Nationals Arm Race

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

Minor League Rotations Cycle #17: good/bad/soso


Detwiler gets the next shot at the bigs. Photo Haraz Ghanbari/AP via

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


  • Shairon Martis had another dominant start in AA: 6IP, 7H, 2R, 1ER, BB, 6K, HR.  He needs to move up.
  • Another good start for Robbie Ray on 7/1: 6IP, 5H, 3R, ER, 2BB, 6K, reversing his slide over the past few games.
  • Gregory Baez had a nice little 4-inning “start” on 7/1: 4ip, 2hits, 0 runs, 3Ks and 1BB.
  • Another excellent start for Tom Milone on 7/2: 6⅓ IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 6K.  Unfortunately the most deserving AAA starter is NOT getting the spot start for the big club this week, as Detwiler’s improved form an Milone’s lack of 40-man status conspires against him.  No worries Tom; your time will come (perhaps as Zimmermann’s innings-limit replacement in late august).
  • Chien-Ming Wang threw his 2nd rehab start on 7/2, this time in high-A for Potomac.  As Adam Kilgore reports, he pitched 4 scoreless inning, allowing 1 hit and 2 walks.  He reportedly hit 91mph, which is great news.  I pulled the Pitch f/x data from Wang’s 2007 season prior to his injury to try to get a feel for what he was capable of back then.  Here’s the data from June 6th, 2007, one of Wang’s best games that season.  Average fastball of 94, peaks of 97, with great separation between his fastball and his change-up.  I didn’t realize he threw that hard (if you believe the Pitch f/x data; it is spotty that early in the system’s history).  If the goal is to get his speed back to 94-97, he’s got a long way to go.
  • An excellent start for Matt Grace on 7/3: 7IP, 5H, 2R, 0ER, 0BB, 5K.  Its good to see him rebound from a couple of sub-par performances lately.
  • Brad Peacock had an uncharacteristically (for him) wild 7/4 start in Harrisburg but still got the dominant victory.  Line: 6ip, 5hits 1run (unearned), 9ks and 2 bbs.
  • Christopher McKenzie surprisingly was given a GCL start on 7/4 and he did pretty well: 4ip, 3hits, 1 unearned run, 4Ks and 1 walk.  He’s clearly too old for
  • Paul Applebeee had an excellent spot start in Hagerstown (filling in for the newly promoted Solis) on 7/5: 5IP, 4H, 1ER, 0BB, 5K.  Since there’s now a hole in that rotation and the Short-A squad being so inconsistent, I wonder if Applebee sticks there for a bit.


  • Cameron Selik got waxed in Potomac on 7/1: 5+ IP, 9H, 5R, 5ER, BB, 2K, HR.
  • Paul Demmin took a step backwards for Auburn on 7/2: 4⅔ IP, 8H, 5R, 5ER, BB, 4K, 2HR.
  • Tanner Roark got tagged for 2 homers in 5 innings en route to another loss.  Line: 5ip, 7H, 4ER, 3BB, 6K, 2 HR, HBP.  10 baserunners in 5 innings continues a mediocre season for Roark.
  • Wirkin Estevez continued his up-and-down performances for Auburn on 7/3: 4IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 2K.    Two good, two bad so far for the DSL grad.
  • Anthony Marcelino got pounded in the GCL on 7/3: 3⅓ IP, 7H, 9R, 6ER, 3BB, 2K.  This was his first start but his third appearance and none have gone very well.
  • Christian Meza struggled in Auburn on 7/4 badly, getting knocked around for 5runs on 5 hits in 2 2/3 innings.
  • Brandon King got pounded in the GCL on 7/5: 2⅔ IP, 6H, 7R, 7ER, 2BB, 2K, HR.


