron didn’t sit around during his lay-0ff. He hit the gym hard, and as soon as he was healthy, he hit the practice fielder harder. He put in hard work–the kind of effort that a fallen star puts in while looking for redemption. In the end it paid off. With the Fargo-Moorehead Redhawks in 2012, he posted a superb 12-3 record and a 3.29 ERA in 123 innings while leading the club with 105 punch-outs. The performance caught the attention of a number of MLB clubs, and the Nationals ended up signing him to a minor league deal last winter.
Now 26 years old, Herron started his Nationals career in high-A ball with the Potomac Nationals. And through the first month, he’s not taking anything for granted and has performed extraordinarily well. He now has a 1.35 ERA through 13.1 innings after tossing three shut-out frames against the Carolina Mudcats last Wednesday. He hasn’t allowed a baserunner to cross home plate in over a month, and of the thirty batters he retired in that span, he struck-out 17 of them. Seemingly getting better every time he sets foot on the mound, he has whiffed an unbelievable 23 batters on the season now, good for a league-best 15.5 K/9, and he’s also tops with 3 holds.
Considering his age, the competition level and his history, Herron’s success should be reviewed with a skeptical eye. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with his stuff and he has the talent to be a very good relief pitcher in the show. His two-seam fastball is clocking 89-92 with heavy run and sink, and his sharp, 12-6 curveball is showing obscene depth. Along with his deceptively smooth delivery, the two-pitch combo is similar to that of David Robertson’s repertoire.
Last 10 Games: 4 APP, 3.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.231 WHIP 5 K, 3 SV
An Illinois native, Barrett attracted a lot of attention from pro scouts throughout his amateur career. He was drafted four times between 2006 and 2010, and would’ve added a fifth selection had he not given mixed signals about his signability in ’07. Armed with a big, 6’4″ frame a vicious slider and heavy heat, he passed on initial pro offers out of high school to play for legendary JUCO coach Rob Fournier a local Wabash Valley College. There, he led the team to the ’08 GRAC Championship and a top national ranking while going 9-2 with a 2.90 ERA and 85 strikeouts as a sophomore. He then passed on another opportunity to go pro to fulfill a commitment to pitch for Ole Miss. After an up-and-down year there though, that had him moved out of the weekend rotation spot and in to the ‘pen, he accepted a relatively lean $35K bonus out of the ninth round from the Nationals in June, 2009.
Converted to a full-time relief pitcher as a pro, Barrett has flourished as a member of the Nationals organization. After re-tooling his delivery and body during his first couple of years, mainly spent short-season ball, he broke out in 2012 in his first look against single-A lineups. Closing games for the Hagerstown Suns, he collected 17 saves, and struck out 73 batters in 51.2 innings while allowing only 48 to reach base. He then joined Brian Goodwin and Anthony Rendon as a member of the AFL Rising Stars last fall, and is now tearing through lineups in Harrisburg this season.
Though he got off to a slightly rocky start, getting lit-up for 3 runs in an inning against the Rock Cats in his third appearance of the young season (on April 10th), he has been nearly untouchable since then. In his last ten games, he has yielded only one run in 9.1 innings (via a solo homer) on four hits and two walks. He’s tallied a whopping 15 K’s during that period, leaving him with 18 in 12.2 total innings on the year. Somehow, he has managed to pitch with even more dominance lately. While tallying three more saves, Barrett hasn’t allowed one hit since Tyler Henson singled off of him on April 22nd, retiring 8 of 17 batters via strikeout and yielding only one walk along the way.
Barrett’s five saves ranks him first in the Nationals’ system and third in the Eastern League, and he places among double-A relievers in virtually every pitching category. Standing at a broad 6’4″ and carved out of muscle, Barrett fits the prototype of a an aggressive, hard-throwing reliever. He’s armed with a devastating, disappearing slider that already rates as one of the best in the minors. He absolutely chews up right-handed hitters with it, and he uses it to draw a swing-and-miss just as effectively as he drops the frisbee in for a called strike. But, his explosive fastball is also a plus pitch, and using it, he’s able to get lefties out with little trouble. Though it generally clocks in the low 90’s, he throws it out of the same arm-slot and tunnel of his slider, and his quick arm helps it jump on top of hitters as if it were lighting up 97’s on the radar gun.
Overall, Barrett has the stuff and the frame to build a comfortable career as a late-inning reliever with the Nationals. He’s shaping up to be a Chad Qualls or Mike Wuertz type of late-inning guy, falling a little bit short of big-league closer, but armed with the stuff to be dominant in a set-up role. Now that he’s proving himself in double-A, he should climb the depth chart by summer and could be in line for a late-season promotion to the MLB.
