Rochester Red Wings Report: One line on every new member of the 2022 Rochester Red Wings

During the 2022 season, I’ll have occasional reports on games I’ve attended of the Rochester Red Wings, the AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

Last night’s 3-2 loss to Syracuse was, for such a close game, a rather nondescript one, as the Wings were foiled by a lack of clutch hitting and a would-be tying run being thrown out at the plate.

So, instead, I’m updating my opening day look at the team by having one line on every member of the Red Wings who was not on the opening day roster. I am not including Alcides Escobar, who is on a rehab assignment.

Here we go:

  • Cory Abbott was acquired by the Nationals off waivers from the Giants in May.
  • Joan Adon is looking to get back to Washington after being sent down with a 1-11 record and 6.97 ERA thus far in the show this season.
  • Luis Avilan is an MLB veteran of 458 games, primarily with Atlanta and the Dodgers.
  • Matt Brill came to the Nationals organization after initially being with Arizona, and was moved from AA to AAA in early June.
  • Zack Burdi, currently on the IL, saw some MLB time with the White Sox and Orioles last season.
  • Sam Clay first made his Rochester Red Wings debut in 2019, during the Twins era.
  • Matt Cronin had a minuscule 0.55 ERA in AA Harrisburg before being called up to the Wings in late May.
  • This is Danny Dopico‘s first year in the Nationals organization, having previously been with the White Sox.
  • Aside from Cade Cavalli, Cole Henry is likely the biggest pitching prospect in the Nationals system.
  • Patrick Murphy has pitched in 35 career MLB games.
  • Sterling Sharp is not related to former NFL player Sterling Sharpe, as should be clear by the fact their last names are spelled different.
  • Mason Thompson has a 3.86 ERA in 25.2 career IP in Major League Baseball.
  • Taylor Gushue had a cup of coffee with the Cubs in 2021.
  • Curacao’s Junior Martina has leapfrogged AA to join the Red Wings.
  • Ildemaro Vargas has seen MLB time with Arizona, the Cubs, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh.
  • Josh Palacios‘ uncle, Rey Palacios, is both a former big leaguer and a longtime Rochester firefighter.

The Red Wings continue their series against Syracuse through Sunday.

2023 WBC Team Dominican Republic: The “ideal” roster

Here’s a fun fact: one of my most popular posts ever was an early projection of what Team Dominican Republic’s roster would look like for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. So now that I have finished my June update for Team USA, it is time to look at another tournament favorite: the Dominican Republic. It’s a topic that others have already brought up: reporter Hector Gomez tweeted out one possible lineup, while no less than Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gave his opinion back in April. Now, it’s my turn.

Much like the Team USA rosters, at this point this is a “pie-in-the-sky” roster. It assumes, probably wrongly, that every player I mention would be willing and able to play. That, needless to say, is highly unlikely. There are always injuries, spring training superstitions, or transaction considerations that cause players to back out. While this has not been as big of a problem in the past for the Dominican as it has been for some other countries, it still happens. So keep that in mind while reading this: it’s highly unlikely that the final roster will look like this.

That said, even with this being a pie-in-the-sky exercise, there are two rules I have in place while making this:

  • Teams are made up of 28 players, of which 13 of them must be pitchers and two of them catchers.
  • The pitch count rules make relievers extremely important.

Go below the jump for more:

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The “ideal” 2023 Team USA WBC roster 2.0

Last month, I speculated as to who would be on the Team USA World Baseball Classic roster next year. We’re now over a month later, so based on how the season is going, how much has changed?

Again, this is not the most likely (that will happen when I begin doing projections). Instead, it is what the best possible team would be if I could wave a magic wand and ensure that every player we’d want would be playing regardless of any injuries, off-season concerns, or spring training routine.

In other words, think of this as a sort-of rough draft or best-case-scenario. It will likely provide a bit of a skeleton for more-serious projections, but it’s unlikely to come to pass as it currently exists.

That said, even with this being a pie-in-the-sky exercise, there are two rules I have in place while making this:

  • Teams are made up of 28 players, of which 13 of them must be pitchers and two of them catchers.
  • The pitch count rules make relievers extremely important.

