Results tagged ‘ Syracuse Chiefs ’

From The Desk of Mark Lerner: Meetings Complete

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Hello everyone. I am back in D.C. after a successful stay in Nashville for MLB’s annual Winter Meetings.

Obviously, our biggest strike came with the signing of right-hander Dan Haren. When word of the signing began to leak out on Monday, there was a palpable buzz resonating from Nashville. Everywhere I turned at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center (and trust me, there are a lot of twists and turns due to its EXPANSIVE layout), there was someone from the media or from another club complimenting the signing. Most commented on the ideal length and quality of our rotation.

Haren fits and he really wanted to be here. He was born just outside of Los Angeles and played the vast majority of his career on the West Coast. He had other offers, but in the end, he saw an opportunity to win with us here in D.C. That really closed the deal.

Mike Rizzo and company strategize in the Nationals team suite at the Baseball Winter Meetings.

Mike Rizzo and company strategize in the Nationals team suite at the Baseball Winter Meetings.

There is a belief that Stephen, Gio, Jordan and Ross will really learn something about pitching from watching Haren. He is a three-time All-Star and pitched in two postseasons. And at the same time, Haren might just benefit from the jolt that comes with keeping up with our four young guns.

- I had the opportunity to have breakfast with Bo Porter while in Nashville. Both personally and organizationally, we are so proud of Bo. He is obviously very excited about the opportunity with the Astros. He knows that they have some work to do and the switch to the AL will present its own unique challenges. But the Astros picked the right man, in my opinion. And he’s a hometown manager to boot.

- I very much enjoyed our annual Affiliates Reception on Tuesday night. Most don’t know this, but Minor League Baseball’s 150-plus affiliates actually account for the vast majority of the 3,000 that annually attend the Winter Meetings. I enjoyed chatting with our extended family from Syracuse, Harrisburg, Potomac, Hagerstown and Auburn. The Nationals are very thankful for their warmth, kindness and professionalism in welcoming players as they migrate through our system.

- Unofficially, most in baseball view the Winter Meetings as the offseason’s midpoint. So, take note … Spring Training is coming quick.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!! (CLICK FOR VIDEO)

2012 Player Review: Christian Garcia

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The Washington Nationals enjoyed unprecedented success in 2012, recording the best record in Major League Baseball. The team relied on the contributions of many different players, whom we will catalogue throughout the offseason as we look ahead to the 2013 campaign. Today we look at perhaps the most surprising contributor this season, reliever Christian Garcia.

Most Nationals fans had never heard of Christian Garcia at the beginning of Spring Training. Nearly all knew his name by the time the 2012 season was over. An impressive stint as a September call-up gave Washington another promising power arm near the back of the bullpen. But you have to look beyond Garcia’s accomplishments once he got that call-up to understand just how good of a year he had already put together before ever reaching the Major Leagues in the first place.

Garcia’s spectacular 2012 landed him a September call-up.

In 58 relief appearances between Double-A Harrisburg, Triple-A Syracuse and Washington, the 27 year-old righty went 2-1 with a 1.11 ERA (8 ER/65.0 IP), converting all 21 of his save opportunities (all in the minors). He allowed just 58 baserunners (39 hits, 19 walks), good for a 0.89 WHIP, while striking out 81 batters, a rate of better than 11 per nine innings pitched. Those are the type of eye-popping, head-turning numbers that accompany an arsenal topped by a high 90s fastball and a late-breaking, hard-diving slider, like the one Garcia possesses when he is healthy.

Unfortunately, those last four words – when he is healthy – have followed Garcia around for much of his career and adversely impacted his Major League aspirations. Formerly a starter in the Yankees system, the 6’5” righty was originally drafted in the third round out of high school by New York back in 2004, but had never advanced beyond Triple-A. While his career Minor League numbers – a 3.22 ERA and 10.1 K/9 IP – showed his potential, Garcia had been sidelined with elbow trouble, undergoing not one, but two Tommy John surgeries to replace the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow.

While an often daunting rehab process awaits, with advancements in modern medicine, today’s pitchers have achieved remarkable recovery rates from a single Tommy John surgery. However, considering how crucial the UCL is to the success of a pitcher, it should come as no surprise that patients who have undergone multiple surgeries, as Garcia has, face an even more challenging road to recapturing their original form. For him to be pitching at all, much less to the degree of success he found in 2012, is already remarkable. It also explains why the Nationals were able to ever have the chance to sign a talent like Garcia to a minor league free agent deal in the first place.

