Archive for category Future Focus

U-18 USA team captures Gold

The U-18 COPABE Pan Am “AAA” (18U) Championships finished up over the weekend in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, and the USA team beat 7 time defending champion Cuba in the finals.

In the semi finals: USA crushed Panama 18-2 (box/gamer).  Philip Pheifer pitched a slaughter rule shortened 6 inning complete game and the top of the USA order came alive to destroy Panama.  Our 1-2-3 hitters Sean Coyle, Tony Wolters and Bryce Harper went a combined 8-11, scoring 10 runs and driving in 9 to pace the team.  Harper (playing CF) finally had the break out game we’ve been expecting, going 3-3 (with two walks thrown in), scoring 3 and driving in 5.  Harper displayed both power and speed with a double, a homer and two stolen bases.

In the Finals: USA d Cuba to win the Gold Medal 6-1 (box/gamer).  High end 2010 pitching prospect Jamie Taillon dominated the Cuban team, giving up 4 hits, 0 runs and striking out 16 in 7 2/3s innings to lead the US to victory.  USA’s hitters finally got to a tiring Cuban starter Julio Martinez, scoring all 6 runs in the 7th inning to claim the title.  Harper was behind the plate for the final and was quiet at the plate, with just a sac fly rbi to show for his 0-3 day.

The final stats for the USA team are here.  Harper finishes the tournament 10-34 with 4 doubles and 2 homers and enough extra base hits to lead the team in total bases.  .294/.375/.588 was his final line.  The breakout hitting star of the team is SS Manny Machado, who put up a .367/.472/.600 with 2 homers to put his name firmly on the 2010 draft map.

For a lot of these players, this was their first major competition using solely wood bats, and many struggled to put up the impressive numbers they are accustomed to with aluminum.  For those picking on Bryce Harper’s numbers; remember he JUST turned 17 (born 10/1/1992) and is still amazingly advanced for his age (hence his potential).


U-18 Championships: USA into Semis

The USA finished pool play 6-0 and are into the semis of the U-18 tournament being held in Venezuela.

The Semifinals are today: USA v Panama (who they destroyed 14-0 in pool play).  The other semi-final will be Cuba v Venezuela.

1st and 3rd place games tomorrow.  I’ll summarize the tourney once the championship game has been played in a final post with final stats for our guys.

Bryce Harper has really not looked very good at the plate in this tournament.  The team stats through pool play show that Castellanos and Machado are really the hitters driving this team.

Games 4-6 in pool play summaries are below:

Game 4: USA d Columbia 19-0 (box/gamer)in a mercifully shortened 7-innings.  Harper highlights: caught, batted 3rd, 1-5 with a homer and 3 runs scored.  Every USA position player had a hit in the onslaught.

Game 5: USA d Cuba 9-5 (box/gamer).  The USA finally played some tough opposition in this tourney and had to use a 6-run eighth inning to overcome Cuba.  Harper highlights: playing Catcher, went 0-5 with a run and an rbi.  It was a slopppy game; USA only had 5 hits and none of our big hitters really contributed to the win.

Game 6: USA d host Venezuela 6-3 (box/gamer).  Harper: 1-3 with a walk, playing CF and was replaced in the lineup later in the game.  Manny Machado was the star of this game, hitting his 2nd HR and reaching base 4 times.


Tragic Number Update: Its over, we’re guaranteed #1 pick in 2010

By virtue of Pittsburgh’s 11-1 victory today over the LA Dodgers, the Washington Nationals are guaranteed the number #1 overall pick in the 2010 draft.  The Nationals have a 7 game “lead” on the Pirates for the worst record in the league this year with 7 games remaining.  This means that even if the Pirates lost their remaining 7 games and we (somehow) won our remaining seven games, we’d be tied for the worst record and Washington would get the number 1 pick by virtue of a worse record in 2008.

team W L pct ga tragic left last10 streak
Washington 52 103 0.335 - - 7 2-8 L-4
Pittsburgh 59 96 0.381 7 0 7 3-7 W-2
Baltimore 60 95 0.387 8 0 7 0-10 L-10
Cleveland 64 91 0.413 12 0 7 3-7 W-3
Kansas City 64 92 0.41 12.5 0 6 5-5 W-1

Congratulations. Let the Bryce Harper ruminations begin.


Under-18 Championships and Harper thus far

Reader estuartj has been keeping tabs on the U-18s and Bryce Harper’s performances in comments here and there, so I thought I’d put together a recap so far of the tourney itself and the first three games.

