Chiefs in the Show

Baseball is a sport riddled with ups and downs. A player can swat multiple home runs one week and go hitless the next. A sport in which failure seven times out of ten, can culminate in a Hall of Fame bid. In this week’s edition of Chiefs’ in the Show, we’ll take a look at a former Chief who overcame adversity, while fighting through a bevy of peaks and valleys, en-route to the big leagues.

In high school, Tanner Roark won two state championships, in both 2003 and 2005, at Wilmington High School in Illinois. Roark then attended the University of Illinois at Urabana-Champaign and was later selected by the Texas Rangers in the 25th round of the 2008 draft.

Tanner Roark

Reinhold Matay – USA TODAY Sports

The right-handed starter quickly rose through the Texas organization, compiling a 14-5 record with four affiliates from 2008-2009. This included a perfect 10-0 record and a 2.70 ERA, with 91 strikeouts in 86.2 innings, at Single-A Bakersfield in 2009. The Illinois product was promoted to Double-A Frisco later that year, before being acquired by the Nationals organization via trade midway through 2010.  Roark made 21 starts with Double-A Harrisburg that season, going 9-9 with 92 strikeouts in 117 innings, before being called up in 2012.

To this point in his career, Roark faced little adversity, compiling a win-loss record of 34-19 in his progression to Triple-A Syracuse. The 2012 season began like most others, with a strong performance against Rochester in his debut. But it all unraveled shortly thereafter. Roark suffered his worst season as a professional. He lost a career high 17 games, leading the international league, including losses in his five of his last six starts.

The hardship led to a group-meeting between Roark and Chiefs’ then-Manager Tony Beasley, then-Pitching Coach Greg Booker, and Nationals Assistant General Manager Doug Harris. In the meeting, the trio convinced Roark to simplify his approach. Roark later reflected on the 2012 season, saying, “I was being selfish, I guess. Little things would happen, bloop hits. I would be getting it in my head and saying, ‘Why is he getting on?’ I was trying really hard.” (

The renewed approach did not produce instant results. After a scoreless debut in 2013, Roark’s difficulties returned. He lost his next two starts, including a disastrous outing against the Buffalo Bisons. Roark went just three and two-thirds innings, allowing ten runs on 12 hits, in a 27-9 loss. The 27 runs were the most scored in the International League in over 40 years and resulted in Syracuse relegating Roark to the bullpen.

But something clicked for right-hander shortly thereafter. Whether it was the development of his two-seam fastball, or the continuance of a simplified approach, the Illinois product began to shine.  From May 11 through June 29 of 2013, Roark allowed just two earned-runs in 42 innings. Over the stretch, he surrendered only 19 hits, while striking out 33 batters.

The turn-around resulted in Roark’s return to the starting rotation. He won six of eight starts with the Chiefs from June 23rd through August 2nd. The strong stretch amounted to Roark’s call-up to the show. With Washington, he finished the last two months with a 7-1 record as a starter-reliever hybrid. Roark’s success continued into 2014, where he went 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA.

Earlier this season Roark had his best performance to date. Against the Twins the former Chief twirled a gem. He pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, while striking out 15. The 15 strikeouts were the most Roark’s tallied as a professional. The righty’s explanation for the phenomenal performance was simple, “I was throwing four pitches to lefties and righties,” Roark said. “Keeping them guessing, uncomfortable at the plate.” (

In 2016, Roark’s been one of the most reliable starters in a loaded Nationals rotation. He sports a 7-5 record and a 2.96 ERA, with 89 strikeouts in 100 innings. Roark’s sharp pitching has contributed to the Nationals first-place positioning in the N.L. East.

From success to hardship, and now back to success, Roark has ridden the roller coaster of professional baseball. In 2012, his likelihood of reaching the majors appeared bleak. Fast-forward four years later and Roark has established himself as a reliable, consistent starter at baseball’s highest level. Tanner Roark’s fight through turbulence is a testament to his determination in joining the exclusive list of Chiefs in the Show.

Minor League Monday 6/27/16

We are back again for another Minor League Monday post here on the Inside the Chiefs Blog. Today’s rising star is currently stationed in AA Harrisburg, where he finished last season. Let’s talk to it.

Lucas Giolito

Position: RHP Age: 21 DOB: 7/14/1994 Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6’6’’ Weight: 255 lb.


Logan Bowles, USA Today Sports


It is hard to do a blog on the Washington Nationals farm system without bringing up Lucas Giolito. I was going to attempt to save this post for a little while down the road, but when an organization has the rights on a 6’6’’, 255 pound right-hander who has three above average pitches, it’s hard not to get around to him. Giolito is an ace of the future. The term “the sky’s the limit” has never rang more true than in the case of this 21 year old.

Giolito was taken by the Nationals in the first round of the 2012 draft with the 16th overall pick. Washington was lucky to pick him up so late- the prep star was mocked much higher, but concerns of an elbow injury his senior year scared potential suitors off. Prior to those concerns, it was speculated that the Southern California product may have become the first high school right-hander to be taken number one overall. After he fell, the Nats took the bait, and are now reaping the benefits. It wasn’t without a little worry, however. Giolito did undergo Tommy John surgery shortly after he signed in the summer of 2012, though this came as no surprise to Washington, who weathered the storm and came out with baseball’s top prospect prior to the 2016 season, according to Baseball America has him ranked as the fifth best prospect in the game while Baseball Prospectus slots him at third.

