WASHINGTON – It has been a tough year on and off the field for several of the minor league affiliates of the Nationals, and that is the case for Triple-A Rochester.
The Red Wings were 49-73 in games through Wednesday and the team ends regular-season play on Sunday at home against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the top farm team of the Yankees.
But there have been some bright spots, as the late July trades by Washington allowed Rochester fans to see some of the budding prospects with the Nationals such as catcher Keibert Ruiz, center fielder Lane Thomas, and outfielder Donovan Casey.
“The hard-core fans are trying to learn the Nationals’ system,” Josh Whetzel, the radio voice of the Red Wings, told Federal Baseball on Thursday.
“They are trying to get plugged into that sort of thing.”
“I think it was a little energizing at the trade deadline to get guys like Ruiz, and Donovan Casey eventually,” added Whetzel, the voice of the team since 2003.
“Lane Thomas came here for a brief period of time. It was exciting to be part of that; they certainly gave the team a good boost on the field as well.”
More recently, fans of the Red Wings have been able to watch center fielder Victor Robles try to find his stroke again and also see right-hander Cade Cavalli, one of the top pitching prospects in the minors according to Baseball America.
“Luis García had a walk-off homer in our first home series,” Whetzel noted. “He has a really fun, good personality. Jake Noll has had such a good season, Cavalli seems to be a very fan-friendly type of guy. Those are the names that pop out. Daniel Palka has a good season and is a player the fans would remember from his time here with the Twins.”
Noll was hitting .303 with Rochester through Wednesday while Palka, drafted out of Georgia Tech by Arizona in 2013, was at .257 with 17 homers.
García, now back in Washington, hit .303 in 37 games with Rochester this year.
The Red Wings lost 10-6 on Wednesday to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as Cavalli only retired two batters in the first while allowing four runs before he was lifted.
Robles, hitting .325 at Rochester, left the game with an injury in the fourth inning and third baseman Adrián Sanchez (2-for-4, .314), another former National, also had to leave the contest.
Rochester was the top farm team of the Orioles during the glory days of the Birds for part of the 1960s and 1970s. It was the farm team of Baltimore from 1961 through 2002.
The Red Wings were the top affiliate of the Minnesota Twins from 2003 through 2019.
Fresno was the Triple-A team of the Nationals in 2019, then the debut for Rochester in 2020 was delayed due to the pandemic.
The probable starters for Rochester the rest of the season are: Ben Braymer (7-8, 5.89 ERA overall in the minors this year) on Thursday; Joan Adon (7-6, 4.97) on Friday; Jefry Rodriguez (2-0, 4.35) on Saturday; and Jackson Tetreault (5-6, 3.65) on Sunday.
The manager for Rochester this year is Matt LeCroy, Brian Daubach has been the hitting coach, and Michael Tejera is the pitching coach.