Monday, October 8, 2012

Participate in the 2012 Fan Scouting Report

The reminder went up on FanGraphs today, so I figured I would give it a shoutout since right now the Nats only have like 22 responses.

(and if you don't watch baseball, I am confused as to why you are reading my blog, but thanks anyways!)
quoted straight from the project's page. emphasis is mine
The Project
What I would like to do now is tap that pool of talent. I want you to tell me what your eyes see. I want you to tell me how good or bad a fielder is. Go down, and start selecting the team(s) that you watch all the time. For any player that you've seen play in at least 10 games in 2012, I want you to judge his performance in 7 specific fielding categories.

  Try to judge 'average' not as an average player at that position, but an average player at any position. If you think that Ben Zobrist has an average arm, then mark him as average, regardless if you've seen him play 2B, SS, or RF.

If you don't have an opinion on a particular characteristic of that player, then go on to the next characteristic for that player. This applies especially for you TV watchers, and you can't tell how well Peter Bourjos can read the ball off the bat.
And, most importantly, do not, absolutely do not, look at any numbers. Don't look at his fielding percentage, range factor, zone rating, UZR, or anything else that someone else is telling you. I just want you to rely on your eyes. You are the scout. I need you to rely completely on your own observations.
We know the fans know what they are talking about. We know they know how to observe good and bad fielding. Now, I just want to know what the fans know. And, hopefully, so do you.
Note: The rosters are based on any player with at least 90 innings played for a particular team in 2012. If you have any write-in candidates beyond that, tell me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The 5 best Nationals hitters of all time

It pains me to see the that the Nationals DFA'ed Cesar Izturis over the weekend to activate Ian Desmond from the DL. While Desmond has put together a solid 2012 season, Izturis was much better, putting himself in position to be one of the top 5 Nats hitters of all time. Since Izturis will likely be called up again in September if he clears waivers, his spot on the list isn't cemented, but here is the list through Sunday, 8/19/2012.

1) Travis Hughes: 1.000/1.000/1.000 (1 plate appearance for the 2006 Nats)
On August 20, 2006, the Nationals lost to the Phillies 12-10. If it wasn't for Travis Hughes, the game would have had a much further margin of defeat. The big righty trudged in from the bullpen in the fourth inning with the Nationals already down 10-1. He shut the door in the 4th and pitched a perfect bottom of the 5th as well in the last apperance of his Major League career. The truly amazing thing happened in the top half of the 5th, though, as Hughes hit a first pitch Randy Wolf fastball into RF to move Bernie Castro to 2B; Castro eventually scored on a Felipe Lopez walk, narrowing the Phillies' lead to 10-2 and Hughes left the big leagues as a career 1.000 hitter.

2) Rick Short: .400/.471/.933 (17 plate appearances for the 2005 Nats)
The 32 year old rookie who flirted with .400 in AAA was a fan favorite during the Nationals' first season in DC. He made his short (heh, get it?) ML stint worth it, homering twice and scoring four runs in 17 plate appearances.

3) Cesar Izturis: .500/.500/.750 (5 plate appearances for the 2012-present? Nats)
#Cesar4MVP! While we hardly knew Cesar, he went 2/4 with a double and four runs in his short stint with the Nationals. If Izturis makes it back up in September, he could make it past Short for #2 best Nationals hitter of all time or even drop off the list if he goes into an 0-1 slump.

4) Sean Burnett: .500/.750/.500 (5 plate appearances for the 2009-present Nats)
I've heard many throw out the idea of using Stephen Strasburg as a pinch hitter down the stretch once he is shut down, but the Nats already have a ringer with his cap tilted to the side in the bullpen. Burnett struck out in his only batting apperance for the Nats during the 2009-10 seasons, but has gone 1/1 with a run and two walks in the 2011-12 seasons. Burnett, who went 0/23 hitting in 2004, his rookie season in Pittsburgh, is clearly in the prime of his career with the bat and with a double could easily take Izturis or Short's spots as the #2 or 3 Nationals hitters of all time.

5) Beltran Perez: .500/.571/.500 (7 plate appearances for the 2006 Nats)
Wil Nieves is the token "WHOOOOOO?!?" player of the Nats of the past, but Beltran Perez was a name that made me think for a second. The Dominican righty went 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 21 innings for the 2006 Nats, but his real value came with the bat: Perez smacked three singles in six at bats and even threw in a walk to boost his OBP to .571. While Beltran has been out of affiliated baseball since allowing 50 runs in 59 innings for Harrisburg in 2008, he's still only 30 years old and could be an excellent addition for a team looking for a Livan Hernandez type pitcher (one who can throw the ball in the general direction of home plate as well as hold his own from the batters box).

Honorable Mention:
Drew Storen: .500/.500/.500
Alex Escobar: .356/.394/.575
Daryle Ward: .308/.390/.567
Jhonatan Solano: .314/.351/.571
Alfonso Soriano: .277/.351/.560

Monday, August 13, 2012

Christian Garcia: a story of redemption

When Christian Garcia signed with the Nationals last July, the move came with little fanfare. To the naked eye, he was a 25 (almost 26) year old RHP who had spent parts of the last 7 years in the Yankees organization, never rising above AA ball. On top of all of that, he was also recovering from his second Tommy John surgery. He was seen as organizational fodder or a shot in the dark, and as a result threw his 20 and 1/3 innings of 2.66 ERA ball in Auburn and Syracuse with little fanfare (despite having fantastic peripheral stats like a 1.3 BB/9 and 13/3 K/9).

Since I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with the minor leagues, I had an opinion on him when he signed (7/28/2011): "The 2004 3rd round pick by the Yankees was once a promising prospect, but has seen his career shred to pieces by injuries over the years, most recently with his second Tommy John surgery in 2010. At only 25 (26 in August), his baseball life is still relatively young, and if he can stay healthy (which is a huge, ginormous IF), he could still be a solid ML pitcher."

Basically, all Garcia has done since then is get healthy. He was a perennially good pitcher with the Yankees' organization, posting a 3.65 ERA and strong strikeout numbers (albeit with command issues) in his time with their system. From the moment he was drafted in the 3rd round in 2004 and converted from a catcher to a pitcher to today, he's always been a good pitcher when he's been able to throw. Garcia was ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees' #4 prospect after 2004, #8 after 2005, #14 after 2006 (when he had his first Tommy John surgery) and #17 after 2008 (before his second TJ). John Sickels of Minor League Ball rated Garcia as #9 in the Yankees organization with a C+ grade in 2005, #9/C+ in 2006, #9/B- in 2007 and #17/C+in 2009.

