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2013 Potomac Nationals: Season in Review
10/17/2013 2:34 PM ET
 

INSIDE THE CHALK

On the field, the 2013 Potomac Nationals were a club comprised of a compelling combination of power pitching, sensational defense, lighting speed, and potent bats. Meanwhile, excitement was so high for the Potomac Nationals' faithful at Pfitzner Stadium in 2013, that a new franchise single-season attendance record was set after a whopping 236,772 fans enjoyed P-Nats Baseball during a hallmark 2013 Carolina League regular season which culminated in a captivating post-season berth. The P-Nats' record attendance number registered in 2013 shattered the previous benchmark of 220,145 set in 1998 by the Prince William Cannons (St. Louis Cardinals).   

An average of 3,534 fans per game entered The Pfitz during the Nationals' 2013 regular campaign to be a part of the most affordable and entertaining family friendly atmosphere in Northern Virginia.

With an attendance mark of over 235,000 fans, the P-Nats have now eclipsed the 200,000 fan threshold for the eleventh time in franchise history dating back to the 1990 Prince William Cannons (New York Yankees) who accomplished this feat for the first time.

Led by first-year Field Manager and former MLB veteran, Brian Daubach, the Potomac Nationals set single-season franchise records for both wins (84) and winning percentage (.604). The Nationals also owned the best home record in the Carolina League, a win/loss ledger of (47-23). Underscoring the one-two punch of the P-Nats' successful blend of a deep pitching staff complemented by clutch hitting, the Potomac pitching stable accrued the lowest team earned run average in the circuit (3.69) and the sticks swatted to the tune of the 2nd best team batting average in the league (.262) while Nationals basestealers terrorized opposing batteries with the most stolen bases in the CL (216). 

Potomac captured both the First- and Second-Half Northern Division Championship titles in 2013 and beat the defending Carolina League Champion, Lynchburg Hillcats (Atlanta Braves) in the 2013 Carolina League Northern Division Playoff Series courtesy of a walk-off single from RF Will Piwnica-Worms in Game Two to advance to the 2013 Mills Cup Championship. The Nationals came up short in their bid for the club's fifth all-time championship crown falling in three straight games in the best-of-five series to the 2013 Carolina League Champion, Salem Red Sox (Boston).

P-Nats fans witnessed a star-studded cast of players in 2013 including a slew of mid-season Carolina League All-Stars (OF Billy Burns, C Adrian Nieto, LHP Robbie Ray, and RHP Blake Schwartz) and a trio of year-end Carolina League All-Stars (RHP Robert Benincasa, Burns, and CF Michael Taylor).

In addition, the 2013 Potomac Nationals hosted the recipients of the 2013 Washington Nationals Minor League Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year Awards as OF Billy Burns and RHP Taylor Jordan received the honors respectively.

Burns, 24, a native of Marietta, GA and a product of Mercer University (GA) selected by Washington in the 32nd round of the 2011 MLB Draft, finished his 2013 campaign with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators after being promoted from Potomac on 8/2. Burns hit .325 in 30 games for the Senators in which he scored 26 runs, walked 20 times, and stole 20 bases. The switch-hitting speedster finished as the Carolina League's leader in stolen bases for the course of the season after stashing 54 swipes to complement the second-best batting average (.312) in the league over the course of 91 games played. Burns also led the circuit in triples (9) and on-base percentage (.422). Burns combined to earn a .315 batting clip over both affiliates while collecting 96 runs, 12 doubles, nine triples, 37 RBIs, 170 total bases, 72 walks, and 74 stolen bases in 121 total games. Burns' batting average registered as the best in the Washington Nationals farm system in 2013 (among hitters with a minimum of 100 games played) while he swung to the ninth best on-base percentage in MiLB (.425) and stole the third most bases in the Minor League landscape. Burns was tabbed by Baseball America as the 26th best prospect in the Washington Nationals system prior to the 2013 season.

Jordan, 24, out of Merritt Island, FL and Brevard Community College (FL) was taken by the Nationals in the 9th round of the 2009 MLB Draft. The crafty right-hander completed his first full season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery in September of 2011 and rehabbing that injury in 2012. Jordan is tabbed as the top 2013 pitching performer in Washington's Minor League organization after a career season that featured a combined (9-1) record in 15 appearances and 14 starts on the Nationals' farm this year across two levels. For the P-Nats in the Carolina League, Jordan dealt to the tune of a (2-1) win/loss ledger and a 1.24 earned run average in six starts. Following a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg on 5/9, the sinkerballer was lights out in the Eastern League logging a (7-0) record and an anemic 0.83 ERA in nine appearances and eight starts. Jordan fanned 43 batters and walked just nine men over a duration of 54.0 innings with the Senators pitching staff before making his Major League debut on 6/29 on the road against the New York Mets at Citi Field in Flushing, NY.