Last 10 Games: 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 1 W, 0.00 ERA, 0.800 WHIP, 3 H, 6 K
Included on the Hot Streaks segment of last week’s update, Schwartz has been absolutely scorching. Statistically speaking, there’s no National pitcher having a better season so far.
Opening 2013 with the Hagerstown Suns, Schwartz pitched to the tune of a 1.26 ERA and 21 strikeouts through his first 14.1 innings, allowing only five hits and two walks in that span. He quickly earned a promotion to the Carolina League–an extraordinary feat considering he’s a 17th round-pick and former DII pitcher barely a month in to his first full season playing professional ball. And since arriving in Potomac, he hasn’t slowed a bit, encoring his dominating April with two spotless starts. After shutting out the Carolina Mudcats for six innings on April 24th, he followed with a similar performance against them at the P-Nats home park in Woodbridge last Tuesday. Though he went one less inning, he allowed no runs, and exactly 3 hits and 1 one walk–the same total from his last start. This time he struck-out six batters rather than five. Taking in to account that the Mudcats’ lineup is armed with toolsy hitters Francisco Lindor, Tyler Naquin and Luigi Rodriguez, Schwartz’ consecutive shut-outs become even more impressive.
On the season, Schwartz has a perfect 4-0 record and a miniscule 0.71 ERA and 0.59 WHIP. He leads the Nationals organization in all three stats, as well in opponent’s batting average (.126 BAA). Since his promotion, he also tops all Carolina League starters in WHIP and ERA, while his 5.5 K/BB ranks fourth on the circuit.
Coming off an impressive–albeit unheralded–amateur career in NAIA and DII college ball, Schwartz was a bargain-basement pick-up for the Nationals. Another example of how this organization’s scouting department and player development team is growing adept at refining coal in to diamonds, he’s off to a nice start so far in his pro career. He put together a 3.05 ERA with Hagerstown at the end of last summer, skipping from the Gulf Coast League right to low-A. Now in 2013, he’s well outperforming expectations and has dominated since a recent promotion to the P-Nats. Considering his projectable frame, clean mechanics, as well as his stuff, there’s a good chance he’s the real deal.
Though his velocity and stuff doesn’t rate as plus, Schwartz makes up for it by precisely placing three solid-average offerings, pitching quickly and efficiently, and changing speeds seamlessly. Schwartz spots a low 90’s fastball effectively to both sides of the plate while keeping it low in the zone, and he attacks left-handed hitters with a hard cutter. His fastball command is excellent for his age and level, and he forces a lot of chopping swings and weak contact. Pitching very efficiently with his heater, he doesn’t need to rely on a deep off-speed repertoire. Even so, his big 12-6 curveball has a lot of late, downward break out of his high 3/4 arm slot, and he’s very comfortable using it to change speeds and keep hitters off-balance.
Last 10 Games: .279/.295/.419
Taylor’s numbers over the last ten games appear relatively modest, but he’s on this side of this week’s update for good reason. Yesterday, he went 2 for 5 and drove in the game-winning run against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Even though his .279 batting average and .419 slugging isn’t too shabby over the last 10 games, a walk-off isn’t necessarily good reason for his name being under Hot Streaks. But over the past seven days, Taylor actually has not one, but two walk-offs. Last Tuesday, in the second game of a double-header against the Mudcats, Taylor singled-in Billy Burns for the walk-off victory in the bottom of the 7th.
Taylor’s clutch hitting has now tallied him 9 RBI over his last ten games and he leads the entire minor-league system with 22 so far this season. And while his triple-slash line isn’t too jaw-dropping over his last ten contests, he had five hits–including a pair of doubles–in 15 at bats during the P-Nats series against the Pelicans, and has been making a lot of hard contact lately.
It’s good to see Taylor’s hitting coming on following his trying first month and tough 2012 campaign. After batting a meager .242/.318/.362 last year, it was especially important for the athletic young outfielder to get off to a strong start this spring as he repeated an assignment to high-A ball. At first, things weren’t looking too promising to begin April, as he collected only three singles and a triple in his first 29 at bats–a .137 batting average. But he’s gotten stronger and stronger with each week. He’s hitting .304 over his past 20 games, with 8 doubles and 2 home runs. He has also been using his plus wheels more effectively on the base-paths, going 8 for 8 in steal attempts since the 15th, and scoring 10 runs.