Go below the jump for more:

Continue reading

Rochester Red Wings Report: The Ghosts of Strasmas Past and Present

During the 2022 season, I’ll have occasional reports on games I’ve attended of the Rochester Red Wings, the AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

It is May 19, 2010. The second game of a day-night doubleheader. Over 12.5 thousand people pack Frontier Field to watch the best prospect in baseball face the Red Wings. His name is Stephen Strasburg. He is young, but already accomplished. He won awards at San Diego State, a bronze medal in Beijing, and a $15 million dollar contract with the help of Scott Boras. The world is seemingly watching, with national media in the stands and seemingly every camera in the photo city aimed at the clean-shaven kid. Among those cameras in mine. It’s a clear view from behind the visitor dugout, and I see it all as he dismantles the likes of Trevor Plouffe, Matt Tolbert, and Danny Valencia to the tune of nine strikeouts. He leaves the game to a round of applause from the fans of the team he held to three hits. Admittedly, the 2010 Red Wings end up not being anything particularly special, finishing 49-95. As he enters the dugout, some boo him for not tipping his hat. It’s a silly controversy which fades quickly, the Ghost of Strasmas Past.

Within a few weeks, Strasburg is striking out 14 Pittsburgh Pirates. Within a few years, he’s an all-star. Within a decade, he’s the World Series MVP.

It is June 3, 2022. Over a dozen years have passed. Now, the great Stephen Strasburg returns to Rochester. He’s no longer the wonderboy of 2010. Time and injuries have forced him to go from the high heat to more finesse. Where once he could seemingly send it at 95 on demand, now his most dangerous pitch is likely the curve. Regardless, he is Stephen Strasburg, hero of the 2019 World Series. Over 10.5 thousand people pack Frontier Field to see the now-bearded veteran. While the eyes of the world have turned elsewhere, there are still plenty of cameras. One of those cameras is mine, shooting around the protective netting that slightly obstructs the view behind the visitors dugout. The Buffalo team Strasburg faces is a far better opponent than the Wings team he faced in 2010. The Red Wings he’s rehabbing with are better, too. The two Western New York teams are in a fight for the lead of the International League East. When he leaves the game after six innings, the Wings are leading 1-0 thanks to a Donovan Casey solo shot off a nearly-as-dominant Max Castillo. Strasburg has thrown 83 pitches, 50 of them for strikes. He has struck out four, walked one, and given up just a single hit. Early on, he humiliates the Blue Jays’ top prospect, Gabriel Moreno. Outside of a few at-bats that saw deep counts and a few possible would-be hits that are prevented by Rochester gloves, he never really struggles. The Bison eventually tie the game, but the Red Wings win it in the bottom of the ninth as Joey Meneses gets a bases-loaded single that just falls out of the third baseman’s glove. The win extends Rochester’s lead in the division to 2.5 games. By then, I imagine, Strasburg is already on a flight back to join the Nationals. After all, when he leaves the game after the sixth to applause he does some fist-bumps, talks to coaches quickly, and then disappears into the clubhouse. Gone. The Ghost of Strasmas Present.

And so now, he is gone, likely to never see Frontier Field again barring any future injuries. What the future holds for him is anyone’s guess, but in the near-term, it almost certainly sees him stepping on the mound in Washington once again. It will be a far cry from that night he struck out 14 Pirates as the world watched. Still, he is Stephen Strasburg. The best pitcher on a team having a horrific year. The greatest pitcher to spend the vast majority of his career in Washington since Walter Johnson. Beyond that, who knows? Perhaps this is the twilight of his career. Perhaps he’s just one more injury away from hanging it up. Or perhaps this is still just the end of the beginning or middle stage. Perhaps he has many years left in him. Perhaps it even leads to Cooperstown. Right now that feels iffy, but who knows how the career of Stephen Strasburg will end? Nobody knows, save perhaps the Ghost of Strasmas Future.

The Red Wings (without Stephen Strasburg) finish up their series with Buffalo over the weekend.

