Triple-A Columbus said goodbye to Cooper Stadium in grand style, as 16,777 were in attendance for its final game. Double-A Harrisburg finished off the season four games over .500 to accomplish its first winning season since 2002. Class A Potomac, of course, won it all by beating the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to take home the Carolina League title (pictured) — here’s a link to a story about how that title relates to what Nationals manager Manny Acta went through in 1999. Class A Hagerstown improved by six games compared to last year’s record. And the entire farm system has been stocked, reshelved and completely redone over and over again this year, as players went up the ladder at an incredible rate. The result: The Nationals have 16 players on their roster 25 years old or younger.
Ever since roster expasions beginning Sept. 1, Washington has called up 10 players. Here’s a look at how they’ve done since that point:
Roger Bernadina (OF): .214 BA (3-for-14), 1 RBI, 3 R in seven games
Kory Casto (INF): .318 BA (7-for-22), 3 RBIs, 1 R in nine games
Tyler Clippard (RHP): hasn’t played
Mike Hinckley (LHP): 0 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 6 Ks in 7 2/3 innings (eight appearances)
Shairon Martis (RHP): 0-2, 2.70 ERA in two starts
Luke Montz (C): 1-for-12, RBI, 2 BB
Mike O’Connor (LHP): hasn’t played
Levale Speigner (RHP): 2 R, 5 H, 2 BB in 3 1/3 innings (four appearances)
Ryan Wagner (RHP): hasn’t played
Lastly, let’s take a look at those really young guys — as if those weren’t young enough. Here’s a look at how the Nationals’ top nine Draft picks — first-round pick Aaron Crow went unsigned — performed in their first Minor League season:
LF Destin Hood (GCL): .256 BA, 14 RBIs in 25 games
SS Daniel Espinosa (A-): .328 BA, 4 RBIs in 19 games
LHP Graham Hicks (GCL): 0 R, 1 H, 2 Ks in 2 IP
C Adrian Nieto (GCL): .217 BA, 3 RBIs in eight games
RHP Paul Demny (GCL): 4-0, 2.50 ERA in 11 games (six starts)
C Daniel Killian (GCL): .189 BA, 1 HR, 28 RBIs in 40 games
LHP Ricardo Pecina (A-): 1-5, 3.78 ERA in 12 games (eight starts)
LF John Higley (GCL): .346 BA, 16 RBIs in 35 games
LHP Tom Milone (A-/A): 1-6, 3.51 ERA in 13 games (10 starts)
Double A player in trouble
Garrett Guzman, an outfielder for the Harrisburg Senators, is being charged with a misdemeanor count of corruption of minors, according to The Associated Press. Guzman allegedly had sex with a 15-year-old girl in late July. The 25-year-old lefty was originally drafted in the 10th round by the Twins in the 2001 Draft. In Double A this season, Guzman hit .274 with nine home runs and 54 RBIs. Read the full story here.
– Alden Gonzalez, associate reporter/MLB.com
Triple-A Columbus center fielder Roger Bernadina is doing more than his fair share of hitting these days. Heading into the Clippers’ Saturday showdown with Toledo, Bernadina had hit safely in 14 consecutive games.
The 24-year-old lefty is batting .352 in 45 games for the Clippers this season, including four homers and 16 RBIs. He began the season at Double-A Harrisburg, where Bernadina hit .323 with five homers and 38 RBIs.
Since joining the Clippers, Bernadina has hit safely in 36 of his 45 games overall. Eight of those contests in this stretch were multi-hit ventures.
Bynum producing significant power for Harrisburg
It’s a whole new season for Senators infielder Seth Bynum. After amassing only 15 home runs in his previous four seasons, Bynum already has a professional-best 20 long balls in 2008.
He’s batting .270 overall with 15 doubles, 14 homesr and 47 RBIs at the Double-A level. In a combined 117 games with Harrisburg and Single-A Potomac, Bynum is batting .266 with 28 doubles and 77 RBIs to go along with his 20 homers.
— Short Season Single-A Vermont infielder Danny Espinosa has gone 12-for-25 with 11 walks in nine games as a professional. he has posted a multi-hit effort in five games.
— GCL Nationals shortstop Esmailyn “Smiley” Gonzalez won the rookie-level batting title after completing his second domestic sesaon with a .350 batting average. The 18-year-old also led the league with a .436 on-base percentage.
It’s been a rough Major League season in the nation’s capital, but the Nationals have enjoyed a banner year in the Minors, and they have the third-best organizational record in all of baseball to show for it.
Entering action July 24, six clubs had combined for 311 wins this season, and three of them were leading their respective divisions.
The Nationals have adopted in the last few years a strategy of drafting the best players available during the First-Year Player Draft, flooding their system with as many elite prospects as they can find. It’s shown early returns at the lower levels of the system, where players like John Lannan and Justin Maxwell excelled and progressed quickly en route to accelerated journeys to the Majors.
In Class A Hagerstown, slugger Michael Burgess, who general manager Jim Bowden touted as one of the best power hitters in his high school class, leads the entire organization with 18 home runs. One step higher at Class A Potomac, 2007 first-round pick Ross Detwiler continues to improve his control, and he’s posted a 3.86 ERA in four July starts, striking out 19 and walking just four in that time. Baseball America taps the left-hander as Washington’s projected future No. 1 starter.
Detwiler is one of a bevy of young pitchers the Nationals hope will continue to progress through the system. While the Missouri State product is still sharpening his craft in Potomac, players like Jordan Zimmermann, Shairon Martis, Tyler Clippard and Craig Stammen have all shown enough to warrant progression through the Nationals’ system.
Zimmermann, all of 24, is 4-2 with a 3.50 ERA in 14 starts at Harrisburg, and he’s struck out 70 batters in 79 2/3 innings.
Mock is already in the Majors operating out of the bullpen, and he and Clippard have both made spot starts for Washington this year. Martis earned a save in the 2008 Futures Game, and Stammen made just six starts in Double-A before earning a promotion on the back of a 3-1 record and a 1.64 ERA during that stretch.
The Nationals’ Minor League pitching depth is giving early returns at the highest level as well, as highly-rated right-hander Collin Balester took the spot of injured starter Shawn Hill in early July and has a 1-2 record in four Major League starts. His 5.75 ERA is a bit deceiving as well, as he’s allowed just one run in two of those four appearances.
The Nationals have some offensive talent in the Minors as well, most notably in the form of the just demoted Triple-A center fielder Roger Bernadina. Another fast climber through the system Bernadina began his season in Double-A Harrisburg and was in Washington by late June.
He struggled at the Majors and found himself sent down to Triple-A Columbus, where he’s made the most of his opportunity. In nine games in the Ohio capital, the fleet-footed Bernadina is hitting .469 with five doubles, two triples, a home run and a perfect 5-for-5 record in stolen base attempts.