Triple-A Columbus said goodbye to Cooper Stadium in grand style, as 16,777 were in attendance for its final game. Double-A Harrisburg finished off the season four games over .500 to accomplish its first winning season since 2002. Class A Potomac, of course, won it all by beating the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to take home the Carolina League title (pictured) — here’s a link to a story about how that title relates to what Nationals manager Manny Acta went through in 1999. Class A Hagerstown improved by six games compared to last year’s record. And the entire farm system has been stocked, reshelved and completely redone over and over again this year, as players went up the ladder at an incredible rate. The result: The Nationals have 16 players on their roster 25 years old or younger.
Ever since roster expasions beginning Sept. 1, Washington has called up 10 players. Here’s a look at how they’ve done since that point:
Roger Bernadina (OF): .214 BA (3-for-14), 1 RBI, 3 R in seven games
Kory Casto (INF): .318 BA (7-for-22), 3 RBIs, 1 R in nine games
Tyler Clippard (RHP): hasn’t played
Mike Hinckley (LHP): 0 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 6 Ks in 7 2/3 innings (eight appearances)
Shairon Martis (RHP): 0-2, 2.70 ERA in two starts
Luke Montz (C): 1-for-12, RBI, 2 BB
Mike O’Connor (LHP): hasn’t played
Levale Speigner (RHP): 2 R, 5 H, 2 BB in 3 1/3 innings (four appearances)
Ryan Wagner (RHP): hasn’t played
Lastly, let’s take a look at those really young guys — as if those weren’t young enough. Here’s a look at how the Nationals’ top nine Draft picks — first-round pick Aaron Crow went unsigned — performed in their first Minor League season:
LF Destin Hood (GCL): .256 BA, 14 RBIs in 25 games
SS Daniel Espinosa (A-): .328 BA, 4 RBIs in 19 games
LHP Graham Hicks (GCL): 0 R, 1 H, 2 Ks in 2 IP
C Adrian Nieto (GCL): .217 BA, 3 RBIs in eight games
RHP Paul Demny (GCL): 4-0, 2.50 ERA in 11 games (six starts)
C Daniel Killian (GCL): .189 BA, 1 HR, 28 RBIs in 40 games
LHP Ricardo Pecina (A-): 1-5, 3.78 ERA in 12 games (eight starts)
LF John Higley (GCL): .346 BA, 16 RBIs in 35 games
LHP Tom Milone (A-/A): 1-6, 3.51 ERA in 13 games (10 starts)
Double A player in trouble
Garrett Guzman, an outfielder for the Harrisburg Senators, is being charged with a misdemeanor count of corruption of minors, according to The Associated Press. Guzman allegedly had sex with a 15-year-old girl in late July. The 25-year-old lefty was originally drafted in the 10th round by the Twins in the 2001 Draft. In Double A this season, Guzman hit .274 with nine home runs and 54 RBIs. Read the full story here.
– Alden Gonzalez, associate reporter/MLB.com
Advance Single-A Potomac finished off a marathon season of accomplishments on Friday with an 8-2 victory over Myrtle Beach in Game 4 of the Carolina League’s Mills Cup Finals. As a result, the P-Nats took the series, three games to one, and were crowned 2008 Carolina League Champions.
The P-Nats became the first team within the franchise to win a Carolina League title since the Prince William Cannons beat the Durham Bulls in 1989.
Potomac put two runs on the board in the first inning and never looked back. Despite a homer by Ernesto Mejia in the second, the Pelicans couldn’t muster any type of rally against starter Erik Arnesen. Arnesen went 6 2/3 innings and allowed just two runs while striking out four in the victory.
Jhonatan Solano earned Mills Cup Finals MVP honors for his efforts in the series. Solano tied Game 3 with a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth. He finished the four-game set with the Pelicans by going .429 (6-for-14) with two home runs, four RBIs and five runs scored.
If numbers are to tell the tale, Monday’s showdown between Single-A Potomac and Myrtle Beach wasn’t supposed to end anything like this. But statistics on paper don’t account for poised pitching by a 23-year-old right-hander coupled with an offensive onslaught from unforeseen contributors.
Luis Atilano stifled the Pelicans’ league-best offense as the Nationals cruised to a 15-0 Game 1 victory in the Carolina League Championship Series at BB&T Coastal Field. Myrtle Beach scored 764 runs this season, but that didn’t seem to matter against Atilano. He hurled five innings while allowing six hits and fanning four.