Related To Somebody Famous For Something Else: Pat Riley’s dad, Lee Riley

Like many people, I’ve been watching the HBO show Winning Time, about the start of the Showtime-era Lakers. Not surprisingly, one of the main subjects of the show is Pat Riley, played here by Adrien Brody.

In one episode, Riley is shown to have a mental breakdown that leads him to smash much of his shed with a baseball bat. He then tells his wife (played by Gillian Jacobs) that he’s haunted by the missed opportunity of his father (who the bat belonged to), who was only able to have one hit in the majors despite playing the game for years.

While I have no idea if that actually happened, what Pat Riley says about his father is true. Lee Riley (also known as Leon Riley) played professional baseball for 22 seasons, but only briefly made it the majors. It was at the old age of 37 during the 1944 series for the Phillies, and even then it was largely because most of the younger players had joined the war effort. In 12 plate appearances over four games, the outfielder got one single hit: a double off Boston’s Ira Hutchinson in late April.

YearAgeTmLgGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSOPS+TBGDPHBPSHIBBPos
194437PHINL412121110010000.083.083.167.250-3020000/7H
1 Yr1 Yr1 Yr1 Yr412121110010000.083.083.167.250-3020000
16216216216216248648640404000400000.083.083.167.250-30810000

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/8/2022.

Of course, that was just his MLB career. His minor league career was far longer. While somewhat incomplete, you can see what Baseball Reference has below:

Register Batting
Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH IBB
1927 20 2 Teams 2 Lgs D-A 33 103 103 23 4 3 2 .223 .379 39
1927 20 -7.1 Lincoln WL A 10 26 7 0 2 1 .269 .539 14
1927 20 -5.1 Ottumwa MSVL D 23 77 16 4 1 1 .208 .325 25
1928 21 -5.7 Pueblo WL A 141 489 181 43 17 13 .370 .607 297
1929 22 -4.5 Pueblo WL A 159 606 185 41 27 24 .305 .581 352
1930 23 -3.2 Pueblo WL A 147 527 175 27 18 20 .332 .566 298
1931 24 -2.9 Pueblo WL A 139 534 161 39 16 16 .302 .524 280
1932 25 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-AA 151 546 546 184 40 11 15 .337 .533 291
1932 25 -3.3 Rochester IL AA STL 78 257 71 9 5 6 .276 .420 108
1932 25 -2.2 Omaha WL A 73 289 113 31 6 9 .391 .633 183
1933 26 2 Teams 2 Lgs A STL 130 450 450 114 21 11 7 .253 .396 178
1933 26 -0.4 Elmira NYPL A STL 128 448 114 21 11 7 .255 .397 178
1933 26 -0.6 Houston TL A STL 2 2 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 0
1934 27 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-C STL 105 373 373 100 15 6 11 .268 .429 160
1934 27 1.0 Davenport WL A 87 300 81 14 4 8 .270 .423 127
1934 27 2.8 Huntington MATL C STL 18 73 19 1 2 3 .260 .452 33
1935 28 3.0 Davenport WL A 112 413 132 23 7 12 .320 .496 205
1936 29 2.9 Davenport WL A BRO 123 431 129 24 6 12 .299 .466 201
1937 30 7.6 Beatrice NESL D BRO 114 393 146 27 19 14 .372 .644 253
1938 31 8.8 Beatrice NESL D BRO 115 524 425 117 155 30 15 17 122 15 82 28 .365 .480 .626 1.106 266 12 5
1939 32 3 Teams 3 Lgs A-A1-AA 81 204 204 58 8 3 7 .284 .456 93
1939 32 4.9 Baltimore IL AA 38 52 11 3 0 1 .212 .327 17
1939 32 7.2 Elmira EL A BRO 23 84 23 3 1 4 .274 .476 40
1939 32 5.0 Knoxville SOUA A1 PIT 20 68 24 2 2 2 .353 .529 36
1940 33 9.5 Oneonta CAML C 116 394 134 21 10 14 .340 .551 217
1941 34 9.5 Rome CAML C 120 404 158 27 6 32 .391 .725 293
1942 35 2 Teams 2 Lgs B-A1 PHA 132 414 414 107 16 8 7 .259 .387 160
1942 35 7.5 Memphis SOUA A1 61 203 64 8 4 4 .315 .453 92
1942 35 11.1 Wilmington ISLG B PHA 71 211 43 8 4 3 .204 .322 68
1944 37 12.1 Utica EL A PHI 125 515 383 69 98 18 5 5 70 2 117 54 .256 .435 .368 .803 141 4 11
1944 37 8.2 PHI NL Maj PHI 4 12 12 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .083 .083 .167 .250 2 0 0 0 0
1945 38 17.3 Bradford PONY D PHI 107 466 334 82 104 20 6 13 82 9 121 43 .311 .504 .524 1.028 175 9 2
1946 39 16.0 Bradford PONY D PHI 73 274 182 46 49 11 1 4 36 5 87 33 .269 .515 .407 .921 74 5 0
1947 40 16.8 Schenectady CAML C PHI 30 96 70 15 18 4 0 2 12 0 24 10 .257 .453 .400 .853 28 1 1
1948 41 17.6 Schenectady CAML C PHI 12 31 20 6 7 1 0 1 5 1 11 2 .350 .581 .550 1.131 11 0 0
1949 42 18.9 Terre Haute IIIL B PHI
Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH IBB
Majo Majo Majo Majo Majors 4 12 12 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .083 .083 .167 .250 2 0 0 0 0
Mino Mino Mino Mino Minors 2265 8187 7695 335 2418 460 195 248 327 32 442 170 4012 31 19
All All All All 2269 8199 7707 336 2419 461 195 248 328 32 0 442 170 4014 31 19 0
AA ( AA ( AA ( AA ( Minors 116 309 309 82 12 5 7 .265 .405 125
A (1 A (1 A (1 A (1 Minors 1269 4664 4532 69 1399 284 120 131 70 2 117 54 .309 .511 2316 4 11
A1 ( A1 ( A1 ( A1 ( Minors 81 271 271 88 10 6 6 .325 .472 128
B (2 B (2 B (2 B (2 Minors 71 211 211 43 8 4 3 68
C (5 C (5 C (5 C (5 Minors 296 998 961 21 336 54 18 52 17 1 35 12 .350 .606 582 1 1
D (5 D (5 D (5 D (5 Minors 432 1734 1411 245 470 92 42 49 240 29 290 104 .333 .562 793 26 7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/8/2022.