Before he tore his elbow up in 2006, Garcia was known as a fastball-curveball pitcher who seemed to be destined for the bullpen due to a lack of a third pitch (even though the other two were plus pitches). His curveball, in fact, was ranked as the best in the Yankees' system by Baseball America after the 2004, 2005 and 2008 seasons. After his first Tommy John surgery, he developed a solid changeup, good enough for Baseball America to note that some Yankees people felt it was their system's best. Garcia predictably lost some velocity after Tommy John surgery, but has recovered to the point that he can hit 97 MPH on the radar gun again with a filthy fastball that has more moves than Matt Hendricks in a shootout. The 2011-12 success Garcia has achieved isn't due to deception or being crafty; he's just a damn good pitcher that is better than the opposition.
Since returning from his second Tommy John and signing with the Nationals organization, Garcia has dominated his opponents. I thought his 2011 stat line was impressive, but he currently has an 0.79 ERA and 16 saves in 45 and 1/3 innings between Harrisburg and Syracuse, posting a 3.0 BB/9 and 12.1 K/9. What's truly amazing is that he has only allowed 22 hits this season (4.4 H/9), including only 9 in 25 and 1/3 innings for Syracuse. Garcia's numbers are borderline unreal this season and he deserves to get the call to the bigs that he's getting next month.

Time can only tell if Garcia will become a solid ML pitcher or not. Don't expect him to be afraid of injuring his elbow again, though. As he told Josh Norris in the article below when asked if he thinks about it happening again, "No, not at all. You can't play like that." That kind of tenacity is always welcome on the big league squad. We'll see if he can push the rest of the staff even harder as they close out the season.
If you're new to Garcia's story, I highly recommend reading the following 2 articles to catch up on it:
Christian Garcia's ready for his third chance (Josh Norris, the Trentonian, 4/27/2012)
Tommy John Times Two: How RHP Christian Garcia is on the Road to Recovery (Kevin Brown, Inside the Chiefs, 9/5/2011)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mid-Season Nationals Top Prospect Rankings - Sean Hogan

Yesterday, I unveiled friend of the blog Konnor Fulk's top 20 list. Please make sure to give him a follow on twitter @coolnovelbro. Today, it's my turn; as you'll see, the list is relatively similar. As I said yesterday, there are two clear tiers: the top 4 (Giolito, Goodwin, Meyer and Rendon) and then everyone else. I will also put Nats rookies (Harper, Lombardozzi, Moore and Solano) where they would go in italics just for fun.

1 - OF Bryce Harper - duh

1 - 3B Anthony Rendon - Even if he's always injured, he's basically Ryan Zimmerman part 2. Until he hurts his ankles/shoulder again, I still don't believe his injuries will be long-term issues.

2 - RHP Lucas Giolito - True ace potential and pretty polished for a high school guy. I'm not all that worried about his UCL issues; if they were a problem, I don't think the Nats would have drafted him and essentially punted the rest of the draft.

3 - RHP Alex Meyer - His numbers are very encouraging so far, but it will take a few seasons of being able to show he can repeat his delivery and be consistent on the mound before I can really see him being a stud starter.

4 - OF Brian Goodwin - I love the guy. Don't know that the power sticks as he gets older (I expect 40 2B, 5 3B, 15 HR types of seasons in his prime) but he's a legit offensive center fielder with the potential to have a hell of an all-around game.

5 - 1B/OF Tyler Moore - In the past, I haven't been a believer due to his poor BB/K rates. It takes about 200 PA to be able to judge improvements/declines in such rates. Moore is right around 200 at all levels this year, so I can say that I'm more of a believer with his BB% over 10% right now.

6 - IF Steve Lombardozzi - In the same way that Moore has boosted his stock by getting on base more, Lombardozzi's stock has dropped a little to me. For whatever reason, I ignored his huge drop in BB% last year (career averages over 10%, last year around 6.4%), and it's gotten worse in his big league stints (4.9%). When you don't have a lot of power, you need to get on base to have value, and Lombardozzi is at the point where he has to hit .285 or so to be decent enough with the bat if his patience doesn't improve. I love all other parts of Lombardozzi's game (the utility factor, solid fielding, switch hitting, etc.), just want to see improvement with the bat.

5 - LHP Matt Purke - His injuries scare me much more than Rendon or Giolito. If healthy, could be a very good starting pitcher. If not, could be Sean Burnett. My faith in him is floundering, though, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him 10th or lower in my end of the season rankings.

6 - OF Corey Brown - When healthy, he has always been a good hitter. 20/20 potential at the big league level, walks a great share and keeps K's relatively low. May not be able to hack it full-time in CF, but bat can play in the corners. I've never put him this high before, but he's got a great combination of being close to the majors and having the ability to be pretty good when he gets there.

7 - 1B/3B Matt Skole - Until he stops hitting, he'll keep moving up lists. The K's are scary and he's not a great defender, but if he keeps looking this way he could end up being a Youkilis type.

8 - OF Michael Taylor - Rough start to the year, but improving walk rate and steals are still there. Still only 21 years old with a lot of room to grow.

9 - IF Zach Walters - Always a favorite of mine, and is killing AA pitching since his promotion. Minor league numbers are all over the place (is he going to hit for power? get on base? both? neither?) but lefty hitting middle infielders are fun.

10 - 2B Tony Renda - has a good chance of turning into a Lombardozzi-type player albeit with a little bit more power potential. Love the quick hands.

11 - C Jhonatan Solano - Took enough of a step forward with the bat last year that we can at least dream that he'll be a starting catcher at some point. Receiving skills are excellent, and at worst we'll have a solid backup catcher.

11 - OF Eury Perez - Will hit for average and steal bases, but nothing else. I don't think he'll be a good defender in CF and his bat won't play in a corner.

12 - LHP Brett Mooneyham - Not as good of a starter as Solis, but Solis may not be the same pitcher after his surgery. I could see Mooneyham being similar to Detwiler.

13 - LHP Sammy Solis - Has #2 potential and could shoot through the system once he gets healthy, but lost a key year of development to Tommy John surgery and isn't super young, either.

14 - LHP Robbie Ray - Furthest away of the LHP types, so minor league numbers are inconsistent. Has room to add velocity, and if he does, could raise his ceiling.

15 - OF Destin Hood - Move to AA was disappointing, but still only 22. Needs to show 2011 power levels again for me to believe.

16 - IF Jeff Kobernus - Could be a serviceable utility guy. Plenty of guys who can play good defense with a .300 OBP...can his bat develop into anything better?

