A grand start for Casto in AFL
Nationals prospect goes 3-for-3 with grand slam in victory
By Benjamin Hill / Special to MLB.com
Nats prospects Kory Casto went hit a grand slam on Wednesday in the Arizona Fall League.
Kory Casto has had a tremendously successful 2006 season, as the 24-year-old outfielder hit .272 with 24 doubles, 20 home runs, 80 RBIs and 84 runs scored for the Harrisburg Senators of the Double-A Eastern League. Casto, a former third-round draft pick, was placed on the roster of the EL's midseason and year-end All-Star team in addition to being chosen as the circuit's Rookie of the Year.
As if that wasn't enough, last week the Washington Nationals announced that Casto had been named as the organization's Minor League Player of the Year. This marks the second year in a row that the Oregon native received these honors, as he excelled for the Class A Potomac Nationals in 2005 prior to his stellar 2006 campaign.
Casto is one of six Nationals prospects playing with the Peoria Saguaros in the talent-laden Arizona Fall League, whose 32-game season began this week. On Wednesday, Casto went 3-for-3 with a grand slam and five RBIs to lead the Saguaros to their first victory of the season, a 15-9 trouncing of the Scottsdale Scorpions.
Here's a look at the other Nationals farmhands currently playing in the AFL, as well as four prospects who are honing their skills with the Waikiki BeachBoys of the Hawaii Winter League.
SS Seth Bynum -- A 25-year-old infielder who hit .236 over 322 at-bats split between Class A Advanced Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, Bynum has gotten off to a quick start in the AFL. The Louisville native went 1-for-3 with a walk in Tuesday's Opening Day loss to Scottsdale, and followed that up by going 3-for-4 with a double, RBI and two runs scored in Wednesday's victory over the Scorpions.
RHP Daniel Foli -- The Saguaros are the fifth team that Foli has played for in 2006, as the well-traveled reliever also logged time with Class A Savannah, Potomac, Harrisburg and Triple-A New Orleans. All told, he combined to go 5-3 with a 4.72 ERA over 36 appearances while striking out 63 batters over 61 innings pitched. Foli struggled in his AFL debut on Tuesday, as he allowed three runs on four hits over one inning and took the loss.
LHP Jonathan Felfoldi -- Felfoldi struggled through a disappointing 2006 campaign in which he went 3-8 with a 5.10 ERA over 107 2/3 innings pitched for Potomac. He didn't fare any better in a late-season start for Harrisburg, where he was tagged for seven runs over five innings and took the loss. The 25-year-old southpaw has yet to make his AFL debut.
RHP Devin Perrin -- A 6-foot-7 right-hander who throws in the mid-90s, Perrin went 3-4 with a 4.76 ERA in 2006, most of which was spent with Harrisburg. The 25-year-old needs to improve his control, as he walked 45 batters over just 58 2/3 innings pitched. Perrin hurled a scoreless inning in his AFL debut on Wednesday.
1B Josh Whitesell -- A sixth-round draft pick in 2004, Whitesell has emerged as one of the Nationals' top prospects. The 24-year-old hit .264 for Harrisburg while slugging 19 homers and driving in 56. He scuffled at the plate on Opening Day, as he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
RHP Adam Carr -- A 22-year-old reliever, Carr excelled for the BeachBoys over the season's first week. The right-hander hurled 3 1/3 scoreless innings spread out over three appearances, scattering four hits and a walk while striking out one. Carr finished the regular season with the Savannah Sand Gnats, where he was often used as a designated hitter.
SS Ian Desmond -- Desmond has collected just two hits over his first 13 at-bats in Hawaii. The 21-year-old Floridian opened the 2006 season with Harrisburg, but was demoted to Potomac in May after hitting just .182 over 121 at-bats with the Senators.
RHP Marco Estrada -- Estrada took the loss in his first appearance for Waikiki, as he started against the North Shore Honu and allowed two runs on two hits and four walks over 2 1/3 innings. The 23-year-old Mexican followed that up four days later by tossing two scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 4.15 on the young season.
C Devin Ivany -- Ivany has managed just one hit over eight at-bats with Waikiki thus far. The Florida native was Potomac's starting backstop this past season, where he hit .262 with six homers and 55 RBIs over 446 at-bats.