Woodbridge, VA-The Washington Nationals have released the 25-man 2014 Opening Day Roster for the Class-A Advanced Potomac Nationals.
The initial Nationals roster representing the 37th class in the history of the Potomac franchise features 13 players who have previously worn a P-Nats uniform, as well as 12 new faces who have graduated to the P-Nats Clubhouse.
Led by first-year Field Manager, Tripp Keister, who skippered the Class-A Hagerstown Suns to the South Atlantic League Championship Series in 2013, the P-Nats' 2014 season-opening roster includes five players on Baseball America's Washington Nationals' Top 30 Prospect List.
The highest ranked prospect on Potomac's roster is 2B Tony Renda (#13) who had a stellar '13 campaign with Hagerstown in which he led the SAL in games played (135), at-bats (521), runs scored (99), and doubles (43) while logging the sixth-best batting average (.294), the second-most hits (153), and the fourth-highest walk total (68) in the circuit.
A notorious speedster, Renda swiped a team-best 30 bags in 36 attempts during the 2013 campaign.
Renda, a product of the University of California-Berkeley, was selected in the 2nd round of the 2012 MLB Draft, and Baseball America tabbed the phenom with the "Best Hitter for Average" tool distinction among all Washington's Minor League farmhands.
C Pedro Severino (#16) of Bonao, Dominican Republic turned in a hitting slash line of .241/.274/.333/.607 with the Suns last season while tallying 22 extra-base hits and 45 runs batted in.
Severino has been named the "Best Defensive Catcher" in the Nats' farm system by B.A. going into the 2014 season after throwing out 40% of potential base stealers last year (37 caught stealing in 92 stolen base attempts).
LHP Brett Mooneyham (#25), a 3rd round draft pick in 2012 out of Stanford University, returns to Potomac after a brief stint with the P-Nats down the home stretch to the 2014 season that included one home playoff start. In the 2013 regular season, Mooneyham went a combined (10-6) with both Class-A levels donning a 3.19 earned run average in the process.
LHP Nick Lee (#26) will look to repeat his efficiency from 2013 in the Hagerstown pitching carousel and carry it over into the P-Nats' starting rotation this season. Lee, who played collegiately at Weatherford Junior College (TX) and was taken by Washington in the 18th round of the 2011 MLB draft, earned a (6-4) record and a 3.96 ERA while fanning 102 batters in 91.0 innings pitched while holding his opposition to a .249 batting clip over 19 appearances and 17 starts.
2013 P-Nats fireman, RHP Robert Benincasa (#27) returns to The Pfitz after leading the Carolina League in the saves department a season ago (17 saves in 18 save opportunities for the P-Nats). Overall, Benincasa recorded 27 saves in 28 save chances after going 10-for-10 in the flames while with Hagerstown which was the most saves in the Nationals organization. The Florida State product selected in the 7th round of the 2012 draft was rewarded for a terrific season with a call to the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League where he struck out seven men in 9.0 innings for the Mesa Solar Sox.
In addition to Mooneyham and Lee, The P-Nats' projected starting rotation will also include candidates RHP Pedro Encarnacion, RHP Dakota Bacus, RHP Ian Dickson, RHP Ronald Pena, and RHP Brian Rauh.
Encarnacion from Nizao, Dominican Republic went (10-9) for Hagerstown last season with a 3.58 ERA which complemented 113 strikeouts in 128.1 innings pitched. Encarnacion was tied for the Suns' pitching staff in wins and struck out the most hitters in the stable.
Bacus was acquired by the Washington Nationals via trade with the Oakland Athletics when C Kurt Suzuki was sent back to the A's in August of last season. Bacus had a (9-5) record and a 3.56 ERA in 26 appearances/16 starts before tossing 8.1 innings for Hagerstown at the end of the '13 season through a stint in which he did not allow a single run while fanning a quintet.
Dickson gunned down 71 hitters via the strikeout and walked just 17 batters in 65.2 IP for Hagerstown over 10 starts and six bullpen outings in 2013. Dickson was traded to Washington from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for RHP Henry Rodriguez last season. Dickson had a (2-2) record and a 6.88 ERA for the Kane County Cougars at the time of the deal. (mid-June)
Pena was (4-3) with a 3.48 ERA for the Suns and made the fourth-most appearances (28) while starting 10 games. Opposing swingers sat at a .263 batting average against Pena.