17 - IF Rick Hague - The glove is pretty bad, so the bat will have to carry him. Right now, it's not.

18 - C David Freitas - Bat has looked good at all levels, glove is iffy. If he can hit AA pitching, I'll become more of a believer. Moving forward, I would expect more years like 2010 and 2012 rather than 2011.

19 - 1B Chris Marrero - Didn't just disappear, and close to the majors, but profiles as a below average hitting 1B. But he'll make the majors at least.

20 - RHP Nathan Karns - Looks fantastic this season, but very old for his level and still struggling with control to some degree. Past injuries will force him to stay in the minors a few more years to stretch his arm out unless he's bumped to higher levels as a reliever.

Next ten (no particular order): C Sandy Leon, LHP Danny Rosenbaum, IF Jason Martinson, LHP Kylin Turnbull, LHP Josh Smoker, OF Billy Burns, OF Wander Ramos, OF Caleb Ramsey, RHP Taylor Hill, RHP Christian Meza

Summary: The Nats have plenty of guys with some upside and plenty of guys who are close to the majors, but not a whole lot of guys that are close to the majors with much upside. I can dream that some of these guys evolve past role player status, but I'm honestly not that convinced. Losing 2/3 of your top 15 to injuries, promotions and trades is a tough problem, but the Nats are far from the worst minor league organization in baseball. It will be interesting to see who other teams will be interested in as the trade deadline approaches over the next week and a half.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mid-Season Nationals Top Prospect Rankings - Konnor Fulk

Konnor Fulk (@coolnovelbro) and I have been collaborating over the past few weeks on what the Nats' top 20 prospects should look like. By and large, our lists are pretty similar. There are pretty clear tiers in the Nats' prospect list: the top 4 (Giolito, Goodwin, Meyer and Rendon, however you decide to rearrange them) and then everyone else. Much of the intrigue over the list is how to rate injured prospects like Rendon, Purke and Solis, and as you'll see below, all three are still considered to Konnor to be top 15 guys (you'll see my list tomorrow). Enjoy, and make sure to give Konnor a follow on twitter!

1. 3B Anthony Rendon - Still the top prospect; if healthy (big if) he could be a .300 hitter with 20 home runs (much like Ryan Zimmerman at his fullest potential). The more he gets injured, the further he will drop down the top 20 prospect list.

2. RHP Alex Meyer - 6'9" with room to build onto that body. Has been clocked at 99 (with some more muscle, he can hit 100, very intriguing) with a nasty slider that touches the low 90's. His control is questionable, but seems to be making reasonable improvement to that aspect. If he doesn't work out as a starter, he will be a great bullpen arm with high velocity. Should rise through system fast.

3. RHP Lucas Giolito - The Nationals' 2012 16th overall draft pick, comes with great size (6'6") and front line starter stuff (fastball has been clocked at 100). When healthy (which is pretty foggy right now, with the Nats hopeful he won't need Tommy John surgery), he will become possibly the best prospect in the system. For now, his health is a question, so this explains why I still consider Meyer ahead of him.

4. OF Brian Goodwin - Up from spot 7 on the rankings, he is having a great season: good arm and defense, good power, great contact, speed with 14 steals, and what makes me giddy, more walks then strikeouts! 2 years older then Taylor, but as a 1st round supplemental pick, he is proving himself as a top 5 organizational prospect.

5. OF Eury Perez - Still good contact guy, .293 average, good contact, but apparently a reasonable outfield arm. Great lead off potential. 24 stolen bases, so still has great speed. Lacks plate control, with few walks. Personally I like him over Micheal Taylor, he could find himself in a September call-up, if and only if he is promoted to AAA fairly soon.

6. 1B/3B Matthew Skole - Defense is awful (but will improve in left field or 1st base) his bat has put him here, and he deserves to be placed here. 21 homeruns, 70+ RBI, strikes out A LOT (94 times in the first half) but also 74 walks; his bat has put him into the systems elite. If he keeps up this batting potential, could be an intriguing major league corner outfield prospect or a trade piece. Should be in Potomac, must see how he hits at a higher level.

7. LHP Matt Purke - I believe that when fully healthy he will get his stuff back and be a solid prospect. If not a major league starter in several years, I could easily see him as a lefty specialist. The Nationals hope for the pitcher that was featured at TCU, having made a big commitment to him financially, but Purke must get fully healthy for any advancement up this prospect list.

8. OF Michael Taylor - Organization loves this guy, who is still only 21. He's currently having a year that screams growing pains: his power numbers have dipped awfully, but possibly due to the difference from the SAL league. Still young and still a very impressive defensive prospect, the potential that has surrounded this guy still allows him to maintain top 10 prospect status.

9. IF Zach Walters - Mediocre beginning to season, but has really started to produce. Great production since promotion to AA, and has demonstrated reasonable power. Alright defensively with quick flashes of brilliance, possible trade chip with the depth at infield throughout the organization.

10. IF Jeff Kobernus - Great speed, good contact hitter, with good defense. Very toolsy, but an all-the-way-around good prospect. Kobernus is a trade piece or major league utility player with speed. Kobernus should continue his steady advancement through the system.

11. RHP Nathan Karns - Would be higher based off of his amazing stats, but he is a bit old for Potomac and still fairly untested. He has good stuff, and should rise easily through the system if he keeps it up. Arguably the best Nationals pitcher this season based only off stats, so don't be surprised if he gets a call up to AA, specifically so he can make an Arizona Fall League appearance.

12. OF Corey Brown - Great year has catapulted him into the top 20. Great power, and solid tools; if it wasn't for the Nationals stacked outfield, he'd be up on the team (although he should specifically replace Xavier Nady). He will be an intriguing trade chip for an outfield needy team.

13. LHP Robbie Ray - Production has been down this year, specifically his strikeout numbers. He has managed not to have awful stats in the advanced A Carolina League at the age of 19, though. His potential makes him a top 20 prospect. Expect a repeat year at Potomac next year, and with good improvement, his prospect ranking could improve.

14. LHP Daniel Rosenbaum - Underwhelming stuff, but great control and has the make up of a good #5 starter. His statistics have been weak lately, but expect him to be in AAA next year, with a call up to Washington possible at any needed moment.

15. LHP Sammy Solis - Injured, but if he maintains his stuff, he is our best lefty in the organization. Solis still has strong potential and should be watched in the 2nd half of next season.

16. LHP Brett Mooneyham - Based off of his tools, he could be a very strong lefty within the system, awful control. If he can fix that, no reason not to believe he could be a piece to watch rise through the system, he has the stuff to become a power lefty reliever or back end starter.