  • JD Martin‘s 7/1 spot start was barely mediocre.  5⅔ IP, 10H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 2K, HR.   Though I’ll ask the audience, at what point does Martin stop becoming a “spot starter?”  He’s got 9 on the season thus far.  I guess this is what AAA teams do, needing a 6th starter for most of the season as guys move up and out.
  • Colin Bates had an interesting 7/1 start: 5⅓ IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 0K.  No strikeouts in 5+ innings, that may be a first for a starter in our system this year.
  • Was Erik Davis “pitching to the score” in Harrisburg on 7/2?  Final line: 7IP, 10H, 3ER, 0BB, 4K, HR.  It was 10-0 heading into the bottom of the third.  Perhaps so; certainly with a 10 run lead i’d be in experimentation mode, not necessarily buckle down mode as a starter.
  • Oliver Perez returned from the DL for the 2nd half of 7/2’s double header and put in a mediocre start.  4⅔ IP, 7H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, 4K.  See the notes section for my thoughts on the franchise’s use of Perez right now.
  • AJ Cole pitched decently enough, but for only 4 innings, for Hagerstown on 7/2: 4IP, 5H, 3ER, BB, 4K.  Not sure why he was taken out so soon.
  • Another quality start for Craig Stammen in Syracuse on 7/3: 6IP, 8H, 3ER, BB, 5K, HR.  He needs to do more to earn a return trip to the MLB.
  • Danny Rosenbaum was struggling for Potomac on 7/3 when the game got washed away (along with many trees in the area) on 7/3.
  • Yuniesky Maya struggled with his control on 7/4 but still pitched a quality start.  6 2/3, 5hits, 2 runs (both earned), 5Ks and 3 walks.
  • Adam Olbrychowski‘s 7/4 start wasn’t terrible, but it was enough to take the loss.  6ip, 7 hits, 4 runs, 4 Ks and 0 walks.
  • Taylor Jordan kept Hagerstown in the game on 7/4, but didn’t get the victory.  Line: 5 1/3, 7hits, 2runs, 5ks and 2 walks.  Not bad, but not excellent either.
  • It was “reliever night” in Syracuse on 7/5, with Chad Gaudin getting a rehab start (line: 2⅔ IP, 2H, 3R, 0ER, 2BB, 2K), and 4 other relievers then pouring gasoline on the fire of a 11-6 loss.
  • Erik Arneson went 6 2/3 for Harrisburg on 7/6, good enough for the win.  Line: 6⅔ IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 4K.  A bit too many baserunners for a “good” in my book.
  • Sammy Solis, whose debut in high-A on 7/5 was covered by Byron Kerr here.  He talked more glowingly about it than his line indidates: 6IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 5K.  He clearly has good stuff, a 93mph fastball and 2 secondary pitches that he can command, and should continue to fare well for this team.
  • Manny Rodriguez‘s 7/5 appearance in Auburn was just ok: 4IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 3K.
  • Meanwhile, Rodriguez’s 2nd “starter” teammate Kelvin Lopez piched 3 dominant innings for the win the same day: 3IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 4K.

Relievers of Note and other Thoughts

  • The use of Matt Chico continues to confound.  He had made two scheduled GCL starts, but then his rotation spot was skipped and he worked out of the bullpen on 7/1.  Is he a starter or is he a reliever?  The big-league team could sure use a Loogy (going so far as to sign waived Philadelphia reject JC Romero recently), and Chico has MLB experience.  I’m surprised they’re not pushing him into this kind of role.  That being said, he did a late-inning stint on 7/4 and got hit badly in the GCL, an embarassing outing that may mean he’s closer to the door than the majors.
  • Speaking of potential LOOGYs in the majors, why do we continues to use Oliver Perez as a starter in AA?  Why don’t we try him out as a situational reliever instead of letting him waste as a starter in a level he is clearly too old and too experienced for?
  • Speaking of Perez … if he returns to AA’s rotation (as it seems), who makes way?   Perhaps Erik Arneson …. but he was an all-star for this team.  On form it may end up being Tanner Roark though.  We’ll see next cycle.
  • Hassan Pena at Harrisburg got some nice recognition, being named to the Eastern League all star team to replace Peacock (who will pitch in the Futures game).
  • In what I consider to be a surprise move, the Nats have decided to have Bryce Harper skip Potomac & High-A ball and go straight to AA.  Potomac uber-fan Sue Dinem posted his (hers?) reaction here and I can’t necessarily refute any of his/her opinions.  If I had to guess I’d say the team is primarily worried about the crummy field in Potomac, perhaps penalizing the local affiliate owner for not taking care of the situation sooner.  From purely a player-development perspective perhaps this is a good move for the team overall; Harper held his own in the AFL against AA talent and this may put him in line for a 2012 spot sooner than we all thought.  Or even a 9/1 callup (though I’d be slightly against this move as it would complicate his arbitration clock).
  • Tom Milone‘s continued excellence has earned him the International League’s pitcher of the week award.
  • As expected, Ross Detwiler‘s performance as of late has earned him a spot start in the majors.  No matter how well he does, it should be a one-and-done start, but it would be nice to see him throw 6 or 7 clean innings.
  • Sammy Solis was promoted to make his normal-rest start in Potomac instead of Hagerstown on 7/5.   Perhaps not necessarily on form but definitely on age and experience, Solis belongs in Potomac as a college draftee and should get a better challenge there.  Solis’s promotion seems to have come at the expense of Evan Bronson in Potomac’s rotation.
  • Pedro Encarnation‘s rough start to the season has seemingly earned him a demotion out of Auburn’s rotation, with his normal spot being taken by Meza this turn.  Meza didn’t exactly light it up, so Encarnation could be back.  Update: he got demoted back to the GCL on 7/3.
  • Why was Brad Meyers skipped in Syracuse’s rotation?  Gaudin did a rehab start on Meyer’s turn, and Martin is scheduled for 7/7.  Ahh; answer: he was placed on the 7-day DL retroactive to 7/1.
  • Christopher Manno had another great outing this week, a 2ip, 5k performance on 7/5.  Maybe the team should be looking at him as a potential Loogy and should start promoting him up the line.
  • Mayo and Meza earned quick promotions up to Auburn on 7/3.


