Senators stifled in home opener

Check out the game story here

Leftover quotes

Matt LeCroy on John Simms’ crucial walk to Rhys Hoskins in the fateful fifth inning

“I think he gave that guy a little too much credit. 3-2 breaking ball. He didn’t seem to be taking too comfortable of swings off him.”

LeCroy on Bryan Harper

“We’re trying to lengthen him out a little bit. He’s been good. He’s throwing the ball over and getting ahead.”

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Harrisburg Senators unveil 2016 Opening Day roster

Wilmer Difo will bring his speed and aggressive approach at the plate back to Harrisburg in 2016.

Wilmer Difo will bring his speed and aggressive approach at the plate back to Harrisburg in 2016.

Starting Pitchers
Lucas Giolito, RHP
John Simms, RHP
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP
Austen Williams, RHP
Tyler Mapes, RHP

Giolito is obviously the stud of the group, but who knows how long he’ll be in Harrisburg. The other four starters though should be here for the whole season barring injuries. Lopez and his tantalizing fastball will pitch in April for the first time in his professional career.

Relief Pitchers
Gilberto Mendez, RHP
Wander Suero, RHP
Robert Fish, LHP
Dakota Bacus, RHP
Bryan Harper, LHP
J.C. Gutierrez, RHP
Abel De Los Santos, RHP
Nick Lee, LHP

A very veteran group returns to City Island however just like last season, the last three outs may be the toughest to get for this unit. Gutierrez, who saved 24 games in the Major Leagues, may just be the guy that stabilizes the back end of the bullpen.

Catchers
Spencer Kieboom
Brian Jeroloman

Kieboom will look to go the whole season healthy to return to the form that he showed in 2014 at Hagerstown. The former Clemson catcher will be under the tutelage of another former one in manager Matt LeCroy. Jeroloman will do what he does: show up, work hard every day, and give these young pitchers stability behind the dish.

Infielders
Shawn Pleffner
Chris Bostick
Wilmer Difo
Adrian Sanchez
Cutter Dykstra
Stephen Perez

Despite Dusty Baker saying he needed to get more reps at second base, Difo will return to Harrisburg to man the shortstop position. Sanchez should be the everyday third baseman after coming off an offensive surge at the end of last year and a monster Winter Leagues and WBC qualifier. Perez and Dykstra are likely the utility players with their ability to play all over the diamond.

Outfielders
Isaac Ballou
Rafael Bautista
Zach Collier
Kevin Keyes

Bautista will bring blazing speed and an ability to put bat to ball in his first taste of Harrisburg after being aggressively promoted following just 52 games at High-A Potomac last season. Keyes makes the most sense for the DH on this roster, but the first 14 games of the season are against National League opponents so he should see some time in the outfield and at first base early.

The Senators’ roster by the numbers

Of the 25 players on the active roster…

17: players that played in Harrisburg last season
25.37: average age
2: 30-year olds (Jeroloman – 30 and Gutierrez – 32)
21: youngest player (Giolito)
3: players with MLB experience (De Los Santos, Difo, Gutierrez)
5’10”: shortest player (Bostick)
6’6”: tallest player (Giolito)
2: first-round draft picks (Giolito and Collier)
17: players drafted/signed originally with the Nationals’ organization
5: players originally acquired via trade (Bacus, Bostick, De Los Santos, Dykstra, and Jeroloman)
8: players born in foreign countries
5: players born in Texas (Keyes, Lee, Mapes, Simms, and Williams)
3: players born in California (Collier, Fish, and Giolito)
3: players born in New York (Bostick, Dykstra, and Jeroloman)
170: most games as a Senator (Keyes)

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2016 Eastern League Preview: Bowie Baysox

Chris Lee (photo courtesy Bert Hindman / Bowie Baysox)

Chris Lee (photo courtesy Bert Hindman / Bowie Baysox)

With the start of the 2016 season right around the corner, we’re previewing the 12 Eastern League teams in reverse order of last season’s record. Complete rosters are still not finalized, so my Players to Watch is pure speculation at this point.

