Hood and Atilano – The Nats Blog’s minor league players of the week

westview_logo_nationals_1Affiliate Standings
Syracuse (7-3, 1st place, 0 GB)
Harrisburg (2-9, 6th place, 7 GB)
Potomac (4-6, t-2nd place, 2 GB)
Hagerstown (6-5, t-1st place, 0 GB)

Batter of the Week – Destin Hood, RF, Hagerstown

556967After a week in which he had 5 multi-hit games, the 20-year-old Hood is finally starting to live up to the potential that prompted the Nationals to use their 2nd round pick on him in 2008. Just how good was Hood this week? Try 15 hits, 8 runs, and 6 RBI good. He even hit a deep ball against Lakewood for his first home run of the season and showed off his cannon of an arm by throwing out a runner at first on a ball hit to the outfield. Hood has an intimidating amount of power and is a threat to opposing teams as long as he is making contact, which remains the major flaw in his game. Hood, a former two-sport athlete who is still incredibly young and raw, has struggled with laying off of breaking balls in the dirt. In fact most of his 16 strikeouts have come on these types of pitches. His lack of patience at the plate has also resulted in a very low amount of walks throughout his professional career. For his entire career with the Nationals organization, he has drawn only 20 walks (in 200+ PA)! For the 2010 season, he has a 16:1 SO:BB ratio. While he has displayed great potential in the other areas of his game, this weakness will likely keep him Hagerstown for much of the year, because the Nationals are not going to let him face better pitchers until he improves his selectivity at the plate. But if his batting eye does improve, watch out, because this kid could be something special for the Nationals one day.

Pitcher of the Week – Luis Atilano, SP, Syracuse

Atilano had two starts this week and picked up the win in both of them. In 11.0 innings pitched, he let up 10 hits, 2 walks, and 2 earned runs. He struck out 9 batters. In his first start of the season, Atilano worked efficiently, only facing three batters more than the minimum. He had a bit more trouble in his second start, allowing 8 hits over 5 innings, but worked well out of jams and induced two double play balls that got him safely out of trouble. He kept the ball low in the strike zone and as a result ended the game with 8 groundouts vs. 3 flyouts. He has yet to face more than five batters in any inning he has pitched. Atilano, besides his spring debut, also pitched pretty well for the Nationals in spring training this year and Riggs noted that the Nationals were looking at Atilano to be a starting pitcher for them down the road. After two starts, Atilano leads Syracuse’s starting pitchers in ERA, wins, and strikeouts. He is on the 40-man roster and could move himself up in the pecking order with some more starts like his first two of the season.

Runner-ups: Jeff Kobernus, J.P. Ramirez, Aaron Thompson

Top Prospect Watch

It looks like Michael Burgess probably made some offseason adjustments to his swing. There had been criticisms that his swing was too long and he would need to compact it more in order to cut down his strikeout percentage and to be able to survive higher level pitching. So far in 47 plate appearences, Burgess has struck out only five times, compared to his 135 strikeouts in 549 plate appearances last season. The power he has shown in previous seasons, though, appears to be missing. He has yet to hit a home run, but does have three doubles so far in the young minor league season.

Drew Storen may find himself in the Washington bullpen very soon. Building off of his success in Harrisburg and Phoenix last year, Storen continues to dominate against minor league hitters. So far in four appearances, Storen has allowed only one hit and one walk while striking out five.

Another high draft pick, Jeffery Kobernus, is starting to catch fire. The second baseman had a monster game (4 for 5 with a double and 2 RBIs) against Lakewood on Tuesday, including the hit that brought home the game winning run. He is hitting .357/.386/.405 for the season so far and may be in line for a quick promotion after missing the end of last season with an injury. There has been one problem area of his game, though. In four stolen base attempts, he has been caught three times.

Odds and Ends

- Pitcher Danny Rosenbaum, last week’s pitcher of the week, continues to impress. He has allowed only a single earned run in his three starts. His ERA currently sits at 0.52 and his WHIP at 0.63.

- A.J. Morris made his Potomac debut after starting the season on the DL. He pitched 3 innings and let up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 1 earned run before reaching his pitch limit. Catcher Derek Norris also returned to action for the P-Nats.

- P-Nats relief pitcher Cole Kimball has pitched 7.1 scoreless innings thus far. He has only let up 3 hits and is hoping to have a bounce back year after a rough 2009 with Potomac.

- Converted starter Erik Arnesen is thriving in his new relief role. Arnesen’s ERA stands at 0.90 after ten innings of relief work.