Transactions shake up Blue Rocks lineup in first homestand post All-Star Break

Nationals 15th ranked prospect Dylan Lile gets settled in during his first homestand with the Blue Rocks. Wednesday, July 19, 2023. - Staff Photographer / Joe Capuyan

The Wilmington Blue Rocks returned home to Daniel S. Frawley Stadium for the first time post All-Star break on Tuesday, July 18, but couldn’t send the fans home happy, dropping their series-opener against the Greensboro Grasshoppers by a final score of 12-0.

Despite the large gap in the final score, the game remained scoreless up until the fourth inning. Blue Rocks’ starter Kyle Luckham was cruising, allowing only two hits throughout the first three innings. Then, things began to unravel in the fourth.

The 23-year-old kicked off the inning by plunking Mike Jarvis, which was followed up with a single by Jase Bowen. Will Matthiessen then ripped a double to the warning track in center field, sending both runners home.

Luckham nearly escaped the inning allowing just those two runs, but a two-out bloop single into no man’s land in shallow right-center field allowed two more runners to score and make it a 4-0 game. A call to the bullpen was made immediately after.

Lisson gave his description of what he saw from Luckham, who took his second loss of the season.

“He started falling behind,” Lisson said. “Leadoff guy got on in the fourth, and it went from there. It was tough, you just have to keep executing your pitches no matter what. He’ll get back at it.”

In to relieve Luckham was fellow 23-year-old Chance Huff, who’s seen a lot of time out of the bullpen recently after starting the season in the rotation. In two innings of work, Huff allowed five runs on three hits and three walks. In eight appearances out of the bullpen, Huff has given up at least two runs six times.

Lisson spoke about Huff’s move to the bullpen.

“This is development,” Lisson said. “Right now, we need him to come from the bullpen. I think it’s the best thing for him right now, so we’re going to continue that.”

Offensively, Tuesday was Wilmington’s second game without Nationals’ No. 2 prospect Brady House, who recently received a call-up to AA Harrisburg. It was a short stint for the 20-year-old in A+, as he played just 16 games in Wilmington before earning his promotion.

Lisson detailed how professional House is for being such a young age, and noted that he deserves the call-up.

“A true professional, man,” Lisson said. “He comes in, gets his work done, and plays hard. That’s what you have to do as a professional; understand that this is your job and you have to play hard every day, don’t take at-bats for granted. He was pretty good at that, so that along with the talent goes a long way.”

The player who filled House’s roster spot is Daylen Lile, the Nationals’ No. 15 ranked prospect. The 20-year-old shared his reaction when he got the news he was getting called up.

“I was shocked, but it’s definitely a blessing, coming up here playing for the Blue Rocks,” Lile said. “Fredericksburg treated me well, but I was just in shock when I got the news.” 

After hitting .291 in 66 games in Fredericksburg this season, Lile found success in his A+ debut, going 1-3 at the plate with a walk. Lile gave some early comparisons on the level of pitching between A and A+.

“The pitching is basically the same, but I would say the main difference is they command the zone a lot better up here,” Lile said. “In Low-A it was like I was either gonna get hit or get a hit. Up here, they just command the zone a lot better.”

Unfortunately, Lile couldn’t give the Rocks’ the spark they needed given the final score. In his first game with the team, Lile noted some things that the offense needs to work on as the series progresses.

“Just more quality at-bats, put hard balls in play,” Lile said. “Don’t get two strikes and let the pitcher toy with you a little bit. Just put balls in play as hard as possible.”

The Blue Rocks have now lost ten of their last 12 games, and will look to even up the series against the Grasshoppers on Wednesday, July 19.

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