The US national u-18 team (click here for the team selection announcement) is currently competing in the 2009 COPABE Pan Am “AAA” (18U) Championships in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.  Everyone’s favorite ESPN scout Keith Law broke down the team and the trials on his blog here (insider only link I believe).

The team plays 5 games in 6 days this past weekend and the coming week.  (schedule link here).  Opponents will be Aruba, Argentina, Panama, Columbia, Cuba and Venezuala.  The semis and finals are 10/2 and 10/3 (which look like locks for them to qualify for based on results so far).

Here’s a review of the first three games, Harper stats and other highlights:

Game 1: USA d Aruba 13-3.  (box/gamer).  Bryce Harper batted 3rd, went 1-5 with an RBI but played Center Field (a position that we had not previously considered for him).  Other high 2010 draft prospect Nick Castellanos batted 4th and had a HR while going 1-3.

Game 2: Usa d Argentina 14-0.  (box/gamer).  Harper highlights: 2-5, 2 dbls, 2rbi, 1run, played the game as the Catcher.  Delmonica and Castellanos again outshined Harper at the plate.

Game 3: USA d Panama 14-0 (box/gamer).  Harper highlights: 2-5 1 double playing Center again.  Uber-pitching prospect Jameson Taillon struck out 12 in 6ip for the victory while USA’s 4-5-6 hitters of Castellanos, Delmonico and Machada powered the team to victory.

The team plays three more games this week against better opposition, so we’ll do daily recaps here to keep tabs on some of the bigger 2010 draft prospects.

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2009 Baseball World Cup Review

The bi-annual baseball World Cup finished over the weekend, with the USA defeating the Cubans 10-5 in the final to take their second consecutive title (and second consecutive victory over Cuba in the final).   Cuba has generally dominated this competition for the past half century, winning the title 21 times since 1950.

For those interested in recapping the tournament, the home page is here, the link to daily results and box scores is here.  This was a long tournament, running from September 9th til yesterday September 27th and was held in several european countries.

Final: USA d Cuba 10-5
3rd place: Canada d Puerto Rico 6-2
5th place: Australia d Netherlands 4-1
7th place: Venezuela d Chinese Taipei 6-3

The only Nationals farmhands that I know of who played in the 2009 Baseball World Cup is 25-yr old Luis Atilano, who pitched decently for Harrisburg (7-8, 4.16era, 1.48whip), got called up and went 2-0 in 2 starts for Syracuse before going off to represent Puerto Rico.  Alex Cintron was on the Puerto Rico roster as well, but the Nationals DFAd him in May and he got picked up by Seattle.

Atilano got the start and win against 1st round host Spain on 9/13/09 in Barcelona, going 5innings, giving up 4 hits and 2 runs on 85 pitches.  This earned Puerto Rico a spot in the 2nd round.

Atilano went again 9/19, beating Venezuela, going 6 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs on 84 pitches.  Puerto Rico finished pool play 6-1, tied for 1st along with the Netherlands and Cuba.

Atilano threw in the 3rd game of the final pool play on 9/24, pitching a 9 inning complete game victory over Chinese Taipei.  7 hits, 2 runs (1 earned) and 4Ks on 103 pitches. This was his last start; he finished the tourney 3-0 and pitched pretty well, albeit against none of the real powers of the tournament.

Coincidentally, Justin Smoak has hit 9 hrs, 22rbis and was named the tourney mvp.  Teammate and fellow high-end prospect Pedro Alvarez hit 5hrs through the course of 14 games the tournament.  A Cuban named Alfre Despaigne hit 11 to lead the tourney (perhaps the next big defectee?)


Keith Law blogs on a couple Nats Prospects

We knew that a blog post about the Nats was coming (based on Law’s chat on thursday), and it arrived today at his blog link on  Keith has been rather anti-Nats over the past few years (perhaps more accurately anti-Bowden), and had some so-so commentary about two of our more high visibility prospects.

It may be insider only; if so I’ll summarize here:

  • Ross Detwiler’s ceiling is a 4th starter; Law has some criticism of his velocity on the curve and his control.
  • Ian Desmond has bat speed, power and promise, but the scout in Keith noticed a bad weight transfer in the box.
  • But, he notes both are young and can make the adjustments to succeed at the MLB level.


Cape Cod Baseball League

The Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL) kicked off its 125th season this past weekend.

For those who are not aware, the CCBL is the pre-eminent summer baseball league in the United States. It’s a wood bat league that most of the top college baseball players head off to as a means of furthering their developing and demonstrating their abilities in a format more comparable to professional leagues.

