Washington Nationals Minor Leagues: Players Of The Week (4/20-4/26)

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Syracuse Chiefs (6-11)

 This week was a unique week for the Chiefs as they played all seven games this week against one opponent, the Rochester Red Wings (Minnesota Twins). They had three games postponed due to inclement weather, which forced the team to play two doubleheaders. In Game 1 on Tuesday afternoon, Jason Martinson hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to win it for the Chiefs, 1-0.

Hitter Of The Week: Michael Taylor (.400, 1 HR, 3 RBI’s)

With Denard Span now playing center field at Nats Park, Michael Taylor is getting the chance to play everyday down at triple-A. While Taylor showed some flashes with his bat at the end of last season and at the beginning of this season, it is easy to forget that the 24-year-old only played 12 games at Syracuse last season (.271, 2 HR, 8 RBI’s).

In his first week with the Chiefs, Taylor brought the bat to the ballpark. In a week where Syracuse struggled to score runs at times, Taylor had eight hits, including three games in which he had two hits. This includes a home run he hit during Wednesday’s 11-7 loss to Rochester.

Taylor has the raw power, but one of the problems he has shown in his short career is that he racks up the high strikeout totals. That has not changed, albeit in a small sample size. He had eight strikeouts this week. He had some defensive issues as well with the Nats, but he has not recorded an error with Syracuse as of yet. Even though he’s not with the Nationals now, Taylor is still a name to definitely continue to monitor throughout the year.

 Honorable Mention: 3B Ian Stewart (.244, 2 HR, 9 RBI’s)

 Ian Stewart came into spring training this February coming off a 2014 in which he hit .198 down in triple-A. The former Colorado Rockies third baseman needed to make a good impression to the Nats organization and he did just that with three home runs in 44 at-bats.

This week, Stewart had four RBI’s for the Chiefs and is tied for the team lead in RBI’s (9) with first baseman Kila Ka’aihue. Stewart’s slugging percentage of .429 is 20 points higher than anyone on the team (Jason Martinson). While the Nats don’t have room for Stewart on the roster at the moment, it’s a good thing to at least see him continue his success from spring training.

 Pitcher Of The Week: SP A.J. Cole (0-0, 2.40 ERA)

 While Cole only made one start this week (scheduled to start tonight at Pawtucket), Cole has been one of the best pitchers on the Syracuse staff up till this point. After a rough start against the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs on the 14th (4 IP, 3 ER, 5 H), Cole was able to keep the Red Wings off the board in Game 1 of the doubleheader on Tuesday.

In six innings, Cole gave up no runs on five hits, struck out three and did not walk a batter. One of the things to be impressed about the right hander in his first three starts is his control. He only has one walk thru the first three games. He has only struck out ten batters, but he is still able to keep teams from having the crooked inning. On a staff with Taylor Jordan and Taylor Hill, Cole has our start of the week.

 Honorable Mention: RP Mitch Lively (0-0, 0.93)

 So far, Lively has been one of the best pitcher, if not the best pitcher, in the Syracuse bullpen. Lively had an impressive campaign with the Chiefs at the end of last season, going 5-2 with a 3.86 ERA in nine games (seven starts). However, Syracuse has used him in the month of April strictly out of the bullpen.

This week, Lively threw four innings and gave up one combined hit, walked one, and struck out two. In 9.2 innings this season, he has allowed two runs (one earned). He did have a four strikeout performance in two innings back on April 14 against the IronPigs, but he only has seven strikeouts on the season. The 29-year-old didn’t have the best spring training with the Nationals, but he has handled the full time transition to the bullpen well in the early stages of the season.

Next: Double-A