After the Tommy John procedure, Giolito began his first full professional season in 2014. To say it eliminated worries over his elbow would be putting it lightly. The big righty dominated the South Atlantic League, going 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA in 20 starts with the Hagerstown Suns. His efforts reaped a mass of postseason accolades, including being tabbed twice as a pitcher of the week, named to the Low-A Futures team, selected an Organizational All-Star for Washington and given the 2014 South Atlantic League Most Outstanding Pitcher award. Giolito split time between Hagerstown and AA Harrisburg in 2015, going 7-7 overall on the bump with a 3.15 ERA. This season, Giolito is still with Harrisburg, putting up similarly stellar numbers for such a young prospect. He sits at 5-3 thus far with a 3.17 ERA in 14 starts. At the pace he is going, it may not be long before Giolito works his way to Syracuse and the AAA level, a likely pit stop before joining the ranks of the Washington staff in the big leagues.

With such high regard all across the board, it is Giolito’s physical makeup and astounding three-pitch arsenal that have scouts in consensus of his prospect ranking. The Senator pitcher has drawn comparisons to Roy Halladay, thanks to his hulking frame and above average pitches. Giolito’s best pitch is his fastball. Some scouts even have it topping out the 20-80 grading scale, while others have it at “just” a 75. The heater averages around 93 miles an hour, and did coming out of high school, but can also range up to the mid to high 90s when Giolito really reaches back. In addition to the pure speed of his fastball, Giolito also has natural, late break on the pitch, providing yet another challenge for batters. As if a straight as an arrow 95 mile an hour pitch wasn’t enough. Take as close a look as you’ll ever want to facing Giolito with this link, courtesy of 

While the heater is a huge weapon on its own, imagine gearing up for a 95 mile an hour fastball but getting a hard, sharp, 12-6 curve that drops just prior to reaching the plate. This is where Giolito really gets batters. He’ll pair the fastball with that breaking curve, setting up hitters for weak, or no, contact. Like the fastball, Giolito’s curve has that late break that just compounds problems for hitters. It’s sharp bite on the end makes it extremely difficult to hit, especially when expecting a fastball. For many pitchers, this type of curve would be their bread and butter. For Giolito, his curve is his number two pitch, rating at a 70 according to scouts. Both pitches on their own are enough to buckle a batter’s knees, but what sets Giolito apart is his ability to throw them with extreme skill and precision, much of the reason behind his top pitcher status. 

It seems impossible, but Giolito isn’t done there. He has been developing a changeup in recent years, which has really come a long way in the minors. He is throwing it with more frequency and success, and has been using it especially as a tool against left-handed batters to keep them guessing. The change has usually been ranked around a 50 to 55 by scouts, though it is always improving. It has a dipping motion that drops it just before the plate, yielding weak contact when hit. The change has become a swing-and-miss pitch, though Giolito has been gaining ground on throwing it for strikes when he wants as well.

See these pitches in action here with a clip from a 2015 appearance with Harrisburg. In the game, Giolito went seven innings, allowing just one hit while striking out 11. If anything, watch the last pitch of the at-bat. The curve thrown on a 3-2 count not only shows Giolito’s confidence in his control of the pitch, but also displayed just how deceptive that 12-6 curve is. A true thing of beauty. However, while all of these pitches combine for success on the mound, they may not even be Giolito’s most effective weapon.


John Absalon,


That lies with his build. At 6’6’’ and 255 pounds, Giolito has one of the best frames for a pitcher. It contributes to not only his power, but in the way he, literally, comes at a batter. His frame best comes into play when referring to the downhill plane in which he throws his pitches. Pitching downhill is a hard to achieve feat that makes pitches much more difficult for batters to hit. When hurlers can get this downhill action on their pitches, the batter now must deal with not only catching up to speed (in Giolito’s case the mid-90s) but also hitting the ball level as the pitch is moving towards the hitter while also moving downwards. In simpler terms, it is much more difficult to hit Giolito because his pitch moves down as it reaches the plate, rather than just coming in straight. While it doesn’t seem like much, the difference here can make or break some prospects, or at the very least make a pitcher much more difficult to drive a pitch off of. The term “hitting it square” is commonplace around baseball. For batters against Giolito, it is much more difficult to do so because of this downward action.

Giolito has one consistent “issue” with his pitching. I write “issue” with that insinuation because to many other prospects, if this was their biggest problem, life would be much easier. The problem comes with his delivery, which Giolito has yet to fully master in terms of consistency. His delivery sometimes is cut short, landing a bit abruptly on his front leg, which makes his control falter slightly. Him and Harrisburg pitching coach Chris Michalak have worked on this together, working to solve the issue before Giolito climbs the ranks further. Here is a slow-mo of Giolito’s full windup, in case you’re a mechanics aficionado. Despite this, Giolito still owns a 3.13 K/BB ratio throughout his young career. 