Given Mike Rizzo’s preference for more known quantities, I figured there might be some interest in keeping tabs of some of the more recognizable names for the 2010 and 2011 drafts.

Most of the ten CCBL teams have at least one player worth keeping an eye on moving forward and using some of the names mentioned by ESPN’s Keith Law (Insider required) as well as some from Perfect Game Crosschecker (draft year in parentheses):

  • Bourne Braves – Tennessee CA/1B Blake Forsythe (2010), Virginia RHP Robert Morey (2010), Ole Miss RHP Drew Pomeranz (2010), Rice IF Hector Rendon (2011), and Ohio State RHP Alex Wimmers (2010)
  • Brewster Whitecaps – Miami (FL) CA Yasmani Grandal (2010) & Miami (FL) IF Harold Martinez (2011)
  • Chatham Anglers – Virginia Tech RHP Jesse Hahn (2010), North Carolina RHP Matt Harvey (2010), and Long Beach State RHP Jake Thompson (2010)
  • Cotuit Kettleers – UCLA RHP Gerrit Cole (2011), Arkansas 3B/RHP Zack Cox (2010 draft eligible sophomore), Vanderbilt RHP Sonny Gray (2011), Georgia RHP Justin Grimm (2010), Texas OF Kevin Keyes (2010), Texas A&M RHP Barret Loux (2010), Auburn 1B Kevin Patterson (2010), & San Diego St OF Cory Vaughn (2010)
  • Falmouth Commodores – Texas Tech RHP Chad Bettis (2010), Notre Dame RHP Evan Danieli (2010), Tennessee OF Kentrail Davis (draft eligible sophomore in 2009), Auburn IF Hunter Pace (2010), and Missouri RHP Nick Tepesch (2010)
  • Harwich Mariners – Middle Tennessee State OF Bryce Brentz (2010), Florida State OF John Gast, LSU OF Leon landry (2010), LSU ID DJ LeMaheiu (2009 draft eligible sophomore), Cal St-Fullerton RHP Daniel Renken (2010), and Alabama IF Ross Wilson (2010)
  • Hyannis Mets – None of note
  • Orleans Firebirds – Georgia Tech RHP Deck McGuire (2010)
  • Wareham Gateman – Georgia Tech SS Derek Dietrich (2010), Arkansas RHP Brett Eibner (2010), Indiana OF Alex Dickerson (2011 and a 2008 Nats draft pick out of HS), and Texas RHP Brandon Workman (2010)
  • Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox – Cal State-Fullerton SS Christian Colon (2010), LSU CA/1B Micah Gibbs (2010), LSU RHP Anthony Ranaudo (2010), Oregon State RHP Kevin Rhoderick (2010), Alabama IF Josh Rutledge (2010), and Arkansas 1B/3B Andy Wilkins (2010)

Keep in mind the players on teams still in the College World Series will not join their respective teams until they are eliminated … and some might skip out entirely to allow them to rest.

There are a handful of arms who will not be playing on the Cape for various reasons, from injury to innings count to playing for other teams. Among those are:

  • Kentucky RHP Alex Meyer (2011) – IP?
  • Virginia LHP Danny Hultzen (2011) – playing for team USA (once done with College World Series)
  • Oregon State LHP Josh Osich (2010) – IP?
  • San Diego RHP Kyle Blair (2010) – was injured in 2009
  • San Diego LHP Sammy Solis (2010) – IP?
  • Miami LHP Chris Hernandez  (2010) – IP?


Strasburg loses in (probable) final start of NCAA Career

As you have no doubtedly heard by now, UVA touched Strasburg for 2 runs early and held on against San Diego State’s impotent offense to take the first game of the Irvine regional 5-1.  Strasburg’s final line from the box score: 7ip, 8 hits, 2 runs (both earned) 15ks, 0bbs and between 118 and 120 pitches (i’ve seen it reported differently).  On the face of it, that line would be defined as “dominant” but watching the game, you got a different feel.

Here’s some thoughts from my house (watching along with me were a very happy UVA alum and a fellow baseball fanatic):

  • Where was Strasburg’s fastball?  The hardest ball he threw all night was also the biggest mistake of the night: a 98-mph gopherball 6 pitches into the game that UVA’s Phil Gosselin absolutely tattooed to left center.  He hit a ball 30 feet over the 380 sign.  The San Diego paper said he “sat at 97″ most of the night, but that’s not what we saw.  I saw glimpses of 97, mostly 94-95.  No awe-inspiring 99 or 100 as we’ve been hearing all year.