There is some debate as to whether Garcia will return to a starter’s role in 2013, or work out of the bullpen. One thing is for sure – the Nationals found a diamond in the rough in Garcia, who will no doubt be a prime candidate to compete for a spot on the staff this spring.

- SEE ALL OUR 2012 PLAYER REVIEWS -

What to Watch For: 9/14

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Washington Nationals (89-54) vs. Atlanta Braves (81-63)

LHP Ross Detwiler (9-6, 3.23) vs. RHP Kris Medlen (8-1, 1.64)

The Nationals are coming off an off day following their three-game sweep of the Mets at Citi Field. Tonight, they open their final regular season matchup against the division-rival Braves in Atlanta as Ross Detwiler looks to join the double-digit wins club.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Espinosa 2B

7. Bernadina LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Detwiler LHP

REMEMBER WHEN…

John Lannan earned his third win in three big league starts this season as Washington completed a three-game road sweep of Mets with a 2-0 victory on Wednesday night at Citi Field. After a 24-start stint with Triple-A Syracuse, Lannan jumped back into the Nationals rotation and fired 5.2 scoreless Innings. Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond hit solo shots to provide the offense for Lannan and five relievers, who combined on Washington’s ninth shutout of the season. With the win, the Nationals improved to a season-high 35 games above .500 and their lead in the NL East rose to a franchise-best 8.5 games.

WHAT’S 79 YEARS BETWEEN FRIENDS?

The Nationals next victory will be their 90th of the season. The last team from the Nation’s Capital to reach the 90-win threshold was the 99-win ‘33 AL Nationals, 79 years ago.

SERIESLY NOTABLE

Washington has scored at least five runs in 10 of 15 games against Atlanta this year. Having already clinched the ‘12 season series, the Nationals are 3-1-1 in season series play against the Braves dating to ‘08. Beginning with Ryan Zimmerman’s memorable game-ending homer on March 30, 2008 to open Nationals Park, Washington is 49-38 (.563) overall against Atlanta. Since landing in D.C. in ‘05, Washington has more wins over the Braves (73) than any other club (Mets, 70). Washington has also won 17 of 28 games at Turner Field dating to Oct. 2009. Chipper Jones’ 23 homers against the Nationals (2005-pres.) rank third behind only Ryan Howard (35) and Hanley Ramirez (27).

DATE IN DC BASEBALL

September 14, 1947: In the first game of doubleheader sweep, Detroit’s Vic Wertz hits for the cycle as Detroit thumps the AL Nationals, 16-6, at Griffith Stadium.

September 14, 2011: The Nationals blank the Mets, 2-0, at Citi Field as Brad Peacock tosses five scoreless innings to garner the win in his second big league start.

- FOLLOW NATIONALS VS. BRAVES LIVE -

The Ballad of John Lannan

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Perhaps the toughest personnel decision the Nationals faced all year long came well before the national spotlight shined upon their impressive run towards October baseball. Way back on March 31, after the Nationals finished their final exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox, manager Davey Johnson announced to the local press corps that the team had made the decision to keep hard-throwing lefty Ross Detwiler as the fifth starter in the rotation. With a top four that featured Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, that meant that John Lannan, the club’s Opening Day starter in both 2009 and 2010, was the odd man out. The man who led the team in wins the year prior would open the season at Triple-A Syracuse.

“It was definitely tough for him going down to Syracuse after being the Opening Day starter here two years in a row,” said Nationals outfielder Corey Brown, who played with Lannan much of the season with the Chiefs.

Amidst a trying season, Lannan delivered one of the Nationals biggest victories all year.

Lannan did not respond well at first to his new assignment. He gave up five runs in just two innings of work in his first start. While things slowly got better from there, he was still plagued by inconsistencies. But he put his head down and pushed forward, grinding through the long bus rides and small, sometimes rundown ballparks that are a way of life in the minors. When the Nationals faced a dire situation – needing an extra starter in a crucial July series against Atlanta – they called upon Lannan’s services for the first time. He watched the team build a 9-0 lead, only to let it slip away in an 11-10 series opening loss. The next day, the Nationals were shut out in the opening game of the doubleheader, cutting their division lead to a precarious 1.5 games. With the direction of their season at a crossroads, they handed the ball to Lannan.

He allowed a pair of first-inning runs, but shut the potent Braves lineup down the rest of the way, as the Nationals chipped away with single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to retake control of the game and the direction of their season. His work done, Lannan was shipped back to Syracuse after the game.