The Washington Nationals sent a slew of players to the hallowed desert prospect showcase of the Arizona Fall League and seven of these prospects have ties to the Potomac Nationals. LHP Sammy Solis, LHP Matt Purke, C Adrian Nieto, 1B/3B Matt Skole, OF Steven Souza, Jr., RHP Robert Benincasa, and RHP Richie Mirowski make up the 2013 Washington farmhand group who are privileged to compete in the AFL, and all are P-Nats' alumni. 

As a means to illustrate the bridge from The Pfitz to "The Show," six former Potomac Nationals, IF Anthony Rendon (2012), IF Jeff Kobernus (2011), RHP Nathan Karns (2012), Jordan (2013), RHP Erik Davis (2011), and SS Zach Walters (2011-2012) made their Major League debuts for the Washington Nationals in 2013. Among the active expanded Washington Nationals roster to complete the '13 season, 27 players previously appeared in a P-Nats uniform in their careers as either a full-time player or while making a rehabilitation appearance down on the farm.

Due to the proximity of the Potomac Nationals to their parent club, the P-Nats welcomed Major League rehabilitation stars from the Washington Nationals including, 3B Ryan Zimmerman, RF Jayson Werth, LHP Ross Detwiler, LF Bryce Harper, C Wilson Ramos, RHP Ross Ohlendorf, and RHP Christian Garcia. All of these Big Leaguers appeared with the Potomac Nationals at Pfitzner Stadium in 2013. 

Heading into the off-season following the 2013 campaign, two P-Nats players were recognized for their outstanding feats. 1B Kevin Keyes crushed a mammoth early season home run at Five County Stadium, home of the Carolina Mudcats (Cleveland Indians), estimated to travel over 420 feet, that knocked out a band of bulbs on the left field light tower a la "The Natural." This "Ruthian" shot was nominated for a 2013 MiLBY Award for "Best Home Run."  

RHP Taylor Hill was selected as a recipient of a Minor League Baseball 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove Award® for stellar defense at his position this season. Hill, 24, joins a roster of nine MiLB players set to receive a 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove Award after honorees were selected among qualifying players from the 10 domestic, full-season Minor Leagues. Hill owned a 1.000 fielding percentage across Class-A Advanced Potomac, Double-A Harrisburg, and Triple-A Syracuse in 2013 over the course of 28 appearances and 164.2 innings. Hill did not commit a single error in 46 total chances while recording 31 assists and making 15 putouts.

P-NATS PROMOTIONAL PROWESS

The P-Nats faithful witnessed the most potent promotional schedule in club history during the 2013 season which featured a franchise record 17 fireworks shows and a new high benchmark for premium giveaways including: the Roger Bernadina Shark-A-rine, a unique half-shark, half-Bernadina figurine rendering which was featured on the desk of ESPN's Mike & Mike television show while also being nominated for a 2013 MiLBY Award, Danny Espinosa Backpack, Dan Haren Potomac Cannons Bobblehead, Tyler Moore Carolina League MVP Bobblehead, Summer Grill Set, Stephen Strasburg Growth Chart, a pair of Official Team Photographs, and a P-Nats Poster Series featuring Ian Desmond, Steve Lombardozzi, and Drew Storen. Also, as Potomac made its playoff run in 2013, the Pfitzner Stadium gallery was painted with rally towels to root on the Nationals which were sponsored by local corporate partners of the P-Nats.   

Celebrity guests at The Pfitz in 2013 included the revered Washington Redskins Super Bowl Champion Quarterback, Joe Theismann, former 30-game winner, MLB legend, Denny McLain, Washington Capitals great, Peter Bondra, and Washington Senators legend, Frank "Hondo" Howard, a fan favorite in our nation's capital.

P-Nats fans had the pleasure of bidding on game used and autographed jerseys on multiple occasions for a great cause during the 2013 season to benefit Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, Autism Speaks, and Osbourn Park High School. In addition, to ring in the summer motion picture release of "Superman," P-Nats players and coaches wore specially themed Superman jerseys which were also signed and auctioned off as keepsakes for the Nationals fan base.  