    Its possible Strasburg didn’t have his best stuff.  Its possible he was mixing speeds to keep the UVA hitters off balance.  And its possible Gwynn told him not to go 100% so he could throw on sunday or monday if needed.
  • Despite not really touching the upper limits on the radar gun, his average fastball on the night was still 94 mph, which would put him among the elite in the majors.  Daniel Cabrera led the league last year with an average fastball at 96.

  • Strasburg’s first two innings showed he’s human.  Perhaps Gosselin guessed first pitch fastball and got lucky.  But Strasburg showed some shakiness by throwing a couple wild pitches and muffing the infield grounder.  His team certainly didn’t help; his catcher looked like every other pitch was gonna get away from him and he didn’t do the best job “framing” some of Strasburg’s pitches.  Luckily for both sides, the umpire seemed to have a strike zone that extended several inches to either side of the plate.

  • 48 pitches to get through the first two innings, before settling down and going the next 5 innings in 70 pitches, with lots of his outs by strike outs.  Only later in the game did Strasburg start to resemble the amazing pitcher we’ve heard about all year.

  • I counted 2 perhaps 3 hard hit balls.  Most of the 7 hits were infield hits or well placed pokes through the infield.

  • San Diego State was exposed, badly.  Their 3-4-5 hitters; 0-10 with EIGHT strikeouts.  Their #3 hitter took the golden sombrero with 4 Ks on the night.  The couldn’t touch UVA’s #3 starter; Its hard to see them finding their bats against the aces of these top ranked teams.

  • For an interesting comparison of “spins” of the game, here’s four looks:, the Washington Post, the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Charlottesville Daily Progress.

    Summary: it was great to see him throw, and I don’t think he did anything to jeopardize his #1 overall draft pick, but I wonder if he cost himself some money/bargaining position points with the first two innings.



Will Strasburg go against UVA?

NCAA regionals start tomorrow, and of particular interest to both Nationals fans and local rooting interests of UVA fans.  Borrowing a couple links from other sources, the Washington Times reports that UVA is “fired up” to face Strasburg.  However, there still is no promise that Strasburg will go on his normal friday start, and SDSU coach Tony Gwynn isn’t revealing anything.  Apparently we may not know until an hour before game time.

There is a recent precedent that may illuminate what Gwynn may do; last year Vanderbilt saved their ace Mike Minor for the second game, assuming they’d win the first and have their ace ready.  The strategy backfired as they lost the first game with their #2 starter and ended up not having the pitching depth to fight back in the regional and were eliminated.

Either way, the SDSU-UVA game is scheduled to be televised on ESPN-U at 7pm friday 5/29.  Personally I can’t wait and really hope that Strasburg goes in the first game so that I can finally see him live.

DC’s other local participant GMU faces South Carolina in the Greenville, NC regional at 3pm 5/29 to open their post-season.


SDSU Makes the NCAA Tourney; Strasburg to get another start

The NCAA field of 64 was announced a bit after 12:30pm EST and the presumptive #1 overall pick Steven Strasburg and his San Diego State University Aztecs earned an at-large bid.  This means that Strasburg gets at least one more start on a slightly larger national scale to show off his wares (as if there were any baseball fans or pundits at this stage that were not aware of his skills).

As noted on the commentary on this site and on college baseball blogs elsewhere, the regional that SDSU was put into is arguably the toughest NCAA baseball regional ever constructed.  Regional host and national #6 seed UC Irvine spent most of the season ranked higher than its seeding (and is in fact currently ranked #1 overall by Baseball America).  #2 regional seed UVA just won the tough ACC but has to travel across the country.  And rounding out the regional is defending national champion Fresno State.

Now the question becomes: Will Strasburg go in the opener versus UVA or will coach Gwynn save him for a potential regional winners bracket game against #1 ranked UC Irvine?  Certainly UVA fans on this board are curious (and worried).  A clue may be found in the way Gwynn set up his rotation for the MWC tournament.  Strasburg did NOT pitch the tourney opener there; #2 starter Tyler Lavigne did.  Gwynn saved Strasburg for what he thought would be the tougher game in the next round.  He may do this again; saving Strasburg for a UC Irvine matchup to get to the winners bracket final.

We’ll see.  The winner of the UC Irvine regional plays the winner of the Oxford, Mississippi regional for a trip to Omaha.  The overall bracket is on ESPN at this link.  Regional games start this coming friday 5/29/09.