At The Half, Hagerstown Hitters

A look at the Suns hitters from the scouting perspective

[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.

Bryce Harper


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.

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.

19 thoughts on “At The Half, Hagerstown Hitters”

  1. A head-on-the-nail perfect assessment of Harper. He has all the hitting talent in the world, and although his fielding falls far behind, you can live with that when you consider his offensive potential. But things such as his recent quote at the SAL all star game that he doesn’t care what people say about him are the heart of the issue. These are the people paying their hard earned money to see you play, you self-centered millionaire brat. People don’t dislike Harper because he is a horrible player. He’s not. They dislike him because he is a horrible behaving person. He is an arrogant, egocentric punk. Ask a teammate about him sometime when there are no media types within ear shot. It won’t be pretty. Keep him in Hagerstown all year, if for no other reason than because he has let it be known that he hates it there and doesn’t think it is good enough for him.

    1. I dont see whats wrong with not caring what other people think, you cant make evryone happy, so dont care. He does need to mature, but I think that will really start to happen at AA, where its a much more “grown up” way of playing the game than A ball has

    2. I don’t think that’s the case at all. I know many of the players actually like Harper, but they just say that he’s young and at times, he acts like the 18-19yr old kid that he is. I don’t know many of us at 18-19 that weren’t self-centered punks. Otherwise, from what I’ve heard, he’s actually a very likeable kid.

    3. High school top jock. Should be getting ready for the prom. Thinks most adults don’t understand him. Too early to develop the arrogant, barely tolerant attitude of a top athlete that I saw in his All Star interview.

      Solution? He needs a “mentor”. Rizzo seems to think he needs 10 mentors on the bench for every rookie/2nd year player in the majors. Here is one of his very best prospects. Send Stairs down to A ball to mentor him. He isn’t doing anything all that
      valuable on the major league roster.

      1. Oh, if only he would do this. We could always hire Dmitri Young as a bench coach. Of course, Dmitri’s solution might be to just take a “chill pill”.

  2. Well, you don’t get more anonymous than ‘our Hagerstown guy’.
    Didn’t see an explanation for what an ‘os guy’ is, but I have to say that this qualifies as bonus coverage from a Sun Regular. The only thing missing is ‘point/counterpoint’ from TBRFan.

    Thanks for the info.

      1. Well, there you go. Now that you’ve exposed his name he’s going to have get moved from his location in the BWPP (Baseball Witness Protection Program). I imagine that Scott Boras and the Bryce Harper people are searching for his identity as we speak.

        We need to guard this man’s safety because this is an outstanding recap. Many beat writers would be wise to check this stuff, but I’ll prefer that the regulars and insiders get the sweetest info.

        1. Shawn’s big boy, both literally and figuratively, and can take it as well as dish it. I’m glad folks admire his candor the way I do. TBRFan – Speak up! We need your Jane Curtin to Shawn’s Dan Aykroyd.

  3. Some tough love for the hitters from your man in Hagerstown, Sue. Can’t wait to read the pitching report.

  4. Been on vacation in OC and off the net for a bit. I’ll give my take on the 1st half:

    1. The whole team – overachieved in the face of not so good coaching. I can count at least 2-3 games where horrible coaching decisions were a determining factor in the win-loss column. I know the coach is hamstrung in most cases, but you’d hope there would be a “it’s easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for approval” type move at some point.

    Newsome – just filler until something good comes along. I don’t think it’s Freitas…maybe our new first round draft pick???

    Sanchez – i’ll take his fielding all day, every day. Hitting is better than Eury Perez slap-hitting, but not true full slugging swings. I still like what I see and feel his upside is way better than anyone else i’ve seen at the position outside of Lombo.

    Martinson – ugh, ugh, ugh. I don’t think he’s a shortstop – and I don’t honestly know what position he should be. definitely an OG to me. Maybe our new first round pick goes here??

    Kelso – “kelso-town” is alive and kicking at the Muni. Maybe he’s an over-achiever, maybe he’s not that good a hitter. I like his fielding and gritty attitude and he’s made WAY more good plays than bad. I get a really good feeling about this kid. If there’s Manno’s Minions, there ought-to-be a group called “Kelso’s Krew”. 🙂

    Nicol – I like him. Probably the best person on the team – he’s likeable, personable, talks without tons of slang or lingo or “like” attached to his sentences. He’s had some great plays, but he’s stuck behind a bunch of folks who play much more than him. I get a feeling he’s going to either be cut or be seen very rarely the remainder of the season. OG written all over him.


    Keyes – looks like he could just stare at a baseball and it would fly out the stadium. But actually getting the bat to touch the baseball is another story. A total project. He’ll be here next year, too.

    Taylor – I think I could type the same thing for him as I did for Keyes. He looks lost in center field to me, which might be because of a lack of coaching to learn the position. He can run like a gazelle, though. At bat? Needs to hit off the tee and get some more coaching. I think he’ll be back here next year too.

    Oduber – has not lived up to my expectations. But he’s been on the DL for some time the first half, so i’m going to reserve judgement until the season’s over.

    Harper – grow up. please. I don’t care if you’re 18 years old. Lose the facepaint, lose the “I’m BH, I can do what I want” attitude. If he does?? The sky is the limit. Otherwise, he’ll tread water around the minors until he realizes that attitude doesn’t make a team member. His arm is strong, but somewhat inaccurate. He’s improved his after-at-bat dugout implosions from the begining of the season. And oh yeah, he better start caring what others think – we pay your salary. 🙂


    Freitas – defensively a 7. Not sliding to block balls at all, which has cost us dearly in some games. Get that body position fixed and we’re looking at a diamond in the rough. Hitting is Maxwell-esque at the low-A level as he’s knocking the cover off the ball most at bats. I’m not thinking positioning change here. I say leave him and let’s see where this goes. There’s not a rush at the ML level, so give him a year or two to learn. Heck, we’ve done the same thing with DN so let time work here.

    Leoinda – I want to see more. Just not enough a sample size at this time, but he’s not been ugly bad. I do see him as very tall for the position. Maybe he’s a move to first?

    Overall, I wish they had won the first half. That was very disappointing to see them cash it in going down the stretch. Depending on call-up’s and other moves, i’ll be interested to see what happens in the 2nd half. I don’t think it will exceed what we’ve just witnessed.

      1. I know, I know. But the beach was calling….and french fries at Thrashers, too!! Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!

  5. Guys, I pay a hell of lot of money to watch 20 games at NATS park. I think I speak for most of the fans “up here” (“down here?”), when I say I don’t care what the press or you all think of Harper. Maturity counts only as it applies how one plays on the field and gets along with the team. Barry Bonds was a pretty sullen individual, Ty Cobb was a racist borderline sociopath, Mantle was a womanizing, drunk along with his pal W. Ford. Harper can learn the social graces in Potomac as well as in Hagerstown. As for myself, I hope I can see him in Frederick in August. In direct response to Rebelous One, I pay aforementioned money to see people hit and pitich well, to have them “care” what I think of them (which varies from day to day week to week based on performance).

    1. “Maturity counts only as it applies how one plays on the field and gets along with the team. ”

      How quickly we forget Brien Taylor…

      1. IMHO Potomac or Harrisburg can have Harper. I’d rather have a so-so team with a bunch of guys that are working their a** off every game instead of one hothead who thinks his s**t don’t stink.

        I still remember back to the end of spring training when he said “i’ve never not made the team”….well, he did make a team – Hagerstown. He won’t be satisfied unless he’s wearing a Walgreen’s (oops, Nationals) W. 🙂 I’ll gladly take a team of Kelso-type players anyday.

        I appreciate his drive, but he really needs some coaching on being humble, sincere, and respectful of the game and others around him.

        Ok, rant over. 🙂 Let’s go SUNS in the 2nd half!

  6. Harper needs to go to Harrisburg and learn how to play the game with adults! He needs to get knocked down repeatedly when he acts like an ass to the other team. He also needs to learn how to play rf because that’s his MLB position not cf.

    Oh, and lose the clown makeup!!!!

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