Community Nights at The Pfitz were ushered into the 2013 promotional slate and proved to be a paramount success. Local sponsors purchased tickets on behalf of non-profit organizations where these less fortunate fans could pick up their tickets at local distribution sites in order to enjoy a P-Nats Baseball game courtesy of community-minded partners of the team.

Continuing the duty of honoring our local military community, the Nationals once again hosted Military Appreciation Nights in association with Hope For The Warriors® in an effort to respect and salute the courage of the United States Armed Services. Thousands of tickets were donated directly to military members and their families and once again the events were a huge success for military fans of the P-Nats and sponsors alike.     

OFF THE FIELD AND IN THE COMMUNITY

During a blockbuster 2013 season, the Potomac Nationals continued a longstanding tradition for the past 36 seasons; a mission of staying connected with their local community in Northern Virginia. In 2013, the P-Nats' front office, players, and coaching staff carried on the torch of giving back to regional non-profit organizations, local schools, and others abroad in their times of need. Highlighting some notable community relations initiatives of the P-Nats in 2013 that amassed a collective six-figure fundraising total (over $100,000 raised in 2013)…

As a precursor to each season, the Potomac Nationals host an annual hot stove banquet featuring special guests from the Washington Nationals and a sports memorabilia silent auction. All of the funds raised during this sports auction go directly to S.P.A.R.K. (Supporting Partnerships and Resources for Kids), a support arm of the Prince William County Public School system.

Uncle Slam's Reading Program kicks off each year in February and runs through the month of June and has been a trademark community program for the P-Nats for the last decade. Uncle Slam rewards children for reading four books by coming out to their school and performing a live action reading of Casey At Bat along with members of the Nationals' staff. This reading program staple has reached over 200,000 kids in the last ten years.

Following the impact of the torrential tornadoes in the state of Oklahoma, the Nationals decided to step up to the plate and help the families who had lost so much in these storms. A sports memorabilia auction on the Pfitzner Stadium concourse sent funds went directly to the OKStrong Disaster Relief Fund in an effort to better the lives of the people in Oklahoma irreconcilably damaged by these twisters.

This season, in association with the Make-A-Wish Foundation's Mid-Atlantic branch and corporate sponsor, Trusted Choice, the Nationals hosted a commemorative game used and autographed jersey auction which featured an appearance by Washington Redskins Super Bowl Quarterback, Joe Theismann. The Redskins legend visited with the Make-A-Wish kids, signed autographs for the P-Nats faithful, and most importantly granted the wishes of many children who have life-threatening illnesses. In addition, the Nationals, in conjunction with Autism Speaks and title sponsor, Lindsay Automotive, ran a special jersey auction in 2013 to benefit the non-profit group on Autism Awareness Day at The Pfitz. Autism Speaks received all funds raised in the jersey auction and had the opportunity to disseminate autism awareness information throughout the ballgame to promote understanding of this disorder.

Homes for Heroes in combination with the P-Nats Annual Military Appreciation Nights has become an invaluable partnership for both entities after another successful affiliation in 2013. Homes for Heroes was out in force on both Military Appreciation Nights in 2013 to spread the message of how our community's Heroes can benefit from aligning with the non-profit organization.

To piggyback local heroes benefiting from coming out to Pfitzner Stadium in 2013, the P-Nats hosted the second annual Guns vs. Hoses Charity Softball Game as members of the Prince William County Police Department squared off against the Yorkshire Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department. An array of police officers and fire department members and their families enjoyed a relaxing day at the ballpark while renewing a yearly rivalry by competing in softball on the very same field used by the future stars of the Washington Nationals.

In a milestone move to acknowledge the exceptional capabilities of our country's military members to influence their community once home from war, the Potomac Nationals became the first team in Minor League Baseball to institute a hiring program specifically engineered to usher in United States military members. The "Hire-A-Vet" program was initiated with the hiring of Arthur Bouvier IV, a U.S. Army veteran, who was brought into the Potomac Nationals' fold as the Assistant Director of Stadium Operations.

2013 P-NATS FAST FACTS

  • The P-Nats' franchise record attendance number of 236,772 fans registered in 2013 shattered the previous benchmark of 220,145 set in 1998 by the Prince William Cannons (St. Louis Cardinals).
  • An average of 3,534 fans per game entered The Pfitz during the Nationals' 2013 regular season to be a part of the most affordable and entertaining family friendly atmosphere in Northern Virginia.
  • With an attendance mark of over 235,000 fans, the P-Nats have now eclipsed the 200,000 fan threshold for the eleventh time in franchise history dating back to the 1990 Prince William Cannons (New York Yankees) who accomplished this feat for the first time.
  • Pfitzner Stadium galleries witnessed a club record 17 fireworks shows during the 2013 season.
  • Celebrities to visit The Pfitz in 2013 included: former 30-game winner, Denny McLain, Washington Redskins Super Bowl Champion Quarterback, Joe Theismann, Washington Capitals great, Peter Bondra, and Washington Senators legend, Frank "Hondo" Howard    
  • Potomac captured both the First- and Second-Half Northern Division Championship titles in 2013 and beat the Lynchburg Hillcats (Atlanta Braves) in the 2013 Carolina League Northern Division Playoff Series to advance to the 2013 Mills Cup Championship Series. The Nationals came up short in their bid for the club's fifth all-time championship crown after falling in the best-of-five series to the 2013 Carolina League Champion, Salem Red Sox (Boston). The Nationals returned to post-season play for the first time since the 2011 campaign.
  • Potomac Nationals fans witnessed a star-studded cast of players in 2013 which included a quartet of mid-season Carolina League All-Stars, OF Billy Burns, C Adrian Nieto, LHP Robbie Ray, and RHP Blake Schwartz, as well as a trio of year-end Carolina League All-Stars in RHP Robert Benincasa, Burns, and CF Michael Taylor.
  • 2013 P-Nats RHP Taylor Hill was named recipient of a Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove Award for his defensive prowess this season.
  • 1B Kevin Keyes crushed an estimated 420-foot mammoth home run blast at Five County Stadium, home of the Carolina Mudcats, that knocked out a band of bulbs on the left field light tower. This "Ruthian" shot was nominated for a 2013 MiLBY Award for "Best Home Run."      
  • Seven Major League standouts from the Washington Nationals were assigned to the Potomac Nationals for rehabilitation appearances in 2013 including: LHP Ross Detwiler, RHP Christian Garcia, LF Bryce Harper, RHP Ross Ohlendorf, C Wilson Ramos, RF Jayson Werth, and 3B Ryan Zimmerman. All of these Big League players competed in front of the P-Nats faithful at Pfitzner Stadium.
  • Six former Potomac Nationals, IF Anthony Rendon (2012),  IF Jeff Kobernus (2011), RHP Nathan Karns (2012), Taylor Jordan (2013), RHP Erik Davis (2011), and SS Zach Walters (2011-2012) made their Major League debuts for the Washington Nationals in 2013. Among the active expanded Washington Nationals roster to complete the '13 season, 27 players previously appeared in a P-Nats uniform in their careers.   
  • These franchise records were set or tied during the 2013 season:
  1. Career Doubles (74-Taylor)
  2. Total Saves in a Single-Season (42-Tied) [1997, Prince William Cannons-St. Louis Cardinals]
  3. Most Wins Without a Loss by One Pitcher (RHP Greg Holt-9 Wins, 0 Losses-Tied)
  • After 36 seasons in the record books as a Carolina League franchise, the P-Nats remain steadfast with their longstanding tradition of giving back to people in the Northern Virginia community including non-profit organizations, local schools, and neighbors in times of need. The Potomac Nationals raised more than $100,000 in 2013 across all of their fundraising branches.
  • Notable organizations impacted by the community relations efforts of the Potomac Nationals in 2013 include: S.P.A.R.K. (Supporting Partnerships and Resources for Kids), Prince William County Public Schools, OKStrong Disaster Relief Fund, HomeAid Northern Virginia, Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, Autism Speaks, SYA Baseball, Osbourn Park High School, Homes For Heroes, Hope For The Warriors®, Prince William County Police Department, Yorkshire Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, and the United States Army.
  • Uncle Slam's Reading Program has impacted over 200,000 children in the last decade.

The Potomac Nationals of the Carolina League play at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, Virginia, and are the Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Washington Nationals. P-Nats 2014 season tickets and mini plans are now on sale. Sponsorship opportunities for the 2014 season and beyond are available. Plan your corporate outing now for the 2014 season to see the future stars of the Washington Nationals at The Pfitz as the P-Nats offer discounted group rates and all-inclusive picnic options. Visit the P-Nats online at www.potomacnationals.com or call the Potomac Nationals Ticket Office at 703-590-2311 for more information!

-- Potomac Nationals --

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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