17. C David Freitas - Great offensive catcher, but the knock on him is his defense. A move to the crowded 1B is possible. Expect him to be a trade piece or an eventual AAAA player. With the log jam at catcher, he could find himself competing for time with Leon and Johnatan Solano.

18. OF Destin Hood - A big drop off year has resulted in a drop in the top 20 prospect rankings. Still young and athletic, but needs to maintain his power from the previous year. He risks becoming an organizational guy without improved production. Expect a repeated year in AA for the future.

19. 2B Tony Renda - This year's 2nd round pick has not produced as expected so far in short season A Auburn. Expect him to improve and produce though. He only falls to 19 due to size and the fact I believe his ceiling is a fringe starter/utility infielder, but with all knocks aside, his heart and drive easily could push him through the system.

20. C Sandy Leon - Having a great offensive year, and will be valuable to the overall catching depth of the organization. Having his bat in AAA next year could be valuable. Leon will likely enjoy a further cup of coffee in the majors.

Just missed: 1B Chris Marrero- He simply has lost his prospect status, injury concern and lack of power for his position shows what he really expects to be, a AAAA player.

Honorable Mentions: Rick Hague, Kylin Turnbull, Jason Martinson, Christian Garcia, Aaron Barrett, Caleb Ramsey, Cutter Dykstra, Steven Souza, and Blake Monar

Post summary: What the reader should learn from this is simple: the depth within the organization is still impressive. The Gio Gonzalez trade drained the system of several top 10 prospects, but it is now evident that those particular players were expendable. Derek Norris was great, but Leon, Freitas, and Solano have impressed, while A.J. Cole and Brad Peacock have been replaced by Giolito, Meyer, and Karns. Perhaps the best player lost in that trade was Tommy Milone, who has proved what I always believed he could be: a good and serviceable starter (3.54 ERA). Rizzo and the scouting staff have formulated a deep and exciting prospect pool, and even through big trades, the Nats still maintain a good and improving minor league system, with future stars still rising.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Nats internal infield options

If Ian Desmond's injury forces him to take a trip to the DL, the Nats are in a tough spot. Currently, Carlos Rivero is the only player on the 40 man roster with middle infield experience that is not already in Washington. Here is a quick look at the Nats' options if they decide to keep it in house (and if Desmond actually has to head to the DL):

Carlos Rivero - the 24 year old is hitting .285/.314/.369 this season at Syracuse.
Pros: made AAA all star team (how?!?) already on the 40 man roster, has SS experience, probably the only long-term piece that is close to ML ready
Cons: no pop in 2012, a butcher at SS and is allergic to walks

Jarrett Hoffpauir - the 29 year old is hitting .273/.328/.330 this season at Syracuse
Pros: Has 53 games of ML experience, can play 2B and 3B, generally a good OBP guy
Cons: Can't play SS, hitting below career norms in 2012, not a high upside guy

Jim Negrych - the 27 year old is hitting .296/.374/.468 between Harrisburg and Syracuse
Pros: made the AAA all star team, has hit well at every level in his entire career, can play 2B and 3B, reminds me of Rick Short
Cons: poor fielder, little power, Rick Short barely got a chance

Zach Walters - the 22 year old is hitting .289/.323/.468 across all levels this season.
Pros: biggest upside out of the group, crushing AA pitching in small sample size, a true SS
Cons: still very young and raw and isn't really ready for the big leagues yet

Seth Bynum - the epitome of organizational soldier (9 seasons, 839 career games in the Nats organization) is now 31 and hitting .215/.291/.331 in AAA.

Josh Johnson - still young-ish at 26, but struggling to a .233/.333/.248 triple slash at Syracuse this season (although .272/.361/.344 across all levels).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The cupboard isn't bare for the Nats at the trade deadline

The trade deadline is upon us in a little less than three weeks and while the Nats are currently in first place, they are not without holes in the lineup. The returns of Mike Morse and Jayson Werth in the outfield will keep the Nats from having to play Rick Ankiel and his ghastly 34.5% K% much, but the Nats have no solution in sight to improve on poor performances by Danny Espinosa or Jesus Flores (other than hoping they will improve, at least). A case can be made to add to the starting rotation if the Nats are truly serious about fully shutting down Stephen Strasburg come late August or so when he hits his pitch count.

The Nats theoretically could go after the likes of SP like Zack Greinke or Ryan Dempster, a middle infielder like Marco Scutaro, a catcher like Kurt Suzuki or Kelly Shoppach or even a young outfielder like Justin Upton or Denard Span. Obviously going after Greinke or Upton would cost a huge package of prospects and are unlikely, but no matter what the Nats do (and I'm confident that they'll do something), they'll have to move guys from their minor league system.

By the time the Nats were named the #1 farm system in baseball by Baseball America, they had already dealt four of their top 15 prospects for Gio Gonzalez. Since then, Bryce Harper, Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore have graduated to the big leagues and Anthony Rendon, Matt Purke, Sammy Solis and Chris Marrero have misses essentially all of 2012 due to injury. The fact that they still have a solid minor league system after losing 2/3 of their offseason top 15 prospects is incredible. Next week, Konnor Fulk (@coolnovelbro) and I will both post our midseason top 20 reports, but for now, let's take a look at what the Nats have in the minors that could be in play at the deadline.

High ceiling prospects
Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke are almost certainly out of play, as they are both injured and trading them would be a lose-lose for both teams involved (Nats lose out on high-ceiling guys and trade them when their value is low, other teams take on a high level of risk with two injury-prone players). While technically neither can be traded until August 15 because they were 2011 draftees, they could be dealt as players to be named later (although since both are on the 40 man roster, such a deal could have to wait until after the season is over). I would be very, very surprised if either player was moved this year.

Alex Meyer and Brian Goodwin are another story. Both players were high draft picks in 2011 and have either met or exceeded expectations in their pro careers so far (depending on how high your expectations for them were). Like Rendon and Purke, both would have to be players to be named later; unlike Rendon and Purke, neither are on the 40 man roster, so they could be dealt on August 15 as PTBNL's. Former Nationals GM and columnist Jim Bowden named Meyer as one of 5 futures game participants ($) who could be in play at this year's trade deadline, mentioning that the Nats could try to move him in a deal for Matt Garza, Denard Span or Ben Revere. Both Meyer and Goodwin have boosted their prospect profiles this season and have the right combination of tools and good stats to be great trade bait, but the Nationals would have to get a great player to move either one of these players.

