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Nats 2012 minor league awards

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Nats 2012 minor league awards

Syracuse Chiefs (70-74, 9th in International League)
Best Hitter: OF Corey Brown (.285 BA, 25 HR, 71 RBI, 83 R)Best Pitcher: LHP Zach Duke (15-5, 3.51 ERA, 164.1 IP)Biggest Surprise: RHP Christian Garcia (1-1, 0.56 ERA, 14 SV)

Brought in via a trade with the Athletics, Brown has perhaps been the best return in the deal that sent Josh Willingham to Oakland for Henry Rodriguez. The 26-year-old outfielder was at Syracuse last season, but this year has nearly doubled his offensive production. He led the Chiefs in homers, runs, walks, RBI, and triples, and also ranked second in stolen bases. He is now with the Nats as a September call-up and could be a late-bloomer that finds a permanent place at the major league level next season.

Duke is another September call-up after having a bounce back season with Syracuse. The Chiefs had trouble with inconsistency on the mound overall, but Duke himself was their most reliable starter. He led the team in wins with 15 and had the best ERA in the rotation. Duke also pitched two complete games with one of them being a shutout.

We could go a few ways with the teams biggest surprise, but the best choice is another Nationals September call-up in reliever Christian Garcia. A third round pick in 2004 by the Yankees, Garcia is finally at the major league level after undergoing Tommy John surgery twice. At 27 years old he is starting to find his way and looked well above his competition while at Triple-A.

Harrisburg Senators (64-78, 9th in Eastern League)Best Hitter: OF Chris Rahl (.291 BA, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 55 R, 26 SB)Best Pitcher: LHP Danny Rosenbaum (8-10, 3.94 ERA, 155.1 IP)Biggest Surprise: RHP Ryan Perry (2-4, ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 114.1 IP)

Rahl last played on July 27 due to a foot injury, but still remained atop most of the Senators offensive categories. He finished first in runs and RBI and placed second to Tim Pahuta in homers.

Rosenbaum was a workhorse for the Senators staff and earns Best Pitcher despite having struggled to an extent at Double-A. He was the best pitcher for Potomac last season and didnt have the same level of success at Harrisburg, but maintained a good ERA and logged a lot of innings.

Perry is a former first round pick of the Tigers who came to Washington in an offseason trade for Colin Balester. The flame-throwing right-hander spent time with the big league club in May as a reliever, but struggled and was demoted when other guys got healthy. The Nats have decided to convert him to a starter and the results thus far have been great. If he can continue with a sub-3.00 ERA in the minors, he just might realize the immense potential that made him a first round draft choice.

Potomac Nationals (64-75, 6th in Carolina League)Best Hitter: OF Kevin Keyes (.223 BA, 21 HR, 78 RBI, 27 2B)Best Pitcher: RHP Nathan Karns (8-4, 2.26 ERA, 87 SO, 71.2 IP)Biggest Surprise: LHP Robbie Ray (4-12, 4.87 ERA, 27 BB, 64.2 IP)

The Nats picked Keyes in the seventh round of the 2010 MLB Draft and this year at Potomac he found his power stroke. Keyes had a monster second half of the season with seven homers in July and five in August. He finished leading the team in home runs, RBI, and ranked second in doubles.

The 24-year-old Karns was named the Nationals minor league pitcher of the year just this week after thriving in the second half with Potomac. He finished second on the team with eight wins despite pitching nearly half the innings of the team-leader in that category, Matthew Grace with nine. He posted a ton of strikeouts and kept guys off base with an impressive 1.02 WHIP.

Ray was the biggest surprise in our mid-season awards and he continued to deserved the distinction in the second half. In fact, since we published that story he posted a 1-7 record and continued his season to forget. He had his worst month of all in August when he went 0-5 with a 15.51 ERA in five appearances. It is an unfortunate trend for a prospect who held a 3.13 ERA through 89.0 innings at Hagerstown just a year ago.

Hagerstown Suns (82-55, 2nd in South Atlantic League)Best Hitter: 3B Matthew Skole (.286 BA, 27 HR, 92 RBI, 94 BB, 1.013 OPS)Best Pitcher: RHP Alex Meyer (7-4, 3.10 ERA, 107 SO, 90.0 IP)Biggest Surprise: LHP Christian Meza (8-1, 2.97 ERA, 88.0 IP, 94 SO)

The 22-year-old Skole was just named the Nationals minor league player of the year just days after earning MVP honors in the South Atlantic League. Picked in the 5th round just last year, Skole has developed quickly into one of the best hitters in the minor leagues. He earned a late-season promotion to Potomac and should be one to watch for next season as he continues his rise through the system.

Meyer made just one more start with Hagerstown after our mid-season awards before moving on to Potomac, but his time their deserves the honor as Best Pitcher. The 69 former first round pick showed quickly he could dominate low Single-A hitters and should also rise quickly through the Nats farm system.

The 22-year-old Meza was picked by the Nationals in the 25th round of the 2010 MLB Draft and just this season got his first of Single-A ball after spending the previous season with the Auburn Doubledays. In 36 appearances with the Suns he posted a nice sub-3.00 ERA and showed he can attack batters with a high strikeout rate.

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Scherzer starts as Nats look to keep rolling at Phillies

Scherzer starts as Nats look to keep rolling at Phillies

Nats (76-55) at Phillies (60-71) at Citizens Bank Park

After bouncing back with a 4-0 victory in the series opener, the Nats look to keep it going in Philly on Tuesday night with ace Max Scherzer on the mound.

