We're introducing a new feature here at Nats News Network: "Nats Farm Report". Every Monday our new staff writer Tyler Radecki will recap the previous week across the Nats minor league organization, highlighting various players and prospects that are making an impact in the minor leagues.
Since this is the first installment, we'll recap the season thus far for a few key players at each level.
Syracuse Chiefs, AAA International League (9-19):
Chris Marrero: After a solid year in AA last season, Marrero was assigned to AAA Syracuse this season and is off to a slow start, hitting .252/.302/.393 with three home runs and 11 RBI. In his last 10 games, though, he’s hitting .308 with three doubles and a home run.
Corey Brown: Brown was acquired from Oakland in the offseason along with Henry Rodriguez for Josh Willingham and is also off to a slow start for Syracuse. He’s hitting just .202/.280/.345 on the year and has just one walk to 16 strikeouts in his last 10 games.
Jesus Flores: Flores had a short MLB call-up earlier this year, but has spent the rest of the year in Syracuse where he’s still battling back from his shoulder injuries. His line so far is .255/.255/.382 with no home runs and three RBI. He remarkably has no walks so far this season, but is hitting .289 in his last 10 games.
Yunesky Maya: Maya’s first start of the year was a poor one, but since then he’s yet to give up more than three runs in a start and his overall ERA stands at 3.55. On April 30, he pitched eight innings of three-hit, no-run ball with six Ks and one BB. His start on May 7 was also solid, going 6 2/3 innings, with five hits, two runs, one walk, and seven strikeouts. Maya may be the first call-up for an injured starter in the big leagues.
Ross Detwiler: Detwiler’s spring almost earned him an opening day rotation spot, but a numbers game and options pushed him to AAA. His first four starts in Syracuse were very good, giving up just six ER in 24.1 IP with 20 Ks and six walks. He gave up seven earned in just 2.2 IP on May 1 though, and we’ll see if that was an outlier or him cooling off.
Tom Milone: Milone continues to try to push his way into a potential major league call up after a 2.85 ERA in AA last year. He, like Detwiler, has had one bad start inflate his ERA (a seven earned run start on April 28), but rebounded after the bad start with a seven-inning, one ER, 11 K performance. His ERA is 4.40, but he has 28/3 K/BB and is forcing the organization to consider him for a call-up.
Josh Wilkie: Wilkie has been phenomenal this year in relief with just three ER in 15.2 IP. The 26-year-old had a good year in Syracuse last year and if he continues to pitch this well, he could finally get a chance in the Washington bullpen at some point this summer.
Cole Kimball: As good as Wilkie has been, Kimball has been better. In 10 appearances (11.2 IP), Kimball has yet to surrender a run and batters are hitting .167 against him. His strikeout to walk ratio is a little close (11 K: 7 BB), but you can’t have an ERA better than 0.00.
Collin Balester: Balester continues to pitch well in relief this year, posting a 1.80 ERA in 10 IP so far. He’s on the short list of call-ups for the bullpen, and as long as he can continue his seamless transition to reliever, he’ll find himself full-time in the big leagues very soon.
Harrisburg Senators, AA Eastern League (14-14):
Stephen Lombardozzi: Eventually, the Nationals are going to have to take this kid seriously as a middle infield prospect. After hitting .294/.371/.431 over 625 PA in Potomac and Harrisburg in 2010, Lombardozzi has picked up where he left off, hitting a strong line of .294/.364/.459 in AA so far. He currently has hit two HR, six doubles, three triples and 11 RBI, as well as eight stolen bases and zero caught stealing. He’s drawn nine walks to just 15 K in 109 ABs as well, showing how patient of a hitter he is as a leadoff man. Oh, and he has just one error so far this year. Lombardozzi is just 22 and could force the Nats to take a closer look.
Derek Norris: Norris has seen his stock rise and rise so far in his young career, mostly because of his plate discipline and power from the catcher spot. In his first month of AA ball, though, he’s hit just .143/.306/.224 with one home run and three RBIs. The #72 prospect according to Baseball America has plenty of time to get back on track and the organization is in no rush with Wilson Ramos tearing it up in Washington.
Tyler Moore: The Nationals’ 2010 Minor League Player of the Year got a promotion to AA this year, and the 24-year-old has played well so far. His line currently stands at .282/.313/.482, though he has just four walks to 29 strikeouts. In his last 10 games, though, he’s hitting .306 with a .390 OBP.