Prospects with intriguing 2012 stats
Matt Skole obviously leads this list, with a .280/.434/.553 triple slash and 21 HR in the first half. He strikes out way too much (94 in 83 games) and his future position is in question (playing 3B for now but profiles best with the glove at 1B or in LF), but if he can keep hitting anywhere close to this level, a team will find a place to put him on the field.

Corey Brown revived himself from being a borderline non-prospect to the guy the Nats were hoping they would get in addition to Henry Rodriguez when they traded Josh Willingham to Oakland. He has destroyed AAA pitching in the first half, hitting .296/.382/.561 with 19 HR and 11 steals, but only got a limited promotion to the big leagues. Brown has 20/20 MLB potential and an above average glove, but his batting average is generally low and he strikes out a lot, so teams could be a little scared off. I think Brown is a better idea to promote to the majors and not trade, but I expect his name to come up a lot in trade rumors with teams who need immediate OF help in the majors.

Toolsy prospects
Jeff Kobernus is hitting as well as he ever has (although that's not saying much - .285/.326/.338 with 34 /44 steals) in his first trip to AA. He doesn't profile as more than a utility infielder, but utility middle infield types who are close-ish to the big leagues are solid deadline pieces (see last year's Zach Walters - Jason Marquis trade)

I am constantly frustrated by Eury Perez in his quest to be the worst leadoff prospect who remains a prospect in the world. At only 22, he's hitting a solid .294 in AA but with only 7 BB and 50 K. Let him be some other team's Inning Endy Chavez while his prospect shine is still at least kind of there.

Despite losing Wilson Ramos to injury and trading Derek Norris, the Nationals still have a plethora of decent catching prospects in Jhonatan Solano, Sandy Leon and David Freitas. All three have different strengths and weaknesses (Leon is a great defender and a meh hitter, Freitas is a good hitter and a meh defender, Solano is somewhere in between) and could all interest different teams at the deadline.

Wander Ramos was named by Fangraphs/Scouting the Sally's Mike Newman (@scoutingtheSAL) as a guy teams could look at as a PTBNL or throw in for a deadline deal this year. Newman wrote in his First Impressions piece on the New York Penn League, "For Auburn, [Ramos is] the only player on the roster with the present size of a big leaguer and real projection, even though he’s a bit long in the tooth for the league." Ramos hit .313/.401/.653 in 43 games in the GCL last year and is hitting .255/.358/.455 in 18 games at Auburn this year.

August waiver trade prospects
Steven Souza has puttered around in the Nats system since being a 3rd round pick in 2007 and is finally hitting (.284/.346/.556), albeit as a 23 year old spending his 4th season in Hagerstown. He could be dealt in August in a waiver deal for a bench player or average bullpen arm if the Nats have a need.

Cutter Dykstra is a similar story to Souza; the Brewers' 2008 2nd round pick is 23 and playing in Hagerstown and has .299/.378/.413 with 25 steals in 69 games. Neither Souza or Dykstra are prospects anymore, but both show enough potential as AAAA/bench types that they could be moved for Ray King or Jerry Hairston types.

As I said, be sure to catch Konnor and I's mid-season top 20s next week and catch me and the Citizens of Natstown gang (@citsofnatstown) tonight for our 8 pm podcast where I'll discuss Nats prospects and we'll interview Jonah Keri!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Looking back on unsigned 2011 picks

The Nats did a great job signing the top picks in their 2011 draft class. All of the picks from the top 12 rounds signed with the team as well as 15 of their top 21 picks and 30 of their 51 picks overall. Here's a look at what the 21 guys that went unsigned are up to:

13th round C/1B Casey Kalenkosky (Texas State)
In his senior year at Texas State, "Ory" has hit .262/.353/.487 with 9 HR, 33 R and 35 RBI. Texas State is the #3 seed in the Southland Conference tournament and will face off against Stephen F. Austin tomorrow afternoon to try and gain an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

14th round 1B/OF Cody Stubbs (University of North Carolina)
After transferring from Walters State CC to UNC this season, the junior hasn't found his power, hitting .266/.354/.425 with 5 HR, 6 SB, 36 R and 33 RBI through 55 games. UNC plays Wake Forest tomorrow night in the ACC tournament, but are a lock for an NCAA tournament bid.

15th round SS Zach Houchins (Louisburg JC)
Everyone's favorite unsigned pick from 2011 starred for the highly ranked (as high as #1 in the NJCAA this year) Louisburg College Hurricanes, hitting .400/.476/.726 with 14 HR, 32 XBH, 62 R and 52 RBI in 54 games. The #2 seeded Hurricanes were eliminated by USC Sumter on May 8th in the NJCAA DI Region 10 tournament, which was eventually won by Spartanburg Methodist College. Houchins has 2 years of college eligibility left, but will likely be drafted again this season due to his excellent 2012 campaign.

17th round RHP Esteban Guzman (San Jose State)
The senior struggled to a 1-3 record and 4.71 ERA in 13 appearances (8 starts) for San Jose State. In 42 innings, he walked 25 and struck out 26 while allowing 50 H, 12 XBH and 23 runs. The Spartans did not qualify for the WAC baseball tournament after a 9 game conference losing streak to end the season.

19th round RHP Hawtin Buchanan20th round RHP Josh Laxer and 44th round 1B Matt Snyder  (University of Mississippi)
Buchanan pitched out of the pen in 14 games as a true freshman in 2012, with a solid 3.79 ERA and staggering 30 strikeouts in 19 innings.

Laxer didn't have quite the awesome freshman year, but went 4-0 in 5 starts (11 total appearances) with a 5.33 ERA. His 10:15 BB:K ratio left plenty to be desired, though.

Snyder had a breakout year, hitting .340/.406/.581, leading the team in total bases (125) and RBI (57) to go with his 12 homers and .998 fielding percentage.

Ole Miss lost their first SEC tournament game to #11 Kentucky today (despite a 4-4 day by Matt Snyder) and need to beat Arkansas tomorrow morning to stay alive in the SEC tournament.

24th round LHP Kyle Ottoson (Oklahoma State)
In his senior season, Ottoson went 4-7 with a 3.86 in 11 starts (12 appearances). His 29:41 BB:K ratio in 63 innings isn't impressive and he was arrested for DUI earlier in the year. He'll get drafted for the fifth time this year, though. Ottoson and the Cowboys saddle up against their rivals the Oklahoma Sooners tomorrow morning in the Big 12 tournament.

29th round C Sean Cotten (Tusculum College)
Cotten, who was thought to have signed with the Nationals by both his college and Baseball America, but ended up not signing for whatever reason. I can't seem to find what he's doing.

