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Minor Matters – Season Update

SYRACUSE CHIEFS – AAA

After 12 games, the Syracuse Chiefs find themselves atop the International League North Division with a record of 8-4. A number of players have stood out for the Chiefs in this young season. The offense has been paced so far by second baseman Chase Lambin, who has hit a scorching .367 with a .441 on-base percentage and .567 slugging percentage in nine games. Just behind him are Kevin Mench (.351/.435/.459) and Roger Bernadina (.333/.375/.500). On the mound, starters J.D. Martin and Luis Atilano have been very impressive. In three outings, Martin is 1-0 with a 2.95 ERA, while Atilano is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in his two starts. If these two continue to post numbers like this, it remains entirely possible that they are called upon to plug the gaps in the Nationals’ underperforming rotation.

HARRISBURG SENATORS – AA
Unfortunately, Harrisburg has been unable to match the Chiefs’ success and is presently in the cellar of the Eastern League’s Western Division. Though the offense has struggled mightily with only four players hitting .250 or higher and none above .300, the story of this team has been the performance of its precocious pitching duo, Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen. In his two starts this season (with another now in progress today), Strasburg is 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA and has struck out 11 batters in 7.1 innings. Storen, on the other hand, has shined in his closer role, posting a 1.42 ERA and 0.47 WHIP while striking out eight hitters in 6.1 innings. A pair of 23 year-old lefties has also pitched well in Tom Milone and Aaron Thompson. Milone is 1-0 with a 2.20 ERA while Thompson is 1-1 with a 2.87 ERA, each in three starts. If the offense is able to improve, the pitching should keep this team competitive.

POTOMAC NATIONALS – High A
The Nationals’ single-A affiliate in Potomac has struggled out of the gate and is currently tied for last place in the Carolina League. Though the team has battled a rough start – particularly the pitching staff – a few players have acquitted themselves with their individual performances. Catcher Brian Peacock has excelled in place of the injured Derek Norris, batting .342 with an OBP of .432 and a .553 slugging percentage. Although Norris was recently cleared to play again, Potomac will be hard pressed to keep Peacock out of the lineup. Moreover, right fielder Michael Burgess appears to be bouncing back from a 2009 season that saw him hit just .235. With zero home runs, the former first round pick has yet to exhibit any of the power for which he is known; however, his batting average and on-base percentages are up 51 and 61 points, respectively. He is also on pace to walk approximately 15 times more than he did last season and tally nearly 70 fewer strikeouts. If he is able to continue to get on base and put the ball in play at these much improved rates, that will more than make up for a marginal decrease in power.

HAGERSTOWN SUNS – A
The Suns are a half game back on the parent club, holding a 6-7 record and firmly in the middle of the South Atlantic League standings. Highlighting the Suns has been the individual performances of outfielder Destin Hood left-handed starting pitcher Daniel Rosenbaum. In 13 games, Hood is hitting .407 and slugging .537. His only shortcoming has been his strikeouts, as he has had to walk back to the dugout after one-third of his at bats (18Ks in 54 ABs). Rosenbaum, on the other hand, has been nearly unhittable. In three starts, the 22 year-old is 1-0 with a 0.52 ERA and 0.63 WHIP. He has also struck out 18 hitters in 17.1 innings as opposed to only eight hits allowed. Here’s hoping that these two continue their hot starts and the rest of the Nationals’ minor leaguers experience similar success.

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