27. James Skelton – The lithe catcher proved he wasn’t a slouch in the batter’s box as he hit .292 with an on-base percentage of .455, but he was little more than a singles hitter. Skelton even provided some flexibility on defense with six games out in left field. Behind the plate though he struggled to throw anyone out. Anyone. In 22 games catching at Harrisburg and Syracuse, Skelton threw out absolutely nobody out of 20 runners.
26. Paul Demny – The talk around Demny has been that eventually he will be moved to the bullpen. I guess the only question is when? Demny’s biggest issue isn’t his stuff. That’s what has gotten him this far already. Demny’s issue is between his ears and a confidence that is easily shaken.
25. Jeff Mandel – The 27-year old righthander began the season in Harrisburg and was promoted to Syracuse for the third straight year. Mandel returned to the starting rotation one year after he was moved to the bullpen and he didn’t miss a beat. Bonus points for easily being the best hitter on the pitching staff.
24. Trevor Holder – Holder had one awful start that I dogged him for where he couldn’t record an out in the second inning. But otherwise he was a pleasant surprise in his ten starts for the Senators in the second half of the season. Expect Holder to start at the top of the Senators’ rotation to start the 2013 season.
23. Devin Ivany – After the Senators were swept in last year’s playoffs by Richmond, Ivany strolled out of the locker room onto the empty field at The Diamond. He looked over the scene and crouched down behind the plate for what he thought might be the last time. It was a poignant moment for Ivany and one I thought of many times when he took the field this season. He gave his body to the game and 2012 was the culmination of that as his playing career likely came to an end.
22. Brian Goodwin – Goodwin is so highly regarded in the Nationals’ system that he jumped from Hagerstown to Harrisburg skipping Potomac and leapfrogging Michael Taylor in the process. To say, Double-A was an adjustment for Goodwin is an understatement. He struggled at the plate and on routes to fly balls, but he drew walks from the leadoff spot and he has surprising pop in his bat. For a guy that possesses the speed he does, I was most disappointed in his ability to steal bases including knowing when to run and reading a pitcher.
21. Christian Garcia – After enduring not one, but two Tommy John surgeries, Garcia is easy to root for. He proved that he was healthy in Harrisburg, quickly earned a promotion to Syracuse, and now spends his days pitching out of the Nationals’ bullpen. Expect big things from the big righthander.
20. Zach Walters – Walters drew the ire of manager Matt LeCroy on more than one occasion and was the final straw in the Nationals pulling the plug on social media amongst their minor leaguers. But, simply put the kid can rake and that makes up for a lot. He has a surprising amount of gap power as evident by his 21 extra-base hits out of only 48 total while with the Senators.
19. Zech Zinicola – When Zinicola was assigned to Harrisburg after serving his 50-game suspension for synthetic marijuana, he set the all-time modern Senators’ record by playing in his seventh season with the team. He was one of the few relievers that LeCroy could trust in August as he routinely called Zinicola’s number in tight spots and on back-to-back days.
18. Sandy Leon – My love of Sandy Leon behind the plate is well documented. After watching him in the opening game of the season I wrote, “Sandy Leon might be the most perfect catcher I’ve ever seen up close and personal. He possesses a rifle for an arm, the quick hands of a lightweight boxer, and the footwork of a Russian ballet dancer. Most catchers would settle for one of those, but Leon has all three.” But Leon impressed almost as much as a batter. He hit a career-high .311 in Harrisburg and was effective from both sides of the plate.
17. Jose Lozada – A case could be made that Lozada was the Senators’ first-half MVP as he hit .299 the first two months of the season and played every position the team needed him to play. But after a back issue sidelined him, he wasn’t the same player again hitting a meager .185 in July and August.
16. Destin Hood – It’s an understatement to say that 2012 was a disappointing year for Hood. But the majority of his issues stem from a wrist injury that he battled all season instead of opting for surgery on it. The wrist definitely affected his power numbers and his throws from rightfield the second half of the season. Hood takes some interesting routes in the outfield but he’s such a natural athlete that he can usually make up for it.
15. Tim Pahuta – The fan favorite struggled most of the season to stay on a hot streak or produce consistently, but he did manage to club a team leading 15 home runs and drive in 49 runs. Pahuta looked off-balance in the box on most at-bats and he was abysmal when it counted most hitting with runners in scoring position.
14. Justin Bloxom – Initially after getting promoted from Potomac in mid-June, Bloxom struggled at the plate. But he made adjustments and was the Senators’ best hitter in August. Bloxom had some of the best at-bats on the team and easily the best approach. That was evident by a big jump in both on-base and slugging percentage the final month of the season.
13. Pat McCoy – For the second straight season, McCoy was the workhorse of the Harrisburg bullpen racking up the most appearances (50) of anyone on the team and in the Eastern League. McCoy rebounded from a poor June to flourish in July and August and put himself in a good position with the Nationals.
12. Jesus Valdez – For the second year in a row, Valdez earned a promotion from Harrisburg to Syracuse. After some initial disappointment in starting the season on City Island, Valdez regrouped to hit .294 with 29 RBIs in 72 games. Valdez’ time on the basepaths was always an adventure as his baserunning was atrocious.
11. Kevin Pucetas – Pucetas was phenomenal as a reliever and in his first couple of starts, but he fell off after the All-Star break. The Newport Nightmare posted the best K/BB rate of his career but struggled when he left the ball up in the zone and the opposition was able to elevate their swings.