Atilano, who went 6-7 with a 4.50 ERA this season, moved the P-Nats to within two victories of a league championship in this best-of-five series. Meanwhile, Michael Martinez led the P-Nats offense with a 4-for-5 night, including a double, three runs and two RBIs.
Andrew Lefave, Jhonatan Solano and Boomer Whiting also turned in multi-hit games. the P-Nats put a six-spot on the board in the fourth inning and five more up in the sixth to ensure victory.
The two teams will meet Tuesday for Game 2, with Jeff Mandel hurling for the P-Nats while Carlos Rivas takes the hill for Myrtle Beach.
Andrew Kown took a rather large leap on Thursday night in Columbus. The 25-year-old Washington Nationals prospect made his first start for the Triple-A Clippers after being called up from Single-A Potomac, and he certainly didn’t disappoint.
Kown pitched seven innings in Columbus’s 6-1 win over Richmond, allowing just one run on seven hits throughout the outing. Given how much movement the young right-hander has endured this season, such a promising start to his Triple-A career is rather welcomed.
Kown was 0-2 with the P-Nats of the Carolina League, appearing in three games — starting one — while compiling a 3.00 ERA. He briefly stayed with Double-A Harrisburg earlier this year, but allowed eight runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings of relief work before heading down to Potomac.
This time around, Kown made good on the change of scenery. In the meantime, Columbus climbed one game above .500 with a 66-65 record in the International League West. They’ve won four in a row since dropping seven straight on Aug. 10-17. Still, the Clippers are in third place in the IL West, 15 games behind Louisville.
The Nationals’ 2007 first-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft, Ross Detwiler, made the short trip from Class A Potomac to D.C. last week to work a bullpen session with pitching coach Randy St. Claire. The veteran Major League pitching coach liked what he saw.
St. Claire said Detwiler has “a great arm” and impressive pitches. The Nationals pitching coach likes the sink Detwiler puts on his fastball, the “tight spin” on his breaking ball and his curveball.
“He’s got the stuff to be, I think, a very good pitcher at the Major League level,” St. Claire said. “He’s just got to put it together, where he becomes consistent with each and every pitch. To be successful at this level, 80 percent of your pitches have got to go where you want them to go. Until he gets that down … he’s got a lot of learning to do, but he’s got the ability and I think potential to be here and be a very good starter.”
Detwiler struggled early this season, and his 5.16 ERA over 22 starts reflects that. However, he’s performed far better in the second half of the season, cutting his first-half ERA by around half a run, and he’s struck out 95 batters in 103 innings.
The Missouri State product attributed the greatest part of his success to an adjustment he made with Potomac pitching coach Randy Tomlin to straighten up his delivery. He said his struggles have come when he starts throwing across his body, causing him to lose control at times.
Detwiler admitted his struggles have gotten to him this season, but he thinks he’ll be better for it eventually.
“You know, it’s been frustrating,” Detwiler said. “But to a point, it’s been
good, because I can see how, when I don’t do things just the way I’m supposed
to, I do fail, and you know, when I come up here and work with someone like
[pitching coach Randy St. Claire] or when I’m working with Randy Tomlin back in
Potomac, getting back on line, I can see how everything works out for me.”
In other Nationals Minor League news, Vermont catcher Derek Norris was named the Single-A New York-Penn League Offensive Player of the Week between July 28 and Aug. 3. Norris went 10-for-21 with three home runs and seven RBIs over that stretch. He also walked 13 times, indicative of the patience that has given Norris 40 walks and a .484 on-base percentage, both tops in the league.
Norris becomes the 15th Nationals’ farmhand to pick up a Player or Pitcher of the Week honor in 2008.
Potomac Nationals RHP Luis Atilano was selected as the Pitcher of the Week for the Carolina League for the period of July 21-27 after allowing just two hits over 10 innings split between two starts.
The right-hander, a member of the Washington Nationals’ Class A affiliate, is 4-0 with a 2.39 ERA in 10 appearances, six of them starts, and his batting average against is a sparse .202.
Acquired in 2006 from the Braves, the 23-year-old Atilano becomes the fifth Potomac player to garner Player or Pitcher of the Week honors. Right-hander Jordan Zimmerman, outfielders Edgardo Baez and Marvin Lowrance and infielder/outfielder Leonard Davis have also brought home the award for Potomac — all four have been promoted through the system since.