Results tagged ‘ Lucas Giolito ’
Wilmer Difo named South Atlantic League MVP; Lucas Giolito named Most Outstanding Pitcher & Top Prospect
by Amanda Comak
Two more Washington Nationals prospects earned end-of-year accolades on Thursday with the South Atlantic League announcing Single-A Hagerstown infielder Wilmer Difo as the league’s Most Valuable Player and right-hander Lucas Giolito the league’s Most Outstanding Pitcher and Most Outstanding Major League Prospect. Additionally, Suns center fielder Rafael Bautista was named to the SAL post-season All-Star team and Single-A Potomac manager Tripp Keister was named the Carolina League Manager of the Year.
Difo, a mid-season SAL Northern Division All-Star and post-season All-Star second baseman, currently leads or is tied for the league lead in hits (174) and total bases (257). Hitting .321 this season, good for sixth in the league among qualifiers, Difo has worked to a .366 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging percentage for the Suns.
The 22-year-old native of the Dominican Republic is among the SAL leaders in RBI (88, third), stolen bases (49, second), runs scored (90, tied for second), extra-base hits (50, fourth) and most plate appearances per strikeout (9.55, fifth).
Giolito, ranked by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect in all of baseball at mid-season, went 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA for the Suns in 20 games this season. Over 98.0 innings he allowed 28 runs (24 earned) on 70 hits, including seven homers. Giolito, the Nationals’ first-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, walked 28 and struck out 110.
The 20 year old was named the SAL Pitcher of the Week on two occasions this season and represented the Nationals at the Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game, along with outfielder Michael A. Taylor, in Minneapolis in July.
Bautista, like Difo, was named to the mid-season Northern Division All-Star team as well. The 21-year-old currently leads the league in stolen bases (66), and is tied with Difo for second in runs scored. Bautista is hitting .283 this year with a .337 on-base percentage and .373 slugging percentage. His 66 stolen bases are a Suns single-season record since the team has been a member of the South Atlantic League.
Keister managed Potomac to the first- and second-half Northern Division titles, clinching the second-half crown on Wednesday night. With a 75-55 record this season, Potomac will host Game 1 of the Northern Division Championship Series on Sept. 3 at Pfitzner Stadium.
Welcome back to the 2014 Minor League Report, a comprehensive collection of notes from the Washington Nationals PR staff that highlights the outstanding performers in the Nationals’ Minor League system through the last few weeks.
Here are the top headlines:
TOP PERFORMER: LUCAS GIOLITO — In four starts dating to July 25, RHP Lucas Giolito is 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA (3 ER/22.0 IP). He has tallied 24 strikeouts while allowing just 12 hits and three walks, with opponents hitting just .160 against him over that stretch. Following his start on July 25 vs. Kannapolis (CWS), Giolito was named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week, the second time he’s earned the honor in 2014. Despite making just 19 starts this season, Giolito ranks second among Nationals farmhands and fourth in the SAL with 105 strikeouts. All told this season, the 2012 first-round pick is 9-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 starts, all for Single-A Hagerstown. He falls just short of qualifying to be among the SAL leaders in ERA, WHIP (0.98) and AVG (.188).
LAIRD LEADS – With the promotions of Steven Souza Jr., and Michael A. Taylor, 3B Brandon Laird has stepped up to lead the Triple-A Syracuse offensive attack. Laird is 14-for-34 (.412) with seven doubles, three home runs, 13 RBI and six runs scored over the last eight games. Syracuse has gone 6-2 over that stretch. On the season, the 26-year-old is hitting .316, second-best among Nationals farmhands and fifth-best in the International League. He also leads Syracuse’s active roster with 29 doubles and 14 home runs.
Below is the full report. To view this report on your full screen, please click the icon in the bottom right corner of the notes.
The Washington Nationals farm system hasn’t so much met expectations in 2013 as it’s surpassed every one.
Ranked the No. 13 farm system overall in the preseason by Baseball America, the Nationals have surged to the third-best organizational record at 403-322 (.558) overall, trailing only Houston (.572) and San Francisco (.564). Three of Washington’s seven affiliates are playoff-bound, with a fourth in a close division race.
None of this is entirely unexpected either. Under the guidance of President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo, the Nats have gone from the Minor League cellar six years ago to a brief stint at No. 1 in last year’s Baseball America preseason rankings. Not to mention that this farm system has cultivated such talent as Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon. In fact, 11 players on Washington’s active roster have come through its Minor League system.
