Washington Nationals: 2017 Minor League Opening Day Preview

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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Washington Nationals
Mar 23, 2017; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Erick Fedde (62) delivers a pitch against the New York Mets during a spring training game at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Harrisburg Senators

Matt LeCroy is back as manager of the Senators for the second consecutive season after the team went 76-66 in the Eastern League a year ago. The Senators have two of the top five prospects in the Nats farm system starting with them this season (according to MLB Pipeline).

Those two prospects are outfielder Andrew Stevenson and starting pitcher Erick Fedde. Stevenson made a good first impression on Dusty Baker in Major League camp. Last year, he hit .246 with 16 RBI’s and 12 stolen bases in 65 games at double-A.

Staying in the outfield, the other three outfielders with Stevenson will be Alec Keller, Zach Collier, and Yadier Hernandez. Hernandez, who is from Cuba, was signed as an international free agent last year. At age 29, Hernandez will be interesting to watch as the season begins.

Moving in to the infield, Osvaldo Abreu will be at shortstop and Drew Ward is back at third base. Ward played 53 games at Harrisburg in 2016 and hit .219 with three home runs and 24 RBI’s.

Fedde will be the name that highlights this starting rotation. The 24-year-old right-hander had a 3.99 ERA in five Eastern League starts in 2016, including striking out 12 batters in his final start of the season.

If you look at the rest of the rotation, other names are to watch are Phillips Valdez and Austen Williams. Valdez threw 60.2 innings in the second half last season, but he did not get many strikeouts (30). Still, he gave up just eight runs in his final four starts of the year.

In the bullpen, some of the names to watch are right-hander Jimmy Cordero (traded from the Phillies this winter) as well as left-hander Ryan Brinley and right-hander Jake Johansen. Brinley and Johansen represented the Nats at last year’s Arizona Fall League.

Tonight, the Senators will take on the Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates) at 7:05 p.m ET. You can watch all Senators games on MILB.TV or listen online on the Senators broadcast with Terry Byrom on the call.

Update: Today’s game has been postponed and the opener will be tomorrow night at 7 p.m ET. They will play a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at 6 p.m ET and Erick Fedde will pitch Game 1: