Washington Nationals, the Next Generation: Weekly Minor League Highlights

Mar 9, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; Washington Nationals first baseman Tyler Moore (57) catches the ball for an out against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

We are now two weeks into the season, and we are starting to see some early trends throughout affiliates. There were a few transactions this week, with SS Josh Johnson getting called up to AAA Syracuse; OF Xavier Paul being put on the restricted list; SS Chris McConnell being sent down to AA Harrisburg; Potomac C Sam Palace being activated from the DL; Shane McCatty being called up from XST and LHP Josh Smoker and SS Brent Greer being placed on the DL. The Nats also signed Jim Negrych. Click on the team names below to get to that team's stat page, stats are through Tuesdays games.

Syracuse Chiefs: The Chiefs start to the year has not been great, putting up a 3-8 record through the first eleven games. Syracuse is in the middle of the pack hitting wise, posting a .238/.308/.370 triple slash. The pitching has been what's holding the Chiefs down, with the pitchers posting a 4.74ERA and a 67/48 SO/BB ratio through 95 innings.

Tyler Moore has really been the one carrying the offensive load, hitting .289/.353/.644 with 5 of the 6 HR for the Chiefs. He also has a little more even SO/BB ratio at 11/5 through 45AB's. Moore also got his first career start in the outfield yesterday, and if he continues to hit like this we should see him in September.

Mark Teahen has also gotten off to a hot start, hitting .324/.375/.459 for Syracuse. While he may not be a prospect anymore, its nice to know that we have at least someone hitting at AAA in case something happened to Lombo or DeRosa.

Lastly for the hitters, it's time for the weekly Bryce Harper update, which this week is not great. Harper has repeated his past of slow starts, hitting .245/.275/.367. He also only has 5XBH and 1RBI. Hopefully Harper will continue the trend of picking it up after a few weeks like he has in the past, and we can look forward to his major league debut.

So far the Syracuse starting rotation has been headlined by Mitch Atkins, who has posted a .75ERA through 12 innings, and stuck out 10, but he has walked 7 while holding opposing batters to a .167 average. Yunesky Maya has had a promising start to the season, posting a 2.60ERA. The rest of the rotation has been kind of meh with Zach Duke, and Tanner Roark posting not very good numbers, and John Lannan not being good at all.

The pen has been good for Syracuse, with Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Hassan Pena, Atahualpa Severino, and Erik Arnesen all getting off to hot starts. Bibens-Dirkx has the only save, posting a 1.29ERA with a 9/1 SO/BB ration through his first 7 innings. Hassan Pena, the hard throwing Cuban not giving up many runs, with a 1.25ERA but he only has 1SO on the year. Next we have lefty Atahualpa Severino, who has posted a 1.59ERA through 5.2 innings, with 4SO and 3BB. Lastly swing man Erik Arnesen hasn't given up a run in his 5 innings of works, striking out 1 and walking 3.

Harrisburg Senators: The Senators have gotten off to a solid 7-5 start, with the team tied for the league lead in hitting, scoring 59 runs with a .275/.322/.395 triple slash to start the year. They are also tied for the league lead in steals, with 18 on the year. The pitching has been solid, with a 3.37ERA thorough 115 innings, 89 strikeouts and 33 walks.

Second baseman Jeff Kobernus and center fielder Eury Perez have led the charge for the Senators, with Kobernus hitting .375/.386/.429 with 7 steals and Perez hitting .333/.382/.373. The problem with Perez is that he still only has 1 XBH, a triple. If Kobernus can keep up this hitting, he could add another player into the mix for the already crowded Nats' middle infield, a problem that is nice to have.

One OG (organizational guy) who has put up impressive numbers is outfielder Chris Rahl, who's hitting .313/.371/.469 with one HR for the Senators.

On the pitching side of things, Jeff Mandel and Danny Rosenbaum have been impressive in the rotation. Mandel who was mostly a reliever the past couple seasons, worked his way into the rotation and has posted an impressive 0.96ERA and 0.911WHIP with 10 strikeouts and 4 walks. Rosenbaum who may be the most advanced pitching prospect in the Nats' system, has been his usual self, putting up a 2.13 ERA with 7 strikeouts and zero walks in his first 12.2 innings. (ed. note - "Rosenbaum started Wednesday night and went 9.0 innings, allowing four hits and one unearned run while recording 9 K's and 14 ground ball outs in a 7-1 Senators' win.")

