Over the last several seasons, the headlines in the Arizona Fall League have been dominated by Washington Nationals farmhands - and 2011 will be no different. An elite group that features four players from the 2011 Potomac Nationals and the top ranked prospect in all of baseball will lead the Scottsdale Scorpions over the next six weeks in the six-team circuit.
Bryce Harper is the most recognizable player in the 2011 AFL, and will play alongside Mike Trout, the only other player that has topped prospect rankings since the day Harper was drafted. The number one overall pick will be joined in Scottsdale by four 2011 P-Nats: Patrick Lehman, Sammy Solis, Zach Walters and Rafael Martin. Rounding out the Nationals' contingent are Derek Norris (a 2010 P-Nat) and 2011 draft pick Matt Purke.
Lehman burst onto the scene in 2011. His second stint in Potomac proved a brief one - with good reason. In 13 appearances with the P-Nats, Lehman did not walk a batter and recorded seven saves and two wins. He was promoted to AA Harrisburg, where he went 1-2 with six saves and a 3.71 ERA. With the Senators, Lehman struck out 34 and walked just one.
Solis makes a return trip to the AFL. Selected by the Nationals in the 2nd Round of the 2010 Draft out of the University of San Diego, Solis was shipped straight to Arizona. In 6 games - including five starts - Solis pitched 23.2 innings with 12 strikeouts and just seven walks.
In his first full pro season, split between Hagerstown and Potomac, Solis was a combined 8-3 with a 4.02 ERA.
Walters, a switch-hitting infielder, was acquired at the deadline for Jason Marquis. In 30 games and 126 plate appearances with the P-Nats, Walters was 34 for 116 with a .293/.336/.371 line, seven doubles and seven steals.
Martin, who was signed out of the Mexican League before the 2010 year, had his 2011 delayed by injury. He began the season with Potomac and was brilliant: in six games, he struck out ten, walked two and allowed just six hits in eight innings. In 32 appearances for Harrisburg, Martin was 4-1 with a sparkling 1.77 ERA and 13 saves.
The Scorpions home opener was postponed on Tuesday night; they get underway in Surprise on Wednesday at 6:05.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.