Who’s Headed to Syracuse Next?

The Senators’ first planned day off since Easter Sunday gave me an opportunity to peruse the rosters of all of the Washington Nationals’ affiliates and gaze into my crystal ball for potential promotions and demotions. And I’m not talking about a week here or there to fill in for an injured left fielder. I’m talking about the kind of promotion where we’ll never see that player in Harrisburg again.

Since we are at roughly the quarter pole for the 2011 season, this is as good a time as any to let the wild-ass guessing begin on who might be headed to Syracuse next (arbitrary odds are next to each player’s name).

Matt Antonelli (20-1)

Antonelli turning two against the Curve
Photo courtesy Christine Baker / The Patriot-News 

This may seem like a stretch considering Antonelli finally joined the Senators last week and has played in only 4 games so far after rehabbing a minor hamstring issue in extended spring training. But just know his extensive experience (187 games at Triple-A Portland and 18 games as a 2008 late season callup with the Padres) coupled with his ability to play either 2nd or 3rd base make him a potential candidate. The Nationals’ organization is looking for the situation that gives him the most at-bats and that just might be in Syracuse if he can sustain his current .300+ batting average.

Chris Rahl (12-1)

With ex-Senator Roger Bernadina making his mark in Washington, it doesn’t look like The Shark is coming back to Syracuse anytime soon and that leaves them with only 4 outfielders on their roster. Rahl seems like the logical choice out of the options on Harrisburg’s roster as he defensively can play all three outfield positions, already has 87 games experience at Triple-A Reno last season, and is currently htting  .303.

Steve Lombardozzi (8-1)

Although a recent downward trend has Lombardozzi’s average sitting at .279, he has proven both here in Harrisburg and in the Arizona Fall League last season that he has what it takes to move up to the next level. One stumbling block might be that before Lombo can get at-bats everyday in Syracuse, Seth Bynum will have to be shifted over as the Chiefs’ regular shortstop. That being said, I’d be shocked to still see him here in Harrisburg in July and August.

Brad Peacock (6-1)

If promotions were based solely on performance, Peacock would easily be the favorite. But short of an injury at either level above him, there’s no room in the Syracuse rotation and the powers that be are going to want him to pitch every fifth day. However, if he keeps dominating like he has in his previous 7 games this season, he might force their hand to make a move sooner rather than later.

Mattheus stretching before practice
Photo courtesy Jenny Kane / The Patriot-News 

Cory VanAllen (3-1)

To know how good VanAllen has been this season, check out this stat – – before last Friday’s game, VanAllen had thrown a total of 6.1 innings while runners were in scoring position and not a single batter had gotten a hit off of him. The only lefty currently in Syracuse’s bullpen is Lee Hyde and his 9.00 ERA and .367 opponent’s batting average. So, at the very least I can envision VanAllen getting the promotion to be a much-needed LOOGY for the Chiefs.

Ryan Mattheus (2-1)

The promotion of Cole Kimball to the big club leaves an opening at the back end of Syracuse’s bullpen and no one deserves a shot to claim it more than Mattheus. All season he has pitched great and proven that his recovery from Tommy John surgery in July 2009 is in his distant past

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