by Tyler Radecki, Staff Writer
Note: Baseball America released their annual “best tools” report for the minor leagues. Several Nationals prospects made the lists. Check them out here. (Subscription required)
Syracuse Chiefs, AAA International League (54-65)
Tom Milone: His first start back from his minor elbow injury was solid – just one earned run against in five innings – though he did have some control issues, walking three batters (and striking out five). His AAA ERA is at 3.52 and he’s well in line for a September call-up to Washington.
Brad Meyers: Three great starts since his return from the disabled list have his ERA below four again (3.97). His start this week – three hits, one unearned run against in five innings – is also promising; he had been hit hard before his injury, but has given up just 10 hits in 14 2/3 innings since his return.
Yunesky Maya: He turned in his best minor league start in a while, pitching six strong innings this week with seven hits and two runs against with eight strikeouts and no walks. He is still 1-8 with a 5.30 ERA in AAA, but hopefully he can build off this start and his spot start in Washington.
Brad Peacock: He looked like his AA form this week, striking out nine and giving up just one run in 5 2/3 innings on Friday night. Opponents are still hitting just .226 against him and he has 32 strikeouts in 31 AAA innings, so the walks have killed him so far. Once he gets those down, he’ll be fine – and this start was a step in the right direction with just one walk.
Josh Wilkie: Wilkie had three total appearances this week, giving up one earned run and four hits in 3 1/3 innings. His season ERA is now 3.40 and opponents are hitting .245 against him.
Steve Lombardozzi: Lombo has five multi-hit games over his last 10, raising his season average to .320. His walk rate is still down from last year, but it’s getting back to his AA rate from this year; he has 13 walks in 50 AAA games (219 at-bats). It seems he’s sacrificing his walks for more contact, and his OBP hasn’t suffered at all (.359 in AAA).
Chris Marrero: Consistency has been Marrero’s biggest improvement this year, as he’s hit .300 or better in every month except for April. He has a .330 average since the All-Star break (.301 before it) and has driven in 11 runs in his last 10 games (with three home runs, five doubles and eight walks). He’s developing into a very good overall hitter, further complicating the Nats’ plans at first base for 2012. But that’s a good problem to have.
Matt Antonelli: He’s bounced back from a mid-season slump (.202 average in July) and is hitting .390 in his last 10 games (three straight multi-hit games). Even with his slump, he’s hitting a very solid slash line of .299/.386/.454 – especially for a middle infielder/utility player.
Corey Brown: After being named IL player of the week last week (four home runs), he’s remained hot, and his average is up to .231 now. He had three two-hit games this week with three walks and two RBIs as well. A late-season surge from Brown may be enough to put him in the running for a major league bench spot next season.
Harrisburg Senators, AA Eastern League (68-53)
Shairon Martis: He was as dominant as he’s been all year on Wednesday, throwing seven innings of six-hit, one-run ball with no walks and 10 strikeouts. Again, Martis has never been a big strikeout guy, so it’s very encouraging to see him post such high strikeout numbers. The low ERA doesn’t hurt, either (3.05).
Rafael Martin: Three more scoreless innings for Martin this week with two hits against, no walks and five strikeouts. His AA ERA is 0.95 in 24 games.
Daniel Rosenbaum: He was great again in his second AA start, giving up one run on five hits in seven innings (with nine strikeouts) Friday. His AA ERA is now 1.42.
Bryce Harper: He hit a two-run walk-off home run Friday night that was an estimated 460-480 feet. Here’s a video of the highlights (Harper’s HR comes up at around 2:00). He also went 2-for-2 with two walks on Sunday, raising his average to .256. He has 17 home runs and 26 home runs if you combine his Hagerstown and Harrisburg stats; who would have thought his first 20-30 season would involve 30 stolen bases?
Derek Norris: He’s not hitting – his average is down to .207 – but he continues to draw walks (11 in his last 10 games). His OPS is still 15th in the Eastern League, despite his terrible batting average.
Tyler Moore: Moore is 6 for his last 38 (.158), dropping his average to .268 on the season. The streaky Moore hit .330 in July, but is hitting .214 in August so far.
Eric Komatsu: He went 3-for-5 on Sunday, but he’s been a little inconsistent in his short time with the Senators. He isn’t far off, though, hitting a slash line of .271/.321/.375 with six stolen bases.
