Senators’ Notebook: Raudy Read and Ozzie Abreu produce different results in first taste of Double-A
Charles Dickens began his classic novel A Tale of Two Cities with the famous opening line, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” After a week and a half of games, the same could very easily be said of Senators’ players Raudy Read and Ozzie Abreu. Both are getting their first taste of Double-A Harrisburg to start the 2017 season and while one prospect flourishes, the other flails.
Read, a 23-year-old catcher, has adapted to the better pitching and looks like he has already made the necessary adjustments to succeed at this level. In eight games so far, Read has four doubles and two home runs while driving in seven runs to match Neftali Soto for the team lead.
“I think going to big league camp and comparing himself to all these other players, he realizes he’s close. He sees if he goes out and competes and plays the game right, he’s there,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “I think that shows in the way he’s been going out and doing his work.”
Throughout his career, Read has been known as an offense first option behind the plate, but the backstop has impressed his skipper with other tools. “I think he’s done a really nice job with our pitching staff. That’s what I’ve been pleased with,” LeCroy said.
On the other hand, Abreu has struggled in his opening salvo with the Senators. The 22-year-old shortstop is hitting a meager .147 thanks to only five singles in 35 plate appearances. At the plate Abreu appears overwhelmed at times as evident by his 15 strikeouts. “The game is a little faster at this level, but I think he’ll catch up,” LeCroy said pointing to Abreu’s respectable numbers in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League last fall where he slashed .267/.303/.317.
After batting second during the opening week, LeCroy moved the scuffling Abreu down to eighth for Saturday’s game. Hopefully, the lower spot in the batting order will take pressure off the shortstop until he can get his feet under him.
PITCHING LEADS THE WAY
Although the Senators came away with only one win in their three game set against Bowie, Harrisburg has to be happy with the way they pitched against the potent Baysox lineup. In the first seven games of the season against Akron and Erie, Bowie averaged over seven runs a game and had clubbed 33 extra-base hits including 11 home runs. The Senators limited the veteran lineup to just 12 total runs and only four doubles and one home run in the entire series.
Overall, the Senators pitching has been their strongest asset so far as the staff has posted a 3.20 ERA (second only to Altoona in the Eastern League) and given away the fewest base on balls in the league. Led by Nationals’ top pitching prospect Erick Fedde,the starting pitchers have been excellent so far this season and have carried the load admirably. In two starts, Fedde has tossed 11 scoreless innings while holding opponents to a .171 batting average. As a unit, the starters are pitching to a 2.50 ERA while allowing a minuscule 1.09 WHIP.
CLEANING UP FROM THE CLEAN-UP SPOT
Much like he did last season for 93 games, Neftali Soto has provided the big veteran bat the Senators need in the middle of their lineup. He has provided protection for Drew Ward batting in front of him and has taken some pressure off Double-A rookies Read and Alec Keller behind him. Soto is in the top ten in the league in batting with a .382 average and has only whiffed twice in 39 plate appearances for an Eastern League best rate of 19.5 TPA/SO.
COMINGS AND GOINGS
The injuries to Trea Turner and Stephen Drew at the major league level caused a ripple effect down to the Senators as they embarked on their first road trip of the season. Adrian Sanchez, who had played second base this season but can handle multiple positions defensively, was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse. To fill Sanchez’s roster spot, the Senators activated Zach Collier off the disabled list and the outfielder went 2-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored in his first game action on Saturday afternoon.
Prior to the team arriving in Harrisburg, many of the players drove their vehicles up from spring training so they would have a means of getting around town. The coaching staff is normally not any different, but ths season LeCroy chose to fly here. In the past he has done this at least once before, but then he had gotten a player (Jose Lozada) to drive his pickup truck to the midstate. This time, though, LeCroy pulled what he called “a veteran move” when he left his vehicle here after this year’s Hot Stove banquet in late January.