To get multiple voices on to the blog and to better get to know the Natmosphere we will begin a series called Nationals Introspective. Each week we will talk to one Nationals blogger about baseball, the Nationals, and blogging. Next up we have Brian Oliver from Nationals Farm Authority.
The Nats Blog: How long have you had your site, and how did you become a Nationals fan?
Nationals Farm Authority
: I started NFA after the 2005 draft as a means of keeping track of the first draft class of Washington Nationals. I became a fan once MLB decided to relocate Montreal to DC, as I finally had a hometown team.
TNB: Why did you chose to create a site devoted to minor league prospects as opposed to the big leagueclub?
NFA: To be honest, I’ve always enjoyed the player development process as much, if not more, than the big league product. I find the minor leagues more fascinating as players work towards the majors.
TNB: How do you feel about the moves the Nationals have made this offseason?
NFA: Satisfied. I’m glad they have made moves addressing many of the weaknesses they have at the major league level. Right now, the Nats do not have the minor league pipeline primed at the higher levels. They are still not ready to fill in the spots that Jason Marquis, Matt Capps, and Ivan Rodriguez are filling at the major league level. So, until then, it makes sense to take advantage of free agents who don’t require draft pick compensation.
TNB: Do you think adding more pitching depth, which allows younger pitchers the time to stay in the minors, will be a positive or negative influence on pitchers like Detwiler, Stammen, and Storen?
NFA: Without question positive. I was not an advocate of the rookie pitchers getting so many innings so early. Guys like Stammen and Martis should not have been called upon to pitch that many innings out of the blocks. I would hope the Nationals would exercise much more patience in 2010 with Stephen Strasburg & Drew Storen. There is no reason to rush them early in 2010. They should take their time and work them in slowly.
TNB: The Nationals have a collection of athletic outfielders who have yet to put it all together. Out of Destin Hood, Michael Burgess, and Justin Maxwell, which do you think has the best chance of being a productive everyday outfielder in the majors some day.
NFA: I guess the easiest answer is Maxwell, since he’s already in the majors. I’m still not sure whether he’ll end up as an everyday outfielder, it’s all going to be based on him shortening his swing. Burgess is entering a critical development year, he has done precisely what scouts suggested he would when he was drafted … lots of home runs combined with lots of strikeouts. If he doesn’t improve on those strikeout totals, I don’t believe he has a chance to become an everyday major leaguer. Hood has the best upside of the three with the best chance of becoming an everyday outfielder, but that upside comes with the greatest chance of flaming out.
TNB: Tell us about a prospect in our farm system that you feel isn’t getting enough attention for the amount of potential he has.
NFA: I’ll give you both an arm and a bat. The arm that I believe has flown under the radar is Paul Demny. The right-handed starter pitched in Hagerstown in 2009, where his numbers were 3-11 with a 5.14 ERA. The thing is that Demny was pitching in Low A at 19 where he struck out 110 batters over 105 IP (with 42BB). I do not believe he’ll turn into a frontline starting pitcher (i.e. #1 or #2) but a guy who throws in low-90s with those strikeout numbers are intriguing. If he can develop a second pitch, I would not be shocked to see him transition to the bullpen where he could be an asset.
The bat I like is Eury Perez. He won the Gulf Coast League batting crown in 2009, hitting 381/443/503 for the GCL Nats. Perez will turn 20 this season and has an interesting mix of battting eye and speed. If he can develop some extra base power, he has a chance of entering the picture as a Nats center fielder of the future.