The Senators’ Future

While discussing the Senators’ anemic offense last week, Patriot-News reporter Geoff Morrow looked at the top Nationals’ prospects below Harrisburg in the farm system and opined we’d probably only see one more player from that list this season

None of the other Nationals’ top offensive prospects are expected to earn promotions to Harrisburg anytime soon.

Among catcher Derek Norris (No. 2 according to Baseball America), second baseman Jeff Kobernus (No. 7) and outfielders Michael Burgess (No. 9), Destin Hood (No. 10), Eury Perez (No. 11) and J.R. Higley (No. 13), all of whom are at Potomac or Class A Hagerstown, it seems only Burgess has a realistic chance of earning a midseason promotion to the Senators.

“It is what it is because there’s not much below us right now,” manager Randy Knorr said. “There are prospects we’re very high on, but we just don’t want to push their progress.”

Last week, we reviewed the highly sought after prospects currently on the Senators’ roster…this week, we’ll look at the prospects yet to get here in Harrisburg.

Derek Norris (left) – Norris is clearly the catcher of the future for the Nationals. His time this year at Potomac has been limited when he missed 5 weeks earlier in the season with a broken bone in his right hand and was also hospitalized after a beaning on May 21st. Norris’ greatest attribute is his plate discipline as he accumulated a .286 batting average with a .413 OBP with 23 homeruns last season in Hagerstown. ESPN’s Keith Law brings up the one question mark when he calls Norris “an offfensive catcher whose defense is the subject of major debate among pro scouts.”

Jeff Kobernus – As the Nationals’ 2009 2nd round draft selection, this is Kobernus’ first opportunity for a full season of professional baseball but so far he has been slowed by injuries. In only 24 games thus far, he is also struggling at the plate with a .252 average. The Nats are going to take it nice and slow with Kobernus and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him patiently moved up the farm system so he can be the time to make necessary adjustments.

Michael Burgess (right) – The Potomac rightfielder and former 2007 1st rounder has been putting up solid numbers as he progresses up the chain. Burgess is believed to have best outfield arm in the Nats’ farm system and his 14 outfield assists in the last year and a half back that up. So far this season, Burgess is batting .278 with 5 HR and 42 RBIs in his 52 games at A+ Potomac. Harrisburg seems like the next logical step for Burgess as he continues to showcase his major league prospects.

Destin Hood – The former Alabama football recruit has been ranked in the Nationals’ top ten prospects the last two seasons on the strength of his raw power and abilities. He continues to need seasoning defensively and at the plate in Hagerstown as he is batting a respectable .293 but with a whopping 61 strikeouts and only one home run.

That takes care of the Baseball America top 10 Nationals’ prospects…so, who else might we see on City Island in the next two seasons that will make an impact?

Stephen Lombardozzi – The Potomac second baseman has consistently put up solid batting and on-base numbers his first three professional seasons: 2008 .283/.371, 2009 .296/.375, 2010 .294/.388. Lombardozzi has also improved his defense as he has only committed 4 errors in 53 games this year.

Sandy Leon – The 21-year old Venezuelan is thought of as the best defensive catcher in the Nationals’ farm system throwing out runners at a 60% rate this season. He has also become a non-power threat at the plate by increasing his batting average to .282 at Hagerstown after posting a .238 last season.

Mitchell Clegg – The 2009 21st round pick has been more than solid in his first two seasons of professional ball. Last season at Class A- Vermont he was 2-4 with a 2.20 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and a 2.31 K/BB rate. This season he is undefeated with 7 wins at Hagerstown while sporting a 3.38 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. The Nationals’ organization must also be pleased by Clegg’s increased 3.63 K/BB rate.

Daniel Rosenbaum – Taken one round after Clegg, Rosenbaum has been lights out in his two stints with the Gulf Coast Nationals and Hagerstown Suns the last two seasons. At both stops, his ERA has been sub-2.00, his WHIP has lingered around the 1.00 mark, and his K/BB rate has been above 4.20. I know they don’t want to push this kid too fast, but he could be the steal of the draft if his numbers continue at the pace they are headed.

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