Moore leads way for Nats with bat

First baseman tops Washington farm in home runs, RBIs

Tyler Moore was named MVP of the Carolina League in 2010. (Keith Lovett/

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | December 18, 2010 4:38 PM

This offseason, will be honoring the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in their organization. We're taking a look at each team to determine the outstanding seasons in Minor League baseball. Select a team from the dropdown below.

Washington experienced mixed success in 2010. The Potomac Nationals brought home hardware in the Carolina League and the organization's Triple-A, Double-A and Class A Advanced affiliates all posted winning records.

The Syracuse Chiefs finished nine games above .500 in the International League, but missed out on a Wild Card spot by 2 1/2 games and the Harrisburg Senators lost in the opening round of the playoffs to eventual Eastern League champion Altoona.

The P-Nats won the Mills Cup for the second time in three years in the Carolina League, but the Class A Hagerstown Suns and short-season Auburn Doubledays failed to make it to the postseason.

Nationals organizational All-Stars

Catcher -- Derek Norris, Potomac (94 games): Norris made the jump to the Class A Advanced Carolina League in 2010 and he continued to show impressive growth. Former fourth-rounder Norris -- who was named the South Atlantic League's most outstanding Major League prospect in '09 -- slugged a dozen homers and plated 49 runs. That year, he also led the league with 89 walks and ranked second with a .419 on-base percentage en route to being named MiLB's Class A Hitter of the Year. This season, the backstop hit .235 and scored 67 runs over 298 at-bats.

First baseman -- Tyler Moore, Potomac (129 games): Moore led all Nationals affiliates in home runs (31) and RBIs (111) in 2010 en route to being named Carolina League MVP in his third season of professional baseball. He led the league in doubles (43), extra-base hits (77), slugging percentage (.552) and total bases (277) and he went deep once every 16 at-bats. Moore started slowly, hitting .173 in April, but he warmed up throughout the year, batting .346 after the All-Star break which included a two-homer six-RBI effort on Aug. 5. He also was instrumental in the postseason run to the Mills Cup, batting .323 and tying for first place in hits (10).

Second baseman -- Steve Lombardozzi, Potomac (110 games), Harrisburg (27 games): The 22-year-old switch-hitting infielder had a successful year over two levels in 2010 in his second full year of pro ball. Selected in the 19th round of the 2008 Draft, Lombardozzi spent the majority of the year with Potomac, before finishing the year with Harrisburg in the Eastern League. He hit a combined .294 with 35 doubles, 11 triples and six homers in 137 games. Lombardozzi added 90 runs, 61 walks and 24 steals in 36 attempts, providing a multi-faceted threat at the top of the lineup. His .293 clip in the Carolina League ranked sixth, while his nine triples tied for the league lead.

Harrisburg manager Randy Knorr, recently chosen to lead Triple-A Syracuse in 2011, said he was impressed with what he saw out of Lombardozzi.

"He played well and came up and didn't miss a beat from A-ball. He's solid on defense and always seems to be in the right place. He can take the extra base on offense or move up on a ball in the dirt. He was obviously well taught growing up as a kid."

Also worthy of a mention is Michael Martinez who hit .272 with 11 homers, 56 RBIs and 23 steals between Harrisburg and Syracuse.

"I absolutely love Michael Martinez," Knorr said. "He can play anywhere you want him to play. He can play short, second, left field, center field. He puts up great at-bats and he just knows the game. He plays hard every day, and it's easy for me to like you when you do that."

Third baseman -- Chase Lambin, Syracuse (136 games): Lambin was somewhat of an unsung hero on a Syracuse team that finished second in the International League North Division. His name doesn't appear on league leaderboards or he in the top echelon of statistical leaders in the Nationals organization. Still his 15 homers, 58 RBIs and 45 walks ranked first on the team and he was named a Midseason All-Star. In the midseason classic, he delivered a key RBI double and was named the IL's Top Star. The 31-year-old's batting average dropped to .252 after hitting .300 with Albuquerque in 2009, but the rest of his offensive figures remained consistent.

Shortstop -- Danny Espinosa, Harrisburg (99 games), Syracuse (24 games): Espinosa brought a combination of power and speed to the organization in 2010. His career-high 22 homers were the second-most in the organization, while his 25 stolen bases ranked third among Washington's Minor League affiliates. The 23-year-old California native spent the first four months with Harrisburg, where he hit .262 with 18 homers and 54 RBIs in 99 games. The Mid- and Postseason Eastern League All-Star was promoted to Syracuse in August and hit .295 over 24 games before getting a September callup to the Majors for the final month of the season.

Knorr said: "Danny is a special talent, and we are very fortunate to have him. He is a very consistent shortstop and second baseman, and he has great arm strength and range. He makes it look very easy. Then to put up the power numbers he did, we believe he is going to be an All-Star."

Also deserving a mention is the Chiefs' Pete Orr , who hit .264 with 12 homers, eight triples, 32 doubles, 45 RBIs and 25 steals in 137 games in Syracuse.

Outfield -- Michael Burgess, Potomac (101 games), Harrisburg (21 games): Burgess split time between the Carolina and Eastern Leagues in 2010, and he continued to show improvement across all aspects of his game. The former first-rounder hit .262 with 70 RBIs in Potomac, and he followed that up with six homers at a .284 clip in 21 appearances for Double-A Harrisburg. Burgess cut down on his strikeouts for the second straight year, while setting career highs in hits (122) and walks (57). He also set a personal best with 85 RBIs, which ranked second in the organization only to Tyler Moore.

