44. Jonny Tucker – After Tucker’s 2011 season ended prematurely when he was injured crashing into the outfield wall, it was nice to see him get the chance to redeem himself in 2012. He began the season with the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League and was re-signed by the Nationals to bolster the injury-ravaged Harrisburg roster for August. Unfortunately, Tucker struggled at the plate as he managed to scratch out a .136 batting average over 69 plate appearances.
43. Kris Watts – Watts was acquired from the Pirates’ organization in early June to replenish the depleted core of catchers and at least he stayed healthy. Very few positives can come from Watts’ 2012 campaign. He hit a meager .156, threw out only 24% of base-stealers, and struggled…really struggled…to catch any ball at home on a play at the plate. It didn’t matter if the throw was on the fly or bouncing, Watts usually spent the aftermath chasing down a loose ball.
42. Beau Seabury – The Nationals plucked Seabury from the Rockies’ organization in last winter’s minor league Rule 5 draft. The former UVa product had a promising start in a Senators’ uniform until an injury to his throwing arm sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
41. Rob Gilliam – Gilliam was a highly touted piece of the trade that brought Gio Gonzalez to Washington. After last season, Baseball America had ranked him the #21 prospect in the Oakland organization. Maybe the change of scenery threw him off, but Gilliam didn’t live up to the billing. When he could locate it he had a devastating breaking pitch but too often he worked behind in the count and was forced to throw fastballs when batters were sitting on the pitch.
40. Austin Bibens-Dirkx – The tall and lanky righthander was called on from Syracuse to make two spot starts when the Senators’ rotation desperately needed a break. Bibens-Dirkx delivered with two fine outings as he was much more successful at Double-A then he was at Triple-A where he would be released from late in the season.
39. Jimmy Barthmaier – After having a really strong second half last season, Barthamier decided to fix what wasn’t broken and reinvented himself as a sidearmer. The results were mixed as he was touched up for runs in five of his 11 appearances and struck out ten batters while walking nine and hitting two batters.
38. Cory VanAllen – After a solid year in Harrisburg, VanAllen justifiably began the 2012 season at Triple-A Syracuse. However, he struggled and was demoted back to City Island in early June. VanAllen made 11 appearances for the Senators before he was placed on the disabled list and eventually went under the knife for surgery.
37. Seth Bynum – One of the few Expo draftees still playing, Bynum found himself back in Harrisburg after a disappointing 94 games in Syracuse. He began his tenure with the Senators in much the same vein as he struggled to make contact striking out at an alarming rate. But over the season’s final two weeks, Bynum made the necessary adjustments and raised his average to .236. Like a lot of his teammates on the final roster, this is likely the end of the line for Bynum in affiliated baseball.
36. Mike Ballard – The soft-tossing southpaw was hit hard in his twelve starts with the Senators before hitting the disabled list in mid-June for the rest of the season. In ten of his 12 outings, Ballard allowed five or more hits and batters hit .362 on balls in play.
35. Brian Broderick – Broderick was a highly anticipated late addition to the Senators’ pitching staff. So much so that The Patriot-News’ Geoff Morrow broke the news of his signing days before it became official. Broderick was just okay in his eight appearances including three starts trying to reclaim his career after getting released from AAA Memphis where he went 3-8 with a 7.32 ERA.
34. Chris McConnell – Two days after delivering a game-winning, walkoff single McConnell was released from the Nationals following an underwhelming year and a half in the organization. He was never going to win a batting title, but .169 in 124 games at Double-A isn’t going to cut it.
33. Stephen King – On the same day that McConnell was released, King found himself demoted to Potomac. He had to see it coming though. His stats actually got worse from 2011 and I didn’t think that was possible. He hit .185, walked only five times, and had three extra base hits. King disproved the blind squirrel idiom.
32. Pat Lehman – Lehman only lasted in Harrisburg for eight appearances in 2012, but he sure made an impression in those few games. Lehman was dominant as he allowed a lone run in 7.2 innings while pocketing four saves and striking out nine.
31. Josh Johnson – The last two seasons JJ has anchored the middle infield while he’s watched Danny Espinosa and Steve Lombardozzi come through Harrisburg on their way to DC. 2012 was Johnson’s chance to shine as he quickly earned a promotion to AAA with a torrid start in the first 11 games. If he hadn’t violated the MLB drug policy, JJ might have actually got a shot in Washington when Ian Desmond went on the DL.
30. Manny Mayorson – In the minor leagues, who plays and who doesn’t play sometimes has nothing to do with who deserves it. Mayorson was signed in the off-season as a veteran infielder to a veteran-sized contract. That alone guaranteed his place in the lineup most days. It definitely wasn’t his .244 average, nine RBIs, and five errors.
29. Marcos Frias – Frias was inconsistent at best all season and was relegated for the most part to the role of a mop-up man. For most of his time on the mound, he was hit hard as evident by his 1.653 WHIP and an astronomical .402 batting average on balls in play. But no outing exemplified Frias’ season more than when he walked four batters in the 14th inning against Richmond to lose 1-0.
28. Anthony Rendon – The Nationals’ top-rated minor leaguer got a taste of Double-A with 21 games in Harrisburg. Although he underperformed at the plate, Rendon had flashes of brilliance highlighted by the two home runs he hit to right-centerfield during the season’s last weekend. The third baseman from Rice also impressed at the hot corner as he was solid with his glove and his arm.