31st round OF Josh Tobias and 46th round OF Tyler Thompson (Florida)
Tobias hit .250/.333/.310 in 34 starts for Florida this season. While his power didn't show up (only 2 XBH and 6 RBI), he held his own for a true freshman in SEC play. He'll need to pack some pop in 2013 and beyond if he wants to rebuild his draft stock, though.

Plagued by injuries in the past, Thompson started his senior season at an impressive tune of a .319/.365/.447 triple slash in 14 starts, but tore his ACL in March while making it all the way to 2nd base on a dropped third strike.

Florida beat Auburn in their first SEC tournament game today and will play the winner of tomorrow's South Carolina - Vanderbilt game on Thursday.

34th round LHP Calvin Drummond (San Diego)
Drummond was once again solid for San Diego this season, going 8-5 with a 3.29 ERA in 79 and 1/3 innings. His 28:67 BB:K ratio was solid as well. Drummond and the Toreros (sounds like a good name for a band?) will face off against Pepperdine University this weekend for the WCC championship.

37th round LHP Derrick Bleeker (Arkansas)
Bleeker was drafted as an LHP but only threw 1 inning this season for the Razorbacks (albeit with 3 K and 0 runs allowed). He hit .267/.333/.467 with 3 HR, 11 R and 15 RBI in 23 starts, but his pro baseball future still likely lies in the bullpen as a power lefty arm. Arkansas lost to Mississippi State in their first round SEC tournament game today and will face Ole Miss tomorrow in an elimination matchup.

38th round LHP Brett Mooneyham (Stanford)
The 38th round was nowhere near Mooneyham's true talent level, but he was injured and seen as unsignable in 2011. He returned to form in 2012, with a 7-4 record and 3.30 ERA in 12 starts. Mooneyham struck out an excellent 87 batters in 76 and 1/3 innings while walking 34. Mooneyham will certainly go much higher in the 2012 draft than in the 2011 one. Stanford plays California this weekend, but cannot win the Pac 12 baseball title. They'll certainly make the NCAA tournament, though.

39th round OF Peter Verdin and 49th round OF Hunter Cole (Georgia)
Verdin hit .300/.395/.359 in his senior season at Georgia with 20 R in 48 starts and 13 SB in 15 attempts.

Cole was excellent in his freshman year, hitting .281/.377/.459 in 48 starts with 7 HR, 26 R and 23 RBI.

Georgia lost its first SEC tournament game and will face Auburn tomorrow for a chance to fight on.

40th round OF Stephen (Cory) Collum (Snead State CC)
Can't find any stats for Snead State CC. Something tells me I'll live.

42nd round SS David Kerian (Illinois)
Hit .192/.323/.192 in 26 at bats for Illinois in his freshman year this year. 5 BB ain't bad, though. Illinois lost a tie break to Ohio State and failed to make the Big Ten tourney this year, all but ending their season.

43rd round SS Mitch Morales (Florida Atlantic)
In his freshman season, Morales hit .264/.338/.312 in 40 starts. The power is still far from being there, but he swiped 5 bags and played solid defense this season. FAU is the #1 seed in the Sun Belt tournament and play Western Kentucky to kick it off tomorrow.

47th round LHP TJ Montgomery
Can't seem to find anything on Montgomery or where he ended up going to school.

48th round OF Mike Bisenius (Wayne State College)
The senior won his conference's gold glove award while hitting .314/.422/.605 in 50 starts. Bisenius lead his team with 10 HR, 44 RBI and 45 R and even stole 7 bases. Wayne State lost to Winona State and Minnesota State (finally, a state State) and is no longer alive in the NSC tourney.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

What to expect from Ian Desmond

If you've read my blog and/or followed me on twitter for any amount of time, you know that Ian Desmond is not my favorite National. His potential intrigued me in 2007 when he hit .264/.357/.432 (10.6% BB%!!!!) in high A, and again when he raked in AA and AAA in 2009. Since reaching the majors, Desmond has stopped progressing. His semi-promising 2010 season (.269/.308/.392) downgraded into a .253/.298/.358 2011 season. At 26 (almost 27) years old, players generally don't develop into completely different players, so at this point Desmond is probably going to be this type of player. But what can we expect from him going forward?

Desmond's .272/.294/.451 triple slash this season, good for a 104 wRC+ (league average is 100). His previous full season wRC+'s have been 88 in 2010 and 80 in 2011. That's quite an improvement, and even though the OBP is still awful, he's hitting with enough power to make up for it. Desmond's BB% at 3.3% is worse than at any level in his career (previous worst was 3.8% in 133 PA at AA in 2007, and his career MLB average is 5% even), but he's dropped his K% 2% since last year under 20%, which is not too bad. While Desmond is really, REALLY hacking (swinging at 36.3% of pitches outside the zone and 54.2% overall with career averages of 32% and 47.7% respectively), I can't imagine him go forth from here seeing 3.3 pitches per plate appearance with a 3.3% BB%. He'll improve at least a little.

Desmond's batting average has to stay pretty high to keep his overall batting approach around league average. At .272 right now (career .263), it's solid enough (of course, with 6 BB on the season, it still leads to a terrible OBP). I don't expect Desmond's batting average to dip anytime soon; his BABIP is actually below career average (.308 as opposed to .314, and with Desmond's speed, I wouldn't be surprised to see it get up around .320). He's hitting more line drives than his career averages (18.2% over 16.6%). The only real outlier in Desmond's batted ball stats is his 12.2% HR/FB (career average of 8.3%). His 6.0 HR/FB in 2011 was much lower than projected, so the regression would likely end up somewhere in the 9-10% range, which would still leave him with plenty of homers.

ZiPS' updated 2012 projections peg Desmond to finish the season with a .263/.301/.408 triple slash, 15 HR and 18 SB. I'd take the over on batting average and slugging, and the under on OBP. This is more or less what Ian Desmond is going to be in the near future. He's still a terrible option in the leadoff spot (don't even get me started with the .294 OBP and 3.3 pitches seen per plate appearance in the 1 spot), but he's a solid enough option to keep starting.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Flores for Callaspo? Yes.