Giolito is a rare talent; one that doesn’t come with every annual draft. All of his raw abilities and talents translate to fluid success on the mound that can be seen with each passing pitch. While there is the blemish of the Tommy John surgery, all signs point to the fact that Giolito has effectively put any sort of issue with that behind him. Even if some problems do arise in the future, the Nationals organization does have plenty of experience in dealing with that, thanks to the battle tested Stephen Strasburg. It should be only a short time before Giolito makes his way to Syracuse and beyond. He has been more than effective thus far in 2016 at the AA level and seems ready to take the next step. After he does come to the Chiefs, it is likely he will be Washington bound in just a short time after. Lucas Giolito is a true talent that one day has the promise to be a starter on Opening Day for an organization. All the tools, both physical and mental, are in the right place as this prospect continues to show off his baseball skill set. Syracuse has seen superstars before in Bryce Harper and Strasburg, but the time is near to see tomorrow’s superstar at NBT Bank Stadium. That superstar is Lucas Giolito, this week’s Minor League Monday prospect feature.


UPDATE (as of 6/27/16 at 3:30 PM)

Giolito has been promoted to Washington, bypassing AAA Syracuse, and is set to start Tuesday’s game against the New York Mets. The Nationals have been in a bit of a tailspin recently, losing seven of their last eight and also losing Strasburg to a back injury. The Nats need Giolito to be effective in his MLB debut, especially against the NL East rival Mets. The two clubs begin a three-game set Monday night, with New York and Miami trailing Washington by just three games in the NL East. Giolito is scheduled to face off opposite Matt Harvey on Tuesday. Harvey has been in a funk of sorts all season, holding just a 4-9 record and 4.64 ERA  amidst season-long speculation that he should be scratched from certain outings. A solid start from Giolito would be clutch for Washington, who is in a very precarious situation with the recent slump and without their ace. While the start will be a milestone in Giolito’s young life, he will have to push aside any emotional feelings to concentrate on this key mid-summer matchup. The Nationals are throwing Giolito into the fire for his debut, so we will really get to see what baseball’s top prospect is made of. The game can be viewed on MASN 2 or MLBNetwork.

I.L. Trip Advisor – A Syracuse Breakfast

Today we unveil a third new recurring blog segment! Sometimes what makes or breaks a road trip for Kevin and I is where the hotel and ballpark are located in relation to great food spots. Thanks to uber, we have been able to explore the local cuisines of the I.L. cities even further. So every Friday, I’ll try and be your I.L. Trip Advisor. This is not a complete list, as there are far too many spots to try and get to in the few days we have in each city. But I’ll do my best to try and bring to light some of the best spots the I.L. footprint has to offer. And since the Chiefs just got back to Syracuse, lets start right at home. Bon Appetit!…

For being one of the smaller cities in the International League, Syracuse is far from short on great places to eat. Now sure, living here for five plus years now I have uncovered my share of lesser known spots that may make this list a bit longer than other cities we only visit for three days, but the Salt City really has its fair share of excellent offerings for any meal of the day. We’ll leave some suspense and throw a few Syracuse hot spots into the mix as the season goes on, so today let’s start with the most important meal of the day. Here are my top three breakfast spots in the ‘Cuse.

#3 Mother’s Cupboard

Distance from Stadium: 15 min

Personal Meal of Choice: Pancake and Home Fries

If you are in the mood for a little bit of a drive and dont mind a wait, Mother’s Cupboard is a great choice.

The Six Pound Frittata (

The Six Pound Frittata (

Made famous by an appearance on Man vs. Food, Mother’s Cupboard is a small, 36 seat breakfast spot on the edge of Syracuse on James Street. The line can be long but the wait is more than worth it. Once inside, among the many excellent options is the chance at the Frittata Challenge.

Though I was not bold enough to try this task which according to the restaurant, 95% of people have failed at, it features a six point frittata with scrambled eggs, sausage, pepperoni and hash browns. If that isn’t your speed, Mother’s Cupboard has excellent pancakes a foot long in diameter and some of the best home fries I have ever had. This is an excellent spot if you are hungry for a large and delicious breakfast.

#2 Stella’s Diner

Distance from Stadium: 5 min

Personal Meal of Choice: French Toast, Side of Scrambled Eggs

I grew up in Connecticut where there was a diner in every town. I loved going to the diner, and at Stella’s I get the diner and amazing breakfast. French toast, eggs, sausage, home fries, you can’t go wrong at Stella’s. Now there can be quite the line on a Saturday or Sunday morning, but once your in you are taken back to the 1950s style diner and the food comes fast and the meal is excellent.

#1 Funk n’ Waffles 

Distance from Stadium: 10 min

Personal Meal of Choice: The Jersey Shore

Funk n' Waffles on the SU hill (

Funk n’ Waffles on the SU hill (

Whether you are up by the SU hill or in Armory Square, Funk and Waffles has become a favorite spot of baseball players, coaches, and broadcasters coming into town. Originally created by two Syracuse University students and entered into an SU business school entrepreneurship competition, the students stuck around and let their idea of waffles and music grow. And boy are we glad they did. The environment is perfect for a morning bite, and the food is dynamite. Bacon-stuffed waffles. Ice cream. Fried chicken and waffles. If you are really hungry, you can even go with pulled pork on a waffle. You could go here for two weeks and not get the same thing, and enjoy every offering. And especially during baseball season, there is almost never a wait with students away for the summer break. This is an awesome unique spot and the breakfast is never a let down.

