Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Minor League Rotations Cycle #15: good/bad/soso

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Is Stammen lining himself up as the next MLB spot-starter? Photo unknown credit via

Both the Carolina league and the South Atlantic league start this cycle on all-star break.  We had various members of Potomac and Hagerstown make and play in the all star games.  See the Tuesday 6/21 link below for a quick review of all-star game participants.

Note on how I’m defining “starters” for this post: since the short-seasons generally are easing pitchers into future starting roles, there’s sometimes two starters listed per game.  Especially if one guy starts and goes 3 innings, then another goes for 3-4 afterwards.  I’ll mention both these players for each game they do this, hoping that eventually the rotations will stabilize.

Here are the daily links from NationalsProspects, for reference below:


  • JD Martin had a nice 6/21 start; 6ip, 2er (on a 2 run homer).  Was this a spot start?  (See news and notes section).
  • Colin Bates had his second nice “start” in a row (since his previous appearance was actually in relief).  5 innings of one-hit ball to continue Auburn’s nice start to the season.  The Citizen posted an interesting human-interest story about Bates here at (where you can get an RSS feed of Doubleday stories).
  • Matt Chico had a decent rehab start in the GCL; 4 innings, 4 hits and just one run.  Why is he getting stretched out?  He’s been in a situational lefty role all year, and there’s no room for starters in AAA.  If anything, the team needs to replace LOOGY Doug Slaten in the majors, and Chico could be a logical candidate.
  • Adalberto Mieses got the “relief start” in the GCL on 6/21 and pitched well.  4ip, 3 hits, one run with 4 ks.  A good stateside start for the DSL 2010 graduate.
  • Tom Milone‘s 6/22 start was a tale of two innings.  6ip, 5hits and 3 runs despite 0 walks and 7Ks.   He gave up a run in the 3rd by advancing a runner into scoring position via a Balk, then giving up a bloop hit.  In the 6th he gave up a double then a homer to turn 5 baserunners into 3 runs and give his line a mediocre feeling.  In reality 5 baserunners in 6 innings is pretty good, and Milone departed having completed 6 innings with a 7-3 lead after only 81 pitches.  It seems to me he could probably have gone at least 8, but Gaudin needed some rehab work.  The nights work extends his ridiculously good k/bb ratio on the season to 89/5 in 81 innings.
  • Ryan Demmin was dominant for Auburn on 6/22: 5P, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 3K.   As well as he should be, having also dominated this level last year.  Unfortunately, he’s now in short-A for the 2nd year in a row, making him rather “old” for the league.  Lets hope he gets his mojo back and can get back to Potomac.
  • Craig Stammen made perhaps his best start of the season (certainly since mid-April) on 6/23: 8.1 IP, 5H, 2R, 0ER, 1BB, 9K.  I’ve always liked Stammen; his FIP and xFIP were 2nd best on the team of any starter in 2010 not named Strasburg.  I always felt he was unlucky on the mound and pitched better than his ERA and W/L record.  What I find interesting is the franchise’s handling of  him; is he a starter or is he a reliever?  He’s been starting all year in Syracuse, but he featured in a relief mode when he was called up earlier this year, and he was demoted to long-relief last year mid-season.  If his best shot at the majors is in a relief mode, then he should be relieving in AAA.  That being said… his numbers in AAA as a starter have been pretty good this season.  Maybe he’s still in line for a starter promotion (though he’s clearly behind Milone for “next guy to get called up”).
  • Erik Davis had a good quality start on 6/23: 6IP, 6H, 2R, ER, 2BB, 3K.  Nothing special, not incredibly dominant, but a good consistent performance.  He gives up a lot of baserunners but he’s only really had one “bad” outing all season and seems like a decent trade bounty for Alberto Gonzalez at this point.
  • Wirkin Estevez certainly rebounded nicely from his previous bad start on 6/23: 5IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 5K.  This team looks like it may have several dominant arms early on.
  • Another start, another ho-hum excellent outing in AA for Brad Peacock: 62/3 IP, 5H, 0R, BB, 6K.   At some point, the team is going to have to make room for him in Syracuse to see what he does at the next level, because he’s clearly exhausted the challenges facing him in AA.
  • Taylor Jordan continues to impress at Hagerstown, going for 7IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 8K on 6/24.  His last few starts weren’t necessarily impressive but his numbers on the season as a whole are good.  He now stands at 8-3 with a 2.83 era.
  • Nathan Karns was fantastic in a 3inning “start” on 6/24: 3IP, 1H, 0R, 1BB, 5K.  I’m not sure if he’s a “starter” or not but we’ll consider this a “stretching out” exercise.
  • Christian Meza pitched just as effectively as Karns on 6/24: 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 5K.
  • Yuniesky Maya started out well on 6/24 but the game was suspended, so we’ll give him a “good” for 3 clean innings of work.
  • Brad Meyers had a good quality start on 6/24: 6IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 3K.
  • Erik Arneson had an excellent AA outing on 6/25: 7IP, 8H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 9K.
  • 2011 draftee Manny Rodriguez threw 3 excellent innings for Auburn on 6/25 as he continues to get stretched out for (possibly) a rotational spot.  3IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 3K.
  • Gregory Baez threw a pretty dominant GCL start on 6/25: 6IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, BB, K.