I admittedly arrived late to the party on the "Angels and Nationals should consider a smaller trade" piece written by Matthew Pouliot of NBC Sports Hardball Talk. Pouliot doesn't go far into depth, but suggests that rather than worry about a Peter Bourjos to the Nats deal, the teams should consider a Jesus Flores for Alberto Callaspo swap. Now, I'm not one to say whether it's fair from the Angels' perspective; with Chris Iannetta down for 6 weeks, they need catching help. I do think it would be a solid move for the Nats. Here are 4 reasons why:

1. The deal would allow the Nats to send Danny Espinosa to AAA to find his swing. 
Currently, the Nats have three guys on the 40 man roster who can play 2B and/or SS: Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Steve Lombardozzi. That's already pretty risky. When Mark DeRosa is healthy, you have 3 and 1/2, but that's about as good as you'll get. Espinosa needs a trip to Syracuse to concentrate on his swing against lower competition where the pressure is off and results matter less, but the Nats can't send him there unless they add another middle infielder. Benching him in favor of Lombardozzi is fine in theory, but Espinosa's swing isn't going to get better sitting on the bench, either. Acquiring a solid utility guy in Callaspo would allow the Nats to send down Espinosa without stretching the bench too thin.

2. It would improve the team in the short term without hurting it in the long term.
Acquiring Callaspo and sending Espinosa to AAA would likely thrust Lombardozzi into a better playing time situation where his .295/.377/.344 triple slash could thrive out of the leadoff spot. Callaspo isn't a slouch either, hitting a Desmondian .250/.301/.309 to start the year but with a solid .280/.335/.386 triple slash over his 617 game MLB career, a track record that suggests improvement. Danny Espinosa (.193/.279/.278) and Mark DeRosa (.081/.227/.081) have been outright terrible, so a situation where Lombardozzi and Callaspo absorbed their playing time would prod the Nats' mediocre offense in the right direction.

3. Jesus Flores is fairly easy to replace.
Yeah, the Nats dealt away Derek Norris and Wilson Ramos' glove has been a little shaky so far this season. But Jesus Flores isn't the answer anymore. He's either injured or a backup (averaging less than 53 games total played over the past 6 seasons) and is looking like your run-of-the-mill backup catcher (career .253/.303/.356 and .208/.256/.292 since missing the 2010 season) who is nearing his 3rd year of arbitration (where he'll creep into the $1 million range). Jhonatan Solano isn't going to develop into more than an ML backup, but his defensive game is already there and he hit .275/.325/.388 for Syracuse last season. Plug him into an ML role once he gets off the 7 day DL in Syracuse and he can't fare much worse than Flores. Carlos Maldonado has 3 cups of coffee in the majors and can hold his own if needed. Switch-hitting defensive stud Sandy Leon is developing into a nice piece for the future in Harrisburg. James Skelton, whose Beyond the Box Score favorite status has faded since 2008, but has a weird ability to get on base a ton despite hitting for a very low average (career .221/.369/.305 hitter in AA).
Mainly the point is: Flores isn't that good in the first place, so whatever warm body Syracuse deems ready will turn out just fine.

4. Versatility, versatility, versatility.
Yeah, the Nats will eventually get the likes of Morse, Werth and DeRosa (I hope not) back and could get help from guys like Anthony Rendon by the end of the season, but the Nats could easily find a place to stash both Callaspo and Lombardozzi, who can both play pretty much any position besides pitcher or catcher (and I'm sure both would do either if you asked them). And omg, both can switch hit. Having 2 guys on the bench that can hit from both sides, get on base, play any position in the this only a fantastic idea to me? Ideally, the Nats could carry this roster towards the end of the year:

C - Ramos
IF - LaRoche, Espinosa, Desmond and Zimmerman
OF - Morse, Harper and Werth
Bench - Solano, Callaspo, Lombardozzi, Tracy and Ankiel.

That's 1 R, 2 S and 2 L off the bench and with decent defense, speed and power abilities. (I took off the following for the following reasons: Nady and DeRosa can't hit and can't make up for it with the glove. Davey won't play Tyler Moore so might as well send him back to the Cuse and get him normal playing time. Bernadina just isn't that good, but I would be happy cutting Ankiel too).

The Flores for Callaspo thing isn't even a rumor, just a suggestion by a national blog, but I'd be very happy with such a move.

Now that Ramos is likely done for the year, the Nats shouldn't make the move. Jesus Flores is still easily replaceable, but adding 2 new C to a team can't be good for continuity's sake.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

5 things to know about Tyler Moore

As you might have seen, 1B/OF prospect Tyler Moore is on his way to Los Angeles the big leagues to make his ML debut, as Mark DeRosa has (mercifully) been sent to the DL. I've historically not been a big fan of Moore as a true prospect, but this is the perfect opportunity to get him some AB's to show what he can do. Here are 5 things to know about Moore before he plays in his first game.

1 - He is an excellent platoon candidate with Adam LaRoche.
Moore, a right-handed hitter, is absolutely annihilating left-handed pitching this season. In 20 plate appearances, he's hitting .421/.450/.789 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. While LaRoche is hitting .389/.450/.611 vs LHP this season, he is a career .249/.306/.436 against them. To get the most value about of Moore (as well as LaRoche), Davey should go with a platoon situation where Moore starts at 1B vs LHP and gets additional playing time with spot starts in the outfield and pinch hitting opportunities.

2 - He has aesome power. Not awesome. Aesome.
Along with Diamondbacks 1B Paul Goldschmidt and Moore are the only players to hit 30+ HR in both 2010 and 2011. Moore's career ISO is .221, which is very impressive. Tyler Moore doesn't have above average tools across the board, but he can definitely hit the crap out of the ball.

3 - His plate discipline is improving slowly.
Plate discipline is the reason I wasn't a huge fan of Moore in the first place. Striking out roughly 4 times per every walk is a recipe for disaster once players start facing pitchers at the MLB level who attack weaknesses. While it is a very small sample size, Moore has walked 10 times in his first 22 games in AAA against 20 strikeouts, improving his BB% from a previous career high of 8.4% (and 5.3% last year) up to 11% this season. He's striking out at his normal high rate, but the higher walk rate makes it tolerable. There is a huge difference between the value of a .270/.310/.500 hitter and a .270/.340/.500 hitter.

4 - He's a better fielder than you might expect.
Moore is not just a right-handed Adam Dunn. While his range in the outfield leaves something to be desired, he's a sure-handed 1B who won't kill you in the outfield.

MASN's Byron Kerr in March talked to Nationals outfield coordinator Tony Tarasco:
"I don't expect Tyler Moore to wow you (in the outfield), but I do expect Tyler Moore to make the routine plays. And with his baseball intellect, he is the type guy who will throw the ball to the right base. He is going to make sure he doesn't miss cutoff men, the little pet peeves that haunt baseball teams (if those plays aren't made) during the season when they are trying to win baseball games."

