SCOTTSDALE AZ - OCTOBER 20: Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper #34 playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions bats against the Mesa Solar Sox during the AZ Fall League game at Scottsdale Stadium on October 20 2010 in Scottsdale Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
In nine games as part of the Scottsdale Scorpions' "taxi squad" in 2010, Bryce Harper was 12 for 35, (.343/.410/.629), with six doubles, two triples, a home run, four walks and 11 K's. The 18-going-on-19-year-old 2010 no. 1 overall pick will be playing full-time this year in the Scorpions' outfield alongside the Los Angeles Angels' top outfield prospect Mike Trout. Harper finished his first professional season with 37 games at Double-A Harrisburg, posting a .256/.329/.395 slash with seven doubles, a triple and three HR's for the Senators after a 72-game stint at Class-A Hagerstown over which he hit .318 (82 for 258) with a .423 OBP, .554 SLG, 17 doubles and 14 HR's.
Trout, at 19, had 18 doubles, 13 triples, 11 HR's and a .326/.414/.544 line in 91 games and 412 plate appearances at Double-A in the Angels' system in 2011. In Trout's third year in the organization, he saw his first major league action, playing 40 games in LA with a .220/.281/.390 line, six doubles and five home runs in 40 games and 135 plate appearances. Two of the top prospects in baseball in one outfield...The Arizona Fall League starts tonight when the Scorpions take on the Surprise Rafters.
In late August, the Washington Nationals announced the names of the prospects who will see AFL action this fall alongside Harper in the "finishing school" for the game's top talent:
Since then, 21-year-old left-hander Matt Purke, the Nats' 2011 3rd Round pick, has been added to the Scorpions' roster along with shortstop Zach Walters, the 22-year-old Arizona Diamondbacks' 2010 9th Round pick who was acquired in the deal that sent Jason Marquis to the D-backs this past July. Purke, who was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 1st Round in 2009 but didn't sign, was (16-0) with 142 K's (10.99 K/9) and 34 BB (2.63 BB/9) in 20 games and 116.1 IP for Texas Christian University in 2010. In 11 starts in 2011, Purke, who saw limited action while dealing with shoulder bursitis issues, was (5-1) with a 1.71 ERA, .187 BAA, 61 K's (10.42 K/9) and 20 walks (3.42 BB/9) in 52.2 IP.
The Nationals drafted Purke in the 3rd Round but gave the left-hander 1st Round money (a 4-year/$4M-ish major league deal) after he submitted to an MRI arthrogram and satisfied any remaining issues the Nationals may have had about his shoulder. Five months later he'll see his first professional action the first time he takes the mound for the Scorpions.
Zach Walters, a switch-hitting infielder, had a combined .302/.360/.465 line with 45 doubles, 10 triples and 13 HR's over 166 games in two seasons at A-ball in the D-Backs' system. In 30 games and 126 plate appearances with the Nats at Class-A Potomac, Walters was 34 for 116 with a .293/.336/.371 line, seven doubles and seven stolen bases. D.C. GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the Fan's Danny Rouhier on a post-trade-deadline edition of The Mike Rizzo Show that Walters could potentially be "... an everyday impact middle infielder that can switch hit," has a, "high on base percentage guy," and is a, "... a good steady defender [that] gives us a chance to increase our depth."
Derek Norris, a catcher and 22-year-old '07 4th Round pick, makes his second trip to the AFL after missing out on catching Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen during the '09 AFL season when he suffered a broken hamate bone while preparing for fall baseball. Last year in Arizona, the 6'0'', 210lb, right-hand-hitting OBP machine had a .278/.403/.667 slash for the Scorpions, hitting five doubles, two triples and four HR's in 16 games and 54 at bats, walking 11 times with 18 K's.
Norris spent the 2011 at Double-A Harrisburg where he hit 17 doubles and 20 HR's while posting a .210/.367/.446 slash in 104 games and 423 plate appearances.
Sammy Solis pitched in the AFL last year too. Now 23, the left-hander was drafted by the Nationals in the 2nd Round of the 2010 Draft out of the University of San Diego. In 6 games, 5 starts, and 23.2 IP, Solis walked seven, K'd 12 and gave up 22 hits, three HR's and 13 runs total, 10 of them earned.
In his first full pro season, split between Class-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac, Solis, a 6'5'' lefty, was a combined (8-3) with 8.93 K/9, 2.68 BB/9, a 4.02 ERA and 3.22 FIP in 7 starts and 40.1 IP with the Suns and 8.47 K/9, 1.76 BB/9, a 2.72 ERA and 3.16 FIP in 10 GS and 56.1 IP for the P-Nats.
27-year-old right-hander Rafael Martin signed with Washington as an international free agent in 2010 after three-years in the Mexican League. As a reliever in 2011 with Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, Martin K'd 10 (11.25 K/9) and walked just 2 (2.25 BB/9) in six games and 8.0 IP for the P-Nats. The 6'1'' right-hander then went (4-1) with 13 saves for the Double-A Senators, walking 9 (2.27 BB/9) and striking out 44 (11.10 K/9) while posting a 1.77 ERA and 2.11 FIP in 32 games and 35.2 IP
Pat Lehman, a 24-year-old '09 14th Round pick, didn't walk a batter in 13 games and 15.2 IP at Class-A Potomac, where he was (2-0) with 7 saves. The 6'3'' right-hander K'd 11 (6.32 K/9) and posted a 1.72 ERA with a 1.80 FIP with the P-Nats and then was (1-2) with 6 saves a 3.71 ERA, 2.49 FIP, 4 walks (1.06 K/9) and 34 K's (9.00 K/9) in 29 games and 34.0 IP at Double-A Harrisburg.
• Note: 2011 1st Round pick, Rice infielder Anthony Rendon, whose name came up in early AFL talk, will reportedly be staying behind in the Florida Instructional League. Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore wrote about the situation this morning. MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr wrote about the AFL this afternoon, noting that Sammy Solis will get a start Thursday and adding that the Nats' plans for Rendon are not known.
The Nats' prospects and the Scottsdale Scorpions play their first game tonight at 6:35 pm MST, that's 9:35 in D.C. We'll have the results as soon as they're published.