Lee Riley would ultimately die in 1970 at the age of 64, living long enough to see his son win stardom in the NCAA and begin his NBA career.

Rochester Red Wings Report: Past and future on a cold night

During the 2022 season, I’ll have occasional reports on games I’ve attended of the Rochester Red Wings, the AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

It was a cold night on Tuesday as the Red Wings played the Syracuse Mets in front of a small but hardy crowd. That crowd grew thinner as the night went on and the temperature dipped ever-closer to 40, and it didn’t help matters that the Red Wings fell behind 8-1 in the first half of the game. Ultimately, though, those who stayed received a treat in the form of an epic comeback.

That, however, is not what this report is about. At least, not really. No, this is about how the past and future were both in Rochester on Tuesday.

To call Dee Strange-Gordon the past is perhaps not fair. He is still very much a present player. He’s no longer the All-Star he was in the mid-2010s, nor does he possess quite the quickness that makes him the active stolen-base leader. He’s moved into a more utility role at the age of 34, primarily playing in the outfield, unlike in the earlier parts of his career where he was mostly a middle infielder. Since leaving Miami after 2017, he’s hit .265/.292/.342 in 1094 plate appearances, a definite downgrade from the .293/.329/.367 of his career before. He spent 2021 entirely in the minors, and there was some thought that he’d start this season in the minors as well until he won a job in spring training.

Pity the poor equipment manager for the Rochester Red Wings, who had to fit his name on the back of the uniform.

