This is a Suns team that hasn’t shown much with the bats in terms of contact as their .231 team average is the third lowest in the South Atlantic League. However, when they make contact, the ball goes far as evident by their SAL leading eight home runs. Pitching is another strength of this team in the early going as their team ERA of 3.09 is third in the league. Plus, you have to be somewhat impressed when a team wins a game despite being no-hit.
Hitter Of The Week: 1B Jose Marmolejos-Diaz (.290, 2 HR’s, 6 RBI’s)
The 22-year old out of the Dominican Republic was an All-Star in the New York Penn League last year for the Auburn Doubledays. He had one home run and drove in 31 runs, but he had 28 walks as well, which was tied for sixth in the league. He had the best on-base percentage for the Doubledays as well (.343)
So far, in Hagerstown, he is on a four-game hit streak and has back-to-back multi-hit games. He has three doubles and two home runs (tied with Raudy Reid for most on the team). In addition, he has driven in a run in three of his last four games. It will be interest to watch the development of this left-handed first baseman.
Honorable Mention: 3B Grant DeBruin (.281, 0 HR, 3 RBI’s)
DeBruin is the honorable mention for this week because his nine hits are tied with Marmolejos-Diaz for the team lead. This is his first season in the Nationals organization, but he is off to a great start. The third baseman from Alabama-Huntsville has had two games in which he has recorded three hits.
His best game of the season came on April 10 against the Hickory Crawdads when he went 3-for-4 with three RBI’s. DeBruin only has one extra-base hit, but the Nationals know he has potential with the bat. Last season, in the Frontier League, he hit .355 with 12 home runs. In fact, him and Diaz are tied for the best on-base percentage on the squad.
Pitcher Of The Week: SP Austen Williams (1-1, 0.93)
Williams, who was the sixth round pick of the Nats in last year’s draft, was the Opening Day starter for Hagerstown. He was the winning pitcher when the Suns were no-hit on April 15 against West Virginia. In that outing, he went 5.2 innings, gave up four hits, struck out seven, and walked one.
Last season, with the Doubledays, the 22-year-old did not strike out more than six batters in an outing. Now, the Penn-League is a short season league, so you don’t normally see guys go that many innings. However, he only walked eight batters in 38.2 innings last season. So far, this season, he has one walk. Williams will make his next start at home against the Delmarva Shorebirds tonight at 6:05 PM ET.
Honorable Mention: RP Tyler Mapes (1-0, 0.00)
Mapes has made two appearances this season and has not given up a run in the six innings that he has pitched in. The 30th round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft had a 1.25 ERA in 15 relief appearances for Auburn. This season, he has thrown three innings in each of his appearances, giving up a combined three hits.
Mapes converted all five of his save chances last year, but he has not had a save for Hagerstown as three different relievers have a save. On April 16 against Lakewood, Mapes was able to force six groundball outs. He hasn’t shown that he can rack up the strikeouts, but that doesn’t mean that the 23-year old can’t be effective by pitching to contact.