Up next, we have the Bowie Baysox…

2015 record: 79-63

Affiliation: Baltimore Orioles

Coaching Staff
Manager: Gary Kendall
Hitting coach: Howie Clark
Pitching coach: Alan Mills
Field coach: Shawn McGill

Five Players to Watch

C Chance Sisco – No one doubts Sisco’s ability to hit as the backstop is advanced at the plate way beyond his 21 years of age. Sisco has a great approach and excellent feel for the strike zone as evident by his .326 average and .402 on-base percentage in three professional seasons. But the big question is whether he will stick as catcher or not. Sisco threw out only 25% of runners last season, but he also did a fine job handling the pitching staffs at Frederick and Bowie.

LHP Chris Lee – Lee took a big step forward last season after a change of scenery did him wonders being acquired by the Orioles’ organization in May. The southpaw pitched to a 3.07 ERA and allowed only one home run in 21 starts over 114.1 innings. That was good enough for Baltimore to add him to the team’s 40-man roster over the winter.

RHP David Hess – Hess shined in the second half of the season as the righty dominated to a 1.61 ERA in his last 15 starts including two big wins in the playoffs for the Baysox. The 22-year-old pitched out of the bullpen during part of his time at Tennessee Tech and questions abound whether he’s better suited to that role. A real intensity on the mound and a high-effort delivery probably signal a change in Hess’ future, but for now he’ll pitch in the rotation.

OF Josh Hart – Hart has a ton of tools, but has yet to put it all together for the Orioles in three professional seasons despite signing for a $1.45 million bonus after being drafted in the supplemental first round. The center fielder has shown little to no power during games and an even worse patience at the plate.

SS Adrian Marin – Marin is an old school, glove first shortstop in the vein of the 1970s. Forty years later offense is more highly thought of at each position and until he can show he can consistently hit, he will remain scuffling in the minors. If (and that’s a huge if) Marin can find his groove at the plate, expect him to be a fast riser in the system.

2016 Outlook:
The defending Eastern League champions will return the majority of the team that topped the Reading Fightin’ Phils in five games including last season’s batting champ Trey Mancini who will surprisingly begin 2016 in Bowie. The Baysox seem to always be a formidable offensive force with a couple of minor league veterans strengthening their lineup. Last year they were buoyed by a solid starting rotation (like Terry Doyle and Joe Gunkel) and a lights out bullpen (Mychal Givens and Andrew Triggs). Their success in 2016, which I expect but not to last year’s level, will once again fall to their pitching staff.

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The Island Chronicles podcast, Episode 4 (March 30)

LOS ANGELES - APRIL 17: Phyllis George and Vin Scully as co-hosts on "Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes."  Image dated April 17, 1977.  (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Terry Byrom, voice of the Senators, and myself are back for the March 30th episode of the Island Chronicles podcast.

We discuss what we know about the 2016 Harrisburg Senators’ roster (not much at this point) and then branch off into how social media and the interwebs have changed how we follow teams, players, and the games.

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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2016 Eastern League Preview: Binghamton Mets

Amed Rosario (photo courtesy Chris McShane)

Prior to the season we’re previewing the 12 Eastern League teams in reverse order of last season’s record. Rosters won’t be finalized until the week before Opening Day, so my Players to Watch is pure speculation at this point.

Up next, we have the Binghamton Mets…

2015 record: 77-64

Affiliation: New York Mets

Coaching Staff
Manager: Pedro ­­­­­­Lopez
Hitting coach: Luis Natera
Pitching coach: Glenn Abbott

Five Players to Watch

1B Dominic Smith – Smith is coming off a 2015 season which saw him slash .305/.354/.417 on the way towards winning the Florida State League MVP. The Mets’ first round draft pick in 2013 is a pure hitter in the throwback mold, but for a corner infielder he has yet to show a power stroke slugging only 10 home runs over three minor league seasons.

SS Amed Rosario – The 20-year-old got a taste (more like an amuse-bouche) of Double-A last season as the B-Mets competed in the playoffs. Rosario has a strong arm and great footwork to stick at shortstop, but he has yet to show enough offensively more than a swing and approach at the plate that is contact-oriented.

