Nationals Prospect #22: Roger Bernadina

Roger Bernadina had a breakout season in 2008 after sort of lingering through the minor league system. Now, Bernadina is on the cusp of making the big league club out of spring training, if all goes well.

Acquired: Signed by the Expos as a non-drafted free agent in November, 2001.
Bats: L   Throws: L
Height: 6' 0"   Weight: 170 lbs
Birth Date: June 12, 1984
2008 Team(s): Harrisburg, Columbus, Washington
Games/Games Started: CF (120 G), RF (9 G), LF (7 G)
School: Voorben Praktyk (Netherlands)

Batting and Power: Roger Bernadina showed off more of a complete offensive attack than he had in any season of his career so far. Bernadina hit a combined .335 in the minors last season, including .351 at Triple-A, where he had struggled just a year earlier. Bernadina came into the Expos organization as a 17 year old and there was great raw power that seemed ready to be tapped. After three consecutive seasons in A-ball with just a .369 slugging percentage, it appeared that Bernadina's power would never reach the level that it was hoped he would when he was originally signed. The Nationals are working with Berandina to be the type of player who can use his speed more and rely less on his power. When you compare his 2008 numbers to his 2007 numbers, you see that Bernadina has actually walked less, but his strikeout numbers have remained constant. His approach to hitting line drives though has resulted in a much higher batting average and of course, in a higher on-base percentage. The good news is that Bernadina will still occasionally turn on a pitch and go deep, but the emphasis is much more on getting on base and making things happen.

Baserunning and Speed: Scrapping the power approach in favor of using speed is a good idea for Bernadina. His speed and knowledge of how to steal bases are both well above average and he has a minor league success rate of 78% on stolen bases. He has stolen a combined 81 bases over his last two minor league seasons and added another four in his major league stint with the Nationals. He did have some problems timing pitchers in the majors and was successful on just 57% of his attempts, but he was also thrown into some situations where everybody in the park knew he would be trying to steal, which will always cut down a runner's percentages. Besides having great speed, Bernadina has the instincts on the basepaths to make him successful.

Photo: Nick Wass/AP

Defense: While he can play all three outfield spots, it's somewhat of a waste to have Bernadina anywhere other than center field. He's got excellent range and gets a good jump on balls hit into the gaps and he follows that up with having a very strong, accurate arm. In six full-season league seasons, Bernadina has 56 outfield assists, including 14 double-plays. He's sure-handed and it's tough to get balls that are hit anywhere in his neighborhood past him.

Projection: Bernadina's new approach to hitting could put him in an everyday role for the Nationals rather than as a fourth outfielder type, which many believed he would be when he was coming up through the system. The question mark has always been on his hitting and if he gets on base and uses his speed, he will be able to erase any questions about his offense. The Nationals have a fairly crowded outfield, so Bernadina may have to start out either as a utility player or possibly playing everyday at Triple-A, but he should get a full-time shot at some point.

ETA: It's possible that the Nationals could put Bernadina in center field right now and get good production out of him. The key with him will likely be for the Nats to be patient with him. He is still just 24 and has just a couple rough spots in his game which will need to be smoothed out, giving the Nationals a couple of options on how to handle him. They could just run him out there everyday and be patient with him or keep him with the major league club, but use him in spots where he's likely to be more successful. The other option is for him to return to Triple-A and log a little more time as the everyday center fielder and serve as insurance for the Nationals until later in the season. He's got a career total of 233 at bats at the Triple-A level, so a little more time there wouldn't be out of the question. One thing that could stand in the way of Bernadina opening the season with the Nationals is that he could miss about a month of camp with the club to play for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. 

Roger Bernadina's Career Stats

Rookie 3 18 .276 57 196 22 54 7 0 1 19 25 .340 .357
A-Ball 23 159 .236 328 1145 167 270 51 13 70 154 258 .329 .363
High-A 6 42 .270 123 434 60 117 19 3 28 56 98 .355 .369
Double-A 11 74 .292 170 637 105 186 26 9 66 69 144 .364 .413
Triple-A 4 17 .318 60 233 39 74 16 3 15 25 48 .388 .464
Majors 0 2 .211 26 76 10 16 1 1 4 9 21 .294 .250
*TOTALS 47 310 .265 738 2645 393 701 119 28 180 323 573 .348 .384

* Reflects Bernadina's totals for his minor league career only.


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