The Nationals’ minor league affiliates had a wild night Wednesday, something odd or enormous happening to all four of them. Class AAA Syracuse won on two grand slams. Class A Hagerstown scored 24 – twenty-four! – runs. Class A Potomac got shellacked, 14-0. And in Class AA Harrisburg, Danny Rosenbaum backed up a complete game shutout with seven scoreless innings against the same team.
When asked about how he consumed all of that action, Nationals director of player development Doug Harris started with Hagerstown, which, along with scoring those 24 runs against Rome left 16 men on base. Steven Souza went 4 for 6 with nine (9) RBIs, but Harris singled out Matt Skole, who drew five walks.
Harris said Skole’s patience signified why Hagerstown has “started to heat up. They’re doing a very good job of controlling the strike zone.”
The Nationals chart what they call “quality plate appearances,” which means the hitter showed plate disciplined, hit with the situation in mind and/or barreled up the ball. Skole, a fifth-round pick last year out of Georgia Tech, recently had a streak of 23 consecutive quality plate appearances. “That’s significant,” Harris said.
Meanwhile, in Harrisburg, Rosenbaum extended his scoreless streak to 16 innings, allowing three hits, issuing his first two walks of the season and striking out two. Rosenbaum is not considered a top prospect by Baseball America and the like, but “you could have said same thing about Tommy Milone two years ago,” Harris said.
Milone, the slight left-hander whom the Nationals traded to Oakland in the package that netted Gio Gonzalez, has made nine major league starts, including four this year with Oakland. He has a 2.89 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 10 walks.
Like Milone, Rosenbaum never stood out in the bullpen. And, like Rosenbaum, he did nothing but excel on the mound. This year, Rosenbaum, 24, is 3-0 with an 0.94 ERA, 18 strikeouts and two walks in 28 2/3 innings. Rosenbaum, whom the Nationals in 2009 in the 22nd round, has a 2.24 ERA in 62 career starts.
“We think he’s a major league pitcher, without a doubt,” Harris said.
While Milone is one comparison for Rosenbaum, since they’re both left-handed and don’t light up radar guns, it is not perfect. “They’re different,” Harris said. Milone complemented his fastball mainly with a deadly changeup, while Rosenbaum uses the curve more. Rosenbaum also throws with more velocity.
One last minors note: Center fielder prospect Brian Goodwin, who pulled his hamstring in the opening week, is rehabbing at extended spring training in Viera. “He’s moving around well, incrementally coming along as safely as we can,” Harris said. On Anthony Rendon, the Nationals have not even bothered to guess when he will return from a fractured left ankle. “We don’t have a timeline,” Harris said.