Still, he’s Dee Strange-Gordon (the Strange added to his name in honor of his late mother). While never a superstar to the public (no doubt hurt by the fact he was traded to Miami from Los Angeles, as well as a suspension in 2016), most baseball fans know him, and for a few years he was one of the premier infielders in MLB. So when it was announced he’d begin a rehab from an undisclosed illness in Rochester just a few hours before game time, it was a pleasant surprise.

Wearing the number 1 once worn by his half-brother Nick Gordon during his time in Rochester as a Twins prospect, Dee was well-covered for the cold and wore his Nationals helmet to the plate for the game. Playing at shortstop for the first time this season (having been in the outfield and once in a garbage-time mound appearance in the big leagues), he was 0-2 with a strikeout and a walk at the plate, but still made an impact as he scored twice and reached base in the fifth on a fielders choice. He also made an impact in the field, taking part in a double-play.

It was clear that he wasn’t going to steal when he was no base (this was, after all, a minor league game to which he was essentially a special guest coming through on his way back to the show), but his speed still played a definite factor in keeping the fielders choice from becoming a possible double-play. He left the game in the 6th, but stuff like this is common for rehab appearances, particularly early on in the rehab stints. One game isn’t much to go on, but he seemed to be perfectly healthy and it is presumably only a matter of time before he joins the Nationals once again.

Strange-Gordon reaching base in the 5th, in hindsight, would prove very important, because the next batter was Luis Garcia, who was playing 2B on Tuesday. He’s the future in this tale. While he’s already played in parts of 110 MLB games, he’s still not even 22, and is almost certainly the top position player prospect on the Red Wings this year.

If his play on Tuesday was any indication, he probably shouldn’t be on the Red Wings much longer. Having already singled twice in the game, Garcia went deep in the fifth off Jake Reed, bringing home Strange-Gordon and himself to make it 8-3 in a much-needed sign of life for the Wings.

His next at-bat would come in the 7th, when he drew a walk. Little did we know at the time, but that would be start of the true comeback rally. A 2-out single by Joey Meneses moved him to third, and he then scored on a Josh Palacios hit right after. The next batter, Donovan Casey, then hit a home run to deep center (at first it was called a double, but that changed) to drive in three more and make it 8-7 Syracuse.

Finally, in the 8th, the culmination of the comeback and the culmination of Garcia’s jewel of a game came. Tres Barrera tied it with a solo shot to left with one out, leading to pandemonium among the small-but-hardy crowd. Then, after a fielding error allowed Alfredo Rodriguez (who had come in for Gordon) to reach, Garcia stepped to the plate again and hit his second home run of the night to make it 10-8. His totals for the night: 4-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 10 total bases. His batting average now stands at .360, his OPS at 1.020.

The Wings would ultimately hold on to win 10-9, moving to 10-9 on the year in the process in what may forever be known as the Luis Garcia Game. The future is bright.

Someone Not to Forget

Although much of the attention no doubt goes to Garcia, Strange-Gordon, and the other hitters who got the Wings back into the game, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Sterling Sharp. In four innings of relief, he gave up only two hits and two walks while striking out four. His shutout innings kept what was a Syracuse blowout from becoming even more out-of-hand, allowing the comeback to take place. He received no win for the performance, but in some ways it can be argued he is the one who deserved it.

The Red Wings continue their series against Syracuse throughout the week.

The best defunct baseball team identities for every MLB city (Part 2: National League)

The history of baseball is full of team names that no longer exist. This brings up the question, however: what is each city’s BEST former baseball identity? And are they better than the current one?

I’m going to look and find out. I started with the American League, and now on to the National League.

A few rules:

  • These are professional team identities only. No amateur teams.
  • For cities with multiple teams, I’ll go with either a team that is located in the same general area or which has historical connection.
  • Team names that have migrated (such as Giants or Athletics) can’t be reused.

Let’s begin again after the jump:

Continue reading

The best defunct baseball identities for every MLB city (Part 1: American League)

The history of baseball is full of team names that no longer exist. Just this year, for example, the Cleveland Guardians have taken the place of the team known as the Cleveland Indians. This brings up the question, however: what is each city’s BEST former baseball identity? And are they better than the current one?

