Most people have heard about the historic Nats Gulf Coast Rookie league team’s performance this year, but the Nats farm teams were great up and down the system in 2013. Here’s a recap of each level’s season, in case you havn’t already gotten the summary from Dave Huzzard or Luke Erickson:
- AAA Syracuse: Last place, International League North. Season record: 66-78. Contrary to the title of this article, our AAA team was pretty bad this year. Culprets? A middle-of-the road offense and a relatively weak pitching staff (they were easily last in the league in strikeouts, lower ranked in other major pitching categories).
- AA Harrisburg: 1st Place, Eastern League Western. Season Record: 77-65. An 8-2 finish powered Harrisburg to a 1-game lead in the final standings. They dispatched Erie in the divisional round but then got swept (blown out really) in the Eastern League championships by Trenton (New York Yankees affiliate).
- High-A Potomac: 1st half AND 2nd half champions, Carolina League North. Season Record: 84-55. Winning both halfs earned them full home field advantage in the first round of the divisional playoffs, which they used to beat Lynchburg easily enough. However in the Carolina league final the Nats lost both games at home before getting swept by Salem in the league championship series (Salem is Boston’s high-A affiliate).
- Low-A Hagerstown: 1st half champs of the South Atlantic League Northern. Season Record: 80-57. They dispatched the 2nd half champs from West Virginia in the divisional series to face Savannah in the Sally League championship. After splitting the first two games at home, Hagerstown traveled to Savannah and lost two straight to drop the championship (Savannah is the New York Mets’ low-A affiliate).
- Short-A Auburn: Last place, NY-Penn Pinckney. 26-49. Culprets include a team .230 batting average and near league bottom OPS combined with the worst team ERA and worst team WHIP in the league. Bad hitting and the worse pitching equates with last place.
- Rookie GCL Nats: 1st place, GCL League East with an amazing 49-9 record. That according to press releases by the team is the highest W/L percentage in (domestic) minor league basebal history. Wow. They then swept the GCL Red Sox to win the GCL championship.
- Dominican Summer League Nats: 4th Place, Boca Chica South. Season Record: 38-31.
So that’s four playoff teams out of six US affiliates (I often ignore the DSL, fairly or otherwise, since it has such a low percentage of players even making it to the US leagues, let alone advancing into relevance).
What makes these performances even more amazing, especially for Potomac, is that they persevered on despite losing significant numbers of pitchers through out the season to promotion. Quick glances:
- Harrisburg lost 3 starters (Clay, Jordan, Hill) and two relievers (Broadway and Krol) to promotions.
- Potomac lost an entire rotation of starters (Jordan, Gilliam, Hill, Ray and Cole) in addition to four other relivers (Herron, Grace, Frias and Mirowski).
- Hagerstown graduated at least 5 starters (Schwartz, Dupra, Rauh, Purke and Mooneyham), traded another starter (Pineyro) and matriculated a couple of relievers along the way (Benincasa and Henke).
I know this only focuses on arms on these minor league teams, and that isn’t necessarily fair to the offense, but Potomac especially was amazing in chugging along while losing its best starter month after month to promotion.