LHP Josh Smoker – Smoker was at one time a top prospect of the Washington Nationals after being selected 31st overall in 2007. But injuries piled up for the southpaw and his velocity took a nosedive until he found himself pitching in Rockford, Ill., in the independent Frontier League. But somehow, Smoker rebounded in 2015 as his fastball got back into the upper 90s and he fanned 60 in 49 innings.

2B L.J. Mazzilli – After being suspended for a “drug of abuse” for the first 50 games last year, Mazzilli struggled to get back on track. His abundance of grit and improving batter’s eye don’t quite make up for his lack of power, but as the son of former Mets All-Star Lee Mazzilli he has the pedigree that will enable opportunities.

3B Jhoan Urena – The corner infielder managed to break both of his hamate bones last season and he wasn’t the same afterwards. Urena hit only .186/.240/.228 in 24 games when he returned to St. Lucie. The switch-hitter may very well spend 2016 repeating the Florida State League, but if he can show he’s healthy and productive he may finish the season in the Southern Tier.

2016 Outlook:
Under the patience and guiding hand of Pedro Lopez, the B-Mets have made the playoffs each of the last three seasons while averaging 82 regular season wins. For my money, Lopez is the best manager in the Eastern League and I’m shocked he hasn’t moved up in the Mets’ system or been poached by another organization yet. The B-Mets’ roster won’t be as talented as the recent past, but that shouldn’t stop them from once again playing meaningful games into September.

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2016 Eastern League Preview: Altoona Curve

Harold-Ramirez

Harold Ramirez

Prior to the season we’re previewing the 12 Eastern League teams in reverse order of last season’s record. Rosters won’t be finalized until the week before Opening Day, so my Players to Watch is pure speculation at this point.

Up next, we have the Altoona Curve…

2015 record: 74-68

Affiliation: Pittsburgh Pirates

Coaching Staff
Manager: Joey Cora
Hitting coach: Kevin Riggs
Pitching coach: Justin Meccage

Five Players to Watch

OF Austin Meadows – The 20-year-old brings an advanced approach to the plate and showed that in a brief stint with Altoona last season when he slashed .360/.429/.680 in six games that catapulted the Curve into the playoffs. Meadows, however, will start 2016 on the disabled list as he will be out until at least early April with a fractured orbital bone he suffered in a freak Spring Training injury.

OF Harold Ramirez – Ramirez remains of the more enigmatic prospects. The Colombian is a stud with a bat in his hands at the plate, has good speed on the basepaths, and can adeptly play all three outfield positions. But Ramirez can also be surly with umpires, lack focus at times, and be the poster child for TOOTBLAN.

RHP Yeudy Garcia – Garcia is a late bloomer who went 12-5 with a 2.10 ERA at Low-A West Virginia in his first season in the States. The native Dominican throws a mid-to-high 90s fastball and a hard slider that elicits weak to little contact. The righty will begin 2016 in Bradenton, but could move up the ladder quickly.

C Reese McGuire – McGuire has a reputation as a defense-first catcher and it’s warranted as he’s one of the best receivers in the minor leagues with a feel for calling a game behind the plate. The big question mark is will his hit tool ever develop enough to be little more than a backup. Double-A will really put his offensive skills to the test.

RHP Clay Holmes – After Tommy John surgery in 2014, the Pirates have brought Holmes back slowly beginning with six starts at High-A Bradenton last year. Holmes features a heavy sinker and an effective change-up to keep the ball on the ground and in the park. The ninth round draft pick was the valedictorian of his high school and uses his intelligence to prepare and attack hitters.

2016 Outlook:
Hiring Joey Cora to be the Curve’s new skipper in 2016 was a coup for the Pirates’ organization considering he was thought to be in the hunt for a Major League managerial position. I expect big things out of Cora as Pittsburgh’s top-loaded system will stack the Triple-A Indianapolis roster and push lots of talented players to Altoona. The Curve will have the offense and pitching to contend all season long and are my favorites to claim the Western Division title.

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The Island Chronicles podcast, Episode 3 (March 23)

Harry_Doyle
Terry Byrom, voice of the Senators, and myself are back for the March 23rd episode of the Island Chronicles podcast.

The Adam and Drake LaRoche brouhaha has dominated the interwebs this past week and we delved into the topic, specifically how kids in the clubhouse play at the minor league level.

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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