Senators’ home opener was Jefry Rodriguez’s time to shine

Jefry Rodriguez made his Class AA debut in Bowie last Friday as he allowed five runs in 5.1 innings. The 24-year-old couldn’t get out of the sixth inning that night as he gave up three runs in the frame including a two-run home run to Orioles’ top prospect Austin Hayes.

One week later, it was a completely different story as the right-hander scattered only four singles over 6.2 shutout innings against the same Baysox lineup to earn his first victory of the season as the Senators bested Bowie 5-1 on Friday night at FNB Field.

“I thought he was in total control of the ballgame from the first pitch,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “I was really proud when he went a got a couple of shutdown innings after we scored.”

The 6-foot-6 right-hander was in command as just one Baysox baserunner reached third base off him only to be stranded there by reliever Austen Williams.

“It’s a good sign from a kid who comes up from A-ball and puts together two back-to-back outings against the same club,” LeCroy said. “And they have some guys over there that can swing it; veteran guys that know how to play.”

Rodriguez, the Nationals 24th ranked prospect according to Baseball America, appeared the part as he touched 95 on the in-stadium gun and did a great job mixing in his breaking ball and change-up to keep the Bowie bats at bay.

“Him and Mike (Tejera) have a really good relationship,” LeCroy said. “I think Gushue has done a really nice job with him too mixing it up and getting him through some innings.

“Tonight was almost perfect. The weather was great. We played really well.”

***

The Senators drew 6,758 in their largest home opener in history…Khayyan Norfork drove in three runs on the night on two singles and fielder’s choice…Taylor Gushue drove his first home run of the season onto the boardwalk over Ollie’s Cheap Seats…Dan Gamache continued his assault on Eastern League pitching going 2-for-4 to raise his league-leading batting average to .462 on the season.

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2018 Opening Day Roster Unveiled

The Harrisburg Senators, in conjunction with the Washington Nationals, have released the player roster for the 2018 season:

Catchers
Taylor Gushue
Jake Lowery

Raudy Read’s 80-game suspension and the free agent signing of Miguel Montero have caused a ripple effect in the Nationals’ catchers at the upper levels. Pedro Severino and Spencer Kieboom will handle the catching duties for Syracuse, while the switch-hitting Gushue will get the bulk of the workload here in Harrisburg.

Infielders
Osvaldo Abreu
Dan Gamache
Kelvin Gutierrez
Khayyan Norfork
Stephen Perez
Jacob Wilson

Minor league Rule 5 draftee Wilson comes the Nationals from the Cardinals organization and will see the majority of his time at second base for the Senators. Gutierrez will get the reps at third base, while Gamache, Norfork, and Perez will serve as the utility infielders.

Outfielders
Rafael Bautista
Zach Collier
Daniel Johnson
Yadiel Hernandez

Both Bautista and Hernandez were casualties of the numbers crunch among outfielders slated for Syracuse. After a strong 2017 split between Hagerstown and Potomac, Johnson will see if he can solve Double-A pitching in his first taste.

Pitchers
Dakota Bacus
Logan Darnell
Brady Dragmire
Wirkin Estevez
Kaleb Fleck
Ismael Guillon
Bryan Harper
Roman Mendez
Luis Reyes
Jefry Rodriguez
Derek Self
Austen Williams
Phillips Valdez

Fleck, another Rule 5 pick on the minor league side, has pitched the last three seasons at Triple-A Reno in the Diamondbacks organization while Darnell and Mendez come to the Nationals as minor league free agents with MLB experience. Harper returns to Harrisburg on his way back from Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2017 season.

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Senators’ 2017 Promo Schedule

http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1221669983&topic_id=&sid=milb&tcid=vpp_copy_1221669983&v=3

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My IBWAA Post-Season Awards Ballot

National League

Most Valuable Player

1. Kris Bryant (CHC)

Bryant outclassed the rest of the NL competition regardless of the Cubs posting the best record in baseball. The 24-year-old will become the second straight Las Vegas native to place his MVP hardware on the mantle next to his Rookie of the Year award.

