The minor league report
Mainly, this morning, I wanted to post Bill Gluvna's weekly minor league report. (It's the penultimate edition; Gluvna tells me he's already gone to work on the grand finale, due out Sept. 12, and I'm imagining something neighboring on the length of the Warren Report, albeit with far better word play. )
I'd be remiss, though, if I didn't give a quick nod to the offense... and the winning streak it is driving. (Today, the Nats go for a season-high fifth win in a row,) Almost to the man, the Nats are hitting a stride. Just look at the assortment of recent hot streaks:
* Ryan Zimmerman is 23 for his last 70 (.329), a span going back 18 games.
* Cristian Guzman is 14 for his last 30 (.467) in his last seven games.
* Emilio Bonifacio has four multi-hit games in the last six, a stretch in which he's batting .391.
* Lastings Milledge is batting .33 (14 for 42) in his last 12 games.
* Oh, and Ronnie Belliard is batting an even .400 (34-for-85) in August.
Now, onto the Report...
NATIONALS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
This Week's Top Headline
NOTHING MINOR ABOUT IT: The Washington Nationals' affiliate in the Gulf Coast League today earned a position in the league's championship series with a 10-5 win over the GCL Twins in the single-elimination semifinals round. The GCL Nationals will be matched against the GCL Phillies in the best-of-three championship series, which will begin tomorrow in Viera, FL.
Left-handed pitching prospects Josh Smoker and Jack McGeary, both 19-year-olds, are scheduled to start the series' first and second games, respectively. Smoker, selected by the Nationals in the sandwich round (31st overall) of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, went 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA in six starts in the GCL this season after starting the year with Single-A Hagerstown. McGeary went 2-2 with a 4.07 ERA in 12 starts and led the GCL with 64 strikeouts. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
This season marks the first GCL championship series appearance for a Nationals/Expos affiliate since 1996. The GCL Nationals are one of three Washington affiliates that clinched post-season berths this season, joining the Potomac Nationals of the Single-A Carolina League and the DSL Nationals I of the Dominican Summer League. This season marks the first time since baseball returned to The District in 2005 that three of the organization's affiliates have earned post-season spots in the same season.
Triple-A Columbus Clippers
International League West Division
67-70, 3rd Place, 18.0 Games Back
BERNADINA & DELUCA: OF Roger Bernadina has hit safely in 12 straight games and in 34 of 43 games overall with the Clippers...he is hitting .396 (21-for-53) during the 12-game tear, posting 7 multi-hit efforts along the way...in 43 contests with Columbus, he is batting .355 (61-for-172) with 10 doubles, 2 triples, 4 homers, 16 RBI and 9 steals... Bernadina was optioned to Columbus on July 11, after going 5-for-40 (.125) in 10 games at the big league level...prior to making the leap to the big leagues, the 24-year-old hit .323 (86-for-266) with 11 doubles, 7 triples, 5 homers, 38 RBI and 26 steals in 73 games with Double-A Harrisburg...for the season, he is hitting a combined .336 with 21 doubles, 9 triples, 9 homers, 54 RBI and 41 stolen bags in 115 games at the minor league level with Columbus and Harrisburg...the Curacao native leads full-season Washington minor leaguers in batting average.
LIGHTS OUT: RHP Levale Speigner has allowed just one unearned run in his last 23.0 innings (12 appearances)...since being promoted to Triple-A on June 4, he has gone 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA (11 ER/41.2 IP) in 24 appearances ...he dominated at the Double-A level, allowing just one run over 14.2 innings (0.61 ERA) in 10 appearances...Speigner, who appeared in 19 major league games with Washington in 2007, is a combined 4-0 with a 1.92 ERA and a .208 batting average against in 34 games with Columbus and Harrisburg.