Scherzer, who is 14-7 with a 2.92 ERA, tossed eight shutout innings against the Orioles his last time out. He last saw the Phillies on June 1 at CBP and gave up two runs in eight innings of work.

Ryan Zimmerman is back in there at first base after taking Monday off. The rest of the Nats lineup is the same.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: CBS-9, MASN2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Max Scherzer vs. Phillies - Jerad Eickhoff

NATS

CF Trea Turner
LF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Max Scherzer

PHILLIES

TBA
RHP Jerad Eickhoff

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE STATS AND SCORES

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NL East: Cespedes' heroics keeping Mets alive in wild card race

NL East: Cespedes' heroics keeping Mets alive in wild card race

Don't count out the New York Mets just yet. 

The Nationals may be up nine games in the National League East, but their rivals from the Big Apple have slowly crawled their way back into the wild card picture.

The biggest reason why? The return of a healthy Yoenis Cespedes, who missed most of August with a quad injury. In the nine games since he’s been back, the 30-year-old outfielder has slashed .389/.450/.861 with five home runs, including Monday night’s extra-inning walk-off shot against fellow-wild card hopeful Miami Marlins.

"He's that kind of player," manager Terry Collins said via NJ.com. "You expect big things each and every time he goes up. He's one of those guys people pay to see him play. They see him come up to bat, and they know he can do something dangerous each and every time up."

After it seemed like the Mets were down and out, the Cespedes’ bat has resuscitated their playoff push. New York is 7-2 with Cespedes in the lineup since August 19, and its offense has averaged nearly six runs a game during that span. So just like 2015 postseason run, it's on Cespedes to lead the way. 

“Every time I see Cespedes at home plate, I feel like he's going to hit a homer," third baseman Jose Reyes said. "That's the way I feel in the dugout. I'm sure the other guys feel the same way. They had the opportunity to see him get hot last year, and for me, seeing him this year, it's unbelievable what he can do on the baseball field. Basically he can do whatever he wants to.”

New York's mini-surge has happened at the right time, with the club just 2 1/2 games out of a wild card spot and nearly a month left in the season. 

“We're going into September," Reyes said. "That's the way we want to play right now. That's a huge win against a Miami team that was in front of us....now we're in a better position."

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Nats creating distance, Harper keeps rolling, can Murphy still win MVP?

Nats creating distance, Harper keeps rolling, can Murphy still win MVP?

Notes and observations from the Nats' 4-0 win over the Phillies on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park…

Roark bounces back: Tanner Roark rebounded nicely from his uneven start against the Orioles last Wednesday to go seven shutout innings with just four hits and a walk surrendered against the Phillies. It was the 16th time in 27 starts this season that Roark has lasted at least seven innings. And it was the eighth time this year that Roark has gone at least seven frames with zero earned runs allowed. No other pitcher has done that more times this year than Roark.

Roark's season ERA is now at 2.87, almost exactly the 2.85 mark he put up in 2014, his last full year as a starter. His ERA+, though, is better at 146, compared to the 131 he had in 2014. And his strikeout rate (7.1 SO/9) is better than it was two years ago (6.3).

Werth hits No. 19: Jayson Werth hit another homer on Monday night, his third in his last four games. He now has 19 on the year, one away from recording the sixth 20-homer season of his career. Werth has seven in August alone which ties the most he's ever hit in a month since he signed with the Nats before the 2011 season. His career-high is eight, set back in 2010 with the Phillies.

Harper gets on again: Bryce Harper didn't get a hit on Monday night, but he did walk and score a run and has now reached base in all 16 games he's played since coming back from the neck stiffness that kept him out a week. In those 16 games he's hit 22-for-61 (.361) with three homers, 17 RBI, 11 walks, 13 runs, six doubles and three steals. His OPS during that stretch is 1.098. That's not a huge sample size, 16 games, but it's more than half a month. If he can be anything close to that for the final month of the season, the Nats' lineup could look a lot different. 

Murphy keeps it up: It has perhaps gone unnoticed by some with the emergence of Trea Turner and the resurgence of Harper, but Daniel Murphy is having another very good month at the plate. With his two hits on Monday, Murphy is now 30-for-93 (.323) with five homers, 22 RBI, 20 runs and a .933 OPS in August. 

Murphy still has the best batting average in the NL at .345, but he has some work to do if he still wants to win the league's MVP award. He's currently tied for third in fWAR with Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. They are both at 4.9, while Kris Bryant (7.6) and Corey Seager (6.9) are far ahead. It seems amazing that Murphy could be hitting .345 with 25 homers and 98 RBI on a first-place team and at this point be third in the MVP race, but that's where he realistically stands right now. Bryant and Seager also lead first-place teams. Bryant is hitting .305 with 35 homers and an MLB-best 109 runs scored, while Seager is batting .323 with 23 homers and also plays plus-defense at shortstop.

Magic number to 23: It's that time of year. With the Nats' win on Monday night and the Marlins having lost their third straight game, the Nats' magic number to win the NL East is now 23. That's pretty low for this point of the season and it could start going down very quickly. The Nats do not play a team outside of the NL East until they go to Pittsburgh on Sept. 23. And the Nats have the best intra-division record in baseball at 36-16.

[RELATED: Turner on playing like a little kid, rest helped Ramos]

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