2. Freddie Freeman (ATL)
3. Daniel Murphy (WAS)
4. Nolan Arenado (COL)
5. Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ)
6. Anthony Rizzo (CHC)
7. Corey Seager (LAD)
8. Max Scherzer (WAS)
9. Joey Votto (CIN)
10. Jon Lester (CHC)

Cy Young

1. Max Scherzer (WAS)

Forget the 20 win-season, Scherzer earned this award with the lowest WHIP and most strikeouts among starters across the Major Leagues. The right-hander also finished in the top five in FIP, RE24, and WPA as the anchor in the Nationals’ rotation.

2. Jon Lester (CHC)
3. Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
4. Johnny Cueto (SFG)
5. Kyle Hendricks (CHC)

Rookie of the Year

1. Corey Seager (LAD)

This selection is the “lock” of the awards season. As great as Turner was in his 73 games with the Nationals, Seager was a stud for the Dodgers all season. His 6.1 offensive WAR was second to only Bryant in the National League.

2. Trea Turner (WAS)
3. Kenta Maeda (LAD)

Manager of the Year

1. Joe Maddon (CHC)

Usually this award goes to the manager of the team who outperformed their expectations. I hate that. I’m not saying it doesn’t have a place in the consideration, just that it is one factor in many that should. The Cubs are a young team with high hopes and a lot could have gone wrong. It didn’t. Maddon deserves credit for guiding the best team in baseball.

2. Dave Roberts (LAD)
3. Dusty Baker (WAS)

Reliever of the Year

1. Mark Melancon (PIT/WAS)

Melancon led  all NL relievers with a 3.4 win probability on his way to 47 saves between the Pirates and Nationals. Without a truly dominant season by any National League reliever, Melancon rose to the top of the heap for me.

2. Tyler Thornburg (MIL)
3. Kenley Jansen (LAD)

American League

Most Valuable Player

1. Mike Trout (ANA)

Congratulation to Trout for his fifth straight MVP Award! Hold on…someone is handing me something…he’s only won once and is doubtful again this year because the Angels stink. His team is terrible. So what? Did he have the best season among all American League players? Yep. Then he’s the MVP…hands down.

2. Mookie Betts (BOS)
3. Jose Altuve (HOU)
4. David Ortiz (BOS)
5. Josh Donaldson (TOR)
6. Manny Machado (BAL)
7. Carlos Correa (HOU)
8. Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)
9. Brian Dozier (MIN)
10. Adrian Beltre (TEX)

Cy Young

1. Corey Kluber (CLE)

Kluber appears to be poised to nab his second Cy Young Award in the last three years with yet another outstanding season. Kluber led the league in ERA+ and FIP justifying his selection as the top hurler taking into account the ballpark effects and without the defense behind him.

2. Zach Britton (BAL)
3. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)
4. Rick Porcello (BOS)
5. Justin Verlander (DET)

Rookie of the Year

1. Michael Fulmer (DET)

Sanchez made this race much closer than it should be for a guy who played only 53 games this season but I still gave the nod to Fulmer. Detroit gave the right-hander a ton of run support (5.37 per game), but Fulmer didn’t succeed because of that as his 3.06 ERA and .231 OBA show.

2. Gary Sanchez (NYY)
3. Tyler Naquin (CLE)

Manager of the Year

1. Jeff Banister (TEX)

Despite winning the AL West last season, few pundits selected the Rangers to repeat, let alone qualify for the postseason. Banister is the steady hand at the helm who deserves to take home his second straight award.

2. Terry Francona (CLE)
3. Buck Showalter (BAL)

Reliever of the Year

1. Zach Britton (BAL)

Yes, the closer role is overrated. But Britton still posted one of the best seasons by a reliever. Britton gave up only four earned runs all season and his 0.54 ERA is the best ever among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched.

2. Andrew Miller (NYY/CLE)
3. Chris Devenski (HOU)

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The Island Chronicles Podcast, May 23rd edition

Perry Mattern and Mick Reinhard join the voice of the Harrisburg Senators, Terry Byrom, to discuss the role of minor league roving instructors and player response to criticism on broadcasts.

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The Island Chronicles podcast, Episode 6 (April 29)

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Terry Byrom, voice of the Senators, and myself are back for the April 29th episode of the Island Chronicles podcast.

We discuss the Senators’ season thus far and then we branch off into advanced statistics and scouting.

We would love to get feedback from you so let us know what you like, what you don’t, and topics you want to hear us discuss in the future.

And one more thing…if you like it, please help us spread the word and share it with everyone.

Thanks!

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Vlad goes into Senators Bobblehead HoF

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