When the Nationals drafted Taylor, they knew he was a player-development project. At the time, he was a high school shortstop with ugly swing mechanics and a wild arm, but she showed plus speed, plus raw power, a strong arm and acrobatic body control for a kid his size. Somehow, it took only a couple of off-seasons for their coaching staff to turn those tools in to a top prospect. Working largely with Tony Tarasco, Marlon Anderson and Brian Daubach, Taylor has rebuilt his swing mechanics, taking a much shorter stride and using his abs to fire his hands at the ball. And now in center field, he looks like one of the best defenders in the low minors.
Hopefully, now that Taylor is finding more consistency at the plate, he can build on the momentum and finally get out of the Carolina League. The move from the thick, humid air and wet infields should help his power development some, especially because he’s a right-handed hitter. Even though Harrisburg is no picnic, he has the tools to succeed there and move quickly once he turns the corner.
Last 10 Games: 2 GS, 13.2 IP, 2 W, 0.00 ERA, 0.909 WHIP, 11 K
Sent to Washington along with AJ Cole and Ian Krol in last winter’s Michael Morse trade, Blake Treinen is turning out to be a very nice addition to the Nats system. Right now, he actually looks like he might be even more than that, pitching like a blue-chip prospect so far this year. And that’s especially surprising, not only because Billy Beane let him go as one of the trade’s throw-ins, but because Treinen wasn’t even good enough to play NCAA baseball a few years ago.
Treinen actually played JV baseball for Baker college in 2007, and then failed to make the baseball team altogether at Arkansas when he transferred there a year later. Passionate about the game, he immediately set-out to improve himself to the point he could pitch for a competitive team again. He procured the help of a quality coach, former pro pitcher Don Czyz, and got to work on fixing his mechanics and improving his balance and strength. As he filled out his frame and smoothed out his arm action, this velocity drastically increased and he was also able to command his fastball more consistently. He transferred to South Dakota State, and after sitting out a season per the NCAA’s rules, he made the varsity team. From there, Treinen pitched very well in his two seasons there, far exceeding expectations. By the end of his first campaign with the Jackrabbits he was already considered one of the best pro prospects in state history, and though some shoulder abnormalities kept him from signing with the Marlins in 2010, the A’s weren’t scared off by his medical report–nor his unconventional profile–the next summer and drafted him in the 7th round.
Now with the Nationals, Treinen has taken another leap forward in his second season pitching professionally. Things didn’t look so hot early on, as he started April by getting hammered for 13 runs in his first two starts, but he’s been untouchable since the end of his second week. He shut-out the Reading Phillies over seven innings on April 10th, then followed with seven more innings of two-run ball in his next start in Altoona. Since then, he’s kicked it in to an even higher gear.
These past two weeks, Treinen has been supremely dominant. After mowing down the Eastern League’s most potent offense in Bowie last weekend, striking out six and holding the Bay Sox to no runs and 3 hits over 6.2 innings, he turned in another gem at home, while facing the Binghamton Mets on Friday. In fact, it might have been the best start of his career. He shut-out the Mets over 7 innings, and he tallied five strikeouts while allowing just six total base-runners. He didn’t allow an extra-base hit, but even more remarkable, he allowed just one ball to leave the infield all game while throwing 68/98 pitches for strikes. Of the 21 outs he recorded, he struck out five and racked up an incredible 14 ground-outs, while retiring just one batter via fly-out.
Given his background as a guy who wasn’t even an all-area selection at his small-town high school, and who accumulated just a couple of seasons of DI experience before getting drafted, Treinen has turned out to be a phenomenally underrated talent. After a strong debut season in the unforgiving California League, he’s absolutely dominating double-A opponents so far in 2013. The success is largely owed to his superb fastball command and velocity, as well as his vastly improved slider. He is sitting 94-96 firmly this season on his four-seamer, rarely falling below 93 mph, and he’s spotting his heater consistently in the lower-third of the zone. When he’s not getting swing-throughs, he’s attacking opposing hitters (even lefties) on the fists and forcing pop-ups and grounders. His slider has gone from an occasional show-me pitch, to a very solid offering. He throws the pitch in the mid 80’s with tightly-wound movement, using its sharp lateral break to miss the barrel of right-handed bats very effectively.
