Guessing The Rosters, Part Two

A look at which prospects will fill the Potomac roster in ’11

So let’s get it out of the way, shall we? The Nats brass has been hinting at Hagerstown for Bryce Harper’s regular-season debut since last fall, but I’m not buying it. Why? Because the same thing was said about Strasburg last year and Potomac, but also because it will make for a move that’s part PR, part psychological ploy.

What I believe will happen is that Harper will play much like he did in the AFL and he’ll “earn” his first promotion right out of Spring Training. The spin will be that “He proved to us that it would just be a waste of time,” or something to that effect. But the reality is if they want him to “pay his dues,” slotting him one level below where he belongs instead of two will suffice.

Now before folks accuse me of self-interest, let me remind you that I was actually relieved that Strasburg didn’t come to Potomac last year. Sure, I missed out on seeing one of the great ones up close, but I also missed the throngs of overgrown fanboys. If you infer any animus, it’s to those folks, not young Mr. Harper.

Now enough waxing Oblio, let’s get back to the point. Here’s my take on the position players that will begin in Potomac this year:

CA – Sandy Leon
1B – Justin Bloxom
2B – Jeff Kobernus
SS – Rick Hague
3B – Steven Souza
OF – Destin Hood
OF – Eury Perez
OF – Bryce Harper
DH – J.P. Ramirez
BCA – Sean Rooney
BIF – Francisco Soriano
BIF – Stephen King
BOF – Chris Curran
BOF – Brett Newsome

I’m much less confident about this group versus yesterday’s. Kobernus and Hague could just as easily start at Hagerstown, but I’m slotting them here because of their age. Organizational guys like Sean Rooney and Brett Newsome may not break camp… or even go. Ramirez and Hood both need playing time in the OF, but I’m projecting that they’ll split time until Harper is promoted. This is generally the last roster to be set, but I anticipate very few holdovers from last season.

As always, let’s discuss in the comments.

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.

28 thoughts on “Guessing The Rosters, Part Two”

  1. I cannot disagree with your thinking about Harper’s initial destination … but I still believe he’ll be in low-A to start. He’ll be with guys closer to his own age for a bit of minor league bonding (Rizzo has all but said he wants Harper to have the “minor league experience.”).

    You think Kobernus and Hague could start *lower* than high-A ball? I dunno about that. Hague hit Hagerstown pretty well last year and has a good pedigree.

    If Kobernus is in low-A in his third pro year after coming out of college, that’s a big failure. Of course, you could already argue Kobernus is a failed 2nd round draft pick. A 2nd baseman with zero power who is won’t make the AA roster in his 3rd pro year is a failure to me. I hope i’m wrong.

    That being said, a high-A team with Hood, Perez, Ramirez and Hague could be a pretty formidable lineup.

  2. Unfortunately, it’s possible for Harper to kept away from DC for nearly a month if they strategically place him on the Suns and P-Nats rosters for April roadtrips. That may be cynical, but bear in mind the great lengths they took to keep Strasburg away from MD & VA last season.

  3. Just how they handled Strasburg, i.e. to the maximum benefit of our home town teams, would tell me H-town & Potomac would benefit this time from Harper. Last year, they didnt’ get in on Strasburgmania, so this year they get Harper-looza. H-town possibly thru June 7th which will give him 31 home games in 56. Then on to Potomac where they are in game 3 of a 14 game homestand and the P-Nats finish with 46 home games and only 34 roadies (these are not authoritative figures, random adding mistakes highly likely!)

    My reason are 2 – the talk of a position switch to CF – you had instructionals and AFL to start on the switch to RF, now a switch to CF? Allows time for him to be comfortable in one place to learn. Plus you put the 2011 version of Devon White/Marquis Grissom there as his personal CF coach (Secondly, his high strikeout rate in the AFL (13 Ks in 43 PAs). I only see an earlier (May) promotion if he hits over .400 with 1.000+ OPS. Otherwise, .300 + with around a .900 OPS gets him promoted in June. I (hope) think they learned their lesson with Desmond 1st promotion to H-burg, to not promote without results.

