Savannah Sand Gnats: Hitter Of The Year

As with pitching, the Savannah Sand Gnats struggled offensively in 2006.  But there were a couple of hitting prospects that performed well for the 2006 Sand Gnats as well.  Now, will award the Savannah Hitter of the Year.

An honorable mention has to be given to 2005 18th round selection Tim Pahuta, who surprised the Sand Gnats with a second half rebound.  After initially struggling upon his arrival in Savannah prior to the All-Star break (.200/.263/.333 in 31 games), Pahuta batted a solid .307/.367/.485 in 46 post All-Star games aided by a white hot August/September hitting .339/.397/.633 in 30 games.  Pahuta amassed half of his 30 RBI in that last month plus of the season.

The number three hitting prospect (statistically) in Savannah was outfielder, Edgardo Baez.  After struggling in High-A Potomac, Baez returned to Savannah hitting .279/.336/.403 in 94 games for the Sand Gnats.  The Nationals still view Baez as one of their more promising prospects with the bat, and while he didn't have the breakout the Nationals had hoped for, he still has among the best-untapped talent.  And at only 21, Baez still has the time to develop according to the Nationals' expectations.

Former Savannah and Potomac manager and current Washington bullpen coach Randy Knorr said, "Baez has some big power.  He could hit the ball out of anywhere when he puts it together.  It is mostly raw power right now."

Coming in at number two for Savannah is 2005 Vermont Hitter of the Year, Francisco Plasencia.  The 22-year old Plasencia built on his solid 2005 with a respectable .261/.354/.371 in his first year of full-season ball.  Already one of the better raw athletes in the Nationals' organization, Plasencia brought a plus glove to Savannah while refining his approach both at the plate and on the base paths.  He worked on his pitch recognition in 2006 but still has some room to grow (66BB /124 K in 502AB).  Given his amazing range in the outfield, Plasencia clearly had the best raw speed of anyone of his Savannah teammates, it's the instincts he needs to improve as for every base he stole in 2006 (12), he was caught an equal amount.

And finally, while he may be better known today as the son of late All-Pro Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Jerome Brown, outfielder Dee Brown demonstrated an ability hitting that may soon change that perception.  The 23-year old Brown, a 2005 10th round selection out of the University of Central Florida (UCF), started to demonstrate the power that led to Washington selecting him.  In 103 games for Savannah, Brown hit .278/.326/.408 with 33 extra-base hits including 6 home runs.  He combined that power with surprising speed, stealing 12 bases in 16 attempts.  His performance led to a promotion to Potomac (alongside Savannah Pitcher of the Year Craig Stammen) in early August.

Former UCF and Savannah teammate John Howell described him best, "Dee is a hoss, but he's real fast.  He's a shyer type of guy but he's very aggressive when he's playing. He's real hard-nosed. He'll take a pitch in the arm just to get on base [13 times in 385AB in 2006] or he'll blast a 7,000-foot home run. He's just got so much energy."

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