The 2017 season wasn’t the best for the Syracuse Chiefs. In their final year as the Washington Nationals top affiliate, the Chiefs look to improve from their 55-87 record this season. As is the case in the minor leagues from year to year, there are some new faces in new places. The first glaring change has to be the man running the show. Randy Knorr takes over the reigns replacing Billy Gardner who was re-assigned to a different role withing the Nationals organization.
Knorr’s name should sound a bit familiar to Chiefs fans. He managed the club back in 2011 and had a 66-74 record. This will be his seventh season as a manager (Savannah ’05, Potomac ’06-’08, Harrisburg ’10, and Syracuse ’11) with an overall record of 417-420. As a player Knorr competed in 19 seasons between the minor leagues and the major leagues.
The Chiefs have a decent mix of veteran players and prospects so it will be interesting to see how that all pans out.
There are familiar arms for the Chiefs this season. Crafty veterans like Edwin Jackson and Jeremy Hellickson and veteran relievers like Tommy Milone. There are several that are making a return to Syracuse like Austin Adams and Austin Voth. One of the Nationals top pitching prospects Erick Fedde who made his big league debut in 2017, will be back for the Chiefs after appearing in 12 games last season.
Both Voth and Fedde are listed in the Nationals Top 30 prospects according to MLB.com.
Wander Suero returns as well and looks to pick up where he left off as the team’s closer, and potentially make the leap to MLB at some point during the season. Suero was 3-1 for the Chiefs with a 1.76 ERA in 36 games games, converting 10 saves in 11 attempts.
Spencer Kieboom and Jhonatan Solano will be the main backstops this season. Kieboom appeared in 47 games last season for the Chiefs and batted a healthy .275 with and had a .723 OPS. the 26-year old hopes to make it back to the bigs for the first time since 2016. Solano who has been up and down a few times in his career has spent a few years with the Chiefs and gives the pitchers a quality duo to throw to.
INFIELD and OUTFIELD
Three of the Nationals top 30 prospects will be roaming the field, but none are more exciting than their #1 man Victor Robles. The 20-year old Robles will be making his Triple-A debut this season after leapfrogging the level straight to the major leagues last season from Double-A. From everything that’s been seen and written about him, he may be worth the price of admission. One of the things I have always said is see them now before its too late. He did attend spring training with Washington but it wasn’t the best showing. Some seasoning in Triple-A will be good for him and the fans.
Andrew Stevenson returns to Syracuse and is now listed as the organizations #7 prospect. He made his major league debut with the Nationals last season appearing in 37 games. He will look to build off that experience in hopes of a successful 2018 campaign. One other top prospect to keep an eye on is Jose Marmolejos. Marmolejos makes his Triple-A debut this season after a terrific season in Double-A with Harrisburg.
On paper it looks like the Chiefs will certainly surpass their totals from last year. Unfortunately as you know the games aren’t played on paper. With call-ups, injuries, etc. it’s hard to really gauge the success a team can or can’t have, but that is the beauty of opening day. Everyone is still in it.