Perhaps most remarkable has been the Gulf Coast League Nationals, which have notched the most impressive mark in all of professional baseball. Since the season began on June 21, the Rookie-level entry has gone 48-9 (.842), better than even the tremendous run by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who posted a 47-12 (.797) record in the same span. The GCL Nationals lead their division by 24.0 games, have 13 more wins than the next best team in the league, and clinched their playoff spot long ago.
Obviously, such a run requires more than just luck. The GCL Nationals are tops in the league in most meaningful statistical categories. Their 2.49 team ERA and .279 team batting average pace the field, while their 5.52 runs per game is more than six-tenths of a run better than the next closest total. They boast the league’s leader and runner-up in ERA among qualifiers, 21-year-old righty Wander Suero (8-1, 1.65) and 20-year-old southpaw Hector Silvestre (7-0, 1.82). Righty Lucas Giolito, the Nationals’ No. 2 prospect, drafted 16th overall out of high school in 2012, has returned from Tommy John surgery and was recently promoted to Short-Season Auburn in the New York-Penn League after notching a 2.78 ERA and 25 strikeouts over 22.2 innings in the Gulf Coast League.
Like the GCL Nats, the High-A Potomac Nationals have put up ridiculous numbers in the Carolina League. Potomac is 81-51 overall, having already locked up a playoff spot by winning the Northern Division’s first-half championship with a 42-27 record. They’re currently 7.5 games up on Lynchburg in the second half, and will earn home-field advantage in all three Carolina League Division Series contests if they secure the second half title as well.
Cutter Dykstra has helped pace Potomac on its most recent tear. During the P-Nats recent 10-game winning streak (August 10-20), the infielder racked up a .316/.447/.421 line. He also reached base in a league-best 29 games, putting together an 18-game hitting streak in the process. Meanwhile, right-hander Blake Schwartz is 11-4 with a 2.56 ERA and leads the league with a 1.03 WHIP.
The Low-A Hagerstown Suns (77-53) are also headed to the postseason, while the Double-A Harrisburg Senators (72-63) are a half-game up in their Eastern League division, where the top two teams reach the playoffs. The Suns are pacing the South Atlantic League with 5.03 runs per game, benefitting from a fairly balanced lineup. They’ve also recently added 2013 draft pick Jake Johansen, who was 1-1 with a 1.06 ERA and a 9.4 K/9 rate with Auburn. The Senators, meanwhile, boast a pitching staff that leads the league with a 3.46 ERA. Nationals third-rated prospect A.J. Cole — who earned the save in the 2013 Futures Game — is sitting at 3-2 with a 2.58 ERA since being promoted in late July.
Though the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs have posted just a 65-72 record, they have their bright spots as well in prospects like Jeff Kobernus and Zach Walters. Kobernus served a brief stint in the big leagues and earned International League Player of the Week honors for the week of August 12-18. He leads the team and is second among Nationals farmhands with a .324 batting average. Walters, meanwhile, has slugged 29 home runs, 10 more than the next closest total in the organization. The infielder has posted a .531 slugging percentage on the season, especially impressive from the shortstop position.
Washington Nationals (61-64) vs. Chicago Cubs (54-71)
RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 1.85) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (1-0, 0.69)
The Nationals send Ross Ohlendorf to the mound against the Chicago Cubs, his first appearance since going on the 15-day disabled list on August 4 (retroactive to August 1). Washington Manager Davey Johnson said he expects Ohlendorf to throw roughly 90 pitches in this evening’s contest. The Cubs will counter with former Baltimore Oriole Jake Arrieta, acquired on July 2 along with reliever Pedro Strop and cash considerations in exchange for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. Arrieta has never bested the Nationals (0-1, 5.57 ERA in four starts), but has been excellent in his two big league starts since joining the Cubs organization.
1. Denard Span CF
2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B
3. Bryce Harper LF
4. Jayson Werth RF
5. Ian Desmond SS
6. Adam LaRoche 1B
7. Steve Lombardozzi 2B
8. Kurt Suzuki C
9. Ross Ohlendorf RHP
31 FLAVORS OF VICTORY FOR HAREN
Dan Haren continues to make career history, pocketing his first-career win at Wrigley Field – his 31st different park with a W – as the Nationals doubled up the Cubs, 4-2, on Tuesday night. The victory was his first since beating the Philadelphia Phillies on August 9, giving him wins against all 30 franchises. In between, Haren notched his first Major League save in a close-out effort against the Braves Saturday night.
NATS COME THROUGH IN CLUTCH
Despite a rough night in which Washington brought home just four of its 21 base runners, the Nationals made it count when it mattered most. Ian Desmond singled home Bryce Harper with nobody out in the ninth to extend the Nats lead to 3-1, and four batters later Denard Span brought home a two-out insurance run, when he plated Ryan Zimmerman to give the Nationals a 4-1 advantage.
NOT A MINOR ACCOMPLISHMENT
The Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals are a stunning 45-8 (.849) this season, which began June 21. However the GCL Nats did lose 2012 No. 1 pick Lucas Giolito, who was promoted to the Short Season-A Auburn Doubledays – and promptly won his first start, a gem of a performance earlier Wednesday afternoon. Giolito went five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, while striking out four. He did not walk a batter.
When fans of teams other than the Nationals think of Washington’s recent First-Year Player Draft history, they tend to focus on the pair of No. 1 overall picks, Stephen Strasburg from 2009 and Bryce Harper a year later.
However, Nationals fans know as well as anyone how important the second round of the draft can be. They drafted Jordan Zimmermann in the second round in 2007 out of little-known Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and two years later found another big leaguer in the recently promoted Jeff Kobernus. When their first pick came around at No. 68 this year, took the route they traveled six years ago, again daring to dream on a powerful, right-handed arm from a small school in Jake Johansen, a 6-foot-6 hurler out of Dallas Baptist University.
There were differing opinions of Johansen from the draft experts, but ESPN’s resident guru Keith Law had the Allen, Texas native ranked 63rd on his board heading into Thursday night. The Nationals liked what they saw, especially Director of Scouting Kris Kline, who watched Johansen pitch twice in games this year before inviting him to a workout in D.C. earlier this week.
“This is what we seek when we go out to the ballpark every day,” said Kline of finding a player like Johansen among the countless hours of driving around the country scouting amateur players.
Kline does not like to make Major League comparisons when discussing draft selections, but he conceded that Johansen’s arm action and delivery very were similar to that of Josh Beckett, another hard-throwing Texan.
With a fastball that can top out in triple digits, Johansen’s upside is obvious. Kline says he usually sits around 94 with his fastball, which is complemented by a pair of breaking balls – a hard cutter/slider that he throws around 88-90 and a curveball. Kline suggests that the former is already an out pitch, but sees both developing as the Nationals coaching staff gets a chance to work with him.
“There’s no reason why, with a few tweaks from our staff, this guy can’t be a front-line guy,” said Kline, who went on to compare him to Washington’s first selection in last year’s draft. “If you put him next to (Lucas) Giolito, you’ve got some pretty good-looking bookends.”
Of course, the Nationals had the different experience of patiently sitting through more than four hours of proceedings before they could finally make their pick. While that’s a good thing in the larger view of it all – drafting later means you’re performing better on the field at the Major League level – it was nonetheless a relief to finally be able to choose the player they hoped would be available after all that time.
“I’m glad he fell into our laps at 68,” said Kline. “When I called him up, I said, ‘Are you as excited as I am? I’ve been waiting all night for this.’”
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft continues Friday at 1 p.m. with selection number 74. The Nationals next selection does not come until the 105th pick.
As you may have noticed, MLB.com released its Top 20 prospects for each team earlier this week as part of its MLB Pipeline debut. There should be a number of names familiar to many Nationals fans, as the Top 10 on the list closely parallels that of the Baseball America rankings filed just a few weeks ago. The BA rankings came out prior to Washington’s reacquisition of A.J. Cole, who would have (as we can figure out through deductive reasoning, by his appearance as the fourth and final Nationals prospect on the overall Top 100) ranked in the top five. As such, seven of the same players appear among the 10 on each list.
Here is the full list of MLB.com’s Top 20, complete with links for those to whom we have already showcased one way or another within the last calendar year.
4. A.J. Cole – RHP
7. Eury Perez – OF
8. Destin Hood – OF
9. Matt Purke – LHP
10. Robbie Ray – LHP
11. Matt Skole – INF
12. Chris Marrero – INF
13. Sammy Solis – LHP
16. Taylor Jordan – RHP
17. Brandon Miller – OF
18. Sandy Leon – C
19. Jason Martinson – INF
20. Kylin Turnbull – LHP
Keep your eyes peeled for plenty more prospect coverage as Curly W Live heads to Spring Training in just a couple more weeks!
Earlier today, Baseball America unveiled its annual Top 10 Prospect List for the Washington Nationals heading into the 2013 season. There has been a lot of movement since last season, with only four of last year’s prospects returning to the list. The reason for this is two-fold: some names, like Bryce Harper and Steve Lombardozzi, have become fixtures at the Major League level, while others have been traded in deals for the likes of Gio Gonzalez and Denard Span, making the Nationals imminently more competitive in the present. In both senses, the farm system has done its job. But that hardly means it is now bereft of top-level talent.
The complete list, along with more information on each player, is listed below. We have already covered a good number of the prospects in our Down on the Farm reports this past season, and will pick up the rest during the 2013 campaign.
1. Anthony Rendon – INF | Last Year: 2
Considered by many to be the top bat in the 2011 Draft, the Nats snagged Rendon with the sixth overall pick. After dealing with an early-season injury, the Rice University product rebounded for a strong season, moving quickly through the system and finishing in the Arizona Fall League.
2. Lucas Giolito – RHP | Last Year: N/A
Taken with the 16th overall selection, the Nationals went for upside with Giolito, who showcased some of the best raw talent of any hurler in his draft class. Though he missed the end of his senior year of high school with an injury and has since had offseason surgery, Mike Rizzo and company are very high on the young pitcher, as are industry insiders like ESPN’s Keith Law and MLB Network’s Peter Gammons.
3. Brian Goodwin – OF | Last Year: 5
Another fast riser through the system, Goodwin crushed the South Atlantic League in the first half of his inaugural pro campaign to earn a two-level promotion to Double-A Harrisburg. He joined Rendon in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars game, where he homered as part of a 2-for-5 performance.
4. Matt Skole – INF | Last Year: 21
Skole opened eyes in his first full professional season. The Georgia Tech product clobbered 27 home runs in just 101 games at Low-A Hagerstown to earn South Atlantic League player of the year, even with a late-season promotion to Potomac. He showed tremendous patience, batting a combined .291/.426/.559, collecting 99 walks and 104 RBI. But despite the impressive display of power and run production, the biggest accolades for Skole within the organization came from as a result of his huge strides forward on defense at third base. That earned him Nationals Minor League Player of the Year honors.
5. Nathan Karns – RHP | Last Year: N/A
The highest mover from last year’s list (from being unranked in a group that runs 30 deep), Karns improved upon an encouraging 2011 season by lowering his walk rate and increasing his strikeouts, yielding tremendous results. He fanned 148 batters in just 116.0 innings, winning 11 games over two levels en route to the Nationals Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.
6. Christian Garcia – RHP | Last Year: N/A
It seems that on every team, every year, there is a surprise Minor Leaguer who breaks out and makes the big leagues as a September call-up. Garcia was that surprise this year, though his talent was well documented. Fully recovered from a second Tommy John surgery, the righty flashed a high-90s fastball and devastating slider to a 0.86 ERA with 66 strikeouts in just 52.1 innings across Double-A and Triple-A. He impressed enough in his debut to earn a spot on the playoff roster, and will likely have an impact as a member of the Nationals pitching staff.
7. Eury Perez – OF | Last Year: 22
A September call-up like Garcia, Perez was primarily used as a pinch-runner in the Majors in 2012, where the Nationals took advantage of his blazing speed. He actually posted better numbers in Triple-A than at Double-A last season, combining for a .314/.344/.361 line and 51 steals between three stops in the minors. Perez will still be just 22 on Opening Day, and will be in Major League camp come Spring Training.
8. Sammy Solis – LHP | Last Year: 8
Taken by the Nationals in the second round out of the University of San Diego back in 2010, Solis missed the 2012 season due to injury. Washington has high hopes for the lefty, who is on track to be fully healthy by spring after posting an 8-3 mark with a 3.13 ERA in 17 A-ball starts back in 2011.
9. Matt Purke – LHP | Last Year: 7
A third-round selection out of TCU in 2011, Purke made just three starts at Hagerstown this year before being shut down. The 6’4”, 205-pound lefty pitched well in the Arizona Fall League in 2011 and got some time against Major Leaguers in Spring Training this past season. With at least two plus pitches, Purke will be worth keeping an eye on this year.
10. Zach Walters – INF | Last Year: 19
Walters was the return chip from the Jason Marquis trade in 2011 and has proven to be a consistent, heady player as he has moved through the system. With his athletic, strong body and a plus arm, he’s a switch-hitter whose solid defense profiles across the infield. He reached Triple-A by the end of 2012 and, at just 23 years of age, seems to have a bright future ahead.