Federal Reserve: Early Struggling Farmhands

With the first month of the Minor League Baseball season in the books, a few of the Nationals’ best prospects are off to a slow start.  Over the next few weeks, some must, and should, begin playing to their full potential.

There are four prospects in particular that I expect to rebound, all of whom I have highlighted below. Before delving into their cases, it should be noted that the fact each level is represented is purely coincidental.

Brian Goodwin, Syracuse Chiefs: .224/.353/.318, 27.5 K%

Goodwin’s propensity to strikeout has continued this year, and is largely to blame for his meager .224 average. In addition, his power has dropped off, as he has yet to homer and has just six extra base hits.

Though discouraging, those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Godwin’s .353 OBP and 15.7 BB%, show that he has maintained his patience, while Syracuse’s cold weather could have hampered his power stroke. As the weather warms up and he continues to adjust to a new level, look for Goodwin to return to form. If his on-base numbers prove to be stable, everything else should begin to fall into place.

Matt Skole, Harrisburg Senators: .177/.244/.228, 0 home runs, 33.7 K%

Skole’s numbers are undeniably horrific and his 8.1 BB% shows that his usual patience is lacking. Right now, it’s easy to see Skole dropping off completely, but I’m still going to predict a rebound.

Along with recovering from Tommy John surgery, Skole is also making his first extended trip to Double-A. He is only weeks removed from a solid Spring Training stint with the Nationals, and posted a .804 OPS last year in the Arizona Fall League. Unless his injury is having more of an effect than what is being reported, expect Skole to start hitting for power again soon. While he needs to be more patient to completely return to form, he can still begin driving the ball sooner rather than later.

Pedro Severino, Potomac Nationals: .220/.268/.340, 3.6 BB%

Severino was prone to a slow start for two reasons: he is relatively young for the Carolina League at 20, and he rarely draws a walk. Even during his All-Star 2013 season with Hagerstown, he walked in just 4.3% of his plate appearances.

Lately, however, Severino is showing signs of a turnaround. After posting an extremely unlucky .150 Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) in his first 10 games, Severino is 7-for-19 over five contests since April 18. He is capable of posting something close to last year’s triple-slash line of .241/.274/.333, which when combined with his defense, makes him a Sandy Leon-type prospect.

Jake Johansen, Hagerstown Suns: 2-0, 5.21 ERA, 5.2 BB/9 rate in 19 innings

Johansen’s command has been his downfall thus far. While he has fanned 17 batters, he has the second highest BB/9 rate among all Suns’ starters and has issued 9 free passes over his last three starts.

When the ball has been put in play, Johansen has been extremely unlucky, as evidence by a 3.86 FIP and .353 BABIP. The BABIP will neutralize through time and the right-hander’s fastball is still showing the signs of life that made him the Nationals’ top pick last year. If he is able to harness his command, Johansen will make his inconsistent April a distant memory.

Minors Notes:

  • Doug Fister is slated to make a rehab start in Harrisburg on Friday. In an appearance with Potomac on Sunday, the righthander allowed 4 unearned runs in 4 innings pitched with 3 strikeouts against Lynchburg (Braves).
  • Though their past two games have been postponed, the Suns are on a roll, winning nine of their last 10 games. During that stretch, their offense has scored 72 runs, giving them a system-leading total of 137.

About Zach Spedden

Writer for Federal Reserve section of The Nats Blog and co-founder of Hagerstown Suns Fan Blog