Two weeks later, the Nationals faced the same situation, needing the services of a sixth starter for a doubleheader, this time against the Marlins. Again Lannan allowed a first-inning run, then cruised as the Washington offense scored seven times in the first four frames behind him. For Lannan, it was a second crucial spot-start, a second win and a third option, back to Syracuse, to wait until September and the expansion of the rosters. But the pitcher who had gone a pedestrian 6-10 with a 5.24 ERA looked like a whole new player on the mound. He pitched to a 3-1 record with a 1.63 ERA in August, finishing his minor league season with consecutive shutouts before rejoining the big league club for September.

“He battled, he continued to pitch,” recalled Brown. “He had a rough little patch, but he finished well and that’s definitely going to help him leading up to today’s start.”

Tonight, Lannan takes center stage in his hometown of New York. While the national media may not get to enjoy their anticipated frenzy over Stephen Strasburg’s final start of the season, they will instead get an even better story, one of a man who has done as much to earn his place on the mound tonight as anyone in a Nationals uniform.

“It’s great to be able to come back and pitch in my hometown, where I grew up watching baseball,” said the Long Beach, NY native. “Just staying in the city, just being back in the city, it’s a good vibe.”

Humble and thankful, Lannan is eager to help the Nationals down the stretch.

Lannan could be bitter from his time spent back in the minors, but instead he seems calm and collected, happy to be back at the top of the game, pitching in the most important games of his professional career with a Nationals club that is competitive for the first time in its young history.

“It’s been great. I’ve battled with these guys the last four years,” Lannan says of his second chance. “They’re my teammates, they’re my friends.”

One of Lannan’s close friends and teammates, Ian Desmond, has been one of the most vocal in supporting him through a trying season. The two played together as they rose through the system as well as the last several years in the District.

“Any time you go through struggles, in life or in baseball, it makes you stronger,” said Desmond. “Once you go back to the Minor Leagues, you remember where you came from. When you get back up (to the majors), it brings that joy back to you, helps you overcome. It kind of puts everything in perspective. I know he’s already bounced back twice, and I hope he continues to come out, pitch to the best of his ability, and help us to the promised land.”

Down on the Farm: Zach Walters

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One of the names flying under the radar a bit in the Nationals Minor League system is switch-hitting infielder Zach Walters. Rated as the organization’s 12th-best prospect by MLB.com entering the season, Walters was acquired straight up from Arizona for right-hander Jason Marquis shortly before the 2011 non-waiver trade deadline. Originally a ninth-round selection from the 2010 First-Year Player Draft by the Diamondbacks, the infielder had not played above the Low-A Midwest League until coming over to the Nationals organization. That didn’t stop Washington from immediately promoting Walters to High-A Potomac, where he finished out the year with solid numbers, earning himself a call to the Arizona Fall League prospect showcase.

Walters had moved up two levels in the Nationals system this year.

That performance earned him a couple of auditions as an extra man, joining the big league club for a few Spring Training games this March. On one notable occasion, Walters accompanied the club on a trip to St. Lucie to play a night game against the New York Mets. After entering the game off the bench in the late innings, Walters made a highlight-reel diving stop up the middle, capturing the attention of the press corps. However, shortly afterward he broke the hamate bone in his right hand, costing him the end of his spring and the first couple weeks of his season.

“It’s been a struggle,” explained Walters of the injury that stalled him early in the year. “Being hurt, you want to get back on the field as quickly as possible, even when you aren’t ready sometimes.”

The Cheyenne, Wyoming native got off to a slow start as he rehabbed from the injury, opening the year just 1-for-22 with 10 strikeouts at Potomac. But he recovered nicely and had a nine-game hitting streak going when he was promoted to Double-A Harrisburg in mid-June. The infielder continued to produce with the Senators, posting a .293/.326/.518 slash line with 21 of his 48 hits going for extra bases in his 43 games played, all at shortstop. That was enough to earn him a second in-season promotion to Triple-A Syracuse, where he is currently playing. Once he processed his time on the Disabled List, Walters was able to make the most out of the experience.

Walters’ versatility compares to Steve Lombardozzi, while his athleticism is reminiscent of Ian Desmond.

“I feel like it was a blessing in disguise,” he says of his early-season speed bump. “I got a chance to go over some little things and really appreciate being out here on the field.”

Still just 22 years of age, Walters does not have any one particular skill that jumps off the page, but he is solid across the board. Standing an athletic 6’2” and just under 200 pounds, the University of San Diego product’s best trait might be his maturity, both on and off the field. While his skill set and versatility profile more like Steve Lombardozzi’s, his build and athleticism are more evocative of that of current Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond. That combination of a solid work ethic, combined with an appreciation for his new organization have helped Walters move quickly through the system and raise his stock as a prospect.