"Michael just has that special pop," Knorr said. "We had him and Harper down in Arizona. Everyone is amazed at how far [Harper] hits the ball, but let me tell you one thing, Michael Burgess hits them just as far. He is a well-above (average) outfielder for his age, and he is going to be something special."

Outfield -- J.P. Ramirez, Hagerstown (132 games): Ramirez was a regular in the Hagerstown lineup, accumulating more than 500 at-bats in the South Atlantic League. After spending '09 in the short-season New York-Penn League, Ramirez made the most of his full-time opportunity. He hit 16 homers and plated 75 runs -- fourth in the system -- and he also recorded 32 doubles, four triples and 74 runs. His .296 batting average ranked 10th in the league and fifth among Washington affiliates. The Nationals' 15th-round pick in 2008 also was named the Sally League Player of the Week on Aug. 9 after going 13-for-28 with four homers.

Outfield -- Jesus Valdez, Harrisburg (139 games): After spending the majority of 2009 in the Carolina League with Potomac, Valdez split time between the corner outfield spots in Double-A in 2010. The 26-year- old hit .273 and established career highs in doubles (31) and RBIs (65) in 139 games. Valdez hit safely in 11 of 12 games in May and June and added a nine-game hit streak in early August. He followed that up by hitting in 10 of 11 games. That included a week in which he went 9-for-22 with 12 RBIs and featured a two-homer, six-RBI effort at home.

"I liked Valdez," Knorr said. "I think he is a very polished hitter. When he gets in trouble is when he tries to hit home runs. I think that if he stays as a gap-to-gap hitter, he can hit .300 with into the 40s in doubles. As he plays, he will hit with more power."

Utility -- Chris Marrero, Harrisburg (141 games): Former first-rounder Marrero didn't miss a beat in his first full season at Double-A. The 22-year-old hit .294 with 18 homers and 82 RBIs over a league-leading 141 games, similar to the power numbers he displayed in 2007 when he split time between the South Atlantic and Carolina Leagues. Marrero was named a Midseason All-Star with Harrisburg and he ranked inside the top six Nats' Minor Leaguers in average and RBI production. In addition, his 154 hits were fourth-most in the league. Among his season highlights was a four-hit, four-RBI outing against Erie and a five-RBI night in Reading.

"I think he is on his way, Knorr said, "a little bit of a late bloomer. He didn't hit the ball the other way as much as I thought he should have. Wen I had him in A-ball, he hit around 26 home runs and probably 12 to right-center field.

"Last year, I don't think he hit any there and he still hit 20. He's trying to figure out what kind of hitter he is. But for someone to be pounded inside and not see many strikes to hit .290 and almost 20 home runs is pretty impressive."

Right-handed starting pitcher -- Adrian Alaniz, Potomac (24 games), Harrisburg (two games): Alaniz was one of the most dominating pitchers in the organization in 2010. His nine wins ranked third-most across the farm system and his 2.52 ERA was second only to Daniel Rosenbaum. Alaniz's 108 strikeouts were fourth-highest across Washington's affiliates. The 26-year-old was 8-4 with a 2.61 ERA with Potomac and 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in two starts with Harrisburg. He originally started in the bullpen, but moved into the rotation after less than a month. He allowed one run on two hits over eight innings in a victory on the road in Myrtle Beach on June 17 and struck out eight batters over five hitless innings against Frederick on July 8.

Left-handed starting pitcher -- Tom Milone, Harrisburg (27 games): After a solid season with Potomac in '09, Milone was every bit as dominant with Harrisburg in the Eastern League. He won more games (12) and struck out more batters (155) than anyone else in the organization, and he absolutely dominated at Double-A, where only Toronto prospect Kyle Drabek recorded more victories. Milone's 2.85 ERA 1.16 WHIP ranked second in the league, and he also had both the highest strikeout ratio per nine innings (8.83) and lowest walk rate (1.31). He was especially strong after the All-Star break, going 6-0 in nine starts with a 2.29 ERA. Among the outings were 13- and 12-strikeout efforts and a complete game.

"There's something to say when you throw your best at 90 and still average a strikeout per inning in the Eastern League," Knorr said. "That has to tell you something. He just knows how to pitch. He's very poised and he doesn't get rattled -- he has come a long way.

"He knows exactly how he wants to get people out and then he goes and executes it. He throws a fastball, curveball and changeup. He's working on a cutter and I've been amazed at watching him do it. He loves to throw the ball inside to right-handers and lefties, and I think that has what's made him so effective."

Relief pitcher -- Cole Kimball, Harrisburg (38 games), Potomac (19 games): Kimball's 18 saves ranked second among the Nationals affiliates but that statistic alone doesn't tell the story of the Brooklyn native's season. The right-hander started off with Potomac and did not allow a run over his first 11 1/3 innings across seven appearances out of the 'pen. Then he did not allow another run in his final 10 games. Kimball was promoted in May to Harrisburg, where he extended his scoreless streak to 19 innings. Over 39 games, he was 5-1 with 12 saves in his final 13 opportunities and a 2.33 ERA.

Worth an honorable mention is Rob Wort, who was 6-0 with a 1.92 ERA and eight saves, and Joel Peralta, who had 20 saves and a 1.08 ERA in 28 games before he was called up to the Majors.

"We've been waiting for him and he's finally there," Knorr said of Kimball. "He is a hard thrower with great secondary stuff, a splitter and a curveball. He's very confident and he has an idea of what he wants to do. The thing we've been waiting on was his fastball command and his ability to throw strikes. This year he proved it and made his way onto the 40-man roster."

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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