Batter of the Week - Chris Marrero, 1B, Harrisburg
For quite some time, Chris Marrero has been considered one of the best prospects in the Nationals farm system. Marrero struggled to begin the AA season, though, and it led many people to believe that he was turning into former GM Jim Bowden's latest failed endeavor. Minor league baseball is a fickle sport and it is hard to judge a player based solely on such a short period of time. Chris Marrero proved this last week why a single month should not be enough evidence to write off any prospect, especially one with the skills he possesses. In 8 games last week, Marrero was 12 for 28 (.429 AVG) with a double, four home runs, and seven RBIs. Before his leg injury two seasons ago, Marrero was well known across single A for his ability to come up with the clutch hit. Last Tuesday versus Reading, Marrero once again delivered with the game winning single in the seventh inning. For the season Marrero is batting .259/.308/.437, but those numbers look to be trending upwards. While his bat is what will one day carry him to the big leagues, the plate patience remains a problem as he sports an 11 BB:35 SO ratio. Additionally, the question that has plagued him since early in his career of "where will he play in the field?" continues to persist. Once an outfielder and now a first baseman, Marrero has failed to distinguish him as a reliable defender at either position. His frequent miscues at one of the least demanding field positions in the game have many folks wondering if he might be nothing more than a designated hitter in the big leagues.
Pitcher of the Week - Trevor Holder, SP, Hagerstown
Nearly every baseball commentator and baseball fan that had a finger on the pulse of the 2009 MLB draft saw the Nationals pick of senior Trevor Holder as a gross overdraft. Holder's draft stock slipped after his junior season because of a case of shoulder tendinitis, he was predicted to go until rounds 6-10 in the 2009 draft (he was taken in round 10 in 2008), and did not have great success during his senior year (7-5, 4.48 ERA). Despite all of this, Mike Rizzo and company saw major league potential in the University of Georgia product, who they had watched since his high school days. In a way, the pick made perfect sense when put in the context of previous Rizzo draft picks like Brandon Webb and Micah Owings. Like Webb and Owings, Holder has a large frame at 6'2 and 182 pounds, had some success over his college career and summer league stints, and, most importantly, was a pitcher that kept the ball on the ground.
While Holder's success may be questioned because of his advanced age in the South Atlantic League, the results so far may cause some to start reconsidering their preconceived notions of the right-hander. In 48.2 innings, Holder has an ERA of 2.96 and a WHIP of 1.03. He has only walked five batters and let up two home runs in his time with Hagerstown and has managed to maintain a 1.63 GO/FO ratio. In his latest start against Lakewood, he showed minor league observers his ability to induce the groundball with 14 grounders as compared to 3 flyballs. His line of 13.0 IP, 8 H 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO in the previous week earned him a spot in this space and performances of the same kind will likely earn him the respect of those that once doubted him and, even better, a promotion to Potomac.
Runner-ups: J.D. Martin, Paul Demny, Brad Meyers
Top Prospect Watch
Let us start out by taking a look at what some of the Nationals top prospects that have recently returned from injury are doing. Brad Meyers continues to pitch well since his return from a leg injury and now has a 0.89 ERA through 4 starts. The only two runs he has allowed have come off of solo shots, both in his previous start against Bowie. In 22.2 IP, he has struck out 27 and walked only 4. Since returning to action two weeks ago, catching prospect Derek Norris has also picked up right where he left off last season. In 41 at-bats this season, Norris has a line of .317/.472/.439. He has continued to exhibit one of his greatest attributes, his patience at the plate, already taking 10 free passes, while only striking out 7 times. The extra base hits will start to come as he adjusts to returning from injury and to a new league. Jeff Kobernus returned to action last night as well, going 1 for 4 with an RBI double.
After an impressive spring training and start to the season at AA Harrisburg, left-handed starting pitcher Aaron Thompson has regressed quite a bit. In his last four starts he has only made it past the fifth inning once, while letting up a combined 21 ER and 4 HR. In his first four starts, Thompson allowed no home runs and only 7 earned runs. The Nationals' brass were probably hoping that Thompson would work himself into the Syracuse rotation and possibly the group of September call-ups, but performances like this will certainly put such a notion on hold for the time being.
Former Nationals' Dominican Summer League centerfielder, Eury Perez, hit his first double of the season last week and only his third extra base hit of the season in 149 at-bats. As mentioned before in this column, the Nationals were probably just hoping to get Perez some time at Hagerstown before the short-season started. A .298 OBP is a sure fire way of earning a bus pass to Vermont come June. Still, do not get to discouraged about Perez as he is still very young and is probably still adjusting to the rigors of American professional baseball
Odds and Ends
- Josh Whitesell (28) and Michael Burgess (25) currently lead all Nationals' farmhands in walks. Former minor league players of the week Steven Souza (49) and Destin Hood (48) are the organizational leaders in strikeouts.
- Daniel Rosenbaum, who has been mentioned frequently in this space, continues to do big things for the Hagerstown Suns. He has not let up a run in his last three starts (20 innings) and has walked only two batters in that same period, while striking out 19. Like Holder, Rosenbaum could be inching towards a promotion sometime mid-season.
- With all the hype surrounding Stephen Strasburg, and to a lesser extent Brad Meyers and Aaron Thompson, many Nationals fans may have forgotten all about J.D. Martin. Martin put in a strong bid for minor league pitcher of the week, though, posting a line of 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO against Toledo. It was Martin's strongest outing of the season after he experienced back problems in April and while he may not be the next pitcher called up with Strasburg sitting in the wings, he has seemed to retaken his claim as the pitcher after Strasburg to get a shot (or second shot in this case) with the major league club.
- I mentioned earlier that many thought Trevor Holder was an overdraft, well many thought that the selection of A.J. Morris was a steal in the fourth round. Morris has not exactly been living up to expectations though. His 4.25 ERA is probably closer to his FIP of 4.86 due to his inability to work out of jams successfully and he has walked way too many batters (3.92 BB/9). The good news is that he is displaying the ability to force groundballs (2.04 GO/FO) that Rizzo covets so muc
Syracuse (27-16, 1st place, 0 GB)
Harrisburg (21-23, 5th place, 6 GB)
Potomac (20-25, 3rd place, 6 GB)
Hagerstown (26-19, 2nd place, 1 GB)