AAA trends (in rotation order)
Detwiler    good,good,soso,soso,bad,soso,bad,bad,bad,soso,soso,good,soso,soso,soso,incomplete (2ip)
Milone    good,soso,soso,bad,great,good,great,soso,good,soso,good,soso,great,good
Stammen    good,soso,great,bad,soso,good,soso,soso,soso,soso->promoted,bad,great,soso,soso
Maya        bad,soso,soso,good,great,good,soso,soso,soso->promoted,bad,good (cut short),soso,soso
Meyers    soso,good,soso,good,bad,soso,bad,good,good,soso

AA Trends:
EDavis    good,soso,good,bad,soso,incomplete (knee injury->dl),soso,good,soso,good,soso,good,incomplete (1ip),soso
OPerez    great,soso (1IP cut short),good,soso,soso-> dl,soso
Roark        bad,good,incomplete (2 ip cut short),soso,soso,awful,good,soso,bad,bad
Peacock    soso,good,great,good,very good,bad,great,great,good,soso,good,good,great,good
Arneson    soso,soso,good,good,soso
Martis     bad,bad,soso,soso,good,bad,good->dl,soso,great,soso,great,good

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

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

Short-A Trends
Bates        good,great,soso
Demmin    good,good,good,bad
Estevez    bad,great,good,bad
Meza        bad
MRodriguez    good,bad,soso
KLopez    bad,soso,bad,good
(Encarnation    bad,bad,soso->demoted to bullpen)

GCL Trends
Karns        soso,great,great
Baez        great
(Marcelino    awful)
Mieses    good,good
Meza        great,good
(McKenzie    good)
King        awful,great,awful

(Chico    good,great->back to bullpen?)

Written by Todd Boss

July 6th, 2011 at 8:34 am

2 Responses to 'Minor League Rotations Cycle #17: good/bad/soso'

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  1. Peacock & Robbie Ray are the great stories here, both have been dominant at their levels and age. A lot to get excited about.

    I agree with you on O. Perez, just a head scratcher all the way. Same with Chico.

    You need to see Manno, he’s no loogy, as he’s equally dominant with either lefties or righties. Just a disgrace that he’s still in Hagerstown.

    Tom Milone exists for people like us; no flamethrower for the occasional fan to cheer for. Just gets people out by being the smartest person on the field.

    Mark L

    6 Jul 11 at 8:19 pm

  2. Its great that Ray (the lesser of the two HS picks last year) is so dominant thus far. He was gravy. Imagine both him and AJ Cole moving through the ranks and reaching the majors in 4 years or so. I do want to see more out of Solis and thought that Kerr’s article was quite “liberal” with praise for his outing.

    I think Milone gets his shot later this season. I have a feeling that the Nats are going to be about 10 games out of the wild card race when the trade deadline hits and will dump every veteran they can. Which should include Marquis, meaning we’ll eventually need a 5th starter.

    Todd Boss

    7 Jul 11 at 9:05 am

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