“I’ve been thankful for everything this year,” said Walters. “It hasn’t been ‘work’ at all.”

Down on the Farm: Tyler Moore

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Ed. Note: Here at Curly W Live, we will be taking a closer look at some of the top up-and-coming prospects in the Nationals farm system throughout the 2012 season. Make sure to vote in our poll at the end of this article to help determine which player we will profile next.

There have been plenty of heralded prospects making their way up the ranks of the Nationals farm system over the last few years. Strong, talent-rich drafts have stocked Washington’s minor league affiliates to the point that prior to the Gio Gonzalez trade – which sent four of the club’s top 13-rated prospects to the Oakland AthleticsBaseball America had the Nationals ranked as the top overall minor league system in the game heading into 2012. Even after that deal, there are plenty of big names left, led of course by Bryce Harper. Those who keep their eyes on the minors will get their first glimpse of the likes of Anthony Rendon and the first regular season action for Matt Purke, who made his professional debut in the Arizona Fall League. These few will dominate the headlines, but we begin this season’s slate with one of the most promising power hitters in the system, Tyler Moore.

Moore sizes up a blast while with Potomac in 2010. (Steve Mihelerakis)

At the minor league level, where seasons are shorter and younger players are still filling out their athletic frames, large power totals are rare. In fact, only 15 minor leaguers hit 30 or more home runs in 2011, and only two have turned the trick in each of the last two years. The first name may ring a bell: Paul Goldschmidt. He was the rookie phenom who, after swatting 35 longballs for Double-A Mobile, was called up in September and played a key role in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ run to the National League West crown. The other player was Moore, a soft-spoken first baseman who, even after such an impressive two-year run, still does not appear in Baseball America’s top 10 prospect list for the Nationals.

Ranking or no ranking, that kind of power will earn you some respect and, in Moore’s case, some investment from the organization. The slugger was added to the 40-Man Roster in November, along with Eury Perez, Jhonatan Solano and the recently traded Derek Norris, to prevent him from being selected by another club in the annual Rule V Draft.

“This was his protection year,” explained Doug Harris, the Nationals Director of Player Development. “With power being a premium in today’s game, we felt like it was an easy decision for us.”

While Harris was not yet with the organization back when Moore first came into the system, he saw him as an opposing player while Harris was with the Cleveland Indians and Moore was at Low-A Hagerstown in 2008.

“As an opposing scout watching him, he was a guy that could always impact the baseball,” recalled Harris. “When he was in Hagerstown, it was really pole-to-pole power. Really his best power was to right-center, which is a true indicator of a guy who has a chance to come into bigger power down the road. So you saw glimpses of it, and I think a lot of the doubles he hit in Hagerstown got turned into home runs over the last couple of years.”

Moore slides feet first into second. (Steve Mihelerakis)

After hitting 30 two-baggers but just nine home runs in 111 games at Hagerstown in 2009, Moore got off to a rough start his next season at High-A Potomac. In 79 games through July 12, he had collected 47 RBI, but was batting just .191. Moore made an adjustment, though, and turned his season around completely. Over his final 50 contests, he went a staggering 76-for-193 (.394) with 21 home runs and 64 RBI. He would go on to lead the Carolina League in home runs (31), RBI (111), doubles (43), slugging percentage (.552), extra-base hits (77) and total bases (277), earning both league MVP honors and the Nationals Organizational Player of the Year. Moore put together another impressive campaign last year in the pitcher-friendly Eastern League, where he matched his home run total of 31, and again lead the league in RBI, extra-base hits and total bases.

In fact, in 189 games played since his remarkable turnaround, the 6’2”, 210-pound righty has swatted 52 home runs and driven in 154.

“When you break down the 2010 season that he had at Potomac…he really came into his own in the second half,” explained Harris. “It’s a credit to him. He’s a tireless worker, he never wavered in his approach or his intent day-to-day, and it really speaks volumes about who he is.”

Like many sluggers with such impressive power numbers, Moore also racks up his fair share of strikeouts, averaging 125 K’s over the past three seasons. However, he has also batted a very respectable .277 over that same stretch and it’s hard to argue with the run production.

