Q&A with Nick Manno, Part 2

The 2006 season has had its ups and downs in the Nationals minor league system. Some players have vastly overachieved while others have yet to meet their potential. CapitolDugout.com recently sat down with the Nationals Assistant Director, Player Development, Nick Manno for an in-depth interview to discuss the state of the farm system.

CapitolDugout.com:  What have been your impressions of Justin Maxwell in his first season with the organization?

Nick Manno:  Justin has battled through some injuries early in the season. He began the season in extended spring training because his knee was giving him problems and then while in Savannah, he had a stress fracture in his toe. But, since he has been in Vermont playing healthy, he has done a pretty good job for us.

CapitolDugout.com:  What do you know about newly acquired Shairon Martis?

Nick Manno:  I don't know much about him yet except that he no-hit Panama in the World Baseball Classic.

CapitolDugout.com:  Besides the obvious early round picks that have signed such as Chris Marrero, Colton Willems, etc., what later round selection do you see as the biggest draft steal for this organization and why?

Nick Manno:  I really like Sean Rooney (8th round). He was the triple crown winner in his JUCO league this past year and basically taught himself how to switch-hit.  He is working very hard in the GCL on his catching with Bobby Henley and has made great strides both physically (receiving and blocking) and mentally (calling a game).

CapitolDugout.com:  What young Gulf Coast League pitchers should we be keeping an eye out for that have come out of Nationals Latin American program?

Nick Manno:  In the GCL, we have a player named Wuillys Bravo who is an 18 year old left-handed pitcher and he has not been pitching for very long.  He is about 88-90 MPH right now and has a good ability to command his fastball, which is a rarity at that level.

CapitolDugout.com:  What have been your early impressions of Stephen Englund and Chris Marrero?

Nick Manno:  Marrero is an impressive looking hitter, who has an approach that is very advanced for the GCL. He can drive the ball to all fields and has a good understanding of the strike zone for someone his age.  Englund is still very raw. You can definitely see his natural ability, he just needs more repetition.

CapitolDugout.com:  I'm not sure if you've had the opportunity to see Esmailyn Gonzalez, but if you have, what are your thoughts on him?

Nick Manno:  I saw him very briefly during a workout, but that was it.

CapitolDugout.com:  Who do you see lower in the minor league system as having the best raw power potential and also, who do you see having the chance to become a pure hitter who can hit for average?

Nick Manno:  Marrero definitely comes to mind when you mention either.  If you're defining "pure hitter", I think of Ofilio Castro, who is very fundamentally sound, has good plate discipline and can hit the ball all over the field.

CapitolDugout.com:  Who, out of some the lower level players in the minors, show the most potential to be excellent defensive players?

Nick Manno:  Again, Ofilio Castro comes to mind defensively as well. He can play third base, shortstop, and second base all very well. He catches everything very effortlessly, has good hands and feet, and a strong, accurate arm.  Also, Francisco Plasencia plays a very good center field. He takes good routes, gets good jumps and has a strong arm.

CapitolDugout.com:  What players in the short season leagues that aren't putting up big numbers this year do you feel have the potential to achieve big things in coming years?

Nick Manno:  It always seems like there are so many guys with potential at the rookie ball levels that have trouble performing consistently. Richard Hidalgo in the GCL is an outfielder that is very raw. He is 18 years old and in the United States for the first time, but he does have some tools. Our job is to help him get the most out of those tools so that sometime soon, it translates into performance.

Capitol Dugout Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  What have been your impressions of Justin Maxwell in his first season with the organization?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  Justin has battled through some injuries early in the season. He began the season in extended spring training because his knee was giving him problems and then while in Savannah, he had a stress fracture in his toe. But, since he has been in Vermont playing healthy, he has done a pretty good job for us.\r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  What do you know about newly acquired Shairon Martis?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  I don't know much about him yet except that he no-hit Panama in the World Baseball Classic.\r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  Besides the obvious early round picks that have signed such as Chris Marrero, Colton Willems, etc., what later round selection do you see as the biggest draft steal for this organization and why?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  I really like Sean Rooney (8th round). He was the triple crown winner in his JUCO league this past year and basically taught himself how to switch-hit.  He is working very hard in the GCL on his catching with Bobby Henley and has made great strides both physically (receiving and blocking) and mentally (calling a game).

