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Nationals lose Triple-A affiliate Syracuse

September 2, 2018

The Washington Nationals will end a 10-year association with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, their top farm team in the International League, when Syracuse completes its season at home Monday against Buffalo at 1:05 p.m.

“The Nats have been with us for 10 years and I have been with them for five of those,” Chiefs general Jason Smorol said in a statement to The Washington Times on Sunday.

“The last game is bittersweet as the Nats have been a great partner to the Chiefs and we have built many great relationships across the past decade. (Manager) Randy Knorr and the field staff along with (farm director) Mark Scialabba and the front office have made this a seamless transition. The Nats have been completely professional and we had another great year of player development as part of their farm system. We thank the Nats for their partnership, their friendship and we look forward to the next era of baseball in Syracuse.”

The association has been memorable according to Eric Gallanty, the director of broadcasting and media relations for Syracuse. He has been with the Chiefs for four years but knows the region well as a graduate of Syracuse University.

Gallanty notes five Nationals players listed among the top 10 prospects in all of the minors at the time played in at least one game with Syracuse: Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, Lucas Giolito and Victor Robles. Giolito now pitches for the White Sox, while Robles had four hits Saturday for Syracuse and could be called up to the Nationals this week.

“The most notable was Strasburg coming through,” said Gallanty, the 2015 Jim Nantz award winner as the top college broadcaster in the country.

The three largest crowds in the history of the new stadium, NBT Bank Stadium, at Syracuse came when Strasburg was the starting pitcher in 2010. Those games were May 7 (14,098 fans), May 24 (13,288) and May 29 (13,115).

Three of the four largest crowds in the minor league history of Syracuse, since 1961, came with Strasburg on the mound, Gallanty noted.

A possible Triple-A location for the Nationals next season, according to published reports, could be Las Vegas or Nashville.

“The way I see it is there are two spots: Nashville or Las Vegas,” staff writer Josh Norris of Baseball America told The Washington Times. “If they move to Nashville that really makes sense. That is a really great new stadium.” Baseball America is one of the leading publications that covers the minor leagues.

Nashville has been the Triple-A home since 2015 for the Oakland A’s, who may be better served to have their top farm club in Las Vegas. The Mets have been in Las Vegas since 2013 and will move to Syracuse for the 2019 season. The Mets have owned the Syracuse franchise this season.

In games through Saturday, Gallanty notes 23 players have played for both the Nationals and the Chiefs this year. Pitcher Austen Williams, called up from Syracuse on Saturday by Washington, could become No. 24. He had an ERA of 1.19 in 32 games (two starts) between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse this year. Syracuse was 62-76 going into Sunday’s game with Buffalo.

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