Treinen’s rapid development is a commendable achievement, and he’s another great find for the Nats savvy scouting department. His delivery exhibits the inverted “W” and some hyperabduction, which would generally make the shoulder abnormalities he showed in pre-draft physicals a serious red flag. Fortunately though, his timing is almost flawless, and while his high elbows put some extra stress on his arm, he does a very efficient job of generating velocity with his lower body for a power pitcher. That solid delivery, combined with the development of a nice slider/cutter and Major-League fastball command makes Treinen a good bet to be a dominant late-inning reliever or a quality mid-rotation starter in the big leagues–if he can continue to improve.
Last 10 Games: .179/.281/.214
Leon was listed under Cold Streaks on our first published update of 2013. At the time, we cited that he was struggling both behind the plate and in the box. He was batting a pitiful .189/.268/.216 through 10 games, and had thrown-out just two of thirteen base-stealers. Now three weeks later, he’s looking a lot more like the 2012 version of Sandy Leon–at least behind the plate. That’s a good thing as the 2012 version allowed just five passed balls in 61 minor-league games, and gunned down 41% of base-stealers. This year, after allowing three passed balls and 11 stolen bases in the season’s first two weeks, the rocket-armed backstop has gunned down seven of the last thirteen attempted base-stealers, and hasn’t allowed a passed ball since mid-April.
At the plate though, things haven’t changed a whole lot. Before a couple of singles on Monday night, Leon had collected a meager five hits in his last 41 at bats (.122 batting average) with a double accounting for his lone extra-base hit. On the season, he’s now batting a lifeless .224/.309/.294, and he has collected a total of four extra-base hits through 26 games–three doubles and one homerun. Possibly an indicator of more frigid weather to come, Leon’s cold streak isn’t just a rough start to the regular season–it actually stretches all the way back to spring camp when he was 2 for 13 at the plate.
Last 10 Games: 2 GS, 11.0 IP, 2L, 7.36 ERA, 2.091 WHIP, 15 H, 3 K
Taken with the 21st overall pick by the Tigers in the 2008 MLB Draft, Perry is a very different pitcher when compared to the one he was coming out of Arizona. The former Wildcats closer had a nasty two-pitch combo–a 94-98 mph fastball and a high 80’s razor-sharp slider–that was so effective that he needed just 13.2 innings in the minors before taking over a big-league job in the back of the Tigers’ bullpen in 2009. By age twenty-three, he was already a firmly-established MLB reliever, accumulating 124.1 innings (113 appearances), a 3.69 ERA and 105 strikeouts by the end of the 2010 season. Nowadays though, he’s kicking around the Nationals minor leagues, trying his best to cut it as a starter with much less-exciting stuff and shoddy control.
After asking the Nationals to change his role to starting pitcher following a poor showing in Washington last summer, Perry got his wish and has earned mix reviews during the transition. He looked strong last year–albeit in double-A–posting a 2.84 ERA through 13 starts with Harrisburg. But his fastball velocity was down, residing mostly in the 90-93 MPH range, and his curve and slider were all over the zone. He did add a new changeup to his repertoire, but he didn’t have the look of a guy that would really be able to make in impact in Washington’s rotation. Pitching for the Syracuse Chiefs this season, he’s looked about the same–so-so.
Perry has been very inconsistent though six starts in 2013. He got hammered in his first start on April 6th, yielding 6 runs over five innings on nine hits, but then looked fairly decent over his next three. Last week though, facing the Norfolk Tides, he took a step backwards. The Tides tagged him for seven runs on nine hits and four walks over four innings, and he gave up a homer to Trayvon Robinson and doubles to Chris Robinson and Lew Ford. He allowed more baserunners (13) than he recorded outs (12), a feat considering he made it to the fifth inning, and he threw more balls (48) than strikes (40).
Now 26, Perry is pretty much all out of projection. He’s trying to add to his repertoire and fix his mechanics, but at the end of the day, his stuff has regressed from nasty to average, and he doesn’t have the command to survive extended stints in a Major League rotation. He still has some time to put it together, but he’s shown during his time with the Chiefs that he has a lot of work to do.
Last 10 Games: .125/.176/.125
Hague was on this list last week when he’d hit .176/.282/.265 over his previous ten games. Now, he has actually fallen further. Considering his superb amateur career at Rice, where he totalled a .355 batting average and .544 slugging percentage, it’s hard to believe that Hague is struggling this much in the Carolina League at age 24 and going in to his fourth professional season. Only two years ago, it appeared even pro pitchers couldn’t get him out. After hitting .317/.385/.477 in his first pro campaign, he got off to a hot start in the Carolina League in 2011 with 5 hits (3 for extra bases) in 4 games. Unfortunately though, a torn rotator cuff wiped out the rest of his season and the first third of 2012. And unfortunately, since returning from the DL, he just hasn’t been able to get his bat speed and sweet swing back.
