Our thoughts on the Nats’ AFL representatives
By now, you’ve read that the Arizona Fall League starts up today. And some 18-year-old named Bryce Harper won’t be playing. So there’s little I can add to that, except for some thoughts on the players I’ve seen…
Adam Carr – RHRP
Carr has been here before, playing in 2007 after his first full season in the minors and looked to be on the verge of becoming a factor for the parent club in late ’08 with a 1.78ERA at Potomac and Harrisburg. Unfortunately, he hit wall the next season, and struggled mightily at both levels. In ’09, he was converted to a starting pitcher in an effort to both salvage something out of a hard-thrower as well as give him a chance to pitch more often and learn more of the finer points of pitching. In ’10 he returned to relieving, mostly as a setup guy and long-man, but was solid and consistent enough to get a callup to AAA where he racked up nine saves in 10 chances and posted a 2.08ERA.
Cole Kimball – RHRP
Kimball is a similar pitcher to Carr, but started for his first three seasons before being turned into a reliever in ’09. Kimball doesn’t throw quite as hard, but can (and does) throw more breaking pitches. Served as the closer for Potomac in ’09 and to begin ’10 with solid numbers. At Harrisburg, Kimball saw his strikeout rate jump from the one-per-inning rate that’s relatively common to a more dominant 12.3/9IP.
Brad Peacock – RHSP
The last of the draft-and-follow picks, Peacock is a perfect example of what the A+ level is — a place where a guy needs to work on one more thing before making the biggest jump in the minors. That one thing? The changeup. Early in the ’10 season, Peacock would rack up double-digit strikeouts but couldn’t get much past the fifth or sixth inning because once folks realized he couldn’t throw anything offspeed for strikes, they’d wait him out and sit on that 94-95 heat. In late June, Peacock started to figure out, resulting in a complete-game shutout in early July. By month’s end, he was in Harrisburg and was a factor in the Sens’ playoff run.
Steve Lombardozzi – 2B
Lombardozzi is often overlooked because of what he is not. He’s not big. He’s not flashy. He’s not a home run hitter. What is he? A steady, reliable fielder (though not the strongest of arms) and a consistent hitter with gap power and slightly above-average speed but terrific baserunning instincts. Arguably the most consistent P-Nat this season and was able to bat anywhere in the top third of the lineup with little change in his production.
Michael Burgess – OF
Burgess was an enigma this season. Early on, it looked like he had finally solved his weakness against lefties and began rapping the ball the other way (in ’09, an opposite-field hit for Burgess was a grounder that went just to the left of the 2nd base bag). But after the league adjusted to him, his well-known weakness re-emerged — the inability to lay off soft-and-away pitches came back. He appeared to be readjusting his approach when a death in his family kept him out for a couple of weeks. In the final analysis, Burgess is still trying to figure out how to hit to all fields without sacrificing power and keeping the strikeouts down. There were times when he did, which is why he’s been given this challenge.
Derek Norris – C
Injuries wreaked havoc on Norris’s season and it was not until late August that he began to look comfortable as a hitter. As mentioned last week, Norris does struggle some with breaking pitches but as many people have remarked, you can close your eyes and pick him out of a BP lineup — the ball has a distinctive sound coming off his bat. The most promising thing is that no matter how low his batting average got, Derek did not press and held his OBP at the .400+ level all season long. Defensively, Norris is still a project, struggling with wild pitches and passed balls, but still threw out 51% of the runners that tried to steal off him.
Sammy Solis – LHP
Solis made just two appearances in Hagerstown, so I did not see him. Here is what the estimable John Sickels wrote about him prior to the draft:
A back injury redshirted Solis in 2009, so he’s a draft-eligible sophomore this year… Sizeable at 6-5, 220, he has an 89-92 MPH fastball, and both his curveball and changeup are major league quality. His command is considered excellent, and there is nothing wrong with his statistical performance this spring: 2.94 ERA with a 52/15 K/BB in 52 innings, 51 hits allowed. He should… interest any team looking for a lefty with polish who won’t need much minor league time.