With just a a little over a week left in the minor league regular season the Washington Nationals currently have four affiliates in the hunt for the playoffs in their respective leagues. Which for the Nationals organization as well as their fans should be taken as an encouraging sign for the near and long term future of the Washington Nationals.
So we are going to take a look at the Nationals affiliates that could be headed to the post season
Class A short season- Auburn Doubledays
The Doubledays at 40 and 25 sit atop of the Pinckney division with a 3.5 game lead over the Williamsport Crosscutters.
Right now for me the thing that has really captured my interest the most with the Auburn Doubledays is the fact that 12 of the Washington Nationals 2011 draft picks are currently listed on the Doubledays active roster. The 2011 draft picks currently on the team are
Matthew Skole- drafted in the 5th round
Taylor Hill- drafted in the 6th round
Brian Dupra- drafted in the 7th round
Manny Rodriguez- drafted in the 10th round
Caleb Ramsey- drafted in the 11th round
Travis Henke- drafted in the 22nd round
Khayyan Norfork- drafted in the 23rd round
Billy Burns- drafted in the 32nd round
Alex Kreis- drafted in the 35th round
Ben Hawkins- drafted in the 36th round
Bryce Ortega- drafted in the 41st round
Richie Mirowski- drafted in the 45th round
While it may not be a full seasons worth of work the Doubledays are worth keeping an eye on not only because they are headed tot he playoffs more than likely but you can get a glimpse of a number of the newest draft picks
Class A- South Atlantic League- Hagerstown Suns
With just 9 games left in their regular season and trailing the Kannapolis Intimidators by 4 games for the last playoff spot in the Northern division the Suns are facing an uphill battle in their quest to make it in to the playoffs.
While the Suns may not make the playoffs it has definitely been exciting season for the Hagerstown Suns as well as their fans. After all it was with the Hagerstown Suns that Bryce Harper spent the first 72 games of his minor league career.
Even with Harper having moved on to the next minor league level there is still plenty of talent worth seeing in Hagerstown. The Suns this year have been the season long home to 19 year old pitching prospect A.J. Cole. Cole who came in to this season as being ranked the number 3 prospect in the Nationals organization (according to Jonathon mayo) has a mid 90s fastball that can reach up in to the upper 90s and also offers up a rather impressive curve ball. With this being his first full minor league season Cole has posted a 3.70 era over 80.1 innings while striking out 94 batters.
Also catching my attention this season from the Hagerstown Suns have been catcher David Freitas, outfielder Michael Taylor and pitcher Robbie Ray.
So if you are in or around the Hagerstown area there is still time to check these guys out as they will be ending their regular season with a 5 game home stand from September 1st through the 5th.
Class A Advanced- Carolina League- Potomac Nationals
Currently the P-Nats hold a 5.5 game lead over the Lynchburg Hillcats for the Northern Divisions final playoff spot.
For the P-Nats a playoff berth this season would mark the third time in four years that they have made the playoffs and would also mean a chance to defend their 2010 Carolina League Championship. Potomac’s current roster is one that is loaded with good young talent including 3 players in Sammy Solis, Eury Perez and Destin Hood that were named in the Washington Nationals top 10 prospects list according to Jonathon Mayo of MLB.com
Solis 23, has made 8 starts for the Potomac Nationals since being promoted from Hagerstown this season. For the P-Nats over his 8 starts he has posted a 3.25 era with 4 and 2 record. Solis is a 6’5 south paw with a plus changeup and a fastball that sits comfortably in the low to mid 90s and has hit 96 on the radar gun this season while playing in Hagerstown.
Perez 21, has had some struggles throughout the season this year but his potential in center field and as a leadoff type hitter are still very high. Combined between the 2010 season and this year so far Perez has swiped a total of 100 bases while being thrown out just 27 times. Overall he is still a work in progress but all the tools are there and he has been an exciting player to watch.
Hood 21, turned down a football scholarship to the University of Alabama after being picked by the Nationals in the 2nd round of 2008 draft and it is beginning to look like he may have mad the right choice. Considered by many to be a raw talent at the time of his being drafted Hood has been developing nicely not only as a hitter but as an outfielder as well. In 121 games this season for the P-Nats he is batting .283 with 29 doubles, 5 triples, 12 home runs, 20 steals and .388 on base percentage.
So if you get the chance to it is definitely worth going out to Pfitzner Stadium and help cheer the P-Nats on to another playoff berth.
Double A- Eastern League- Harrisburg Senators
With just 9 games left in the regular season the Senators are currently in first place of the Western Division and hold a 4 game lead over the Bowie Bay Sox and a 5.5 game lead over the Richmond Squirrels.
Throughout the season the Senators have seen a number of talented prospects such as Lombardozzi, Peacock and Meyers come and go but are still a team with talent and a real shot at winning it all.
The Senators roster currently includes a couple big bats in catcher Derek Norris and Tyler Moore.
Norris 22, not only ranks in the top 10 for Nationals prospects but is also a top 10 prospect for all catchers. While it would definitely be nice to see Norris improve upon his .205 batting average it is hard to ignore his 18 home runs in only 96 games and his .356 on base percentage. Norris is a legit power hitter at catcher and draws walks on a pretty consistent basis which is evident in the fact that between 2010 and 2011 so far he has drawn 156 walks in 190 games.
Moore 24, who was the 2010 Carolina League Player of the Year as well as the Washington Nationals Minor League Player of the Year could be in the running again this year for some Player of the Year awards. In 129 games this season Moore has put up 32 doubles, 4 triples, 30 home runs and 87 rbis. As of right now my biggest concern with Moore as a hitter is that he does not draw enough walks. If you are going to bat just .272 which is what he is hitting this year than you have to bring in more than only 24 walks. He does have legit power though and has been working hard to improve defensively.
Not only do they have a couple nice bats in the lineup they also have pretty good pitching staff led by Shairon Martis and his 2.81 era over 22 starts. As a whole this season the Senators pitching staff has allowed 3.64 runs per game good for 2nd lowest in their league.