I’m going to look and find out, starting with the American League.

A few rules:

  • These are professional team identities only. No amateur teams.
  • For cities with multiple teams, I’ll go with either a team that is located in the same general area or which has historical connection.
  • Team names that have migrated (such as Giants or Athletics) can’t be reused.

Let’s begin after the jump:

Continue reading

Rochester Red Wings Report: It’s good to be back, shame about the ending

During the 2022 season, I’ll have occasional reports on games I’ve attended of the Rochester Red Wings, the AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

The last few years have, frankly, stunk for Minor League Baseball. MLB was able to succeed in a plan (which some fear is not yet over) to decrease the minors, eliminate teams and entire leagues, forcibly shift surviving teams from long-held positions in the hierarchy, and impose certain scheduling restrictions that are a mixed bag for players, front offices, and fans. Add in COVID, which eliminated the 2020 season in its entirety and caused the 2021 season to have a hodgepodge of various restrictions and generally depressed attendance, and it has been a total bummer.

Which is part of the reason why last night in Rochester was so special. It still wasn’t as big of a crowd as it could have been (it was, after all, a school night), but the crowd of 8,170 was still larger than any crowd from 2021. And it was loud, into the game, and ready to cheer.

A good boy.

And the thing is, as an advertisement for Minor League Baseball, last night’s game was better than most. A back and forth game took place. The Bisons would pull ahead, the Red Wings would pull back even, and then it’d happen again. The promotions, as always, were on point, most notably an appearance by very good boy Milo the Bat Dog. He is, after all, a very good boy. I’m still waiting for an MLB team to have a bat dog. It needs to happen eventually, right? The dog would instantly go viral, would put butts in stands, and no doubt there’d be some great moments pre-game when players give the dog much-deserved head-pats. Make it happen, Major League Baseball.

Alas, the only thing that went wrong was the end of the game, as Buffalo took a 6-4 lead that the Red Wings couldn’t make up in the bottom of the 9th.

Other than that, though, it was perhaps the best night at the ballpark in Rochester since 2019.

Clippard not long for AAA

One highlight last night was the performance of Tyler Clippard. As I mentioned back in my one-line-look, the reason why the two-time All-Star with 803 MLB game appearances under his belt is in Rochester to begin with is largely because he signed late. He’s just in AAA for now to build up his arm.

If his performance last night was anything to go on, it won’t be too long. In the top of the 8th, Clippard sent down the Bisons with ease in order, including no-doubt strikeouts of Joshua Fuentes and Cullen Large.

So if you live in Rochester and want to see Tyler Clippard, make sure to head to Frontier Field soon, since he won’t be there long.

The Red Wings continue their long series against the Bisons through Sunday.

Random assorted predictions for the 2022 MLB season

  1. The Los Angeles Dodgers will defeat the Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series.
  2. Related to the above, the Blue Jays will win the AL East.
  3. Also related to number one, the Dodgers will win the NL West.
  4. The Braves will win the NL East.
  5. The White Sox will win the AL Central.
  6. The Brewers will win the NL Central.
  7. The Astros will win the AL West.
  8. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be AL MVP.
  9. Juan Soto will be NL MVP.
  10. Robbie Ray will repeat as AL Cy Young Award winner.
  11. Logan Webb will be the mildly-surprising NL Cy Young Award winner, unless deGrom gets back sooner than expected.
  12. Bobby Witt Jr. will be AL Rookie of the Year.
  13. Seiya Suzuki will be NL Rookie of the Year.
  14. The Mariners will break their postseason drought, reaching as a wild card.
  15. The other two wild cards in the AL will be the Red Sox and Rays.
  16. Aaron Boone will be fired after failing to make the postseason.
  17. The NL wild cards will be the Mets, Giants, and Padres.
  18. Shohei Ohtani will NOT pitch in the All-Star Game, but will be voted in as a hitter.
  19. LEAST-BOLD PREDICTION: The Orioles will stink.
  20. BOLDEST PREDICTION: The Miami Marlins will actually be pretty good and remain truly in the playoff hunt into the final week or two of the season.