Chiefs in the Show: Marco Estrada

It’s another new recurring blog segment! Every Wednesday, our broadcast intern Conor Green will take a look at a former Chiefs player who’s made his way to the Major Leagues. Enjoy…


The journey from the minors to the majors varies greatly from player-to-player. For blue chip up-and-comers like Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, minor league advancement is often a swift process. But this obviously doesn’t hold true for every prospective major-leaguer. In this edition of Chiefs in the Show, we look at former Chief Marco Estrada, and his professional voyage.

Marco Estrada (FOX Sports)

Marco Estrada (FOX Sports)

From 2015 to 2016, Estrada has been a revelation in the starting rotation for the Blue Jays. This after playing a starter-reliever hybrid role, across the majority of his 11-year career. In 2016, Estrada sports a 5-3 record, while ranking fourth in the American League in ERA at 2.70.

Picked in the 6th round by the Nationals in 2005, Estrada was a standout at Sylmar High School in California, but was not a highly sought after prospect, resulting in pitching at Glendale Community College in California from 2002 to 2003. Following two years at Glendale, the right-hander transferred to Long Beach State in California, before being drafted in 2005.

After college, it took Estrada three years to progress out of Single-A ball, eventually moving to Double-A Harrisburg in 2008.  With the Chiefs in 2009, Estrada had his best season as a professional to that point. In 25 starts, he went 9-5 with an ERA of 3.63 over 136.1 innings. Following the season, he was claimed off waivers by Milwaukee.

With the Brewers, the Californian made 70 starts over five seasons, not once winning more than seven games, while shifting from a starter to reliever role on occasion. Estrada didn’t tally All-Star totals with Milwaukee, but his five years with the Brewers provided an opportunity to start at the big-league level. Estrada will long be appreciative, saying, “I’m thankful every day for the opportunities the Brewers have given me. Not only that they picked me up in the first place, but that they actually gave me a chance to pitch.”

The pitcher’s breakthrough has come in the last two years in Toronto, with Estrada playing a pivotal role in the Blue Jays’ 2015 playoff run. In the ALDS, down two-games-to-none to the high-powered Rangers, Estrada pitched a sparkler. He went six and one-third innings, allowing just one run, en route to a 5-1 Blue Jays game-three win. Estrada’s performance propelled Toronto to the first of three-consecutive wins, as they eventually won the series in five games.

Then, again facing elimination against the Royals in the ALCS, Estrada kept the Blue Jays alive with another dazzling performance. Trailing three-games-to-one, the former Chief went seven and two-thirds innings, once again allowing just one run, while surrendering only three hits. The Blue Jays later fell to the Royals in game six, but without the playoff poise provided by Estrada, Toronto’s first playoff berth since 1993 wouldn’t have been as memorable.

Over his 11-year career, Estrada has navigated the murky waters of minor-league baseball, faced early hardship at the big-league level, and emerged as one of the more effective and consistent starters in the major-leagues. The road to the bigs was no easy ride, with some bumps along the way, but over the last few years this former Chief has begun to make his mark in the show.

Today in Chiefsville: June 21, 2016 – Double Dip in the Ocean State

Games #69 & #70 – Syracuse Chiefs (30-37) vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (37-33)

McCoy Stadium, Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Pregame 5:30 p.m. // First Pitch 5:35 p.m.

Coverage: The Score 1260 //

RHP A.J. Cole (5-3, 4.79) vs. LHP Henry Owens (4-3, 3.62)

LHP Aaron Laffey (4-2, 3.76) vs. LHP Robby Scott (3-0, 2.40)

Game One Lineup:


Pregame Sound:

Yesterday’s Highlights

Today’s Headlines:

The Ups and Downs of 144: Last night’s loss continued the Chiefs struggles of late, now tallying just four wins in their last 20 games. This stretch followed one of Syracuse’s best of the year. The ups and downs of the Chiefs’ season are illustrated below:

Flick of the RISP: The Chiefs went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position last night, and are now just 5 for their last 46 (.109) with RISP over the last five games. Syracuse has not scored more than two runs in any inning since June 6th.

Goody Two Shoes: Brian Goodwin doubled last night, extending his on-base streak to 11-straight games. Goodwin leads the Chiefs in average (.302), on-base percentage (.367), and slugging percentage (.455) this season. Over Goodwin’s last 19 games (May 31st) he has nine multi-hit games for a team-leading 19 this year.

Vote for Pedro: Pedro Severino went 3 for 3 last night, his 14th multi-hit game of the year. Severino has hits in 29 games this season, meaning he has multiple hits in 48% of the games where he has at least one. Since June 9th, Severino holds slashes of .379/.438/.517 in his last eight games.

‘Cuse Bites: Syracuse has played 28 one-run games this year, the most in the I.L. The Chiefs are 15-13 in those games…Syracuse is tied for the most home wins (22) in the I.L. (Rochester) and fewest road wins (9) this year…Syracuse is 12-10 in series openers this year but just 6-12 in series finales…The Chiefs have successfully stolen 58 bases in 67 attempts this year. At 86.6%, Syracuse holds the best percentage in professional baseball (Boston Red Sox 2nd, 47/55, 85.4%)…Syracuse had won 16 of its last 18 games against the PawSox before last night’s loss.

Minor League Mondays: June 20th

Today begins a new blog series where one of our broadcast interns, Sawyer Kamman, will take a look around the Nationals’ minors for his thoughts on a team or a player with a future in Chiefsville.

