Washington Nationals News: Minor League Rosters Announced
By Ricky Keeler
Even though the Washington Nationals began their major league season on Monday afternoon, the minor league affiliates do not get their respective seasons underway until tomorrow night. On Tuesday afternoon, the Hagerstown Suns, Potomac Nationals, Harrisburg Senators, and Syracuse Chiefs each released their rosters to begin the season. Before we get into some of the key players on each roster, the most notable thing about the release were the names not on the rosters for the time being.
Those two names were pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, two of the top four prospects in the Nats system according to MLB Pipeline. In an article by Byron Kerr of MASN Sports, assistant GM and vice president of baseball operations Doug Harris told him that the two pitchers are healthy, but staying behind to work on a throwing program, partially because the two pitchers reached their innings limits last year down at low-A Hagerstown. However, as Harris said, there is nothing to be alarmed about:
“There are no (physical) issues whatsoever. They are in their mound progression. They will be a couple of weeks behind, but they both look very good.” (h/t MASNSports.com)
Now that we talked about the pitchers who aren’t here, let’s talk about some of the talent on that is on these rosters for a farm system ranked in the top ten by Baseball America last week.
The low-A Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League are a team that has stayed pretty much the same from a season ago. There are 12 players on the team’s roster that spent time with the Suns last season.
The most notable player on the team is catcher Raudy Read. Read, the 26th ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline, hit .281 with six home runs and 35 RBI’s in 57 games down at short season single-A Auburn last year. Another player to watch is first baseman Jose Marmolejos-Diaz, who hit .265 and drove in 31 runs last season (second behind Read’s 35) The Suns will begin their season down in Hickory Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) Thursday night at 7:00 PM ET.
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While Giolito and Lopez are not with the high-A Potomac Nationals just yet, this is a roster that has a ton of talent. The defending Carolina League Champions have Spencer Kieboom behind the plate, new second baseman Chris Bostick (traded to Washington in the Ross Detwiler deal), dynamic shortstop Wilmer Difo, who had a good spring training for the Nats, and third baseman Drew Ward (10 HR’s, 73 RBI’s with Hagerstown last season).
The strength for Tripp Keister’s squad is the arms that Potomac will have. Nick Pivetta and Jake Johansen are two solid right-handed pitching prospects that will start the season in high-A. If you had to pick one affiliate to watch to begin the season, it would be Potomac, who begins its season at home Thursday against the Lynchburg Hillcats (Cleveland Indians) at 7:05 PM ET.
When you look at the double-A Harrisburg squad, the big name on this list is starting pitcher Joe Ross, who came to Washington in the Wil Myers–Steven Souza Jr. trade back in December. Ross (10-6, 3.92 ERA in high-A last year) joins fellow top-ten prospect Austin Voth, who made five starts for the Senators to end last season.
Of course, the more well-know name on this squad might be Bryan Harper, whose brother is Bryce Harper. The older Harper (age 24) had a 2.59 ERA in 17 relief appearances in Potomac last season. On offense, look for Matt Skole, who was with the Nationals during Spring Training. The first baseman had 14 home runs last season in double-A. The Senators begin their season at home against the Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates) on Thursday at 7:05 PM.
Finally, the triple-A Syracuse Chiefs go into 2015 with a very good rotation. It will be led by A.J Cole, who gets the start Thursday at Scranton Wilkes-Barre (New York Yankees) at 7:05 PM. Cole went 7-0 with a 3.43 ERA in 11 starts last season with the Chiefs. The rotation also features Taylor Hill and Taylor Jordan.
The roster features plenty of the Nationals non-roster invitees from the spring such as third baseman Ian Stewart, outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr. and Derrick Robinson, and shortstop Emmanuel Burriss. The one promotion that stands out is second baseman Cutter Dykstra. The son of Lenny Dysktra hit .274 with six home runs and 49 RBI’s for Harrisburg last season.