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Apr
25

Update on Brady House, Fred Nats, and Other Nationals Affiliates

This season has been a mixed bag for Washington’s minor league affiliates, and it’ll likely stay that way for the rest of the season. As discussed throughout local media, the farm system has improved in the last 12 months, but its depth from top to bottom is still somewhat subpar.

With that said, there are some major sources of excitement throughout the organization, not the least of which resides in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

The Prized Possession At The Plate

I really try my best to not speak hyperbolically as a baseball viewer. When things are going great, there’s always a chance that they can get worse, and vice versa. And even in the moment, there’s typically more nuance than data or the eye test reveal.

Here’s the indisputable, cold-hard fact, though. Brady House has advanced, next-level baseball talent, especially in the batter’s box.

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Apr
24

The Starting Pitching Predicament The Nationals Are Facing...

For nearly the first two weeks of the season, everything stayed roughly on-script in Washington’s starting rotation.

Sure, Anibal Sanchez was sent to the Injured List before making his season debut, but inserting Josh Rogers into his place was an easy fix.

But that all came crashing down this week as things went haywire, shedding some light on the intentions of Dave Martinez and the front office with their young starting pitchers.

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Apr
17

Is It Time For The Nationals To Promote Luis Garcia?

Sending infielder Luis Garcia back down to Triple-A was one of the toughest decisions Dave Martinez had to make this spring.

His reasoning was simple: Garcia needed to improve his overall consistency in the field, and he felt that there was enough middle infield talent on the big league roster to allow Garcia’s development to come in Rochester instead of Washington.

Garcia’s a month shy of 22 years old, so it’s not as if keeping him in Triple-A is holding him back. But he certainly doesn’t have anything left to prove offensively, and he’s also trending favorably as a defender.

He’s Succeeding in Triple-A

Sure, Garcia hasn’t hit spectacularly in the major leagues yet, but in 49 games in Rochester across the last two seasons, he’s hitting .323 with a .986 OPS – which, if the minors tracked such metrics, would give him approximately a 180 OPS+, 80 percent better than league average.

This season, Garcia is batting .377 and leading the league-wide Triple-A level with 20 base hits.

Garcia hasn’t been bad defensively, either. He’s committed four errors in 12 games (10 at shortstop and two at second base), but they all came in his first five games of the season. Since then, he’s been much more steady.

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Apr
13

Sorry for Doubting You, Maikel Franco...

The Washington Nationals have now won three of their last four games, including two of three in Atlanta against the Braves – and the biggest reason is a torrential stretch at the plate from third baseman Maikel Franco.

Although he’s a former top 20 prospect in baseball (according to Baseball America), Franco has seen relatively limited success in the major leagues. Case in point: He stumbled to a wins above replacement (WAR) of -1.6 – yes, that’s a negative WAR – in 104 games in Baltimore last season.

Washington signed Franco to a minor league contract this offseason, with the intent to make him earn his way onto the Nationals roster. That all changed when Carter Kieboom suffered a flexor mass and UCL strain, but it didn’t suddenly make Franco a player – he was simply viewed as the only other option.

The Turnaround

Franco started the season 0-for-13 with four strikeouts and a double play, leading up to his final at bat against the Mets on Sunday.

Since that point, the 29-year-old has nine hits in his last 14 at bats, including a home run and seven RBIs, and his batting average has risen from goose eggs to .346.

It’s not as if his overall tendencies at the plate have changed. He’s still been extremely aggressive and pull-happy, but he’s also made hard contact at an elite rate, as shown below.

Franco and Dave Martinez have emphasized the need for Maikel to chase fewer pitches, particularly ones that are low and outside. He’s improved in that area to a degree, but he also simply isn’t swinging and missing (as illustrated by his “whiff rate” being significantly above average).

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Apr
10

Nelly, Lucius, Bullpen Save Nationals From An Ugly Opening Series

This wasn’t the way the Nationals wanted their season to start.

They hosted the Mets for four games and lost three of them. The two biggest themes? Starting pitchers not lasting long, and the bottom of the order offering no production.

The unlikely savior from what would’ve otherwise been a worst-case scenario start to the season was Lucius Fox, who was making his big league debut, aided by a three-RBI game from Nelson Cruz.

Pitching

Amazingly, rookie Joan Adon and veteran Erick Fedde were the only starting pitchers to record a single out in the fifth inning – and neither of them lasted beyond the fifth.

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Apr
07

From The Blue Waters Of The Chesapeake, To The Hills Of Tennessee...

The decision will not help gain a single yard, point, or first down for Virginia Tech’s football team this fall.

But when you turn on the radio for the Hokies’ September 2nd game in Norfolk against ODU and hear “From the blue waters of the Chesapeake to the hills of Tennessee, the Virginia Tech Hokies are on the air,” you’ll realize it made football season just a little bit better.

