Washington Nationals: 2017 Minor League Opening Day Preview
By Ricky Keeler
Patrick Anderson has been the manager in Hagerstown each of the last three seasons and the Suns have made the South Atlantic League playoffs two of the last three years.
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When you look at the Suns position players set to begin the season, there are a lot of top names on the roster. One of last year’s first round picks, shortstop Carter Kieboom, is going to begin the year in Hagerstown. He had 25 RBI’s in 36 games down in the Gulf Coast League last year.
In the infield, the Suns also have third baseman Anderson Franco, second baseman Jake Noll, and third baseman Sheldon Neuse. Franco and Neuse are both top 15 prospects in the Nats organization, according to MLB Pipeline.
Out in the outfield, Juan Soto will be making his full-season debut. Soto is number three in the Nats system on MLB Pipeline. The 18-year-old was the Gulf Coast League MVP last year after he hit .361 with five home runs in 45 games. Other names in the outfield are switch-hitter Blake Perkins and two of last year’s draft picks (Nick Banks and Daniel Johnson).
Tonight, the Suns will send left-hander Tyler Watson to the mound against the Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies) at 6:05 p.m ET. Watson made three starts at the end of last season, but Anderson said good things about the 19-year-old in my conversation with him this offseason:
"“Can throw up to 92 from the left side around the plate. He is mature beyond his age.”"
Other names that are projected in the Hagerstown rotation are Carlos Acevedo, McKenzie Mills, and Weston Davis. Davis only had 33 strikeouts in 11 games with Auburn last year, but he had a 2.67 ERA, an opponents’ batting average against of .201, and he gave up only one home run.
One name to watch in the bullpen this season is 23-year-old right-hander Jorge Pantoja. Pantoja spent the bulk of the year last season at Hagerstown (six games in Potomac) and went 9-1 with a 2.63 ERA and had three saves. Out of his 28 appearances, he didn’t allow a run in 20 of them.
You can listen to all Hagerstown Suns home games on hagerstownsuns.com with Kevin Gehl behind the mic for the play-by-play.
Update: Tonight’s game has been postponed and Hagerstown will begin their season tomorrow night at 6:05 p.m ET and they will play a doubleheader Saturday at 4:05 p.m ET.
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