Nats Name AFL Roster

While I’ve yet to see an official press release, buried in one of the Strasburg/Milone stories were the names of the prospects selected for the Scottsdale Scorpions, Washington’s AFL team for 2011.

• OF Bryce Harper

• C Derek Norris

• LHP Sammy Solis

• RHP Rafael Martin

• RHP Pat Lehman

Taxi squad members (which Harper was last year) will be revealed at a later date, and as the above story mentions, 2011 picks such as Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke are still possibilities to play in that capacity. Unlike last year, the focus doesn’t appear to be on figuring out who to protect for the Rule V draft (still not sure if Martin is eligible) but the more mundane task of supplying the roster with players that fit the description of the AFL as a “finishing school for AA/AAA players.”

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.

16 thoughts on “Nats Name AFL Roster”

  1. I think his “exclusion” is more a function of age/injury than anything else. Not to mention his season may go on for up to another 10 games. Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s not sent to the FIL either for the same reason.

    1. Since he’s at high A, wouldn’t he have to be a lower than AA exemption? And if that’s the case, he would be a last minute addition right?

      I think Rendon is probably 60% likely to go, depending on how his workouts in Auburn and Viera go. I don’t expect any drafted pitcher (Purke) to go, too much stress on the arm if they aren’t in pitching shape.

      1. Teams are allowed one single-A exception. Norris was the exception last year, Espinosa in ’09. I seem to recall teams being required and/or allowed to send seven players, so it’s quite possible the last two names might not be announced until next month (no snark there, I mean middle of).

    1. Torn between everyday regular or 4th OF. Love the plate discipline and power, but not fond of the arm and range.

      1. He profile as a corner guy, or CF? Interesting that you note his range and arm. I would have thought he’d have + range and so his decent OBP skills could make him a solid CF with an above average SLG.

        1. Hood is a LF at best. His range problem is mostly due to taking poor routes, a common affliction for the athletes trying to translate tools into skills.

          1. Harper appears to have the same problem. Poor fielding. Two left fielders that are fast and have great arms but are poor fielders.

            Fortunately, the top prospect in all of baseball, Anthony Rendon, won’t have that problem. Nor will Goodwin hopefully.

          2. Agreed: Destin has far too often played the short-hop in the OF, keeping the ball in front of him (good, but a taught reaction) rather than taking a more agressive read on balls in his defensive zone.

            It’s a mixed bag, imo – He’s certainly played some outs into singles, but doesn’t seem to turn line drives into triples, either.

  2. Sure looks as expected that both Rendon and Purke would be playing in the AFL this Fall depending on how they evaluate in Florida this August and September.

    Next year’s story could be as interesting as the Stramas mania. Imagine the two prospects in baseball playing on the same team in AAA. Throw in Tyler Moore (hokay now why DIDN’T HE get chosen? But he still might depending on Rendon and Purke??) all in Syracuse? That team could potentially look as good as a major league club with some luck with pitching and the return of Antonelli and Lombardozzi. But Antonelli looks major league ready and so you almost have to figure he would go elsewhere to get that … I suppose there is still an outside chance he too gets bumped onto the 40-man fora September recall. But I suspect an injury on the big club would almost have to precipitate that.. There’s always the waiver trade possibility for Cora … but I do believe the Nats need that guy almost as a player coach.

  3. Peric,

    You will see Antonelli in MLB about the same time as you see Seth Bynum. Can we all say never.

    1. I’m not so sure about Antonelli; he’s at least played his way onto my radar. A former 1st round pick (17th overall, 2006) of the Padres, he was drafted out of Wake Forest, signed quickly and progressed rapidly through their system in 2006 and 2007. His progress up through AA ball at that point had Sickles rating him as a B+ prospect and the #2 guy in the Padres system with a good glove, solid bat and good strike zone judgment but questionable power (I’m guessing the latter is why the Padres moved he from 3b to 2b). Baseball America had him rated the #50 prospect in all of baseball entering 2008.

      But Antonelli fell off the table in 2008 (although he did get a cup of coffee with the Padres that year), going from a .294/.395/.476 in AA in 2007 to .215/.334/.322 in AAA in 2008. His numbers didn’t improve in 2009 (.196/.300/.339) and after 54 games he was shut down with wrist pain that could not be diagnosed and didn’t respond to cortisone shots. Fast forward to 2010, he was finally diagnosed with a broken hamate bone and underwent surgery in April of 2010. According to his web site, he had been experiencing severe wrist pain for two years. If true, it’s no wonder that his batting and power numbers vanished (his batting eye remained solid even when he couldn’t hit). During his rehab the Padres cut him, and the Nationals picked him up last December.

      And, with the surgery (and the wrist pain) behind him, his bat is back. Through 88 games and 369 PA – all but 4 and 15 at AAA Syracuse – he has slashed .299/.393/.463 in 2011, posting the best OPS on the team. Suddenly he looks a lot like that guy that Sickels rated a B+ entering 2008, only this time at AAA instead of AA. His strike zone judgment is still good (58K, 49BB in 354 AAA PA), but with marginal power (19 2b, 3 3b, 8 HR). It’s clear to me that Antonelli has turned a corner, but even though he’s done very well at AAA it’s not at all clear where the turn leads.

      Understand that I’m not touting Antonelli as a great prospect at this point; I’m guessing his ceiling would be a solid middle infielder/unspectacular #2 hole hitter, with the most likely role being that of a utility guy (he has played 2b, SS, 3b and a little bit of OF in Syracuse). Right now he’s a better story than a prospect; I’m happy for him that he can now say “hey, I could play” instead of just vanishing into baseball obscurity. But I’ve seen a lot of fanbuzz for Lombardozzi as the guy to push Desmond out of the infield, and it occurs to me that Antonelli’s numbers are better. Yes, he just turned 26 in April so he’s older than Lombardozzi, but given that he has essentially lost three years to injury rather than suckage I think heโ€™s earned an invite to the major league camp and a chance to compete in 2012 for the Jerry Hairston/Alex Cora utility role on the Nats no matter what happens in the middle infield.

      1. John C: Excellent summary analysis on Antonelli. He’s a ‘tweener’, in my book; I’d like to see the Nationals hang onto him for 2012, but would completely understand should he go to another orginization in the off-season.

  4. Sue_D: I can see your quandry on Rafael Martin. He is a U.S. born player, so I believe he falls under UFA (Undrafted Free Agent) status. However his advanced age at initial signing (25yo) could make him either eligible for RuleV due to his “signing class” age, or even a straight-out Minor-League free agent at the end of the season. His situation & status is a bit out of the ordinary, to be sure.

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