It has been dark and dreary all day and thunderstorms are in the forecast for tonight’s Wilmington Blue Rocks game. After an eventful weekend against Myrtle Beach, where the Blue Rocks won two games in walk-off fashion and were no-hit on Saturday, the Blue Rocks welcome Northern Division foe Potomac to Frawley Stadium for the first time.
The Nationals and Blue Rocks are tied for second-place in the Carolina League’s Northern Division. The CL crowns a first-half champ, so this is a big series for both teams.
With the Nationals in town, I was hoping to see two of Washington’s top prospects: third baseman Anthony Rendon and starter Matt Purke. Rendon started the season with Potomac but injured his ankle again and could miss most of the season. Purke is also on the DL, as he is currently in Florida trying to get innings under his belt before making his official debut.
Even without those two, Potomac still has a few prospects on their roster (according to Baseball America). Outfielder Michael Taylor is #14 and is considered to be a Mike Cameron type-outfielder. He is very athletic and has great upside, but still is just 21 years old. He is currently hitting .252 with 19 RBIs. Lefty Robbie Ray (#17) has made three starts (11.25 ERA), but was much better in his last start (6IP, 7H, 4R, 0BB, 0K).
Almost the Nationals entire infield is on BA’s top 30 prospect list. Shortstop Rick Hague (#15) returned to Potomac after having June shoulder surgery. He is currently hitting .254. Third baseman Zach Wolters (who came over from Arizona in the Jason Marquis deal last year) is ranked #19. He is only hitting .213. Second baseman Adrian Sanchez (#28) is hitting .241.
Catcher David Freitas (#27) is seventh in the CL in hitting at .311. He has 18 RBIs and has walked 16 times to just 19 strikeouts. Outfielder Kevin Keyes (#30) out of Texas rounds out their prospects. He is only hitting .187.
The Potomac manager is former Blue Rocks manager Brian Rupp. His hitting coach is former big leaguer (and Phillies outfielder) Marlon Anderson.
Tonight’s pitching matchup pits two right-handers against each other vying for their fourth wins of the season. Both were also 28th round picks in the MLB Draft.
Matt Swynenberg takes the mound for Potomac, sporting a 3-1 record and a 3.95 ERA over eight appearances (seven starts). Over his last two starts, he has only pitched five innings in both starts. Though he has been good, the team as a whole has not. They have the worst ERA (5.72) in all of High-A.
Greg Billo gets the ball for Wilmington with a new jersey number (he’s now wearing #15). He also does not have his name on the back, making some think he is a new player. Billo has struggled a bit (especially with the longball on the road), but has pitched at least six innings in his last two starts.
Nationals: Blake Kelso (3B), Justin Bloxom (1B), Hague (SS), Freitas (C), Walters (DH), Taylor (CF), JP Ramirez (LF), Sanchez (2B), and Randolph Oduber (RF).
Blue Rocks: Whit Merrifield (2B), Angel Franco (DH), Brian Fletcher (LF), Brett Eibner (CF), Cheslor Cuthbert (3B), Kevin David (C), Geulin Beltre (RF), Juan Graterol (1B), and Alex McClure (SS).
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