Guessing The Rosters, Part One

Which position players are playing where in the low minors?

Now that we know who’s in the best shape of their life, who’s reported early, and who’s having visa problems, we can start to think about the minors and who’s going to end up where.

There’s an interesting dichotomy early in the 2011 Washingtion Nationals Spring Training — plenty of competition for pitchers, but supposedly less so for position players, with only LF and possibly CF up for grabs. While I’m not sure if I agree with that (particularly with Riggleman’s proclamation that Pudge Rodriguez is the starting catcher), I’ll reserve judgment until they actually play some games.

As folks have noted in the comments, the high minors (Harrisburg and Syracuse) are going to be very difficult to guess. It’s nearly a given that predicting pitchers is a fool’s errand, and looking over our watchlist, I can only honestly place six position players at Syracuse and Harrisburg. That’s Chris Marrero and Corey Brown (sorry, Peric) in New York and Steve Lombardozzi, Josh Johnson, Tyler Moore, and Derek Norris in Pennsylvania.

But I do think we can throw darts in terms of the position players in the low, full-season minors.

With that in mind, here’s my preseason gander at the Hagerstown, starters first (“B” before traditional positional abbreviations = Bench):

CA – David Freitas
1B – Mills Rogers
2B – Adrian Sanchez
SS – Jason Martinson
3B – Blake Kelso
OF – Randloph Oduber
OF – J.R. Higley
OF – Wade Moore
DH – Russell Moldenhauer
BCA – Wilfri Pena
BIF – Justino Cuevas
BIF – Michael Taylor
BOF – Justin Miller
BOF – J.R. Higley

Are there arguments to be made here? Of course there are. Moldenhauer might finally be put at 1B and Rogers could be used as a super-sub. Higley might not lose his job. Taylor might go to XST to get a little more seasoning (he turns 20 late in March). And of course the bluster about Bryce Harper opening the season in Rome on April could actually turn out to be true, but as you can see, I’m not fiddling nor is Georgia on my mind.

As always, discuss in the comments. Next up, a guess at Potomac.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

30 thoughts on “Guessing The Rosters, Part One”

  1. I remember other seasons when I was more worried about the Nats’ minor leagues than the big-league team, because they seemed so hopeless. You know, seasons when the rotation included people like Simontacchi. I actually feel better about the Nats, although .500 still seems a big stretch. Around June, when the Nats have 4 early picks in a draft that is considered deep, and when the MLB team already looks weak, I will probably turn my eyes away to Potomac more and more.

    I’m glad you are available to make it interesting 365 days a year, though.

    1. The suspension was announced on July 15. The Suns played 53 games from that day to the end of the season. I’m 99% certain he’s eligible.

    1. Possible, but his production at Vermont as 23-y.o. was pedestrian. Last year, there were no 24-year-old position players on the Hagerstown roster, so I would think that he’d be battling the likes of Brett Newsome as a backup in Potomac if he’s not released.

  2. Eh. I only care because he graduated the year after me at Lynchburg.

    We’re such a small school, you have to root for your fellow alum!

  3. Okay, Sue, I’ve already made my predictions for each league, and, at the risk of seeming to pander here, my selections for Hagerstown are identical to yours. Except, I have Harper there too, with a question mark.

      1. Let’s just say that if Harper does start at Hagerstown, he might get promoted on April 14th. Then I might see him getting another promotion on May 2nd. This would keep Harper on the road (and away from DC) for nearly a month. Not what I’m rooting for, mind you, but it can be envisioned given the handling of Strasburg last year.

  4. Is Taylor on the bench because you think they’d rather him get at bats at Hagerstown before going to Auburn? They had him skip Vermont last year because he was still learning the ropes in the GCL as a high schooler. Looks like they just gave him a cup of coffee at Hagerstown to make sure that he was getting some action before instructs. Nobody around here has seen him, right? Be nice to see a high schooler make good in the organization, though. He is the highest high schooler in 2009 for the first Rizzo draft (not 3 highschoolers in the top 5 rounds [facepalm]). Yeah, certainly a watchlister, but we should be looking for him to damage and master Auburn this year? Rizzo sure does like drafting middle infielders.

    1. More or less, yes. The next logical candidate (Hendry Jimenez) struggled at Vermont, which would leave an older player like Sean Nicol or Francisco Soriano to fulfill that role. We’ve only got one offseason (’09-’10) under the Rizzo FO to look at and divine from, but it does appear that Rizzo doesn’t like the “too-old” guys to start showing up until Hi-A. Taylor is definitely a “stretch” pick.