Brad Meyers: Meyers missed much of 2010 with a foot injury, which was frustrating because he was so good in 2009 (1.72 ERA in A/AA combined), earning the Nats organization's Pitcher of the Year award. In 36.1 IP in 2011, Meyers has been remarkable, posting a 2.48 ERA and a downright amazing 38:0 strikeout to walk ratio. Yes, he has yet to walk a batter this season. Amazing. He’s another player that could see some time in D.C. very soon.
Brad Peacock: The 23-year-old has also pitched well, posting a 1.16 ERA through five appearances (four starts). He’s fanned 36 to just four walks and has given up just 19 hits in 31 innings.
Erik Davis: The pitcher acquired for Alberto Gonzalez has been solid in AA so far with a 3.08 ERA in 26.1 IP. His WHIP is 1.52, but he has 24 K to 13 BB. He gave up five earned runs in five IP on May 1, but bounced back with a strogn start five days later, giving up two earned over 5 2/3 innings.
Potomac Nationals, High-A Carolina League (11-18):
Potomac Nationals, High-A Carolina League (11-18):
Rick Hague: Hague started off the year well, hitting .357 in his first four games. But he was injured during a game on April 14 and has yet to return to the lineup.
Steven Souza: Souza has struggled so far in his minor league career, but has had a solid start to 2011. He has hit five HR and 22 RBI in 27 games, as well as a .260/.314/.510 triple slash. He is hitting just .194 in his last 10 games.
Eury Perez: One of the Nats’ top prospects because of his speed, Perez has had a slow start to 2011 in his first year in Potomac. He has hit just .240/.280/.240 with two RBI, but has 11 steals in 12 attempts. He turns 21 on May 30 and has hit in every other league, so he could turn it around soon. He’s hitting .323 in his last 10 games and he still remains an intriguing prospect.
Jeff Kobernus: Kobernus’s career has been an injury-plagued one with just 84 games under his belt since his selection in 2009. This year, he’s off to a slow start with a line of .243/.280/.351, with one HR and 10 RBI. He also has 13 steals in 14 attempts, so he has shown good speed, but he needs to hit better if he wants to get back on the team’s radar for middle infield prospects.
Destin Hood: Hood has struggled so far in Potomac, hitting .211/.360/.300 in 90 AB. The 21-year-old had a good year in Hagerstown last season, so he’s still adjusting to Carolina League pitching. In his last 10 games, he has three hits in 34 AB (.088 AVG), so he needs to break out of his slump soon. The one positive is that he is drawing walks at a phenomenal rate, so he just needs to make better contact.
Cameron Selik: Selik was promoted to Potomac after five starts in Hagerstown, where he had a 0.31 ERA and a 30:3 strikeout to walk ratio. A 22nd round pick in the 2010 draft, Selik has been a pleasant surprise so far. In his first start in Potomac on Saturday night, he went six innings and allowed two earned runs and 4 walks, striking out three.
Daniel Rosenbaum: Rosenbaum pitched to a 2.25 ERA between Potomac and Hagerstown last year, and the 23-year-old has had a good start to 2011 with a 2.15 ERA in five starts. He has 29 K in 36.1 IP, so if he continues to pitch well, he could advance to Harrisburg some time this summer.
Hagerstown Suns, Low-A South Atlantic League (20-10):
Bryce Harper: After a slow start, it is safe to say Harper is scorching hot right now. He’s in the middle of a 11-game hitting streak, and his line so far is better than I expected him to do in his first month: .371/.460/.701 with 7 HR, 24 RBI, 11 doubles, 5 SB/2 CS, 16 BB: 22 K. He’s patient, he’s hitting for tremendous power, and has just one error so far in the outfield. While promoting him to Potomac may come soon, it will probably take another month like this before he sees AA. Right now, though, Harper is giving Nats fans a lot to be excited about.
Blake Kelso: While everyone knows Harper’s name, Kelso has been very impressive so far, battling Harper for the team lead in batting average. He’s hit .355 so far this year, with just 11 K in 119 PA. He hit .309 in Vermont last year, and the infielder can play multiple positions. He’s one to keep an eye on.
David Freitas: With all the attention on catchers Ramos and Norris, Freitas also seems to be developing into a solid prospect. Drafted in the 15th round last year, Frietas hit .307/.408/.450 in Vermont in his short season, and caught 35% of attempted base stealers. In Hagerstown so far, he’s hit .278/.387/.433 with three HR and 20 RBIs, and the 21-year-old may soon rise in the ranks of Nats catching prospects.
A.J. Cole: The most heralded pitcher from the 2010 draft class, Cole has made one start – Saturday night against Lexington. He went 3 2/3 innings, giving up earned with two walks and three strikeouts. He’s still just 19, so he has a ways to go.