This Monday, Sawyer writes about a budding young star in the Nationals’ system, outfielder Victor Robles…


The middle of June commonly marks the return of many casual baseball fans. Gone is the excitement that the NHL and NBA playoffs provide, and not yet on the horizon is the kickoff to football season. With no real other competition, the everyday sports fan now can buckle into the best time of year- the months where baseball reigns king.

For newfound Washington Nationals fans, the transition back to the diamond will be an easy one. At 43-27, the Nats are atop the National League East, five and aonehalf games up on the second-place New York Mets. Last week also brought with it a possible postseason matchup when the Chicago Cubs traveled to Nationals Park for a three-game series. Those games not only gave us some idea on how things may play out in October, but was, perhaps more importantly, a fun, high-energy series of baseball that highlighted some of the game’s youngest stars. Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo all on the same field for three straight nights? Yes please. Dusty Baker and the team managed to take two of three games in that series, including a grind-it-out 12 inning win in the finale. After allowing Chicago to tie it in the ninth, and then take the lead in the 12th, the Nats came back from a run down with a two-run inning for the walkoff win. All in all, it was a huge victory for Washington with a level of pressure and intensity that may next be matched in October.

While the big league boys in D.C. are playing well, we now turn to take a view at some players on the rise. Let’s take a look around the farm system to see who may be playing in a Syracuse jersey soon en route to the big lights of Washington. I’ll highlight a player from a minor-league team in the farm system in an effort to provide information on who may be climbing the ranks and ending up on the field at NBT Bank Stadium. Today’s player comes from Class-A Hagerstown.

Victor Robles

Position: OF Age: 19 DOB: 05/19/1997 Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6′ 0″ Weight: 185 lb.

Victor Robles (

Victor Robles (

Victor Robles is a name you should remember. Even better perhaps, get to Hagerstown or a stadium where he will be playing at some point soon and snag an autograph, because one day that will likely be worth quite a bit. Robles is an above average player in every facet of the game, a rare combination of power and speed that earns him the “5-tool player” label. His dominance this season portrays that, with the seventh-best batting average, .317, in the South Atlantic League and the second-best on base percentage at .424. He is also among the league tops in runs scored with 44 and hit by pitches with 21 (!!), an astounding number that displays his tendency to find some way, any way, to get aboard the base paths. In all of professional baseball, from low-A to the MLB, Brandon Guyer of Tampa Bay ranks second in HBP with 15, six less than Robles. Once he is aboard, his speed shines and any defense has to be aware of his base-stealing capability. Robles can change the game on the base paths, shown by his 63 career stolen bags. Much like what we have seen with Trea Turner, Robles can turn a two-out, none on single into a threatening inning simply by swiping two consecutive bases. The outfielder was just recently named a 2016 South Atlantic League All-Star, a recognition he can add to his growing collection after being tabbed as a Washington Organizational All-Star last season in his efforts between the Gulf Coast Nationals and the short-season A Auburn Doubledays. Follow the link here to see a write up on Robles’ selection and to view the entire South Atlantic League Northern and Southern All-Star Game rosters. The Northern League team features four other Hagerstown players, and will also be coached by the Suns’ staff.

According to MLB Pipeline, Robles is one of the top baseball prospects in terms of raw tools. The outfielder ranks only behind Byron Buxton, the  #1 ranked prospect by in both 2014 and 2015, when his tool grades are totaled up. Buxton was drafted second overall in 2012, making his MLB debut last June, a sign that bodes well for Robles. Keep in mind that scouts grade on a scale of 20-80, with a 50 grade being average and 65 being at an “all-star” level. MLB Pipeline has graded Robles as follows:

  • Hitting: 60
  • Power: 45
  • Run: 70
  • Arm: 65
  • Field: 60

That gives us a total of 300 points overall, behind just Buxton (340) and ahead of all other Major League prospects (next is Jorge Mateo, NYY, at 295). While his power is his “worst” facet of the game, Robles can hit the ball hard, and most importantly, to any field. Entering this season Robles had seven career home runs, but has nearly doubled that number in the first half of 2016, hitting five homers thus far. It is also worth noting that this seasons long balls have come against tougher pitching at the A level, compared to low-A ball and Rookie ball in years prior. Without home runs, simply putting the ball in play is just the beginning for Robles, who can use his speed, and ultra-aggressive mentality, to take an extra base. Robles can fly around the bases, making him an extra-base threat every time he steps up to bat. On the defensive side of the ball, Robles has made it clear he possesses a great instinct when tracking down fly balls. His first step is nearly always in the right direction, and that advantage doubled with his speed makes him a consummate outfielder with the range to take away what usually could be sure-fire base hits. Even if balls do get down in front of him, his strong arm will make any runner or base coach wary of attempting to take an extra base. Aside from his speed, his accurate, very strong arm is the best skill that Robles owns.

Another value of Robles is just that; his value. From the Dominican Republic, the Nationals spent just $225,000 when signing Robles. Had he been in the draft that year, many speculated he had the talent to become a first-round pick. Six outfielders were drafted in 2013’s first round. All signed bonuses of at least $1.8 million. The highest bonus came with Clint Frazier, who signed for $3.5 million as the fifth overall pick. While saving money is one thing, the return on investment is another. Of the six first rounders mentioned, just two, Aaron Judge at 18 and Austin Meadows at 22, outrank Robles on Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 Prospects of 2016 list. The Nats signee doesn’t sit far back, ranking at 29th. One day Robles will be paid the big bucks, but for now the Washington organization can feel great about a top-ranked prospect signed for next to nothing.

