Minor League Monday 6/1

AAA Syracuse Senators-Collin Balester
45887Balester was expected to make the Nationals rotation entering 2009 after earning 15 starts with the big league club in 2008. The 22 year old former first round pick struggled in spring training and proved to the Nats management that he needed some more seasoning. However, to Balester’s dismay, the Major League rotation has been completely restructured since March and despite the call up of two other starters he still remains in Syracuse.  While he has struggled up north, his last three starts have been a good sign for the prospect. In his last 16 innings pitched he has allowed only 12 hits, two earned runs, four walks, and struck out eight. It’s starting to look like he may have finally figured it out and he may very well be the next call up we see for our rotation in Washington.

High A Potomac Nationals-Michael Burgess
ph_518518Burgess’s stock continues to drop as he can’t figure out how to make consistent contact with the ball or walk. The slugger, who has drawn comparisons to Ryan Howard, is now batting a lowly .221/.317/.417. He of course is smashing the ball when he hits it with 9 homers and 27 RBI in only 163 at bats, but he also has 50 strikeouts, meaning he’s whiffing a little more than one fourth of the time he goes to the plate. It’s getting worse for Burgess too, in his last 10 games he’s batting .143 with 13 strikeouts and only 5 hits. While Burgess is only 20, with his experience level he should be handling A ball easily by this time. A demotion would be a serious set back for someone once considered the best high school hitter in the Nation.

Low A Hagerstown Suns-Derek Norris
Derek Norris is probably the brightest spot in all of the Nationals farm system. At the age of only 20, the catching prospect is putting up ridiculous numbers in Low-A ball and almost certainly will receive a call up very soon. In 165 at bats Norris is batting .321/.410/.600 with 11 homers and 39 RBI. There is reason to believe his power will develop even more as he has 13 doubles, making 24 out of his total 53 hits for extra bases. While Jesus Flores is only a few years older than Norris, expect him to make a push for the majors by this time next year, at any position. With batting numbers like that, there is reason to believe he could be a top 25 overall prospect at the beginning of next year.