Nationals Arizona Fall League Roundup

The first thing you must understand about AFL stats is that they have to be taken with a grain of salt. Teams don’t tend to send their best pitchers out there, because they’ve thrown enough innings during the regular season. You will get some good pitchers who were hurt, or perhaps signed late, but for the most part, pitching isn’t great. So hitting tends to be inflated. The small sample size also means a hot week can make your numbers look really really good. That being said, let’s take a look at what did happen

Anthony Rendon

Rendon was the most important member of the team out there, as he is predicted by many to be on the Major League club at some point in 2013. And he did very well, hitting .338/.436/.494 in 77 PAs. This was good enough for 11th best OPS in the league, and 8th best OBP. A little more troubling was his lack of power, hitting no home runs. Although his strength was never thought to be as a home run hitter, he’s gonna need to hit a few more than zero. More heartening, though is the 6 SBs (to 1 CS) he managed on his seemingly healthy legs/ankles.

Brian Goodwin

Goodwin didn’t start out great, but he did finish the short season hitting .238/.340/.475. Not a good average, a pretty low OBP for the league, but at least a good display of power. He hit 3 HRs and also managed 2 triples, and his .815 OPS put him 24th in the AFL.

Matt Skole

After a very good minor league season, mostly in low-A Hagerstown, but with some time in High-A Potomac as well, Matt Skole wasn’t the biggest name going out to Arizona, but Nats fans certainly were keen to see what he would do. He was the Minor League player of the Year for them, after all. Well, he didn’t disappoint, and hit .305/.419/.525 with 3 HRs. His .944 OPS was 8th best in the league and lead his team. He also played first base in the championship game, which is a change from the 3rd he’s been playing. He looked very good, although at 23, you’d like him show enough success at Potomac this year to be moved up to AA if he wants his bat to profile as a first baseman. But he is a lefty, so maybe he’ll just come in to replace Adam LaRoche at the end of whatever contracts he signs. Eh?

Jason Martinson

As a 23 year old SS, Martinson hit very in low-A this year and earned a trip out to Arizona. He didn’t have a strong showing, hitting only .189/.286/.379 in only 37 PAs. Just as we can’t get too excited for the great numbers, it is hard to get too down for what amounts to a bad 2 weeks worth of ABs. What was encouraging was his power – 5 of his 7 hits were for extra bases, but he also struck out in 16 of those appearances.

Aaron Barrett

Aaron had a strong season as a 24 year old in low-A and high-A, which is probably too low for his age. But he looked pretty good in his limited time in the AFL, with 10 relief appearances. He had a 3.27 ERA, and struck out 10 while only walking 2 in 11 IP. He didn’t qualify with enough innings on the ranking, but the ERA was in the top half of the league.

Paul Demny

One of the most advanced pitchers the Nats sent, Paul Demny spent all of this season in AA at the age of 22, although he didn’t have a great year. He looked much better in the AFL, perhaps justifying the Nats faith in him a bit. His 3.94 ERA was pretty decent for the league, and in 16 IP (including one start) he struck out 12 but walked 8. He should return to AA with some more confidence, and is young enough to be considered a prospect if he succeeds.

Ryan Perry

Perry, as you recall, made it to the majors for a spell this year, but didn’t make a very good show of it. He did alright in AAA, and was eventually sent to AA to be converted into a starter. In the AFL, he wasn’t particularly good, with an ERA of 4.98 and 16 K to 8 BB in 21 2/3 IP as a starter. He still has a big arm, and he didn’t manage some good starts in the AFL to go along with the bad ones. He’s a long way from being 5th starter material, but if he ever gets it together, he does have some velocity.

Cole Kimball

Cole Kimball is still recovering from shoulder surgery, which derailed the young pitcher’s promising career in 2011. He is a fireballer who has struck out 394 in 371 1/3 IP in his minor league career. He only struck out 10 in 15 innings this fall, while walking 9, and compiling a 4.80 ERA. But he is still in the recovery process, so of all the guys here, I take his numbers the least seriously. Not that you should take any of these too seriously.

The AFL has really turned into a hitter’s league, so we should really focus on those guys. Other than Martinson, all of the Nats hitters had positive takeaways from their stint, and it bodes well for the future. Although Goodwin doesn’t appear ready for prime time, he is also the youngest with the least amount of experience withonly one year in the minors after community college, as opposed to Rendon who went to Rice. Speaking of seasoning and rice… wait what was I talking about? Oh yes, Skole also looked like he is on the right track, and will certainly be one to watch in the 2013 season.

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