2013 Watchlist: Notables (Bats)

Top 10 Nats BatsIt’s harder to find the common thread among the notable bats aside from being brought up a lot in the conversation. Some are old and on the cusp. Some aren’t old in terms of age but have been in the system for a long time. And some are simply a bit infamous. Here’s a breakdown of the notable bats on the Nats farm:

Corey Brown
Acquired in the December 2010 Josh Willingham trade, Brown has been knocking at the door ever since but hasn’t been able to stick — either due to injury (2011) or the usual vagaries of the “4A” — too similar to an established player, not versatile enough for the manager, etc. Last season was a career year, but time isn’t on his side (turned 27 this past November) and with a stacked MLB lineup in D.C., he’s going to need a trade or an injury to see more time as a major-leaguer.

Jhonatan Solano
He’s a fan favorite, but the cold, hard reality is that if he weren’t on the 40-man roster and hadn’t played unexpectedly well in his cup of coffee during the Nats “Spinal Tap drummer” phase in May/June 2012, he’d be seen by more people as either a younger version of Carlos Maldonado or a shorter version of Wil Nieves. Still, I’d agree that he can be a serviceable backup, so he gets his graf here.

Cutter Dykstra
Where to begin: The notorious father? The celebrity-actress girlfriend fiancé? The uniform pants worn a size too small? Let’s go with a comeback season in 2012 for Hagerstown after a disappointing 2011 in Potomac. The 23-year-old also re-established himself as an MI after spending most of the previous season at DH.

Caleb Ramsey
Ramsey’s name has come up the past two falls in the discussion of instructional league invites, as well as the accompanying articles in Baseball America and on MASN.com. Ramsey got on the scouts’ radar with an All-Star season in the 2010 Cape Cod League, which he himself credits for helping him to get drafted in 2011.

Adrian Nieto
Once upon a time, Adrian Nieto and Sandy Leon were named in tandem as the Nats promising backstops of the future. He struggled mightily in his first three seasons before a PED suspension shortened his 2011 campaign. Meanwhile, Leon’s bat started to catch up to his glove and vice-versa for other catchers in the system (Norris, Freitas). Only Leon is ahead of him now, but another pair of catchers (Kieboom, Manuel) are poised to catch or pass him in his age-23 season.

Narciso Mesa
Mesa was a 2012 watchlister that was an inference: His 2010 line (.224/.271/.286) was unimpressive, but he was sent to the GCL in 2011 nevertheless. Likewise, he began 2012 with a .229/.262/.297 in the GCL but was promoted to Auburn where he caught fire (.343/.391/.400). He faltered in a brief stint at Hagerstown, but at 21 and with a dearth of age-appropriate OFs, he’s one to watch for in 2013.

Stephen Perez
Perez makes this list because I keep seeing his name in discussions of the 2012 draft, as well as his inclusion on the Bullpen Banter Top 15 list for 2013. He’s perceived to have “fallen” to the Nats in the 8th round (#47 in a 2011 MLB.com Top 50 draft prospects), despite having true SS defensive skills.

Hayden Jennings
Though not the only HS pick to sign in 2012, he was the highest non-first rounder since Michael Taylor in 2009. Age aside (though he turned 20 in October), he’s also noted for having tremendous speed (6.4 in the 60) and was lured away from going to LSU after leading his school (Evangel Christian) to the Louisiana state championship in 2011 as a junior.

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