Bill Roth is back.

He will be the radio voice of the Hokies for football only, but he and Mike Burnop will now be back together to call every moment of white lines and green grass at Lane Stadium and beyond.

David Teel broke the news in the Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning, and I have to say, it may be the best news regarding Virginia Tech I’ll hear all month. Roth has been like that favorite, well-worn sweatshirt you wear on game days that just makes you feel comfortable. He was the radio voice in lean times, the radio voice in great times, and over several decades, became part of the family to many older Hokies.

He is also one of the most impressive people I think you’ll ever meet. In life, you get to come across people who are just genuinely good, and Bill is one. Poll 50 people who have had interactions with him, and odds are you’ll get 50 stories about what a good guy he is. He embraced the Hokies and all that Virginia Tech stood for from the very beginning, and has been an incredible ambassador for the school.

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Apr
05

There Will Be Good. There Will Be Bad. There Will Be Ugly...

Spring Training has come to an end, which means it’s officially time for the first “rebuilding” season the Washington Nationals have experienced in more than a decade.

Joan Adon

Some recognizable franchise fixtures are still on the team, and others have rejoined it, but even more are new and perhaps inexperienced at the game’s highest level. The combination of young blood and veterans on the back nine of their careers should serve as a sign of where expectations of fans and the organization should be, as the 2022 campaign will be a far cry from Washington’s glory years of consistently being championship contenders.

Still, there should be some hope of better days to come. From a short-term perspective - although the spring wasn’t very kind to the Nationals - the offense in particular finished on a high note, scoring at least seven runs in four of their final five games.

More importantly, there’s an abundance of talent on the cusp of the major leagues – and in some cases, just recently reaching the majors – for the first time in quite awhile.

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Mar
31

Fedde Injured, Robles Likely In CF, Tres Barrera Makes His Move...

As the regular season is drawing near, the Washington Nationals find themselves struggling on the field.

They narrowly avoided a sweep in their most recent set of four games and were outscored 43-17. Perhaps it’s not that important, but it could be a sign of what’s to come this season.

Still, we’re all learning what the roster will look like and gaining a feel for how prepared players are for the rapidly approaching regular season. Among the most recently discussed names in recent days are Erick Fedde, Victor Robles and Tres Barrera.

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Mar
31

Spring Has Sprung For Hokie Football And It Feels...Different

Things really are different this spring in Blacksburg.

We’ve officially rotated back to football season and nothing feels the same. Literally every aspect of the program feels dramatically different right now — and that’s a good thing.

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

We can start with the football program’s roster of players, which has new faces at many positions. Nobody knows who is going to play quarterback, though two of the favorites — Jason Brown and Grant Wells — are new to the town.

The lack of familiarity continues on offense. Jadan Blue probably has a starting spot locked down at wide receiver, but he’s still learning his way around campus. Da’Wain Lofton has a new number (3), but at least he knows where the position rooms are. Kaleb Smith is the lone Blacksburg vet in that position group, meaning several fresh faces are going to get a look.

The offensive line is a toss-up as you generally don’t replace three starters overnight. Johnny Jordan, Slias Dzansi and Kaden Moore are still around, but most of the remaining offensive linemen on the roster are newbies.

Linebacker might be the only spot where many of the same players are still around, but more guys are getting added to the room. Brent Pry’s preference for the 4-3 defense means the Hokies need more bodies there. JR Walker has already transitioned over to linebacker, as have the McDonald twins. One of those brothers, Jorden, has already shifted to defensive end. Who knows, more changes could be coming.

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Mar
26

Garcia Likely To AAA, Strange-Gordon, Cavalli May Stick Around

With less than two weeks remaining until the MLB regular season begins, it’s becoming clearer what and who we can expect to see on Opening Day. By the looks of it, the roster won’t look like we expected it would – and Dee Strange-Gordon and Cade Cavalli could be among the unplanned inclusions.

An Infield Without Luis Garcia

One unexpected change is that middle infielder Luis Garcia will likely start the season in Triple-A Rochester. As we recently discussed, manager Dave Martinez had expressed concern with Garcia’s consistency in the field. Defense was supposed to be his calling card, but there have been routine plays – in games, and presumably also in practice – that Garcia hasn’t made at the major league level.

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Mar
22

If You're Going To Celebrate Winning An ACC Title, Do It Right

An old friend just sent me these with a note that said if you’re going to celebrate winning an ACC Tournament, you might as well do it the right way. Cold drink, good cigar, nice weather, good dog. Doesn’t get much better than this…

 

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Ricky LaBlue

Ricky LaBlue

A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

Stephen Newman

Stephen Newman

The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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