Over his last ten games, he’s batting .125 and has managed only five hits (two for extra bases) since the final game of his season-high six-game hitting streak on April 16th. He’s batting a horrifically-bad .092 over that ice-cold streak. But when examining his game log more closely, the numbers indicate even more struggles. He hasn’t hit anything harder than a single for nearly two weeks and he has only one multi-hit game this season–it came all the way back on April 11th in Altoona. To top it all off, his manager Matthew LeCroy, benched him on Sunday for failing to run out a pop fly. Not good Rick, not good.
A shoulder injury is never a good thing, but for a young player like Hague, it definitely doesn’t have to be career-jeopardizing. If he can get in to the weight/physical therapy room, strengthen his upper-body and re-find his bat-speed and leverage, he still has the opportunity to be a plus hitter with solid home run power. His defense will never be a strong point as long as he’s on the left side of the infield. His arm strength falls short for third base and shortstop at higher levels and he doesn’t play with fluid actions to make tough plays on his arm side. But if he can fix his swing, he’ll hit more than enough to profile as an everyday second baseman–a position that he can excel at defensively if he works on his hands and pivot-throws. He’s a ways from it, but if he can reach his ceiling, he should be a second baseman in the Mark Ellis mold.
Other Notable Performances
Chris Marrero: Now that his hot hitting has gotten him written up in a Minor League Update for three consecutive weeks, Marrero is well on his way to a break-out season. After toiling in the minor leagues for over seven seasons, the former 15th overall pick is finally healthy and showing the power and hitting skills that earned him comparisons to Alex Rodriguez when he was coming out of high school. He’s batting a healthy .359 over his last 10 games, with a couple of extra-base hits and five RBI. And while he’s no longer leading the organization’s minor league system in home runs, his consistency has kept him tops in slugging percentage (.568) and he ranks second in RBI (21) and dingers (6).
Brian Goodwin: The day after Hague was benched for failing to run-out a pop fly, Brian Goodwin evidently didn’t learn from his teammate’s mistake and was removed from Monday’s game by manager Matthew LeCroy for the same transgression. Like Hague, and virtually the entire Harrisburg Senators’ lineup, Goodwin is struggling at the plate right now. He’s batting an even .200 (8 for 40) over his last 10 games, and has racked up an ugly fifteen strikeouts. The plus-plus speedster has also been thrown out in all three of his attempted steals. Overall though, the cold streak hasn’t been enough to taint Goodwin’s season line too much, and outside of the one slip-up in Monday night’s game, his character is usually a benefit to the team. He’s still hitting a solid .258/.336/.442 with 13 extra-base hits in 30 games.
Robbie Ray: Like Marrero, Ray has been hot since his season debut and hasn’t slowed down a bit now that he has opened the second month of his 2013 campaign. He spun five innings of solid baseball last Wednesday, striking out seven Carolina Mudcats and allowing two runs. After his most recent strong performance, he now has made six starts this season and hasn’t allowed more than two runs or pitched less than five innings in any of them. His 41 strikeouts is tops in both the Nationals minor-league system and the Carolina League–leading Red Sox southpaw Henry Owens by one–and only Rafael DePaula has totalled more punch-outs among A-ball pitchers. His 1.85 ERA is also impressive, ranking fourth among the organization’s starting pitchers, and he’s allowed just one home run and 22 hits.
Ray’s effectiveness appears largely to be owed to his vastly improved command. After taking a step back last year, the athletic lefty has taken two steps forward so far in 2013. His two-seamer has become his go-to pitch, sitting in the 88-91 mph range with nice sinking movement low in the zone. His command of it has taken a big leap forward now that he stopped trying to over-throw and light up 93’s and 94’s on radar guns. Suddenly, he’s working the bottom edges and the black of the strike-zone with the pitch like he’s Jim Kaat. He gets a lot of lunging and off-balance hacks, as he forces opposing hitters to swing at tough pitches.
Ray is also showing refined command over his off-speed arsenal, armed with a nice slider and a circle-change that’s quickly developing in to a weapon against right-handed hitters. He throws both for strikes early in the count and can use either as a chase-pitch for strike-three. On the downside, his approach of pitching to the corners borders on passivity/nibbling. It has led to a lot of high pitch counts early in his starts, as well as 16 walks in 34 innings. Still though, it’s good to see the former big-money signing performing well and posting good numbers.