Clearly, the Nationals have seen something in Moore’s potential ever since he was just a prep player at Northwest Rankin High School in Brandon, Mississippi. They actually drafted him on three separate occasions: in the 41st round straight out of high school in 2005, in the 33rd round after a year at Meridian Junior College in 2006, and finally in the 16th round after two years at Mississippi State in 2008. Moore signed at last, and has spent each of the last four seasons at a different level of the farm system, slowly playing his way up to Double-A in 2011. Now, as he enters his first big league camp in Florida, Moore will face new pressures and expectations from the Nationals staff. So, just how high is Moore’s ceiling?

Moore's power continued at Harrisburg in 2011. (Will Bentzel)

“I think a lot of that is really up to Tyler,” said Harris. “He’s obviously put together two very productive years back-to-back. He’s going to be given an opportunity at a higher level and a chance to continue to show what he’s capable of doing. I know that our Major League staff is excited to get a glimpse of him in Spring Training.”

As for how Moore will respond to the challenge, Harris is not worried.

“Tyler is a very high-character young man, a tremendous teammate,” said Harris. “He’s an early-to-the-ballpark kind of guy. He blends with every mix of player. He’s a quiet leader, not a big-time vocal leader, but he’s got a great presence and he’s very well-liked amongst his teammates.”

Those traits should serve him well, as Harris suggested that the coaching staff may try Moore out at several defensive positions to see where he can best fit into the Nationals’ future plans. Originally drafted as a third baseman, he has played exclusively at first base (or been a designated hitter) in his 448 career minor league games. Harris said the staff has tried him in the outfield a bit as well, and that they will continue to “kick the tires” on that experiment moving forward. Either way, it will just be one more adjustment, something Moore has shown that he’s good at making.

“There’s an adjustment period going to a new level each year,” said Harris. “I know that he’s preparing himself to be ready to go out of the gate this year. He’s a kid that’s had to earn everything he’s got.”

While Moore seems destined for Syracuse in April, if he is able to find similar success at the Triple-A level in 2012 as he has the past two years, fans in the District may get a glimpse of him before the year is out.

Video: Moore goes deep for Harrisburg

30 Players in 30 Days: Craig Stammen

Craig Stammen

The Nationals relied on their young guns all season long–they knew there would be growing pains and there were. Craig Stammen made his Major League debut on May 21 against the Pirates and went on to lead all Nationals rookies with 19 starts. He went 6.1 innings in that first start with three strikeouts and four earned runs. He received the no-decision in the 5-4 victory. He was one of three Nationals–Jordan Zimmermann and J.D. Martin being the others–to make their debut this season as a starter. The Nationals led the National League with 95 starts by rookie pitchers. That’s more than the Red Sox, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Dodgers, Brewers, Mets, Yankees, Pirates, Giants and Cardinals combined. Those teams only had 75 starts by rookies collectively–still 20 short of the Nationals.

A pitcher’s first Major League win is always a memorable moment but Stammen made it a magical moment. On June 18 at the new Yankee Stadium, Stammen kept the Bronx Bombers bats at bay pitching 6.1 scoreless innings. The win secured the series victory over the Yankees.

Stammen was drafted by the Nationals in 2005 and slowly worked his way up to the Majors. Before his call up this year, he pitched seven games for Triple-A Syracuse and was named the Syracuse Pitcher of the Month for April. In that time, he went 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA and .205 BAA in four starts.

Stammen struggled at times, like all rookies, but pitched well in July. If Stammen can pitch in 2010 like he pitched in July of 2009–2-2 with a 3.18 ERA (34.0 IP/ 12 ER)–he will be a force at the back end of the rotation. He also had a season-best K/BB ratio of 2.60 during that month too. The highlight of the month was on July 11 when Stammen threw a complete game in a 13-2 win at Houston. He scattered nine hits with two strikeouts and only one walk.

While Stammen didn’t have a winning record, he held his own in his first Major League season. Stammen did not get to finish the season and was shut down in September due to bone spurs in his elbow. He had arthroscopic surgery and should be fully recovered by Spring Training 2010.

 

Craig Stammen Final Major League Stats

W

L

ERA

G/GS

SHO

IP

H

R

ER

HR

HBP

BB

SO

AVG

WHIP

GO/AO

4

7

5.11

19/19

0

105.2

112

67

60

14

3

24

48

.271

1.29

1.35

 

 

Craig Stammen Final Minor League Stats

W

L

ERA

G/GS

SHO

IP

H

R

ER

HR

HBP

BB

SO

AVG

WHIP

GO/AO

4

2

1.80

7/7

0

40.0

33

10

8

4

0

8

14

.223

1.03

2.03

 
082309-129 craig stammen.JPG

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