That brings us to the long term position of Robles and where he will fit in the Nationals system. Many sites and scouts believe Robles will be MLB-ready in 2018. With his current skill set so prolific and at such a young age, that truly isn’t too far of a stretch. Praise is high on Robles for his wise beyond his years decision making, especially at the plate. Coaches have become accustomed to the young star being extremely patient and vigilant while batting. Robles doesn’t swing at balls and has become well trained in his batting approach, even with two strikes. All of these skills are normally possessed by older, veteran players, but for Robles are a trait that separate him from his youthful peers. While Robles would be very young on Opening Day of 2018, just over a month until he would be legally able to purchase his first beer, a recent Nationals corner outfielder has me thinking that debating age and skill set is just a clown question, bro. The aforementioned Bryce Harper will be a free agent in 2019, with the rest of his Nationals starting outfielder platoon, Ben Revere and Jayson Werth, becoming free agents the year prior in 2018. This not only leaves space for Robles, but if the Nationals were to retain Harper in what will likely be one of the largest, and most lucrative, bidding wars in MLB history, the organization would have to cut costs elsewhere, and a young prospect in the field would give that option. While there is no doubt that Robles will eventually make his way to the bigs, his path could converge with the Chiefs in short time. He has excelled thus far at every level, seamlessly making transitions to tougher competition with ease. For Robles, it seems as though he will be able to climb through the farm system rankings in an overall speedy manner. He has already shown his excellence at the beginning stages of professional ball, and looks ready to move up already after his Midseason All-Star selection in the A-level South Atlantic League. If Robles continues at his current torrid pace, which he has given no indication to believe elsewise, my guess is that 2018 could be a benchmark for Robles to see action in Syracuse. When 2018 rolls around, Robles could be on the path to the bigs, though in baseball years, with injury and season-long slumps always a possibility, 2018 is a long way off.

A lot can happen to a prospect in a relatively short amount of time. Many come to fruition and become big league All-Stars while others fall along the minor league wayside, never establishing themselves in the pros. Cases of both are seen every season, though the success stories are naturally much more sensationalized. As for Victor Robles, his future is very bright. Barring unforeseen circumstances, this special young player will make an impact in the majors one day. He is built for baseball, and has displayed his above average abilities on every level thus far, and will likely continue to do so as he moves up the ranks. There are no signs that this highly touted prospect will slow down anytime soon, and the Nationals can feel very comfortable that they have one of the game’s top young players in their system as they move forward.

Today in Chiefsville: June 19th, 2016 – Father’s Day Flashback

The Chiefs celebrate Tony Gwynn Jr.'s Father's Day game-winning hit (Syracuse Chiefs)

The Chiefs celebrate Tony Gwynn Jr.’s Father’s Day game-winning hit (Syracuse Chiefs)

“There are days and moments when you question why you’ve put yourself through the torment, the agony, the grind of this game…

There are moments when you know exactly why. That is one of those moments”

– Kevin Brown, June 21, 2015

Kevin finished our broadcast with those words on Father’s Day 2015, as Tony Gwynn, Jr. gave everyone in the ballpark that day a memory that will rival any experienced at a baseball stadium. Nearly a year to the day after his   dad, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, Sr., passed away, on the first Father’s Day Tony Jr. had to spend without his dad, in a scoreless tie in extra innings, Tony Jr. drove in the game-winning run for a Chiefs walk-off win.

I will always remember interviewing Tony on the field after the game, asking him about the moment, and seeing the realization of how special it truly was come across his face. The energy in the ballpark on the joyous occasion. It was, as Kevin said on the air that day, absolutely perfect.

Earlier this year, Kevin and I each wrote further in depth about our memories of that day, and if you weren’t lucky enough to be at NBT Bank Stadium that day, its worth a read (Part 1, Part 2). But if you only have a minute, here’s a look down memory lane:

I’m not sure anything this year can top last year. But Father’s Day is always one of the best days at the ballpark, and we hope you join us today as the Chiefs wrap up a series with the Clippers.

Happy Father’s Day

Game #67 – Syracuse Chiefs (30-36) vs. Columbus Clippers (37-32)

NBT Bank Stadium, Syracuse, New York

Pregame 12:50 p.m. // First Pitch 1:05 p.m.

Coverage: The Score 1260 //

RHP Jaron Long (0-1, 8.00) vs. RHP Mike Clevinger (6-0, 2.75)

Today’s Lineup:

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 10.39.24 AM

Pregame Sound:

Yesterday’s Highlights

Today’s Headlines:

Flick of the RISP: Last night’s loss dropped the Chiefs to a season-long seven-game losing streak. Syracuse is 3-15 since May 30th, averaging 3.1 runs per game. The Chiefs are hitting .230 as a team over that stretch, and only .207 with runners in scoring position (4-23 RISP last 2 games). The Chiefs don’t have a multi-run inning in 10 games.

