AFL Update: The Bryce Harper hype will return on Saturday when the 18-year-old with the major league bat plays his second game as part of the Scottsdale Scorpions' "Taxi" squad. It'll be Wednesday and Saturdays the rest of the way for the Washington Nationals' no.1 overall pick in last year's draft, but today Nats' prospects Derek Norris and Mike Burgess were in the Scottsdale lineup when they played the second game in two days against the Mesa Solar Sox. Norris hit two groundouts, was hit by a pitch and flew out to right leaving him 0 for 3. Burgess doubled in his first at bat in the third, but was stranded at third two outs later. In his second AB tonight, Burgess reached on an error by Solar Sox pitcher Ryan Brasier, the LA Angels' 23-year-old '07 6th Round pick, which allowed one of the Scorpions' two runs tonight to score, but he struck out the next two times he came up to end the night 1 for 4 with 2 K's and a .250 AFL AVG, with a .333 OBP and .300 SLG in 6 games and 20 AB's. Norris, after 5 games and 16 at bats, has a .313/.476/.688 slash line, with a double, triple, HR, 4 RBI's and 4 walks so far in Arizona.
Washington's 26-year-old '06 18th Round pick Adam Carr got the Cubs' '07 1st Round selection Josh Vitters looking for the first out of the ninth, had a runner reach on an error by Giants' IF prospect Charles Culberson, but got help from Derek Norris who added his arm to the list of impressive assets (along with his eye and bat) when he threw the runner out at second so that Carr could retire the side in order with a flyout to left. That's the third straight scoreless frame by Carr, who gave up a run on two hits in his first AFL outing after pitching his way up to Triple-A Syracuse from Double-A Harrisburg this past season by going (6-1) in 36 games and 50.1 IP in which he walked 14 (2.5 BB/9) and K'd 48 (8.6 K/9) on the mound for the Senators.
• Market For Dunn?: The Chicago Cubs, by all indications, are interested. MLive.com's Jason Schmeml lists the Cubs, White Sox, Tigers and Yankees as potential suitors for the 30-til-November-9th soon-to-be free agent and says Adam Dunn, "...could be the Tigers' top priority once free agency opens," in an article entitled, "Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski: Tigers hopeful in bringing back Jhonny Peralta, infield appears 'set'". MLB.com writer Lyle Spencer, in an article entitled, "Angels will target top free-agent hitters", puts Dunn fourth on the Angels' offseason wish list after the Rays' Carl Crawford, the Red Sox' Adrian Beltre and the Phillies' Jayson Werth. Is it good news for Nats fans who want Washington to re-sign their slugger that the only NL team that is interested has serious questions about what their budget will be next year?
• Josh Willingham Wants An Extension?: Would the ideal scenario for the Nats this year, when it comes to left fielder Josh Willingham, have the Hammer come back healthy from season-ending knee surgery and complete the sort of year he looked like he was off to in 2010, (.281/.411/.502 in the 1st half before a lingering issue became unbearable for the 31-year-old 7-year vet), setting him up for a late-season trade to a contender? Or would it be for the Nats to lock the Hammer up for 2-3 years in spite of the fact that he's had injury issues his whole career, and is arbitration eligible and thus under Washington's control (or in other words, reasonably affordable) for one more season before he hits free agency? Willingham's agent told Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore in an article entitled, "Josh Willingham hopes to bypass free agency, stay with the Nationals", that the second-year Nat would, "...prefer to delay his first shot at free agency and sign a multi-year contract this offseason." Willingham made just $4.6M last year, and played in just 114 games before he was shut down. Sign Hammer long term and cement the Zimmer, Dunn, Hammer middle of the order for the next couple years? Or trade Hammer to a contender for prospects? What will Mike Rizzo do?