Nats Prospects: An early look at 2015 Trends

We’re just about two weeks into the minor league season, which is entirely too early to make any kind of judgment on any player’s progression. Instead, I'll take a look at some Nats minor leaguers and identify way-too-early successes that I’d like to see continue, and way-too-early failures that I would like to not see continue.

Early season improvements
2B/SS Wilmer Difo is following up on his breakout 2014 season with a hot start in 2015, hitting .309/.387/.527 in 14 games and 62 PA for A+ Potomac. I’d love for him to walk at an 11.3% rate all season and have a .218 ISO, but those are unlikely to continue based on his history. That being said, he’s not an extreme regression candidate, just playing a little bit over his head right now.  Hopefully he’ll get challenged with an AA assignment sooner rather than later.

SS Jason Martinson is hitting .313/.365/.479 in 52 PA through 13 games for AAA Syracuse. Given his awfulness in AA in 2013 and 2014 (.222/.296/.344 in 186 games and 718 PA) the fact that he hasn’t shown improvement in striking out (32.7%, 17 K in 52 PA this year), I wouldn’t expect his hot start to continue.

3B Drew Ward is hitting .311/.367/.378 in 13 games and 49 PA for A+ Potomac. While his lack of power so far is a bit of a bummer, he’s not being overmatched by much older/more experienced competition, which is a step in the right direction. Putting him in A+ ball at just 20 years old was an intriguing challenge, but Ward is taking it in stride so far this year.

RHP Austen Williams only struck out 5.6 batters per 9 innings in his professional debut last year, but has gotten off to a hot start in A Hagerstown, striking out 15 to only 2 walks in 15 and 2/3 innings (1 ER allowed). The fastball/slider righty has struggled with a consistent delivery in the past, so continued success with the K/BB rate would lead me to believe he’s straightened out his mechanics a bit.

LHP R.C. Orlan has only thrown 105 and 1/3 innings since being drafted in 2012 out of UNC due to arm injuries. In three appearances and 6 and 1/3 innings this year, he’s struck out 8 with only 1 walk. The lefty reliever struck out 10.7/9 last year against a 3.3 BB/9, and it’s not inconceivable that he’s finally getting the control and command of his pitches back after years of surgeries.

Early season disappointments
1B Matt Skole is striking out 32.8% of the time (19 K in 58 PA) through 14 games for AA Harrisburg. This is a make-or-break season for him, and he really needs to keep it under 25% to stay on the radar.

2B/SS Stephen Perez is hitting .095/.224/.143 in 51 PA through 14 games for AA Harrisburg. His BB% is in-line with his 2014 numbers and his K% has actually dropped 1.7%, so there’s no reason his stats shouldn’t improve.

2B Cutter Dykstra is striking out 25.0 % of the time (10 K in 40 PA) through 11 games for AAA Syracuse. Too early to worry about this, but his K rate went from a solid 16-17% in 2012-13 to a less-solid 20% last year, so it is preferable to see him trend the other way.

RHP Manny Delcarmen has been thrown out every once in a while as a potential bullpen candidate, but he’s allowed 13 runs on 15 hits in just 7 and 1/3 innings for AAA Syracuse this year.

LHP Rich Hill has already been passed over for a ML LOOGY spot by Xavier Cedeno, Felipe Rivero, and now Matt Grace. Perhaps it’s because he still can’t stop walking guys, with 5 free bases given in 6 innings this year.

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