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  What young Gulf Coast League pitchers should we be keeping an eye out for that have come out of Nationals Latin American program?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  In the GCL, we have a player named Wuillys Bravo who is an 18 year old left-handed pitcher and he has not been pitching for very long.  He is about 88-90 MPH right now and has a good ability to command his fastball, which is a rarity at that level. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  What have been your early impressions of Stephen Englund and Chris Marrero?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  Marrero is an impressive looking hitter, who has an approach that is very advanced for the GCL. He can drive the ball to all fields and has a good understanding of the strike zone for someone his age.  Englund is still very raw. You can definitely see his natural ability, he just needs more repetition.\r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  I'm not sure if you've had the opportunity to see Esmailyn Gonzalez, but if you have, what are your thoughts on him?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  I saw him very briefly during a workout, but that was it.\r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  Who do you see lower in the minor league system as having the best raw power potential and also, who do you see having the chance to become a pure hitter who can hit for average?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  Marrero definitely comes to mind when you mention either.  If you're defining \"pure hitter\", I think of Ofilio Castro, who is very fundamentally sound, has good plate discipline and can hit the ball all over the field.\r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  Who, out of some the lower level players in the minors, show the most potential to be excellent defensive players?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  Again, Ofilio Castro comes to mind defensively as well. He can play third base, shortstop, and second base all very well. He catches everything very effortlessly, has good hands and feet, and a strong, accurate arm.  Also, Francisco Plasencia plays a very good center field. He takes good routes, gets good jumps and has a strong arm.\r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  What players in the short season leagues that aren't putting up big numbers this year do you feel have the potential to achieve big things in coming years?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  It always seems like there are so many guys with potential at the rookie ball levels that have trouble performing consistently. Richard Hidalgo in the GCL is an outfielder that is very raw. He is 18 years old and in the United States for the first time, but he does have some tools. Our job is to help him get the most out of those tools so that sometime soon, it translates into performance.","mobileBody":" \r\nCapitolDugout.com:  What have been your impressions of Justin Maxwell in his first season with the organization?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  Justin has battled through some injuries early in the season. He began the season in extended spring training because his knee was giving him problems and then while in Savannah, he had a stress fracture in his toe. But, since he has been in Vermont playing healthy, he has done a pretty good job for us.\r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  What do you know about newly acquired Shairon Martis?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  I don't know much about him yet except that he no-hit Panama in the World Baseball Classic.\r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  Besides the obvious early round picks that have signed such as Chris Marrero, Colton Willems, etc., what later round selection do you see as the biggest draft steal for this organization and why?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  I really like Sean Rooney (8th round). He was the triple crown winner in his JUCO league this past year and basically taught himself how to switch-hit.  He is working very hard in the GCL on his catching with Bobby Henley and has made great strides both physically (receiving and blocking) and mentally (calling a game).

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  What young Gulf Coast League pitchers should we be keeping an eye out for that have come out of Nationals Latin American program?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  In the GCL, we have a player named Wuillys Bravo who is an 18 year old left-handed pitcher and he has not been pitching for very long.  He is about 88-90 MPH right now and has a good ability to command his fastball, which is a rarity at that level. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  What have been your early impressions of Stephen Englund and Chris Marrero?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  Marrero is an impressive looking hitter, who has an approach that is very advanced for the GCL. He can drive the ball to all fields and has a good understanding of the strike zone for someone his age.  Englund is still very raw. You can definitely see his natural ability, he just needs more repetition.\r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  I'm not sure if you've had the opportunity to see Esmailyn Gonzalez, but if you have, what are your thoughts on him?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  I saw him very briefly during a workout, but that was it.\r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  Who do you see lower in the minor league system as having the best raw power potential and also, who do you see having the chance to become a pure hitter who can hit for average?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  Marrero definitely comes to mind when you mention either.  If you're defining \"pure hitter\", I think of Ofilio Castro, who is very fundamentally sound, has good plate discipline and can hit the ball all over the field.\r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  Who, out of some the lower level players in the minors, show the most potential to be excellent defensive players?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  Again, Ofilio Castro comes to mind defensively as well. He can play third base, shortstop, and second base all very well. He catches everything very effortlessly, has good hands and feet, and a strong, accurate arm.  Also, Francisco Plasencia plays a very good center field. He takes good routes, gets good jumps and has a strong arm.\r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com:  What players in the short season leagues that aren't putting up big numbers this year do you feel have the potential to achieve big things in coming years?\r\n

\r\nNick Manno:  It always seems like there are so many guys with potential at the rookie ball levels that have trouble performing consistently. Richard Hidalgo in the GCL is an outfielder that is very raw. He is 18 years old and in the United States for the first time, but he does have some tools. 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