Q&A with Harrisburg Manager, Scott Little

The Nationals Double-A affiliate, the Harrisburg Senators are not quite a prospect-laden team here in 2007, but the prospects they do have are some of Washington's very finest. We recently caught up with the Senators' manager, Scott Little to discuss his thoughts on his squad thus far.

CapitolDugout: From what you have seen from Mike Hinckley, does he look to be primed to get back to his old form? What have you seen from him so far?

Scott Little: Mike has pitched well in his two starts, keeping us in both ballgames. He actually had better stuff in his first start and battled well in his second one. He looks confident and desires to be successful.

CapitolDugout: Rogearvin Bernadina seems to slowly be realizing his potential. What type of player could you see him becoming and what does he need to do to get to that point?

Little: He has all the tools and reminds me of (Cubs' top prospect) Felix Pie. He can become an impact guy both ways and definitely shows flashes. The only thing so far in our games is his strikeout ratio is too high and he hasn't been successful bunting which should be a big part of his game.

CapitolDugout: What would be your scouting report on Zech Zinicola and in your mind what does his ability project to at the big league level?

Little: There is no doubt about Zech's stuff. He has an above average fastball with an above average slider. Command of those pitches will determine when he arrives in the big leagues and that is exactly what we have seen early on. It is really early and he will do nothing but improve as we get deeper into the season.

CapitolDugout: Collin Balester now seems to be consensus top prospect in the organization. What do you think could make him so special and what does he need to improve on moving forward?

Little: Collin has a three average to above average pitches and continues to improve on his command which makes him an extremely effective pitcher. One of the things that makes him successful is when he gets on the mound he's really amped up and excited to pitch and battle. That excitement is also what can get him into trouble by trying to do too much which is what happened from time to time last year. Collin has done well so far harnessing his emotions and has worked hard on damage control. That has kept him out of trouble and allowed him to pitch out of tough situations.

CapitolDugout: What other pitchers stand out to you on your staff that you feel could have a significant impact at the next level and why?

Little: That's a tough one. T.J. Nall can flat out pitch. Eddie Valdez has pitched well. Brett Campbell and Beltran Perez pitched in the big leagues last year. Anastacio Martinez has good stuff and left-hander, Jeremy Plexico's breaking ball continues to improve and everybody needs lefties.

CapitolDugout: Josh Whitesell showed some big power last year but is repeating the level this year. What types of improvements would you like to see him make this season?

Little: Josh has to become a two way player. His willingness to work on his defense has definitely been there early on. He is a strong young man and tries to over-swing, which he does not need to do. Josh has been working to shorten his stroke which will lead to consistency.

CapitolDugout: As manager of the team, what is the most important thing you try to preach to your players and how do you balance between winning ballgames and developing prospects?

Little: I've been in situations where developing was number one and situations where developing winners was stressed. We would never sacrifice development over winning an individual game, but there is no substitute for developing winners. Our kids in the organization are by no means "losers", but I'm not sure they know how to win. You learn by shaking hands out on field after a game. We could get people to the "show" and fill out rosters, but I'm positive that we want our kids to know how to win and get 25 of those people on Manny Acta's squad so he doesn't have to waste his time teaching them that aspect of the game and they can concentrate on winning for National fans.

CapitolDugout: T.J. Nall put together a nice game on opening night. He's a bit older, but do you view him as a very legitimate prospect and what's your overall feel for what he brings to the table?

Little: T.J. is just a gamer and just pitches his rear-end off on the mound. Nothing you see is going to "wow" you, but you know you have a chance when he's out there.

CapitolDugout: This year would seem to be an important one for Frank Diaz. In your mind, what does he need to do to improve his game and what type of player could he one day become?

Little: Frankie's ability says he is a big leaguer. Plate discipline and pitch recognition will decide if he will play in the big leagues and what kind of impact he'll have there.

CapitolDugout: What names come to your mind that you saw in spring training that you could see making an impact at the Double-A level sometime later this season?

Little: Craig Stammen and John Lannan are two guys that are going to be here before it's over. One of the reasons we have some older guys here and in Triple-A is simple; no one was ready to play at those levels. Randy Knorr has those guys off to a great start and that staff will definitely accelerate the advancement of younger players to the next level. What was great to see in Spring Training was the number of quality prospects that we have coming at the lower levels and our scouting staff has been doing a great job of getting us those players. The future looks pretty good and gives all involved excitement and hope. That also means we have no excuses and have to work even harder to ensure we get the most out of our kids.

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