In the pen, closer Pat Lehman has gotten off to a nice start, pitching 5 innings, getting 4 saves, striking out 6 and walking none. Hard throwing lefty Pat McCoy has also been good returning to Harrisburg, giving up 1 run in 5.1 innings, striking out 5 and walking no one. For the middle relievers Marcos Frias, Hector Nelo, and Christian Garcia have been great. Frias, and Nelo both got the bump up from Potomac to start the year. Nelo was said to have the best fastball in the Carolina League by Baseball America, and has carried that to Harrisburg. Frias and Nelo have combined for 9.2 innings, zero runs, 11 strikeouts and 3 walks. Christian Garcia was a fairly highly-touted prospect, earning a spot on the Yankees' 40 man roster at one point in time. Injuries really took a toll on him, including 2 tommy john surgeries. Garcia has given up 1 run in 4.2 innings with 4K's and 2BB. If Garcia can stay healthy we could have a decent relief prospect on our hands.

Potomac Nationals: The Potomac Nationals have not had a good start to the year. One could argue that they are lucky to have a 4-6 record. Both their hitting and pitching are near the bottom of the Carolina League. Their bats have produced a .220/.310/.324 triple slash. The pitching has put up a 4.75ERA in 96.2 innings with 71 strikeouts and 35 walks.

Catching prospect David Freitas has gotten off to a nice start, hitting .344/.421/.656 with 2 homers and 8RBI's. Freitas is one of the players that helped make Derek Norris expendable, and he's one of the many nice catching prospects the Nationals still have.

Center field prospect Michael Taylor has shown off his ability to get on base so far at Potomac. He has hit .263, but has a .417OBP. The power has yet to show up though, as Taylor only has 4XBH so far for Potomac. Lastly, third baseman Sean Nicol has hit .364/.417/.591 with 1 home run.

The rotation has not been good, with free agent acquisition Kyle Winters leading the way. Winters has put up a 3.71ERA with 17 strikeouts and only 2 walks. He has held opposing batters to just a .219 average against and has a WHIP of 0.94.

In the pen there still isn't much to report, but with each reliever getting about 6 innings, Cameron Selik, Ryan Demmin, and Rob Wort all have posted good numbers. Righty side-arm pitcher Neil Holland has also continued to post good numbers, and could find himself at Harrisburg by year's end.

Hagerstown Suns: The Suns have gotten off to a 6-7 start this season. The offense has been solid, scoring 70 runs in 13 games. They have posted a triple slash of .240/.335/.380 with 11 home runs. The pitching has been what has let the Suns down, with the pitchers allowing 82 runs in 114 innings with 100 strikeouts and 50 walks.

Shortstop Jason Martinson has continued to hit, with a .293/.443/.563 triple slash, 3 home runs, 13 walks, and 18 strikeouts. Martinson has also stolen 6 bases. Martinson put up solid numbers with Hagerstown last year, but the middle infield depth kept him at Hagerstown at least to start this year.

Third baseman Matt Skole has continued to hit at Hagerstown, with a triple slash of .302/.385/.442. According to scouting reports, Skole should have to bat to make it to the majors, if he can stick at third base. Skole has 2 errors in 30 chances at third.

Last for the hitters outfielder Caleb Ramsey has stepped up in the absence of Brian Goodwin. Ramsey, the Nats 11th round pick in the 2011 draft has hit to a .293/.341/.439 triple slash, very similar to his .280/.362/.347 from Auburn last year, with a increase in power.

The best starter for the Hagerstown Suns has been Kylin Turnbull, who has recovered well after a not very good first start to get a 3.72 ERA through 9.2 innings with 4 strikeouts and a walk. This is Turnbull's professional debut, as he signed at the deadline last year, and did not appear in a game.

Taylor Hill has also pitched well as the long man out of the pen, giving up 3 runs in 7.2 innings, while striking out 4 and walking none. Opposing hitters have hit .214 against Hill, who has only 3 career walks in 39 innings.

Lastly Nathan Karns has continued along nicely to start this season, throwing 10 innings, giving up 3 runs while holding opposing hitters to a .171 average against and has struck out 14, but walked 7.

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