Washington Nationals Minors: What's Happening With The Harrisburg Senators

USA TODAY Sports

Harrisburg Senators beat writer Geoff Morrow takes a look at the Senators' Top 5 Players To Watch and shares some info about the Washington Nationals' Double-A affiliate. This week it's Taylor Hill, Jason Martinson, RHP Aaron Barrett and more...

HARRISBURG SENATORS FIVE TO WATCH

1. RHP Taylor Hill (24 years old, 6th-round pick in 2011 out of Vanderbilt) -- Promoted from High-A Potomac in late June, Hill has continued where he left off in the Carolina League. Through two starts with Harrisburg, Hill is 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA, 10 hits and two walks allowed in 14 innings, with seven strikeouts. He's adapted to what experts call the biggest jump in the minors (A to AA) with savvy. Hill, who was 6-2 with a 2.99 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) with Potomac, has been on a sensational tear. Over his last six starts overall (four at Potomac, two at Harrisburg), Hill is 3-1 with a 0.84 ERA. Baseball America said Hill had the "best control" of Nationals' minor league pitchers after the 2012 season. While obviously not a strikeout pitcher, Hill has 13 walks vs. 61 strikeouts this season. Somehow he wasn't rated by BA as a Top 30 prospect. Guessing that changes next year.

2. SS Jason Martinson (24 years old, 5th-round pick in 2010 out of Texas State, No. 14 preseason BA prospect) -- Promoted just last week from Potomac, and we have to admit we expected him sooner, Martinson seems just fine with the new level. Through five games, he's hitting .333/.444/.467, going 5-for-15 with two doubles and four RBIs and hits in four of his five starts. He's also whiffed just once in those five games. Hard to say yet what he offers the Nationals long term, but his quick adjustment to the Eastern League is certainly promising.

"His slider/whatever-you-call-it is befuddling foes, and it's not even funny anymore, though we suspect Barrett himself is a funny guy." - Geoff Morrow On Nats' Prospect Aaron Barrett

3. RHP Aaron Barrett (25 years old, 9th-round pick in 2010 out of Mississippi) -- We've mentioned him before in this space, but the Senators' closer continues to deliver. He hasn't allowed a run since May 30, a stretch of 10.2 innings that's included seven saves. His slider/whatever-you-call-it is befuddling foes, and it's not even funny anymore, though we suspect Barrett himself is a funny guy. Overall, he's 1-1 with 15 saves in 17 chances with a 1.95 ERA (named an Eastern League all-star, too), and he's walked 10 with 44 strikeouts in 32.1 innings. Opponents are hitting just .198 against him.

4. CF Brian Goodwin (22 years old, 1st-round pick (34th overall) in 2011 out of Miami-Dade College, No. 3 preseason BA prospect) -- Promoted, somewhat surprisingly, from Hagerstown to Harrisburg late last season, Goodwin was understandably struggling at times with the Senators. Strikes out too much. Gets picked off too much. But all of it is cleaning up lately, as he's raised his average from .236 June 11 to .256 right now, with a slew of multiple-hit games in the mix. The left-handed batter is even starting to show bunt from time to time, which he rarely did through the first couple months this season. His slash line is .256/.354/.395, and he's only getting better from here on out. He can run (16 of 26 stolen bases, seven triples, team-high 53 runs) and get on base (team-high 40 walks vs. a team-high 82 strikeouts, though he is definitely getting better in that regard). A year or so away yet, but showing promise for sure.

5. RHP Nathan Karns (25 years old, 12th-round pick in 2009 out of Texas Tech, No. 5 preseason BA prospect) -- Everybody knows Karns from his brief call-up to the Nationals earlier this season, and he's made just two starts with Harrisburg since his return, as folks continue to tinker with his delivery and mechanics. Overall he's 5-3 with a 4.02 ERA in 11 starts with Harrisburg, including 1-1 with a 1.64 in two starts since his return to the minors. His last start was pushed back, and he's expected to throw Wednesday night in Erie. Karns' big-league time should only help, but it's clear there is still work to do, and the early reports indicate promise. Extra-special attention, in this case, is good, because it means the Nats think highly of him.

LINKS:

Taylor Hill notes from last start: Taylor Hill deals for second straight start; offensive struggles continue; schedule update; Harrisburg Senators game notebook

Organizational glance featuring Suzuki, Rahl, Taylor and Purke: Chris Rahl raking at Syracuse; plus a look ahead to prospects Michael Taylor and Matt Purke in our Senators/Nationals organizational glance

Justin Bloxom wins our Player of the Week: Justin Bloxom, the Harrisburg Senators' RBI leader, earns our Player of the Week nod

Taylor Hill Makes First Start For Harrisburg: Taylor Hill's first start with the Senators.

Brian Goodwin wins last week's Player of the Week

Aaron Barrett earns praise

Preseason feature on Nathan Karns

• MORROW CONTACT: gmorrow@pennlive.com

ON TWITTER: @RageAgainstGMo

ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/GeoffMorrowPAMediaGroup

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