Double-A Harrisburg Senators
Eastern League Southern Division
71-66, 3rd Place, 11.0 Games Back
SETH'S POWER SURGE: 2B/SS Seth Bynum has hit a professional-best 20 home runs this season...he entered the season with just 15 home runs in his previous 4 seasons combined...Bynum boasts a .270 batting average (69-for-256) with 15 doubles, 14 homers and 47 RBI in 78 games at the Double-A level...in a combined 117 games with Harrisburg and Single-A Potomac this season, Bynum has batted .266 with 28 doubles and 77 RBI...he was signed by the Nationals as a non-drafted free agent out of Indiana University in May 2004.
Single-A Potomac Nationals
Carolina League Northern Division
First Half: 42-28, First Place, 7.0 Games Ahead - Northern Division Champs
Second Half: 34-31, First Place, 2.5 Games Ahead
BE LIKE MIKE: OF Michael Burgess has crushed Carolina League pitching since being promoted to Potomac on August 11, hitting .268 (15-for-56) with 3 doubles, 6 homers and 18 RBI in 15 games...9 of his 15 hits have gone for extra bases...the 19-year-old had 26 doubles, 18 homers and 60 RBI in 112 games with Hagerstown before making the jump to Woodbridge...his 24 home runs overall are tops among Washington minor leaguers...the Tampa native continues to lead all of professional baseball with 27 outfield assists...Burgess, selected 47th overall in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was recently cited in Baseball America's annual Best Tools survey as possessing the Best Outfield Arm in the Single-A South Atlantic League.
PENA PITCHING IN: RHP Hassan Pena struck out 9 and did not walk a batter in 7.2 scoreless innings on Monday vs. Salem (Astros)...Pena, 23, improved to 2-1 with a 3.99 ERA (17 ER/38.1 IP) in 7 starts with the P-Nats...for the season, Pena is a combined 4-3 with a 3.22 ERA in 13 starts with Potomac and Hagerstown.
Single-A Hagerstown Suns
South Atlantic League Northern Division
First Half: 34-35, 5th Place, 6.5 Games Back
Second Half: 24-41, 6th Place, 19.0 Games Back
CATCHING ON IN HAGERSTOWN: C Sean Rooney has hit safely in 6 of his last 7 games at a .522 (12-for-23) clip with 3 doubles and 2 RBI...during that 7-game stretch he has raised his batting average 17 points, and has now batted .316 (77-for-244) with 16 extra-base hits (13 doubles, 2 triples and one home run) and 26 RBI in 71 games with Hagerstown this season...defensively, he has thrown out 24 of 79 (30%) attempted basestealers, while sharing catching duties with Travis Reagan...Rooney was selected in the 8th round of the 2006 Draft out of Saddleback Community College (CA).
Short-Season Single-A Vermont Lake Monsters
New York-Penn League Stedler Division
27-37, 4th Place, 10.0 Games Back
DANNY BOY: INF Danny Espinosa, 21, has gone 12-for-25 (.480) with 11 walks in 9 games as a professional...he has posted a multi-hit effort in 5 games...the switch-hitting California native was selected in the 3rd round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of Long Beach State University (CA).
GOOD START: OF Marcus Jones, Washington's 11th-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, is hitting .333 (5-for-15) with 4 RBI in his first 4 pro contests...Jones, a Washington, D.C. native who attended The Landon School For Boys in Bethesda (MD), batted .318 with 13 doubles, 3 triples, 7 home runs and 49 RBI this season as a junior at North Carolina State University.
Gulf Coast League Nationals
Gulf Coast League East Division
33-22, First Place, 2.5 Games Ahead - East Division Champs
BATTING CHAMP: SS Esmailyn "Smiley" Gonzalez won the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League batting title after completing his second domestic season with a .350 batting average...in addition to the batting crown, the 18-year-old also led the league with .436 on-base percentage...he finished the GCL regular season with 62 hits, 12 doubles, 3 triples, 2 home runs, 33 RBI, 23 walks and 9 stolen bases in 50 games.
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