Washington Nationals Minors: Potomac 2016 Year In Review

Mar 19, 2015; Melbourne, FL, USA; A view of Space Coast Stadium during the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Washington Nationals. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2015; Melbourne, FL, USA; A view of Space Coast Stadium during the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Washington Nationals. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports /

Today, we begin our review of the 2016 Washington Nationals minor league affiliates by looking at high-A Potomac

Starting today, we will be taking a look at how the five minor league affiliates of the Washington Nationals. First up, we will be looking at the high-A affiliate who plays in the Carolina League, the Potomac Nationals.

This season, Tripp Keister’s club made the postseason after going 39-31 in the second half of the regular season. Potomac would end up playing the Lynchburg Hillcats (Cleveland Indians) in the semifinals and end up losing the best-of-three series two games to one.

If you look at Potomac’s offense, they finished with the fifth most runs and second most triples in the league (Carolina League has eight teams). The top prospect that played in Potomac this year was outfielder Victor Robles. Robles only played in 41 games, but the 19-year-old had a .354 on-base percentage and stole 18 bases (23 attempts).

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Another player to watch on Potomac’s offense was first baseman Jose Marmolejos-Diaz. Marmolejos-Diaz, who was the Washington Nationals minor league player of the year last season, played 103 games at high-A before being moved up to double-A. The 23-year-old had 11 home runs (tied with third baseman Drew Ward for team lead), 59 RBI’s, and a .495 slugging percentage.

  • During the season, Potomac had its starting second baseman, Max Schrock, trading to the Oakland A’s in August for left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski. Schrock hit .341 with five home runs and 29 RBI’s in his 54 games with Potomac. This was after he began the year at low-A Hagerstown, where he hit .326 and had a .381 on-base percentage.

On the mound, the Potomac Nationals had the second lowest ERA in the league despite having the fewest strikeouts. Erick Fedde spent most of the season in the Potomac rotation before finishing at Harrisburg. The first round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft was 6-4 with a 2.85 ERA and had a 0.63 ERA in his last eight outings.

Finally, when you look at the Potomac bullpen, Ryan Brinley did an excellent job as the closer. The 23-year-old right-hander had 16 saves in 18 chances and struck out 34 batters to just seven walks in 32 innings of work.

To get more information on the Potomac Nationals, I got the chance to talk with Lacy Lusk, who covers the Washington Nationals minor leagues for Baseball America. Below, you can find my Q+A conversation about some of the players that stood out in the Carolina League this season:

Ricky: What was your biggest takeaway from the 2016 Potomac season?

Lacy: I was impressed with how Potomac battled through callups, a late-season slide and the Max Schrock trade to win the second half in the Northern Division and get a home playoff game. Then to win Game 1 against Lynchburg and have a lead in the 12th inning of Game 2 showed they were as strong as anyone in the league at the end of the year.

R: While Victor Robles only played in 41 games this season, what stood out to you about his development?

L: Robles faced a little adversity in the Carolina League, but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. For a 19-year-old, he more than held his own. His defense stands out the most to me, but I would say he’s a rare five-tool prospect who seems to actually have all five tools.

R: Max Schrock was traded to the A’s late in the Potomac season, but what do you think Osvaldo Abreu’s potential is?

L: Abreu has some potential. I liked his defense and saw him show some power. He still needs to control the strike zone better, but the 497 at-bats this year gave him a good test. I’m interested to see how he’ll do in Double-A.

R: How important was Ryan Brinley’s consistency as the closer this year?

L: Potomac’s biggest surprise was probably Brinley, whose changeup kept hitters off balance late in games. He got hit pretty hard in Harrisburg, so he’s another guy who still has to prove himself in Double-A. Brinley blew a save late in the year against Lynchburg, but their manager was very impressed with him. One year after being a 27th-round pick, he has given himself a chance.

R: While wins aren’t the end all, be all for a pitcher, what do you make of Boone Whiting’s 11 wins this season?

L: Whiting just turned 27 last month, but this was certainly a good year for him — right on through his win in the playoffs. He’s more of an innings-eater and he was in the Cardinals’ Top 30 in Baseball America a couple of times before having shoulder issues. I think the win total was encouraging because he was able to go deep enough in games to get those wins.

R: What is your Washington Nationals playoff prediction?

L: I’m sure your guess is better than mine for what the Nats will do in the postseason. I have a hunch that they’ll beat the Dodgers and then lose to the Cubs, but who knows?

Next: Nats Need Curly W From Scherzer

We at District On Deck thank Lacy for taking the time to answer these questions about some of these prospects and the 2016 Potomac season!