We drove out to Frederick last night to catch the Potomac Nationals. The Nats got off to an early lead and managed to hold on for a tough 5-3 victory over their Frederick rivals who are just one game ahead of them in the Carolina League Standings. The Nats are two games behind league leading Hillcats.
One staff member told me he knew Washington was out of town because he saw all the Nationals fans at the game.
Nats Salomon Manriquez (DH) started the scoring with a home run that just managed to stay fair down the third base line. Manriquez is a catcher (just turned 23) with Potomac and having a good year for them .301-14-62.
The Nationals added to their lead in the seventh inning. Frank Diaz (CF) was hit in the back of the head by a wild pitch from Johnson and took first. Kory Casto (3b) singled and Manriquez followed with his second hit, a single to drive in the speedy Diaz.
Jason Belcher dropped down a sacrifice bunt that turned into a single when Gabe Alvarez Keys 3b watched it die in the grass. Alvarez does not normally play 3b and made a bad mental mistake. Of note the playing field at Frederick is in horrible shape one of the worst we have seen in baseball.
Chad Chop (1b) and Robert Rodriguez (C) followed with RBI singles to give the Nats a 4-0 lead.
The game then settled into a pitchers duel. In the top of the ninth inning the Nationals added one more run when Casto, who reached on an error scored on a double play.
The Keys made it close in the bottom of the ninth inning. Jeff Fiorentino (Cf) lead off with a home run as did the next batter Nate Spears (2b). Dustin Yount (1b) (son of Robin Yount) followed with a double and scored on the portly Mario Delgado?s (Lf) single.
Devin Perrin was brought in and in true Nats fashion got another runner on base before striking out Bryan Bass to end the game.
Stevenson improved his record to 3-3 3.75 ERA going 8.1 innings allowing six hits to go with his six Ks and no walks. Perrin picked up his second save of the season.
JJ Johnson went the distance and his record is 10-8 3.74 ERA, striking out 10 Nats.
Baseball America ranked Ian Desmond #19 on the list of prospects at the start of the season. We got the opportunity to see him play in Spring Training and like many others were impressed.
He will turn 20 on 20 September and is one of the younger players in the Carolina League. Baseball America noted that his confident attitude and high energy level evoke Derek Jeter and having talked to him I would add demeanor to that list.
He has a great arm and good range at shortstop and is no doubt capable of playing at the Major League level now if he didn?t have to hit. He got a tough error from the official scorer on a play towards second base. I gave the batter a hit on a ball that few shortstops would have been able to get to.
Batting second in the lineup he went one for four with a single to right. He is learning how to take a pitch and work the count. Listed at 6-02 and 184 pounds he should be able to add the muscle to become a 20+ home run hitter in the majors. God willing he and Zimmerman will give the Nats an infield combo not seen in DC since Cecil Travis and Joe Cronin played here in the 1930s.
Potomac had Shawn Norris batting leadoff and he went 0-4. Norris a converted third baseman playing second spent time with Harrisburg (.233-5-27) this season before being sent down. He also played for Harrisburg last year. This year at Potomac his numbers are .290-4-12 in 25 games with a .407 OBP and a.495 SLG. Prior to this season his numbers were good OBP .368 SLG .366. He just turned 25.
Not much talent right now at second in the system, Norris rates behind Harris. I included Rick because not too many teams have a AAA .400 player in their system.
Games BA/HA/RBI OBP SLG
AAA Brendan Harris 108 .278-11-67 .333 .424
AAA Rick Short 95 .400-09-65 .474 .588
AA Henry Mateo 24 .183-00-06 .262 .247
A Brad Ditter 89 .259-01-26 .326 .317
Jason Stevenson started for Potomac and pitched a great game. The spry lefty was selected in the 2000 draft and spent time at AA and AA in 2004. His time with Harrisburg this year was pretty bad; 1-9 with an ERA of 10.57.
Frank Diaz started in center and has incredible range. He went 0-3 but is batting .315-13-58.
Kory Casto (3b) went 1 for 4 and scored two runs. He has a quick bat and having a great year for Potomac .310-20-83 OBP .394 SLG .526.