    1. Three months ago to the day I made this joke comment about how Harper could spread across three levels to maximize home dates 😉

      “Hagerstown starts on the road and then has a nine-game homestand in mid-April (15th-23rd) goes back on the road, and then has a stretch of 18 home games in 24 days in May (5th-28th). Twenty-seven games is almost 40% of the home schedule.

      Potomac starts at home and then doesn’t have an extended homestand until June, in which it has a monster, 14-game skein from the 6th to the 19th, and then is home for 16 games in July. That’s more than 40% of the home schedule.

      Harrisburg goes on the road in early August, but it’s all in Pennsylvania and then is home for 17 games from the 9th until the end of the season. With no half system, Harper could be the proverbial “juice” to the lineup to win a pennant.”

  4. Looks like you are demoting Curran? Who are you replacing him with in Harrisburg? Guess that’s the next installment?

    1. Curran finished last season with Potomac and hasn’t mastered the level. I love his speed and defense, but he’s not ready for AA. Not going to try to predict Harrisburg and Syracuse; they’re too dependent on how ST goes.

  5. Devon White/Marquis Grissom there as his personal CF coach

    They weren’t very effective with Dukes and Milledge … actually Tim Foli seemed to have more of a positive impact on many aspects of the game. Wouldn’t it be nice if FRobby were still there … kind of hard to argue with that guy given his stature when he played the game.

    1. They seem to have backtracked on the CF talk, so the real test is where he plays during the regular season. Wouldn’t surprise me if they played across the OF to see what he can do.

  6. I am thinking they send Harper to AA if he pans out in ST the way he did in the AFL. He will see closer to major league pitching there otherwise I agree, its Potomac.

    If he is anything at all like Jason Heyward or jumping into the “way-back” machine, Ted Williams he could manage in AA for a full year. Like both the other Nats “Teddy” and Heyward he would have to hit around .360 with a good number of extra base hits and decent plate discipline. I believe one could see a promotion to Syracuse to get Harper as far from DC as possible. If he can “thrive” there as Riggleman so aptly put it. In AAA he would face major league pitching while working on his defensive skills under Randy Knorr who appears to be a far better than average teacher. Hopefully, Derrick Norris will hone his skills there under Knorr’s watchful eye as well.

  7. One more post. On Riggleman’s one year contract … I suspect Knorr may be Riggleman’s potential “plug-in” replacement. Following Foli leaving the organization and Knorr’s promotion to AAA. But I’m not sure I would pick Booker over McCatty. Tomlin?

  8. HArpers numbers were great in the AFL but the spectrum of work was only a few games under 20 I believe. He will start in Hagerstown I believe. Age is a factor and do you really want your prized jewel getting his handed to him in AA. Strasberg was a completly different case because of his age and experience.

  9. Kobernus had injuries in his first two years, which presumably and hopefully slowed his progress. This year will be big for him — and the Nats who used that 2nd round pick. The Nats seem loaded at SS and 2nd though, what with Desmond and Espinoza already intrenched and Lombardozzi, Hague, et al in the pipeline.

    1. Kobernus needs to 1) stay healthy for an entire year, and 2) see #1. Had high hopes for him as a draftee in 2009 (college ball, solid fundementals), but is either ‘snake-bit’ or just fragile physicaly. His numbers in HAG last year (pre-injury) weren’t particularly eye-catching, imo.

  10. I don’t know if the uniform numbers in camp would help with roster guesses … still I found it mildly interesting that Michael Aubrey had a pretty low number while Frazier’s was in the seventies. Kimball’s was in the sixties as was HRod’s.

    Not sure if that factors into things or not but Nats320 made a fairly comprehensive list.

  11. I was among the many that wrote off Nats320 after this post, but I understand many folks are awfully big on uni numbers. I’ve long wished that the P-Nats, for example, would have the guys from Hagerstown wear a uniform that said “New Guy” on his back for the first homestand.

    From what I’ve ever read, in some instances it’s as random as the clubhouse guy laying out the unused uniform numbers and letting the NRIs pick.

  12. Matched up a little better at this level than yesterday – 9+ (have Harper as a promotion, and Rooney as a possible re-sign). With the number of minor-league & ‘make-good’ split contract signings this year, the Harrisburg & Syracuse rosters might become clearer by mid-March.

