Washington Nationals Minor Leagues: Lopez Debut/Janssen Rehab Highlight Day In Potomac

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It was an eventful Thursday afternoon down at Pfitzner Stadium as the Washington Nationals high-A affiliate, the Potomac Nationals played in a doubleheader vs. the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Kansas City Royals) after rainouts on Tuesday and Wednesday. You had a little bit of everything in this doubleheader as the Nats had one of their current players work their way back to the big leagues (Casey Janssen) and one of their star prospects (Reynaldo Lopez) make their high-A debut in Potomac’s split of the two games vs. Wilmington.

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Let’s start with Game 1, where Lopez (the Nats #4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline) got the start. Right out of the gate, Lopez got some run support. With runners on first and third and two outs, John Wooten hit a RBI single to center field that scored Stephen Prez to give Potomac a 1-0 lead.

Those are all the runs that Lopez would need. While he didn’t rack up the strikeouts in this seven inning game, the 21-year-old right hander gave up only two hits and struck out three without walking anyone. He retired the first eight batters of the game before giving up a two out single in the third to Dexter Kjerstad.

Last season, at Hagerstown, Lopez went 4-1 with a 1.33 ERA in nine starts. He struck out 39 batters and walked 11 in 47.1 innings of work. This is what Potomac manager Tripp Keister said after his start:

"“He commanded his fastball. I haven’t seen him a lot, and that’s what stuck out to me, when he commanded his fastball. He didn’t walk anybody, pitched to both sides, very efficient with his work.” (h/t MILB.com)"

Potomac tacked on an extra run in the bottom of the sixth inning on a two-out RBI triple by Chris Bostick, which allowed Wooten to score.

Dakota Bacus came into the game in the sixth inning to finish the game and got into a trouble in the seventh and final inning. After giving up three straight hits to start the inning, including a RBI double by Zane Evans to cut the lead in half. However, with the bases loaded and one out, Bacus found a way out of it by retiring the final two batters to get his third save in as many chances and secure Potomac’s 2-1 win.

In Game 2, Casey Janssen, who has yet to make his Washington Nationals debut, was the starter for this one. In his only inning, he retired the Blue Claws in order with two flies out and a strikeout looking of Frank Schwindel to end the inning.

Janssen would leave the game for starter Nick Pivetta, who would throw the final six innings of the contest. The Blue Claws scored all three runs against Pivetta in the fourth inning, but they were all unearned.

Wilmington would load the bases off of two singles and a throwing error by catcher Craig Manuel. With the bases loaded, Pivetta walked Robert Pehl to get the scoring started. Then, Logan Moon hit a two-run single to right to score Evans and Mauricio Ramos to make the score 3-0.

Potomac would score their only run of Game 2 in the bottom of the fourth. After a leadoff double by Isaac Ballou, Ballou would come around to score two batters later on a RBI single to right by Perez. After that hit by Perez, Potomac would only get one more hit over the final three innings as they fell to Wilmington, 3-1.

Despite the loss, Pivetta went six innings, gave up three runs (no earned runs) on eight hits, struck out three, and walked one. Despite being 1-3 on the season, his ERA is at 1.41. Yender Caramo picked up his first win of the season for the Blue Claws while Nick Green picked up his first save.

Tonight, Potomac will be back at Pfitzner Stadium to take on the Frederick Keys (Baltimore Orioles) at 7:05 PM ET. 20-year-old right hander Lucas Giolito (the Nats #1 prospect on MLB Pipeline) will make his Potomac debut against Frederick’s Luis Gonzalez (1-2, 5.64).

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