The Potomac Nationals were sent out on their upcoming road trip three games early when their field was unexpectedly deemed unplayable and they were forced to switch their three-game series with the Orioles’ Single-A Frederick squad to Frederick, MD.
It didn’t affect them too much on Monday, clubbing their way to a 9-0 victory over the Keys but it’s concerning for the Nationals that the field in Potomac is in such poor condition. Apparently the field at Pfitzner Stadium became unplayable when a new drainage system that was installed this offseason was not working properly through the recent rash of rainy weather that has come through the area.
Potomac will be on the road now until May 2 and the field is expected to be ready by then.
A few other notes about Potomac:
– Potomac shortstop Rick Hague, on the seven-day minor league disabled list with a right-shoulder strain, hurt the shoulder diving back to first base Wednesday night. Hague was one of the most consistent performers in the Nationals organization early this season with a .357 average, two doubles and a home run and a .438 on-base percentage through the season’s first four games. The Nationals are hoping that Hague, who’s expected to rise quickly in the organization, isn’t out for an extended period but the concern is that the strain is in his throwing shoulder so they want to be sure that it won’t hamper him making throws from shortstop.
– One of the Nationals most surprising performers early this season has been Steven Souza, the third baseman for the Potomac Nationals who’s hitting .281 on the young season — the best by far among position players with more than 30 at-bats. Souza, who’ll turn 22 on Sunday, hit his fourth home run of the year on Monday in the P-Nats victory. He’s also hit a double, two triples and driven in 12 runs already this year. Souza’s been an average minor leaguer for much of his four-plus years in the organization but the early power is encouraging for him this year after hitting a career-high 11 in Hagerstown last season.
– Cutter Dykstra, the infielder the Nationals got from the Brewers in return for Nyjer Morgan, has been getting a decent amount of playing time for Potomac and is hitting .241 in 29 at-bats.
Three of the Nationals best pitching prospects still have yet to leave Viera, Fla., with A.J. Cole and Robbie Ray still participating in extended spring training and Sammy Solis rehabbing a groin injury.
Solis is still undergoing a throwing program as he works his way back. The left-hander was very impressive in the Arizona Fall League and the Nationals were looking forward to seeing what he could do after four scoreless innings with Single-A Hagerstown in 2010.
Cole and Ray, both drafted out of high school last year, are two very young pitchers that the Nationals are going to tread fairly carefully with and they’re keeping them at extended spring training for that reason. They’ve been getting game action against teams from the Astros, Braves and Tigers organizations and will likely remain at extended spring until early June when the New York Penn League starts up. The Nationals, though, have yet to decide if that’s where they’ll place them at that point or if they’ll even keep them in Florida that late.
Much of the focus at Single-A Hagerstown has, as was expected, been on outfielder Bryce Harper. But right-hander Cameron Selik is doing his best to continue stealing headlines whenever he can.
Selik struck out 11 today in five innings and allowed just one hit in a 1-0 victory for Hagerstown. Selik is older than your average Single-A pitcher at 23, but as a 2010 draftee out of Kansas University who racked up 32 strikeouts in 15 appearances last season his early performances this year have been encouraging enough to figure he may not stay at low A much longer.
Right-handed reliever Cole Kimball was named the International League’s Player of the Week for the first week of the season and deservedly so for Kimball, who’s pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowed no runs off five hits and struck out six.
But he’s not the only pitcher doing well for the Chiefs with starters Ross Detwiler and Tom Milone joining him in that category. Detwiler has without doubt been the best starter for Syracuse, making two starts and working to a 1-0 record with a 1.50 ERA. He’s allowed just two earned runs and struck out 12 over 12 innings.
If and when the Nationals need a starting pitcher, chances are Detwiler would be the most likely guy to get that call from the major league team, and he should if he continues to pitch this way. Detwiler, a first round pick of the Nationals, struggled early on in his career with his delivery but after hip surgery last spring, Detwiler seems to have worked out the kinks. One Nationals official specifically noted how well he’s doing with repeating his delivery and his mechanics.
Milone has been similarly impressive with a 1-1 record and allowing just three earned runs in 11 innings thus far this season.
On the other side of things is Yunesky Maya, the Cuban free agent the Nationals signed to a major league deal last season, who has allowed seven earned runs in 10 1/3 innings.