  • All we can say about Brandon King‘s 2011 debut was, wow.  4⅓ IP, 8H, 12R, 12ER, 4BB, 5Ks.  King was a late-round highschool pick in 2009 who signed (a rarity) and is now repeating the GCL for the third season.  I hate to say it, but he was bad last year, this start was pretty durn awful, and you have to wonder about the future prospects of a guy who can’t pitch his way out of the rookie league.
  • Pedro Encarnation has not started the Short-A well.  His 6/24 start: 3⅓ IP, 6H, 5R, 5ER, 0BB, 0K, 2HR.
  • Paul Demny got rocked for Potomac on 6/25: 6IP, 12H, 6R, 2ER, BB, 3K.  Not a good follow up to one of his best starts of the year.


  • Shairon Martis had a good and bad outing 6/21: he gave up 8 hits but had 8Ks to go with them.   Martis has pretty good AA numbers at this point; not sure what he’s proving by staying down there.  I think the team needs to decide if he’s a prospect or if he’s an org player.
  • Tanner Roark was *just* quite not dominant enough to give him a “good” start, despite his 6/22 outing qualifying as a “quality start.”  Line: 6⅓ IP 5H, 3ER, 2BB, 5K.   Unlike Milone, who also gave up 3 runs in 6 innings on only 5 hits Roark had a couple of walks and not as many Ks.  He’s just not dominating guys like he did last year.  My concern for Roark is that he’s now repeating AA in his 4th pro season out of college and should be improving, not getting worse.
  • Adam Olbrychowski‘s first start as a rotation regular in Potomac was ok: 5IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 7K.  Lots of strikeouts, which is promising.  He got the win for his efforts.
  • Matt Grace certainly improved from his previous debacle of a start, spinning a QS on 6/23: 6IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 6K.  He’s slightly unlucky with 6 baserunners turning into 3 runs, but I like the K/9 rates.
  • Trevor Holder had a decent start on 6/24: 5⅓ IP, 7H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, 3K.
  • Ryan Tatusko got a psuedo-start on 6/25, finishing Maya’s game with 4 soso innings.  4IP, 6H, 2ER, BB, 4K, HR.
  • Sammy Solis continues to stretch out in Hagerstown, having an up and down game on 6/25: 7IP, 7H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 5K, WP, HBP.
  • Kelvin Lopez pitched 4 innings on 6/25, going for 4IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 1K.

Relievers of Note and other Thoughts

  • Why did JD Martin get a Syracuse start?  He seems to have taken Brad Meyers‘ normal turn, but Meyers pitched later on in the cycle.  Seems odd; normally you plan for the need for a 2nd starter because of DHs when they arise, not 5 days prior.
  • Masn’s Byron Kerr had a nice little feature about Denny Rosenbaum.
  • Brad Peacock and Bryce Harper were named to the US team for the Futures Game, high praise indeed for both players.  These rosters are essentially Minor League all star teams and the rosters read like whos-who’s of the top prospects of today.
  • Peacock also got a mention from Byron Kerr here, talking about his mechanics.
  • Evan Bronson seems to have been the victim of Potomac’s Adam Olbrychowski-as-a-starter experiment.  Bronson wasn’t lights-out as a spot starter and moves back to the bullpen.  He may get another chance if the team tires of Trevor Holder’s mediocre performances.
  • Christopher McKenzie, who started the year in Hagerstown’s but had three horrific starts in a row early in the season, got absolutely hammered in his first GCL outing; 4 hits and 3 walks in a third of an inning, resulting in 7 runs and an ERA of 126.  Not a great start to his attempts to get back to a full-season squad.
  • Chein-Ming Wang is *finally* going out on rehab, with a planned appearance in Hagerstown monday 6/27.  It is slightly surprising that he’s going to Hagerstown, meaning that our 5 excellent prospects there will have their rotation scrambled slightly.  I think he would have made more sense in Potomac, where the starters have been less impressive all season.  Wang’s beginning of rehab is significant; it starts the clock from a month downward before a major decision has to be made; he has no minor league options so at the end of the period he either joins the 25-man roster, goes back on the DL or gets released.
  • Former 40-man member and lost 2009 rule-5 draftee Zech Zinicola pitched his way to a promotion, including a 5k 2 inning performance on 6/24.  This will be his fourth shot at AAA, having consistently shown for the last few years he’s more than capable of dominating in AA but never quite capable at the next level.  Is he still a prospect?  He’s 26, in his 5th professional season, and failed to impress when Toronto took him in the rule5.  Of course, there’s always value in fungible bullpen arms.


AAA trends (in rotation order)
Detwiler    good,good,soso,soso,bad,soso,bad,bad,bad,soso,soso,good,soso,soso
Meyers    soso,good,soso,good,bad,soso,bad,good,good
Milone    good,soso,soso,bad,great,good,great,soso,good,soso,good,soso
Stammen    good,soso,great,bad,soso,good,soso,soso,soso,soso->promoted,bad,great
Maya        bad,soso,soso,good,great,good,soso,soso,soso->promoted,bad,good (cut short)

AA Trends:
Roark        bad,good,incomplete (2 ip cut short),soso,soso,awful,good,soso
Peacock    soso,good,great,good,very good,bad,great,great,good,soso,good,good
EDavis    good,soso,good,bad,soso,incomplete (knee injury->dl),soso,good,soso,good,soso,good
Martis     bad,bad,soso,soso,good,bad,good->dl,soso,great,soso
Arneson    soso,soso,good

High-A Trends:
Rosenbaum    soso,good,good,soso,good,good,soso,bad,good,bad,great,good,soso
Olbrychowski soso,good
Holder    soso,bad,bad,soso,soso,soso,good,bad,awful,good,awful,good,soso,soso
Demny        good,bad,good,good,soso,soso,bad,bad,soso,soso,soso,great,bad
Selik        soso,bad->dl,soso,soso,great,good,soso,good

Low-A Trends:
Jordan    good,soso,good,good->dl,soso,soso,soso,good,good,bad,soso,soso,good
Grace        good,bad,bad,bad,good,soso,soso,soso,soso,soso,good,soso,awful,soso
Solis        soso,soso,good,good,soso
Cole        soso,soso,bad,good,good
Ray        great,great,good,2ip short outing,good,great,soso,soso

Short-A Trends
Bates        good,great
Demmin    good,good
Estevez    bad,great
Encarnation    bad,bad
KLopez    bad

GCL Trends
Karns        soso,great
Meza        great
Mieses    good
King        awful
(Chico    good)

Top 3 starters deserving promotion: Milone, Peacock, Karns (more because he’s way too old for GCL)
Top 3 starters whose jobs are in jeopardy: Any short-A starter who doesn’t perform well, with the influx of 2011 draftees.  It could be a bloodbath of pitcher competition and releases, especially guys who didn’t exactly light the world on fire last year in short season competitions.

Written by Todd Boss

June 27th, 2011 at 11:47 am

One Response to 'Minor League Rotations Cycle #15: good/bad/soso'

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  1. The unknown part of Brandon King is he only pitched 11 innings last year, so somrthing was up.
    The same thing about Karns something happened, it’s just too bad that the Nats F.O. feels the need to be so secretive about this stuff.

    Mark L

    27 Jun 11 at 2:27 pm

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