  13. Is Wirkin Estevez being brought state side this year?

    I want to see how well he holds up in the GCL.

    I am a bit curious about why he hasn’t shown up on the bottom end of any of the prospect guides.

    Is he not talented enough, or is it because he’s been playing in the DSL that he’s not really a known quantity for the prospectors?

    I could understand him being looked over if he features an average to below average fastball… but since I know next to nothing about him, other than his stats, I really would love some information on him!

    1. We’re projecting Estevez to make the jump stateside this year, but like you, we’re limited to a just-stats viewpoint. Unfortunately, no tengo los espías en el dominican and from everything I’ve read, it’s pretty insular there so most folks have the wait-and-see attitude — especially when a prospect has good, but not great numbers.

      If you haven’t seen it already, or would like to see it again, VH did a series on the DSL for Brian over at the NFA:

      2008 Dominican Summer League Analysis, Part 1

      2008 DSL Analysis, Part 2 – Roster Movement

      2008 DSL Analysis, Part 3 – How We Won

      DSL Analysis, Part 4 – Feeding the System

      1. Interesting read 3 years later. Thanks for resuscitating, always felt I wimped out when talking about the DSL “retreads”, its GOOD they finally stopped that. It was CRAPPY they used 22-24 yr olds to pitch in a league for teenagers, so they could be champs.

        The funny thing is, the last graduate class from when it had 2 DSL team (1 with old pitchers, 1 a tryout team) was pretty damn good: Eury Perez, Adrian Sanchez, Hendry Jimenez, Angelberth Montilla, Ricardo Martinez, Alex Romero and Wilson Eusebio.

  14. I’m cheating, in that I just pick the starting eight. Have six of Sue’s eight. Ramirez, not Harper, is in the field. Have both Sousa and King at third. Guess it’s six and a half then.

  15. Sue,
    I know that both you & TBRFan have kids; I hope for the parents sake Harper starts in Hagerstown. There a certain sort of magic when a child can see, and maybe have their picture taken with, a rising star that they can follow all the way to the ‘show’.
    I was a teenager when Johnny Bench played his one season in the minors.
    The magic is magnified 10X with kids under 9-10 years old.

    1. I hope for Hagerstown’s sake he starts there and stays through May to help juice their attendance. But I don’t have a lot of confidence that he’ll be accessible, though I hope in both places they can figure out something that’s geared towards the kids so they can get a glimpse of him up close.

  16. My kid is interested in Harper as a date. 🙂 And that’s no joke!

    All laughing aside, I was able to talk to Bryce in Lakeland in October with no one around me. It was wonderful, and he signed a ball for her with a ref. to a bible verse on it (can’t remember what it was)…he was a pleasant young man who looked nothing of 17 years old at the time. You’d be hard pressed to pick him out as the “kid” on the team, trust me. He is in incredible physical shape. I joked with him about hoping he’d start at Hagerstown, but I then told him to only stay for a few games and keep moving up. He laughed and nodded.

    IMHO, I hope he doesn’t start at the Muni. The facility is not set up to handle the crowds that he will bring. For the kids (young and old alike) there is a “magic” to seeing someone like this, and I know it was awesome to have him right in front of me in Lakeland with no one around for 50+ feet clammoring for his autograph. It surely made me happy, and I knew i’d never have that kind of access to that caliber of talent/athlete ever again. I was like a giddy kid with that baseball and I couldn’t wait to give it to my daughter when I got home. She hugged me over and over!

    Skill wise, I honestly think low-A is too low. Potomac or Harrisburg are seemingly more talent-wise suitable for what they need to see out of him at this time. He stood out at instructs for his pure power, and he surely didn’t dissapoint in the AFL, although playing in a shorter schedule. I think he should be high-A, AA and AAA this year, and then right from spring training to the bigs next year. Part of me knows he’s going to hit the Nats in 2011 though….

  17. Amazing names on your list for the future of the OF of the Nats. I hope many of these names can matriculate together to AA by mid-season to stay on what I am hoping is to stay on the schedule I envision for the MLB team.

    I also hope Hague and Kobernus can eat up A ball and be promoted too and a pitcher or 2 makes their way up as well.

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