WASHINGTON – The organizational depth at catcher is being tested these days as Tres Barrera and Jakson Reetz are seeing time in the majors as veteran Yan Gomes and Alex Avila have spent time on the Injured List.
The Nationals, one of the oldest teams in the majors, are also relying on a tandem of veterans to man first base in Josh Bell and Ryan Zimmerman.
And that has been the case at that position for years, as Washington has developed very few first baseman in its history. (Zimmerman doesn’t count, since he came up through the system as a third baseman).
One first baseman the Nationals used in the majors was Tyler Moore, who was drafted out of Mississippi State in the 16th round in 2008.
He played in 277 games with Washington from 2012-15 and in 104 games with the Marlins in 2017 in his last year in the majors.
Another first baseman who came up through the system is José Marmolejos, a former minor league player of the year in the Nats’ system who made his major league debut with Seattle in 2020.
There appear to be no can’t-miss prospects at first base in the minors now for Washington.
Here is a look at the first baseman that started on Saturday for the top four minor league affiliates in the Nationals’ system:
*Corban Joseph, 32, of Triple-A Rochester was drafted in the fourth round by the Yankees in 2008 and he has played a total of 44 games in the majors for various teams, including the Yankees, Orioles and with the Pirates in 2019. He is hitting .282 with two homers and 13 RBIs this year in the minors through Saturday. Another veteran on the Rochester roster who can play first base is Brandon Snyder, who grew up in Northern Virginia and was hitting .227 in games through Saturday. Joseph has played mostly second base at the pro level. Another first baseman on the roster with the Red Wings is Yasmany Tomás, hitting .185.
*K.J. Harrison, 24, started at first for Double-A Harrisburg on Saturday and was hitting .293 with five homers and 14 RBIs in the minors this year through Saturday. He was drafted by the Brewers out of Oregon State in the third round in 2017. Other first basemen on the Harrisburg roster include Aldrem Corredor, hitting .272 through Saturday, and Allan Berrios, hitting .186.
*Drew Mendoza, 23, was drafted in the third round by the Nationals in 2019 out of Florida State. He saw time at the alternate site in 2020 in Fredericksburg and was part of the 60-player pool. He began this year with Harrisburg but hit just .160 in 106 at-bats before he was sent to high Single-A Wilmington. Mendoza was hitting .297 in 64 at-bats for the Blue Rocks in games through Saturday. Another first baseman on the Wilmington roster is Omar Meregildo, hitting .199 before Sunday’s games.
Mendoza was a non-roster invite to Spring Training this year with the Nationals.
“I thought it was a possibility,” Mendoza said of the invite in an interview with Federal Baseball in March.
“It was a very exciting phone call to get. The conversation with [Assistant GM, Player Development Mark Scialabba] was very short.”
“It was great to hear fans in the game and cheering and being locked in on every pitch. It was really cool to have that atmosphere again; it has been a long time,” he added.
*Kevin Strohschein, 23, started at first base for low Single-A Fredericksburg on Saturday. He was hitting .215 in the minors this year in games through Saturday. He was drafted by the Nationals in the 21st round in 2019 out of Tennessee Tech.