The end of October and the beginning of November can be a depressing time in the life of any baseball fan. The World Series is over, and for 99 percent of fans, your team isn't the World Champions. The Winter Meetings are still more than a month away, with the magic words ("pitchers and catchers report") still at least 2 months away from being uttered.
But, there is hope. Toiling away in the dessert of Arizona are the cream of the prospect crop. The Nats prospects have teamed up with prospects from the Angles, Giants, Phillies and Red Sox to form the 2011 incarnation of the Scottsdale Scorpions (10-16, last in the AFL East and just 1 game out of dead last in the league). With the Arizona Fall League at its half-way mark, lets see what impact the Nats representatives are making.
Pat Lehman - 25 Years Old - RHP - Taken in the 13th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft
His 2011: In 13 games as the Potomac Nationals closer he had 7 saves, an ERA of 1.72, and a microscopic 0.574 WHIP. He played in 29 games for the Senators, with 6 saves, a still healthy 0.765 WHIP, adding 34 Ks in 34 IP.
AFL Stats: 10.2 IP, 8.44 ERA, 17 H, 10 ER, 2BB, 10 Ks. Not exactly what the Nats were looking for in regards to a reliever they had high hopes for. He will still likely start 2012 in Harrisburg, perhaps moving up to Syracuse to replace relievers who move up to DC during the year, but the Nats would have loved to be wowed and forced to consider him for big league spring training.
Rafael Martin - 27 Years Old - RHP - Signed from the Mexican League in 2010
His 2011: He started the year with Potomac as a middle reliever. Pitching only 8 innings, he struck out 10 and gave up 6 hits and 1 earned run on the way to a 1.12 ERA. He spent most of his year at Harrisburg, pitching in 32 games with a 1.77 ERA and a sub 1.00 WHIP.
AFL Stats: 9 IP, 2.00 ERA, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks. Rafael is a power arm and the Nats would like to see more Ks from a guy who had a 11.1 K/9 this season, but he definitely holding his own against some of the better players in the minors. He will likely start the season at Syracuse as a 7th or 8th inning guy and may see an invite to spring training, depending on the health of several relievers.
Matt Purke - 21 Years Old - LHP - Drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and signed to a Major League Contract.
His 2011: He went 5-1 in 11 starts for Texas Christian University. Across 52.2 IP he allowed 10 ER on 36 Hits, striking out 61 and walking 20.
AFL Stats: Welcome to pro ball kid. 4.1 IP, 11 earned runs, 10 hits, 2 BB. His first start he got just 1 out and allowed 7 runs on 5 hits and a walk. To expect him to go from an injury shortened season into a league featuring premiere prospects was a bit foolish, though with the MLB contract the Nats needed to know where he was. He will be invited to big-league camp, but seems bound for Harrisburg, though a poor showing in Viera could punch his ticket for Woodbridge.
Sammy Solis - 23 Years Old - LHP - Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
His 2011: He started the year with Hagerstown, starting 7 games with an ERA of 4.02, but he really hit his stride at Potomac, starting 10 games, giving up 17 ER on 61 hits with 53 Ks.
AFL Stats: He has started 6 games, some good, some not, though he seems to have hit his stride in the last 2, not allowing an earned runs and racking up 14 Ks, 9 in his most recent start. Sammy is progressing nicely and should be headed for Potomac to begin the 2012 campaign, with quick promotions afoot if he excels. But more over, I feel if he continues his recent dominance in the AFL, he can become a valuable trade chip, possibly becoming the centerpiece in a trade for Denard Span or another young centerfielder.
Tomorrow we will check in on Derek Norris, Zach Walters and some kid named Bryce.
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