- Marvin Lowrance OF - The 21-year old 7th round pick from the 2004 draft pick continued building on a solid 2004 in the NY-Penn League despite an inauspicious start to his 2005 season. Lowrance suffered a broken knee cap the first week of the South Atlantic League season. He was hitting .346 at the time of the injury. During a brief 8 game rehab with the GCL Nationals, Lowrance hit 321/390/571 with 2HR and 9RBI. In 57G with the Sand Gnats, Lowrance put up a respectable 288/342/425 in 57G. He projects as a corner OF as he progresses through the farm system. He has limited power upside at this point but as he fills out he could develop into a 10-15 HR #4 outfielder. He should begin the year in Potomac.
- Devin Ivany CA - The 23-year old catcher finished his second season with the Nationals after being drafted in 6th round of the 2004 draft. While his age is definitely a question compared to his level of competition, I don't necessarily hold that against catchers. Ivany finished the season 262/309/428 in 113G for Savannah. He showed a spike in power (13HR) after only 4XBH in 154AB last year. His defense is till a work in progress, but he along with Erick San Pedro, Salomon Manriquez Luke Montz & Brian Peacock, provide the Nats with a number of potential receivers for the future. Ivany should ideally be promoted to Potomac but with San Pedro returning from an injury, Ivany may end up on the short side of a platoon.
- Edgardo Baez OF - The 20-year old Baez showed a bit of improvement in his 2nd season with Savannah, though not much (246/333/394 in 125G). He has a balance of power (11HR) and speed (6 triples and 11/15 SB) while playing a solid RF. He has the arm strength to progress defensively and needs more AB to improve his offense. He has the potential of being a solid major league RF, but he needs to show that ability early in 2006 or he may fall completely off of the Nationals' radar. I would hope the Nationals would challenge him by placing him in Potomac.
- Luke Montz CA - The 22-year old Montz battled injuries throughout the 2005 season which impacted his numbers at the plate (224/328/466) but it certainly didn't curtail his power, 19HR and 68RBI in 343AB. Montz' future may not be behind the plate. He appears to be best suited as a 1B/DH type with the ability to serve as a back-up catcher. I'm not sure where he'll end up in 2006, but it may make sense to work him out at 1B in Savannah to start the season with an early promotion to Potomac if his bat comes around.
- Rogearvin Bernadina OF - I know the Nationals are higher on the 21-year old Bernadina than I am. The 21-year old just completed his third season with the Sand Gnats demonstrating little improvement at the plate (240/340/371 in 2004 233/353/369 in 2005). His calling card is his speed. In the last two seasons, Bernadina has stolen 59/69 bases. He showed a surprising spike in power with 12HR/417AB (only 2 less HR than he hit in his first 924AB). He has improved on his BB totals ([BB/AB] 19/278 in 2003, 60/450 in 2004, and 75/417 in 2005) . The problem I have with Bernadina is that he has not shown the ability to hit consistently. I imagine Bernadina may be exposed to the Rule 5 draft where a rebuilding team may grab him as a PR/late inning defensive replacement. If he remains with the team, I hope for his sake it's not a 4th season in Savannah.
Savannah's Top 5 Pitching Prospects
- Collin Balester RH SP - The 19-year old RHP continued to impress with a solid season in Savannah, 125IP with 3.67 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 6.8 K/9IP, 3.0 BB/9IP, and 0.8 HR/9IP. He has very good control of the strikezone with two solid pitches, the fastball and curveball, and a developing change-up. The 6'5", 190lb pitcher still needs to fill out and with that will hopefully improve his durability. He began the season one level higher than expected (Vermont). I doubt the Nationals will repeat that by starting him in Harrisburg. He may begin the season in Potomac but it wouldn't shock me to see his first few starts for Savannah.
- Daryl Thompson RH SP - The 19-year old Thompson, a La Plata, MD native, has drawn comparisons to Oil Can Boyd. He season was overshadowed by Balester but was solid in its own right, 53.2IP 3.35ERA, 1.30WHIP, 8.1K/9IP, 4.0 BB/9IP, and 0.5HR/9IP. He pitches with a maturity beyond his actual age. He had minor shoulder surgery in late August and is expected to be ready next spring where he is likely to return to Savannah, at least to begin the season.
- Greg Bunn RH SP - The 22-year old Bunn was drafted in the 5th round of the 2004 draft with the thoughts he could develop into a solid middle of the rotation starter. He began the season in Savannah where he made 11 starts, pitching 58.1 innings. He had a 3.86ERA, 1.30WHIP, 8.6K/9IP, 3.9 BB/9IP, and an unsettling 1.5 HR/9IP. Upon his promotion to Potomac, much like Campbell, Bunn struggled with his control (6.7BB/9IP) and continued to allow more than 1 HR per 9IP. He does not have overpowering stuff, so he needs to work on his change-up as well as changing speeds to keep hitters off-balance. Bunn should return to Potomac for 2006.
- Ricardo Morales LH SP - The 21-year old was signed as a minor league free agent in 2004 and provided a solid LH arm for the Savannah rotation in 2005. He finished the year with 25 starts (137IP) with 3.94ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 6.5 K/9IP, 2.6BB/9IP, and 1.0 HR/9IP. He does not have overpowering stuff but appears to have an understanding of the strikezone. He should continue up the organizational ladder with a full season at Potomac most likely.
- Brett Campbell RH RP - The 23-year old 34th round pick from the 2004 draft burst on the scene as a nearly unhittable closer for the Sand Gnats. In 36 appearances, he had 19 saves in 48IP with a 1.69ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 9.4 K/9IP, 2.8 BB/9IP, and 0.4 HR/9IP. He struggled on his promotion to Potomac but some of that can be attributed to a higher number of IP than he had in the past. As he builds up his endurance, Campbell has the potential to be a serviceable arm out of the bullpen. He'll return to Potomac in 2006.
The Potomac Nationals have a very interesting potential starting rotation in 2006 with Balester, Bunn, Thompson (eventually), and Morales all likely to be there for a large portion of the season.