    2. sould: I think Rizzo has shown a preference to middle infielders in his drafts because there was a clear ‘talent gap’ in the minors when he took over; Also, young MI’s seem to have more flexability as they mature – A drafted 2B-SS could become a corner infielder / OF much easier than HS/college 1B can convert to a corner OF. Better range, more athletic, all that good stuff. Just wish he’d lighten up on drafting college relievers (2-3 in both ’09 & ’10, IIRC).

  5. Thanks for the clarification on Higley. Unlike JCampbell, I was only ‘half-plumb’ (7 of 14) w/my Hagerstown picks; We do all seem to agree that it will be an 11-man pitching staff to start the year, at least.

    On other matters, I see (via BaseballAmerica) that the Nationals have added another orginizational Catcher (Miguel Perez, 27yo). I’d guess that he & Devin Ivany serve as early-season stopgaps in the high minors.

  6. during a instructional trip at this wonderful indoor facility long island ny , I had the pleasure of watching Lannan throw a bullpen, John is a very nice guy. Heintroduced me to another guy from the nats and his name was Chris Manno. I watched him throw and wow
    The last I saw of him was at Duke and boy he looks great Lannan told us to watch out for this kid
    he gained weight which is huge for him, and he looks great fastball moving plus curve and change, and his instructor has been working on a cutter, looks strong and looks like he will bypass auburn, no reason for a 4 year collge kid from the acc throw in a rookie league his second year. He was sitting 88-91 and punding the zone low. I met after with him to just say hello. He is a wonderful young man that represents his family and the nationals well. Sue its is a pleasure to see this, and I will be rooting for this young man big time

    1. Thanks for the scoop on Manno. Elliot, did you tell him about ‘Manno’s Minions’?
      Mel, the Pres. of MM, should be happy to hear this.

  7. Well, actually, when I said I had the same as Sue, I was only referring to the main eight. I didn’t pick a bench. So, BinM, guess I only had eight.

    1. Having eight in agreement with Sue_D is still very good; I had Frietas, Rogers[3B], Sanchez[SS] starting, with Oduber, Taylor, Cuevas & Higley on the bench.

      I tend to be conservative with players, unless they’ve really had a ‘breakout’ year (promote), or a horrid or incomplete season (release or repeat).

  8. I guess my ? would be when Nieto comes off suspension, where do you think he’ll land?

    I am excited for Oduber and Sanchez. 🙂

  9. Oh Sanchez is a joy to watch. From what I saw last year he’s very fluid and doesn’t seemingly follow the cliche’ of “hard play easy and easy play hard”. He looks like he’s 15 years old, too. 🙂 I am eagerly awaiting this team this year – haven’t been as excited since a few years ago when we had the team with Maxwell, Marrero, et al.

    Just please Sue, put Souza on your Potomac list. LOL

  10. @BinM,

    Rizzo and his FO appear to be following a very consistent (tried and true?) strategy in making their picks: 1. starting pitching (preferably power) 2. catchers 3. MI.

    I noted that KC, Tampa, Boston and other franchises appear to have adhered to this
    strategy. It may be because middle infielders are usually the most versatile and best
    athletes. Easily converted to other positions outside of catcher and pitcher. Catchers are hard to develop. Rizzo drafted a bunch (and traded for one) as the Nats cupboard was definitely getting bare in the upper minors. Power pitchers … we all know how much he wants those and how rare they are.

  11. Hard part for me is guessing the pitching staffs … if you can do that Sue you are way ahead of all the prognosticators the way Harper is ahead of his peers.

  12. Sue that is funny very good Hey Elliot I am hearing the same thing on Manno , he has gained weight and while I have not seen him throw, an old pro by the name of Neil Heaton is telling us he looks really good and has picked up some velo. anyway I am the lead minon on manno. I wish him luck, but I want to report on many other players that I will be watching. I am heading to Melbourne for 3 weeks and willl report on spring training. I leave in a week.

  13. Do you think Tyler Hanks will make it to Hagerstown this year? He apparently impressed Keith Law with a 95mph fast ball while Law was at Southern Nevada watching Harper.

    1. Yes. Even if he’s held in XST and goes to Auburn, he could pitch his way to Hagerstown. What I don’t see happening is any starter from Vermont jumping two levels like Morris and Bronson did last year.

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