Streaky Chiefs: Syracuse’s current 3-15 stretch comes on the heels of one of its best stretches of the season, when the Chiefs won 7 of 10. The Chiefs have seen their share of ups and downs this year, as illustrated below:

Goody Two Shoes: Brian Goodwin singled twice Saturday and brought the Chiefs within one in the eighth. Goodwin has now reached base in nine games in a row, holding a .314 average and .415 on-base percentage in that span. Goodwin leads the Chiefs in average (.306), on-base percentage (.372), and slugging percentage (.460) this season. Over Goodwin’s last 17 games (May 31st) he has nine multi-hit games for a team-leading 19 this year.

Loaded, Docked: Included in the Chiefs ups and downs this season has been their success with the bases loaded. Syracuse started the season just 1 for 18 with a single RBI with the bags full. Then starting April 24th, the Chiefs strung together an 18 for 48 stretch (.375) with 46 RBIs with three on base. But in the last two games, Syracuse is just one for nine with a lone RBI, leaving the bases loaded four times.

‘Cuse Bites: Syracuse has played 27 one-run games this year, the most in the I.L. The Chiefs are 14-13 in those games…Syracuse holds the second-most home wins (21) in the I.L. (Rochester, 22) and fewest road wins (9) this year. The Chiefs are hitting .259 as a team at home, compared to just .234 on the road…Syracuse is 12-9 in series openers this year but just 5-12 in series finales…The Chiefs have successfully stolen 53 bases in 61 attempts this year. At 86.9%, Syracuse holds the second-best percentage in professional baseball (Boston Red Sox, 45/51, 88.2%).

Today in Chiefsville: June 18th, 2016

Game #66 – Syracuse Chiefs (30-35) vs. Columbus Clippers (36-32)

NBT Bank Stadium, Syracuse, New York

Pregame 6:50 p.m. // First Pitch 7:05 p.m.

Coverage: The Score 1260 //

RHP Austin Voth (3-2, 2.90) vs. RHP Adam Plutko (3-3, 3.27 w/Akron)

Today’s Lineup:

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 3.50.09 PM

Roster Moves:


Today’s Headlines:

Recent Struggles: Last night’s loss dropped the Chiefs to their second six-game losing streak since May 30th. Syracuse is just 3-14 over that stretch, averaging 3.1 runs per game. The Chiefs are hitting just .231 as a team over that stretch, and just .206 with runners in scoring position. Over the last nine games (1-8), the Chiefs have not scored more than two runs in any inning.

Skole Survivor: Matt Skole walked Friday, and has reached base in all but two games since May 2nd. After starting the season just 6 for 49, Skole holds a .366 on-base percentage, .489 slugging percentage, nine home runs, 12 doubles, 31 RBIs and 23 walks since April 23rd.

Vote for Pedro: Pedro Severino tallied two hits and walked last night. In the 28 games that Severino has a hit this year, 13 times he has multiple hits, or 46% of the time. Severino’s .267 average would be the highest in any season of his career.

Austin Powers: Austin Voth has been outstanding over the course of his first Triple-A season. Voth holds the eighth-best ERA in the I.L. at 2.90. Austin has allowed two earned runs or less in eight of his 12 starts with the Chiefs this season. Voth walked three batters in his last three starts, but has walked three or fewer in all 12 starts. In fact, in Voth’s professional career, the right-hander has walked three or more only 13 times and walked more than three just once in 75 career games (four walks, 8/11/15 @ Reading w/Harrisburg).

‘Cuse Bites: Syracuse has played 26 one-run games this year, the most in the I.L. The Chiefs are 14-12 in those games…Syracuse holds the second-most home wins (21) in the I.L. (Rochester, 22) and fewest road wins (9) this year. The Chiefs are hitting .261 as a team at home, compared to just .234 on the road…Syracuse is 12-9 in series openers this year but just 5-12 in series finales…The Chiefs have successfully stolen 52 bases in 60 attempts this year. At 86.7%, Syracuse holds the second-best percentage in professional baseball (Boston Red Sox, 45/51, 88.2%)…The current 3-14 stretch for the Chiefs comes after Syracuse went 73-56 in 129 games from June 14, 2015-May 30, 2016.

Today in Chiefsville: May 27, 2016 – On That Midnight Train to Georgia

Game #46 – Syracuse Chiefs (24-21) vs. Gwinnett Braves (24-24)

Coolray Field, Lawrenceville, Georgia

Pregame 6:50 p.m. // First Pitch 7:05 p.m.

Coverage: The Score 1260 //

RHP Austin Voth (2-2, 3.25) vs. RHP Ryan Weber (0-2, 3.27)

Today’s Lineup:

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 5.35.46 PM

Roster Moves:


Today’s Headlines:

Rocky Ground: Syracuse’s offense has gone through up- and-down stretches so far in 2016. Over the last seven games, the Chiefs offense has been red-hot, averaging nearly 10 hits and more than five runs a game. This followed an 11-game stretch where the offense struggled, averaging less than three runs per game. Below is a look at the Chiefs’ offensive stretches this year:

Upper Dekker: Matt den Dekker tallied a three-hit game last night, continuing to stay hot. After posting just six hits in his first 12 games with the Chiefs this year, den Dekker has eight hits in his last three games (.667), with three doubles, a triple, three RBI and four runs scored.

Ramrod: Caleb Ramsey tallied his ninth multi-hit game with Syracuse this year after a two hit night Thursday. Since Ramsey’s average dropped to a season-low .283 on May 4th, Caleb is hitting .367 (22 for 60). Ramsey multi- night was his 35th in Triple-A since last April.

Born to Run: Trea Turner’s stolen base Thursday night gave the Chiefs 10 in a row before Jose Lozada was caught stealing in the eighth inning. For the year, the Chiefs are 39-42 in steals, the best percentage (92.9%) in pro baseball.

Darkness on the Edge of Town: Syracuse opens its longest scheduled road trip of the year having struggled away from its home ballpark. While the Chiefs lead the league with 19 home wins (four more than the next closest team) they have the fewest road wins (5) in the league (three fewer than anyone else). The Chiefs are hitting 44 points higher at home than on the road (.269 vs. .225).

‘Cuse Bites: After starting the season just 1 for 18 with a lone RBI with the bags full, the Chiefs are 14 for their last 38 (.368) with 36 RBIs since April 24th with the bases loaded…Syracuse is 16-11 in night games this year, compared to 8-10 in day games. The Chiefs are 11-6 in their last 17 night games, but they’ve dropped six straight day games…After starting 2015 19-43, the Chiefs are 70-56 (.556) over their last 126 games since June 14th, 2015. More specifically, dating back to August 3rd, the Chiefs are 47-32 (.595) in their last 79 games…The Chiefs won their 24th game of the season Thursday night in game #44. Syracuse did not record its 24th victory in 2015 until game #70.

Today in Chiefsville: May 18th, 2016 – That’s Baseball


Coca-Cola Park in Allentown featuring breakfast and baseball today. (Eric Gallanty)

Baseball. It is really something. Sometimes a perfectly set up double-play ball turns into a bad hop single over Trea Turner’s head and leads to a run. Sometimes an attempt to intentionally walk a batter turns into a wild pitch and a walk-off win. And sometimes you can get no-hit through six innings, trail 4-0, and then five batters into the seventh inning, the game is tied.

It has been a wild first two games of the series, with all of the above happening so far and more. Great catches, great comebacks, and some crazy moments you would’ve had to have been at the park to believe.

It is no doubt early, but just over a quarter of the way through the 2016 season, the North division is tight as can be, with Syracuse, Rochester and Scranton/WB tied for first, and Lehigh Valley just half a game out. It’s setting up for a quality race all season.

The Chiefs will leave the North division tomorrow, the first of 13 straight games against the South Division (Norfolk, Charlotte, at Gwinnett, at Charlotte). Of the Chiefs’ next 30 games, 26 will be out of division. How the Chiefs perform in this stretch may be a good indicator of where this race might go.

Hope you can join us from Allentown this morning. You bring the eggs, we’ve got the bacon…

Game #38 – Syracuse Chiefs (20-17) vs. Lehigh Valley IronPigs (20-18)

Coca-Cola Park, Allentown, Pennsylvania

Pregame 10:20 a.m. // First Pitch 10:35 a.m.

Coverage: The Score 1260 //

RHP Paolo Espino (1-3, 3.22) vs. RHP Zach Eflin (4-0, 2.79)

Today’s Lineup:

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 9.38.48 AM

Roster Moves:


Pregame Sound:

Yesterday’s Highlights

Today’s Headlines:

If I Should Fall Behind: For the second night in a row, the Chiefs came back to tie a game after not tallying a hit through at least the first five innings (first six last night). Last night marked the third time this month the Chiefs overcame a deficit of at least three runs to tie the game.

Trea Bien: Trea Turner continued his sizzling season by extending his hit streak to seven last night. Turner leads the I.L. stolen bases (14) and runs scored (32). He is tied for first in hits (47), and ranks second in average (.324), third in total bases (70), and fourth in at-bats (145). The streak marks Turner’s second hit streak of six or more games this year and fourth since his promotion to Triple-A last June 26th.

Jack of All Trades: Speaking of Brian Goodwin, he tallied his fourth straight 1 for 4 performance Tuesday night. Goodwin has done it all for the Chiefs in 2016, having reached base in 32 of his 35 starts this season. His average has not dipped below .310 at the end of any game since April 12th. The most impressive part of Goodwin’s success has been his ability to hit lefties. Goodwin is 19 for 49 with slashes of .388/.423/.551 against left-handed pitching.

Born to Run: Brian Goodwin stole a base Monday continuing the Chiefs’ success on the bases. Syracuse is now 32 for 34 in stolen bases, which is the best percentage (94.1%) in professional baseball.

Wrecking Ball: Pedro Severino is known as a defensive catcher, but over his last 13 I.L. games, he has dominated I.L. pitching. Severino is 17 for his last 44 (.386), with hits in ten of 13 and seven multi-hit games. The Chiefs starting catcher has four doubles, a home run, six RBIs and six runs scored in that stretch.

Darkness on the Edge of Town: The Chiefs wrap up their road trip this morning at Lehigh Valley. Syracuse has struggled away from home this season, posting a 5-10 road record opposite a 15-7 home record. The Chiefs are hitting 30 points lower on the road vs. at home this year (.231 vs. .261). Syracuse holds a 3.63 road ERA against a 2.87 ERA at home.

Glory Days: After starting 2015 at 19-43, the Chiefs are 66-52 (.559) over their last 118 games since June 14th, 2015. More specifically, dating back to August 3rd, the Chiefs are 43-28 (.606) in their last 71 games…Syracuse picked up its 20th win this season in game 36, 27 games faster than they did last year.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 12,283 other followers

%d bloggers like this: