Results tagged ‘ Robert Benincasa ’
While the Major League club continues to fight its uphill climb toward the fifth and final postseason spot in the National League, the Washington Nationals Minor League system has combined to compile quite a year. Four of the six stateside affiliates clinched postseason spots, with one already taking home its league title.
After cruising through the regular season, the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals swept through the postseason to claim the GCL Championship on Sunday.
The GCL Nats, who set a Minor League Baseball record for the best domestic regular-season winning percentage (49-9, .845), defeated the GCL Pirates in a one-game semifinal on Friday, 6-1, to reach the best-of-three championship. On Saturday, they snatched a 10-3, come-from-behind win over the GCL Red Sox at the Washington Nationals Training Complex in Viera, then followed that with a 7-2 win, in Game 2 on the road in Fort Myers to earn the title.
The pitching staff, which led the league in ERA, WHIP and shutouts this season, compiled a 1.67 ERA through the playoffs, led by righty Wander Suero and southpaw Hector Silvestre. Suero tossed five solid innings in the clincher, allowing just one run on one hit with seven strikeouts, while Silvestre shut down the Pirates in the semifinal with six shutout innings in which he allowed just one hit and struck out seven.
Offensively, the GCL Nats showed pop in all three playoff games, but impressively used an eight-run outburst in the seventh inning of Game 1 of the Championship Series to erase a 3-0 GCL Red Sox lead. Randy Encarnacion collected five hits, four runs scored and five RBI throughout the three-game postseason run, while Drew Ward added four hits, three runs and four RBI.
The Nationals have three other playoff-bound affiliates remaining, with the Low-A Hagerstown Suns, High-A Potomac Nationals and Double-A Harrisburg Senators and each headed for the postseason.
South Atlantic League First Half Northern Division Champion Hagerstown (80-57) will take on the West Virginia Power (Pirates) in a best-of-three series, where the Suns will have the home-field advantage for the final two games. The series opens Wednesday at 7:05 p.m., while the Augusta GreenJackets (Giants) and Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) battle for the Southern Division title.
Two Hagerstown representatives earned SAL All-Star honors in second baseman Tony Renda and Manager Tripp Keister. Renda leads the league in games played (134), at-bats (517), doubles (43) and runs scored (99). Keister is in his first season with the Suns after helming the GCL Nationals last year. Both were also named as midseason All-Stars.
Potomac (84-55) claimed both first- and second-half Carolina League Northern Division titles and will face the Lynchburg Hillcats (Braves) in a best-of-three set starting Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. at Pfitzner Stadium. By virtue of winning both halves, the P-Nats will enjoy home-field advantage for all three games of the series, should a third game be necessary. The winner will take on either the Salem Red Sox or Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Rangers) in the best-of-five Mills Cup Championship Series.
Potomac righty reliever Robert Benincasa and outfielders Michael Taylor and Billy Burns were chosen as year-end Carolina League All-Stars. The trio ties the P-Nats with the Carolina Mudcats (Indians) for most representatives on the roster. Benincasa has registered 25 saves in 26 chances between Hagerstown and Potomac this season, logging a 3.54 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 28.0 innings since his promotion in June. Taylor leads the league in doubles (39) and extra-base hits (55) and has also fired 20 outfield assists this season. Burns, who was recently promoted to Harrisburg, led the Carolina league in batting average (.312) and steals (54) in 91 games.
Burns and Harrisburg (77-65) will face the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers) in the first round of the Eastern League playoffs, as the Senators wrapped up their Western Division title with a 1-0 shutout Monday. They will play in a best-of-five set starting Wednesday, and the winner will advance to the Eastern League Championship series for another best-of-five showdown with either the Binghamton Mets or Trenton Thunder (Yankees).
The Senators feature a dynamic starting rotation, headlined by righthanders Nathan Karns and A.J. Cole, and rising lefty Robbie Ray. Karns, who made his Major League debut in May, went 10-6 with a 3.26 ERA and 155 strikeouts in 132.2 innings this year for Harrisburg. Cole, acquired from Oakland prior to the season, had a terrific finish in Double-A after starting the season in Potomac. He went 4-2 in seven starts for the Senators, compiling a 2.18 ERA and 0.904 WHIP in 45.1 innings of work. The 21-year-old Ray capped off a breakthrough campaign with an 11-5 record across two levels, striking out a system-high 160 batters in 142 innings.
To catch all the Nationals Minor League postseason action streaming online, click here for gameday audio listings.
The 2012 First-Year Player Draft is in full swing, with rounds 2-15 taking place on Tuesday. The Draft got started with a televised round one on Monday night, and will conclude with the final 35 rounds taking place on Wednesday. In the meantime, here’s a little more on the Nationals top 10 selections from this year’s crop.
1. RHP Lucas Giolito | 6’6” – 230 | Harvard-Westlake HS, North Hollywood, CA | 16th overall
See our complete breakdown of Giolito here.