Potomac Nationals, High-A Carolina League (55-63)
Stephen Strasburg: His second rehab start was another strong step towards a return to the majors this year, as Strasburg pitched three scoreless innings with five strikeouts, no walks and two hits (both infield singles) against. His velocity was great, and he’s one step closer to returning to Washington.
Josh Smoker: In 1 2/3 innings this week, Smoker gave up one hit and two walks, striking out one.
Cameron Selik: He struggled in both starts this week, giving up four runs (two earned) in 1 1/3 innings on Tuesday and giving up four earned runs in 3 2/3 innings Sunday. In his last 10 starts, he has a 4.89 ERA.
Sammy Solis: An injury to his elbow caused him to miss a start last week.
Hitting Report –
Eury Perez: A 7-for-34 slump (.206) has Perez’s average back down to .263 and his OBP down to .298. He has just one walk in his last 10 games, but he did have hits in all three games this weekend.
Destin Hood: I suspect Hood will be getting a lot of buzz this off-season, because he’s having a fantastic year in Potomac. He’s on fire right now (.324 in his last 10 games) and could finish with 30+ doubles, 15+ home runs and 20+ stolen bases, as well as a .360+ OBP. Hood is still only 21 as well.
Jeff Kobernus: A major slump (5 for his last 41) has Kobernus’ average back down to .265 after he was creeping to .300 just a little while ago.
Zach Walters: He has been ice cold since coming to Potomac, hitting .205 in his first 12 games with 15 strikeouts. His offense is going to have to carry him, so he’ll need to break out of this slump. On the plus side, he has just one error so far in Potomac.
Hagerstown Suns, Low-A South Atlantic League (66-52)
Taylor Jordan: He has been out since July 9.
A.J. Cole: He was phenomenal on Saturday, pitching five innings of one-hit, one-walk ball with nine strikeouts. It was encouraging to see him pitch so strong after struggling in his last start (seven hits, four runs in four innings).
Michael Taylor: I’ve been snubbing Taylor all year because of a slow start, but he’s hitting over .300 since the All-Star break and is hitting .251/.305/.446 overall on the year. He’s worth putting in here now; just 20 years old, Taylor has good speed and some pop in his bat. We’ll keep an eye on him as he finishes out the season.
David Freitas: The catcher has struggled so far in August, hitting .171 after he hit .269 in July. He continues to walk at a high rate though (eight in his last 10 games; 75 on the season to just 71 strikeouts). His OBP is still at .414 and his average is still .285, proving how hot he was in the middle of the year. He’s a prospect to watch going into next year.
Blake Kelso: He hit just .231 in July, but is hitting .263 in his last 10 games to get his average back to .290. He, like Freitas, has great patience - he’s walked seven times in his last 10 games to just two strikeouts. Impressive.
Auburn Doubledays, Short-Season A New York/Penn Leauge (33-23)
Note: Four players were named New York-Penn League All-Stars: Ben Grisz, Hendry Jimenez, Matt Skole and Bryce Ortega.
Ben Grisz: His last appearance was on July 27.
Wirkin Estevez: He had another strong start this week, bouncing back from his poor start last week. He threw six innings of three-hit, one-run ball, walking three and striking out six, bringing his season ERA down to 3.86.
Matthew Skole: Hitting just .243 in his last 10 games, Skole broke out of that slump a little bit with hits in six of his last seven games, with five RBIs and seven walks as well.
Hendry Jimenez: In just three games this week, Jimenez had a hit in each one with three walks as well. He strikes out a lot – 40 times in 39 games – but walks at a solid rate and can hit for average as well (.303 on the year).
Bryce Ortega: Deservedly an All-Star, the Doubledays’ leading hitter (.358 average) and 2011 41st round pick is a little old for Auburn (he’s 22), but the production is still solid for a middle infielder.
Pitcher to Watch: Brad Peacock, Syracuse. No prospect had his stock rise more this year, but his first handful of starts in AAA Syracuse have been a mixed bag. He’s in line for a September call-up, but it’s worth watching how he pitches in August. If he fixes his control issues and returns to his AA form, he’ll be exciting to watch in D.C. come September.
Hitter to Watch: Michael Taylor, Hagerstown. He started off the year very slowly, but has been tearing it since the end of June and has a lot of potential. He just turned 20 and should get close to a 20/20 year in low-A ball.