Top 5 Reasons You Should Still Watch The AFL Championship Game.

5. Dustin Ackley

So you don't get to see the '09 No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg pitch, you do get to see the player taken second overall by the Seattle MarinersDustin Ackley, a converted outfielder who hit over .400 in three-straight seasons (with an OBP over .500 in his final two years) at UNC before becoming the first fielder taken in the 2009 First-year Player Draft, and so far in the AFL, Ackley's hit for a .315 AVG with 5 doubles, 1 HR and 12 RBI's, while posting a .412 OBP, .425 SLG and an .836 OPS...the Mariners may already/one day regret having sent Orioles' CF Adam Jones to Baltimore in the Bedard deal, but Ackley will help them forget.

4. Chris Marrero

Adam Dunn's under contract for one more year, so unless the Nationals find some way to convince the big slugger to sign an extension, the top-ranked first base prospect in the DC system is Chris Marrero, a 21-year-old former third baseman and outfielder who's now playing his third position since being selected with the 15th overall pick in the first round of the 2006 MLB draft out of Miami, Florida's Monsignor Pace high school. Marrero hit for a combined .284 AVG, a .358 OBP, .452 SLG and an .810 OPS with 27 doubles, 17 HR's and 76 RBI's at two stops in the Nationals' organization this year, playing 112 games with the Class-A Advanced Potomac Nationals before moving up for 23 games with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators. In 23 games and 83 at bats with the AFL's Desert Dogs, Marrero's hit for a .349 AVG with 7 doubles, 3 HR's and 21 RBI's, a .402 OBP, .542 SLG and a .944 OPS. (ed. note - "And now you too can stare at his 'footwork' at first base and see if you notice anything...")

Reasons No. 3-1 After The JUMP!!...

3. Daniel Espinosa

The second-best SS in the Nationals' system according to Baseball America's Aaron Fitt, (who has Espinosa listed as the Best Defensive Infielder in the organization and penciled in at short in the Projected 2013 Lineup), and the top-ranked shortstop on Minor League Ball.com's John Sickels' list of the Top 20 Prospects in the DC farm system, Danny Espinosa, a 22-year-old 3rd Round pick in 2008 who spent his second pro season with the Class-A Potomac Nationals, posting a .264 AVG with a .375 OBP, .834 OPS, 31 doubles, 4 triples, 18 HR's, 29 stolen bases and 72 RBI's over 133 games, is the next big thing at short for the Nationals...In 24 games in the AFL, Espinosa's hit for a .345 AVG, with a .434 OBP, .460 SLG and an .894 OPS, having collected 30 hits, (5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR) in 87 at bats.

2. Desme, Weeks, Mandel, Wilkie, etc...

In addition to the Washington Nationals' prospects like Jeff Mandel, (ranked 20th overall in DC's system by Minor League Ball.com's Mr. Sickels, who says, "...he might sneak in some major league innings this season."), a 24-year-old right-hander out of Houston, TX who was (12-6) with a 3.38 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 5.3 K/9 in two stops in the Nationals' organization in '09, and Josh Wilkie, (whispers: who's available league-wide in the Rule 5 draft), a 25-year-old righty out of GWU, who was (5-2) with a 2.37 ERA at Double-A Harrisburg before being promoted to Triple-A Syracuse this season, you can also see Oakland A's prospects like outfielder Grant Desme, a 2nd Round '07 pick who hit a combined 31 doubles and 31 HR's at two stops in the A's system in 2009, and is hitting .315, with a .413 OBP, 5 doubles, 11 HR's and 25 RBI's as a Desert Dog, or Jemile Weeks, the A's '08 1st Round pick, a second baseman who was ranked 8th overall in Oakland's system in Baseball America's last rankings, or Mitch Talbot, who'll start in place of Strasburg, a Devil Rays' pitching prospect who was acquired by Tampa Bay from Houston along with Ben Zobrist in the deal that sent Aubrey Huff to the Astros...and that's only a random few picked from the D-Dogs' roster.

1. Drew Storen. The Next Flat-Brimmed Closer.

The AFL's league-leader in Saves! The Nationals' second '09 1st Round pick!! The former Stanford Cardinal closer!!! Drew Storen signed with Washington as quickly as he could and set about tearing up the minor leagues as he charged through three stops in the DC system collecting 11 saves and 49 K's in 28 G and 37.0 IP in which the 22-year-old 6'1'' right-hander put up a 1.95 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 11.9 K/9, and a 6.13 K/BB ratio. With the Desert Dogs, Storen's (2-0) with 4 saves and a 0.66 ERA in 12 games and 13.2 IP over which he's allowed 16 hits, 3 runs, 1 ER, and 3 walks while recording 13 K's. Storen's '09 season was impressive enough to earn him the 3rd overall spot on both Baseball America's Aaron Fitt's and Minor League Ball.com's John Sickels' lists of the Nationals' Top Prospects, and both Mr. Fitt and Mr. Sickels point to Storen as the Nationals' future closer, which means you can be sure he'll carry of the DC Closer Tradition of "Making It Interesting" should he be called upon to save the D-Dogs' AFL Championship win.

Game Time: 2:35 pm EST on the MLB Network and MLB.com. AFL Championship. Phoenix Desert Dogs vs Peoria Javelinas. 

LINKS: 

• "Top prospects square off in AFL finale" | MLB.com: News - Tom Singer

Phoenix, winner of the East Division, meets the West Division kingpin Peoria Javelinas in Saturday's Arizona Fall League championship game at 2:35 p.m. ET in Scottsdale Stadium.

• Potomac Nationals Weekly Update: Washington Nationals' Prospect Danny Espinosa Interview. - Federal Baseball

Potomac Nationals Weekly Update: Washington Nationals' Prospect Danny Espinosa Interview.

• Potomac Nationals Weekly Update. 5/25 - Federal Baseball (featuring Jeff Mandel/Chris Marrero)

A weekly look in on the Potomac Nationals, or P-Nats, the Washington Nationals' Class-A Affiliate.

• "Potomac Nationals Weekly Update: Washington Nationals' Prospect Drew Storen Interview" - Federal Baseball - Ed Chigliak.

"Drew Storen, Stanford Cardinal closer, was selected by the Washington Nationals with their second 1st Round pick, 10th overall in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft."

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