2. 2B Tony Renda | 5’8” – 180 | University of California-Berkeley | 80th overall
The 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year, Renda has drawn Dustin Pedroia comparisons due to his surprising power at his size. A plus defensive second baseman, Renda hit .342 with 16 2B, 5 HR and 27 RBI in 54 games for the Bears en route to being named a 2012 third-team TPX All-American in 2012. Renda leaves Cal tied for fourth on the schools all-time career doubles list with 51. In 2012, he led the Golden Bears with 16 SB and 29 BB.
Scout’s Take: In our opinion, Tony has the quickest bat in the draft. He has always hit. He brings controlled aggression and a strong, compact swing. He has tremendous makeup and is a great kid. – Kris Kline, Nationals Director of Scouting
3. LHP Brett Mooneyham | 6’5” – 235 | Stanford University | 111th overall
Mooneyham was selected as a fourth-year junior out of Renda’s college rival, Stanford. The tall lefty was the Cardinal’s number two starter this season, following eighth overall selection Mark Appel (PIT). Mooneyham went 7-5 with a 4.26 ERA over 14 starts and was fourth in the Pac-12 with 90 strikeouts.
Scout’s Take: A plus athlete with a fastball that touches 97 to go along with a plus curveball and changeup. Mooneyham projects as high as a number three starter. His father, Bill, was a former Major Leaguer. – Kline
4. OF Brandon Miller | 6’1” – 208 | Samford University | 144th overall
A senior redraft by the Nationals, who also selected him in the 48th round in 2010 (the Red Sox selected him out of high school in ’08), Miller led NCAA with 23 HR while being named 2nd team Louisville Slugger All-America. He leaves Samford as the career leader in HR with 39.
Scout’s Take: A redraft out of Junior College, he has middle of the lineup power. Miller is a versatile catcher who profiles both at right field and catcher and has great makeup. His profile reminds me of our own Tyler Moore. – Eric Robinson, SE Area Supervisor
5. C Spencer Kieboom | 6’0” – 220 | Clemson University | 174th overall
A junior, Kieboom was rated the #84 prospect in the preseason by Baseball America. The backstop is a two-time ACC Academic Honor Roll member
Scout’s Take: We thought Spencer was one of the best defensive catchers in the country. He hit very well during ACC play. He’s a workhorse. – Nationals Assistant GM Roy Clark
6. OF Hayden Jennings | 6’0” – 170 | Evangel Christian Academy (LA) | 204th overall
Jennings logged a .439 batting average along with a 0.00 ERA in three pitching starts. The outfielder hit 12 home runs as a leadoff man, driving home 31 RBI and swiping a perfect 23-for-23 on the base paths. Jennings was an honorable mention All-American as a junior in 2011.
Scout’s Take: He’s a center fielder that can really run. He’s a plus defensive player overall and a leadoff hitter. – Kline
7. RHP Robert Benincasa | 6’1” – 180 | Florida State University | 234th overall
In 29 appearances in 2012, Benincasa allowed just five earned runs in 35.0 innings pitched (1.29 ERA), going 4-1 with a team-leading 15 saves along the way. He was named first team All-ACC, a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, a third team All-American by Collegiate Baseball ,and a finalist for Stopper of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Scout’s Take: He’s put up tremendous numbers this year. He goes 90-92 with a sinker and uses the slider as an out pitch. He’s a strike thrower with good command and good feel. He should progress quickly through the system. – Kline
8. SS Stephen Perez | 5’11” – 175 | University of Miami | 264th overall
While he may be better known for his fielding, Perez led the University of Miami with four triples, 18 stolen bases and 32 walks. He also ranked among team leaders in doubles (tied-second, 12) and home runs (second, five).
Scout’s Take: Perez is a switch hitter that displays some power from the right side. He’s a very solid, smart base runner. He is a slick fielder up the middle. He displays some flash, some flare, some excitement. – Kline
9. RHP Derek Self | 6’3” – 205 | University of Louisville | 294th overall
Selected in the 27th round as a junior by Oakland, Self returned for his senior year and led the Cardinals with seven saves in 26 relief appearances. The righty posted a modest 3.41 ERA, but his 23-5 strikeout to walk ratio bodes well, and only five of the 34 hits he allowed went for extra bases.
Scout’s Take: We’ve been watching him for two years. Has a hard slider and his fastball is 90-93. He began the season as Louisville’s setup man but eventually took over the closer role. – National Crosschecker Jeff Zona
10. C Craig Manuel | 6’1” – 205 | Rice University | 324th overall
Manuel showed a great eye at the plate, drawing 18 walks while striking out just 13 times his senior year. The backstop also logged a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage behind the plate.
Scout’s Take: He’s been a starter for 3 years and has handled all of their big pitchers. Very good receiver, very good thrower. His coach called him one of the best situational hitters in college baseball. – National Crosschecker Jimmy Gonzales