5 - He is a polarizing player.
He's not just a right-handed Adam Dunn, but do you remember how polarizing Adam Dunn was? Not everybody loves guys that strike out a lot, even if they hit a ton of home runs. As I said before, I haven't been a big fan of Moore due to his poor walk rate. If his early 2012 improvement in plate discipline drops back to his 2011 (or even 2012 spring training, where he found a way to have a .296 batting average and .286 OBP and no, that's not a typo), he's basically a 1 tool player. That tool is aesome, but the rest leaves something to be desired, and he'll always have detractors.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Remembering Leslie Sherman

5 years ago today, the Nationals beat the Braves 5-1 to "improve" to 4-9 on the season. Was it a particularly memorable game? To most, probably not. It was a nice game, sure; the Nats got 5 runs and 9 hits out of their top 4 batters in the lineup (Felipe Lopez, Ronnie Belliard, Ryan Zimmerman and Dmitri Young) and Matt Chico pitched 5 innings of 1 run ball (with a spectacular 5 BB/0 K ratio). To me, though, this game was an escape from what had become the worst day of my life.

5 years ago today, my favorite place in the entire world was violated by a student named Sueng-Hui Cho. My oldest sister was a senior at Virginia Tech at the time (thankfully she was not harmed). My grandparents live about 20 minutes away from Blacksburg. My parents met at the school. I had sent in my deposit about 4 months prior and was ecstatic about joining the incoming class of 2011. 

It was surreal at the time; obviously, a mass shooting is something that you would never expect to happen at the place that makes you feel happy and safe at the same time. Nobody deserves to lose a loved one in a tragedy, but could this really be happening to us? And even after watching all of the news coverage, it still didn't feel real. Then we got the call, and all I can remember is hearing from my sister, "Leslie is gone."

Leslie Sherman was loved by everyone who knew her. In just over 20 years on Earth, she made more people laugh and smile than I think anyone else could do in 100. There isn't one word that could really describe her; nice, outgoing, friendly and spunky could all fit, but they don't do her justice. Leslie was well on her way to changing the world when her life was taken, but to be honest, she changed the hearts of so many others that the world really is a better place because of her.

Tragedies do not only have change the lives of those who lost loved ones. Please take some time, read about Leslie and let her story inspire you to be a better person.

We are Virginia Tech. 

We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.

We are Virginia Tech.

We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.

We are Virginia Tech.

We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy. 

We are Virginia Tech.

The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.

We are the Hokies. 
We will prevail. 
We will prevail. 
We will prevail. 
We are Virginia Tech. - Nikki Giovanni, April 17, 2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On the farm update - 4/12/12

Before I say anything else: SMALL SAMPLE SIZE. Stats from the first 5-7 games of the season are not statistically significant enough to draw any conclusions. I will use them to hopelessly buy in to the encouraging trends some players are showing and at the same time dismiss discouraging trends due to small sample size.

Looking good so far:
Corey Brown - One of my personal favorites, Brown is hitting .409/.536/.636 in his first 6 AAA games, including a 5 BB/2 K ratio. Given his poor 47 BB/136 K ratio from AAA and ML in 2011, the early plate discipline is encouraging. 

Tyler Moore - Gotta give a guy I'm not as high on as most credit. Moore has only struck out 3 times in his first 6 games 21 at bats and has walked 3 times as well. Coming from a guy that generally strikes out an average of once per game and walks about once every four, I'm pleased to start the year.

Yunesky Maya - Oh yes, I went there. #1 on our least wanted list threw 6 shutout innings in his 2012 Syracuse debut with 4 K's, 4 hits and 0 BB allowed. Again, SMALLSAMPLESIZEOMGMAYASTILLSUCKS.

Zach Duke - Had a similar start to Maya, except with 1 run and 1 BB allowed. Duke will always be somewhat overrated because of his awesome 2005 rookie half-season, but is still a useful ML pitcher, and I would be surprised not to see him at some point this year.
Jeff Kobernus - Everything is fueled by an astronomic BABIP, but a .406/.424/.469 first week with 5/6 SB and 6 runs deserves a mention.

Jason Martinson - Already has 10 BB and 10 K through 7 games. 13 runs, 2 HR and a perfect 6/6 on SB attempts make him stick out compared to the others in the organization.

David Freitas - He's thought to be a below average defensive catcher, so his bat needs to carry him to the big leagues. At this rate, he's in good shape; David is hitting .467/.500/.733 so far this year.

Matt Skole - 10 K's in 23 AB's is a little bit disconcerting, but he has hits in most of his non-K at-bats and is at .348/.429/.565 so far.

Caleb Ramsey - .304/.360/.391. Get used to it.

Nathan Karns - 10 K and 2 hits allowed through his first 7 innings pitched. 

Alex Meyer - 5 scoreless frames in his MiLB debut with 2 hits allowed, 0 BB and 4 K.

Doing better than you think:
Bryce Harper - He's still like 14 years old and playing in AAA. .261/.320/.391 is okay for now. He still needs more minor league time, though. I am a part of a very small minority it seems that thinks Harper should be called up no earlier than August. His bat is likely going to face a significant adjustment when he hits the bigs for the first time, and it's probably not going to help the team all that much. So why burn future money to see a future star disappoint when you can save the hype train for a rainy day (like, say, when Strasburg gets shut down for the year).

Not looking so good:
Jason Michaels - 1 for his first 13. His days of being a borderline ML roster player are behind him, but I'm sure he'll be a solid veteran presence in Syracuse.

Rafael Martin - Another of my personal favorites, at least until he gave up 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning on Sunday.

The rotation behind Maya and Duke - Woof. Tanner Roark got busted up in his second outing and wasn't spectacular in his first, either. Mitch Atkins found a way to allow 4 hits and 5 walks in 5 innings with only 1 unearned run allowed to show for it, but he probably won't get that lucky again. John Lannan got bombed, as we all know by now.
Harrisburg's plate discipline - No batter has more than 2 walks, and none of the prospect types (Kobernus, Perez, Hood) have more than 1. If you have poor plate discipline, you will get eaten alive by better pitching. These guys need to develop it at lower levels so when they get to AAA or the bigs, the holes in their swings won't be taken advantage of in every at bat.

The guys in Potomac that I like - Michael Taylor is hitting .176/.364/.235 (yay walks!) but has been caught in all 3 SB attempts. Kevin Keyes is hitting .100/.182/.100. The "Groovin' Aruban" Randolph Oduber is at .158/.200/.211. Hopefully these guys will warm up and start hitting like Freitas.