[Ed. Note: Our Hagerstown guy weighs in on what he's seen from Hagerstown hitters, with a look at the pitchers in the next installment]
Brett Newsome — Nice numbers, but way too old for the level (25 before season’s end). Newsome plays so much because there really is not a viable other option other than David Freitas getting reps there on occasion. Think Tim Pahuta lite…..
Adrian Sanchez — Disappointing first half after I was impressed by a late 2010 cameo appearance. Two things stand out: His plate discipline needs tons of work and an anemic home/road hitting split. Sanchez still is young (21 in August) and I like his bat at second. I look for an improved second half and still like his prospect status, with a bit more selection at the dish.
Blake Kelso — The surprise of the season to me. You know who Kelso reminds me of most? Jeff Keppinger, who has made quite a career of slapping balls around and being just safe enough defensively at various positions that he does not kill you there on a temporary basis. The hit-for-average tool is Kelso’s one plus and he will have to ride that as long as he can. Not enough power to play third and lacking the range to play short, Kelso’s best long-term shot would be second, but the Nats playing him elsewhere makes me think that they are not totally on board with Kelso’s glove or as a possible eventual answer…
Jason Martinson — A player that I go back and forth on. At times, he looks to have 12-18 homer potential and his speed is a bit above average and I can see him moving up the ladder. Then you start looking at his errors at short and his massive amount of strikeouts and just see him being another “athlete” shoved into a baseball uniform. I like the way he plays the game, but looking at the first half, I lean towards an eventual flameout, but athletically, it would not surprise me to see him have a breakout 2012.
Sean Nicol — One of the nicest guys that has played here in a long time, but considering he played here last season, his numbers have to be graded as disappointing. In fairness, as you look at the infield, all the guys playing ahead of him are higher on the food chain and need to play more, but his lack of playing time has hurt him with the bat and glove. Sadly, he’s an organizational soldier. [Ed note: a synonym for OG].
Mills Rogers — I don’t see him even reaching OS status, with a light bat and weak glove. The next stop looks to be independent baseball, not Potomac.
David Freitas — For the second year in a row, Hagerstown has had a touted catching prospect come to town and the unheralded player gets more PT than the prospect. Unlike last season’s puzzling Sandy Leon/Adrian Nieto battle, Freitas has shown the bat that makes a bit more sense in the decisionmaking. Impressive pull power and plate patience (more walks than K’s) make Freitas the surprise of the season. I do not see him as a long-term catcher (defensively, I have doubts despite a decent throwing arm). Freitas might be a better fit at first, where he has occasionally played.
Cole Leonida — Tough to say on Leonida: He rarely plays as Freitas has a 3-to-1 edge on him in plate appearances. Wish I could tell you more ,but he has not gotten the time. Has walked 12 times though, which is a good sign considering his low AB total.
Kevin Keyes — A total project. In uniform, he sure looks like he could help the Texas Longhorns at tight end or even fullback, but he is an all-or-nothing player that has one more double than homer with defensive issues, although with coaching, I think that gets better. Keyes does not run as well as one would think by looking at him, so he might have to make it on a outfield corner. Give him more time, but I lean towards unlikely, but worth keeping your fingers crossed.
Randolph Oduber — The rangy Oduber shows speed, defensive ability and a good arm. The numbers are decent enough, but he strikes out a lot and my general rule for outfielders is this-IF you strike out a lot in the SAL without plus projected power, you generally will fall short as you rise.
Oduber fits that bill, although the average gives me a little reason to keep in mind.
Michael Taylor — A speedy version of Kevin Keyes, with a lack of consistent defensive skills. I have seen two games this season that Taylor handed the visitors wins with repeated defensive misplays. Two games in a half that saw the team finish one game out. Another athletic type that could mature, but is more likely to post high strikeout numbers as he progresses. There is hope like Keyes, but I would not wager any cash.
Wade Moore — Mills Rogers with more at-bats and a smidgen more power. Moore either returns to the Suns for 2012 or goes to indy ball.
I suppose I have made you wait long enough. As I wrote in this post, Bryce Harper is the most talented hitter that the Hagerstown Suns have ever had. Plus power, above-average speed (although I bet this drops as he finishes filling out), and decent plate discipline. A strong arm, albeit occasionally inaccurate and decent enough with the range and glove that Washington might be able to get away with him in center while the team eats Jayson Werth’s contract in right. Harper has all five tools for now and at worst looks to be a four to four and half.
I also love the way Harper plays the game as he is a hugely competitive player that hustles almost with Pete Rose intensity. Harper might not be the “MLB LeBron James” as dubbed by Sports Illustrated, but as a player, he looks to be a perennial All Star at the very least.
So what could be wrong? Well, a huge lack of maturity as seen in the “kiss” game.
The true story of that night has yet to be told as I saw it and I was there for the whole thing. I have yet to see one accurate story of the entire incident. Helmet throwing, loud cursing on several occasions (worst case: at a 10:30 a.m. Kids Day game), showing up the opposition and arguing with umpires are among Harper’s transgressions.
In terms of skill, Harper is well past his expiration date in the Sally League. But keeping him here for the remainder of the season might go a long way into showing the young man that there is more to the maturation process than simply how you play.