Rauh was a swingman in 2013 both in the sense he pitched for Double-A Harrisburg (1 appearance/1 start), Hagerstown (14 appearances/0 starts) and Potomac (16 appearances/12 starts), and also because he was a workhorse out of the bullpen and as a starter. Rauh combined to register a (7-4) win/loss pace in 2013 and a 4.50 ERA while serving as a groundball machine (2.11 GO/AO ratio).
The Nationals bullpen will be fortified by RHP Derek Self, RHP Brian Dupra, LHP Bryan Harper, RHP Travis Henke, and RHP Gilberto Mendez.
Self, Dupra, and Henke all spent time with the Potomac Nationals in 2013 as Self was a closing option who converted four out of eight save opportunities with Potomac, Dupra served as a long-man and spot starter allowing a .263 BAA with the Nationals, and Henke, the nephew of former MLB Closer, Tom Henke, was terrific in seven bullpen outings in which he pitched to a petite 2.25 ERA with 11 strikeouts and only two walks in 12.0 IP.
Harper, the brother of Washington Nationals LF Bryce Harper and product of the University of South Carolina, gunned to a (5-1) record in the Suns' bullpen while keeping his ERA under 4.00 (3.97) and keeping the opposition off-balanced to the tune of 43 strikeouts in 45.1 IP.
Mendez was extremely crafty in 2013 earning an anemic 0.91 ERA over 24 appearances out of the 'pen. Mendez put 33 strikeouts under his belt in 29.2 IP while holding hitters to a tiny .173 batting clip.
C Cole Leonida will serve as the reserve human backstop for the Nationals in 2014 after swatting six doubles and 10 home runs in 58 games in the Carolina League last season.
Looking at the rest of the P-Nats position players set to appear on the infield in 2014…
1B Kevin Keyes returns to the Nationals for his third straight season and will pursue the all-time franchise record for home runs which stands at 46 (Juan Thomas, 1995-1996, Prince William Cannons-Chicago White Sox). Keyes has mashed 34 home runs in his career as a Potomac Nationals slugger and in 2013, Keyes hit 13 jacks and drove in 79 runs, good for second-best in the P-Nats clubhouse.
SS Stephen Perez made an impact with the stick and the web last year as a member of the Suns and projects to be the starting shortstop for Potomac in 2014. Over the course of 128 games a season ago, Perez cranked out 102 base hits, scored 59 runs, laced 23 doubles, connected on a pair of triples, and dialed up for a quartet of home runs. Perez' 54 RBIs and 40 walks ranked second and fifth respectively in the Suns' clubhouse in 2013. B.A. says Perez is the "Best Defensive Infielder" in the Nats' Minor League chain. Perez garnered a .969 fielding percentage in between the chalk last season with the Suns.
3B Mike McQuillan figures to be the starting third baseman for Potomac in 2014 thanks to his consistent approach at the plate and aggressiveness on the basepaths. McQuillan hit .277/.372/.367/.740 in 73 games for Hagerstown collecting 32 runs, 10 doubles, four triples, two home runs, 29 RBIs, 40 walks, and 15 stolen bases in 21 attempts.
2B Adrian Sanchez will don a P-Nats jersey for the third straight season. Sanchez, a toolsy utility small-ball threat with defensive wizardry in his repertoire (.963 fielding percentage in '13), hit .241 in 120 games for Potomac in 2013. Sanchez scored 43 runs, rapped 19 extra-base hits, and collected 42 RBIs while stealing eight bases in 12 tries.
IF Oscar Tejeda was signed by Washington as a Minor League free agent after hitting .198 in 50 games in the Pittsburgh Pirates system for Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis. Tejeda stashed five doubles, lofted two homers, and touched home plate 13 times. Tejeda destroyed Carolina League pitching in 2010 as a member of the Salem Red Sox (126 games, .307 BA, .799 OPS, 76 runs, 32 doubles, five triples, 11 home runs, 69 RBIs).
To the outfield grass outlook…
OF Brandon Miller turned in a career season in 2013 that culminated with a call-up to Potomac in early August. Miller led the Suns in home runs (18), RBIs (72), and sacrifice flies (7). Miller hit .300 on the nose with the Nationals in 30 games and yielded 11 extra-base knocks, 16 RBIs, and 51 total bases en route to helping the P-Nats to a '13 Carolina League playoff run.
The other end of the Miller "bash bros." tandem is OF Justin Miller, who was productive in reserve duty for the P-Nats last year. Justin Miller swung the lumber to a .253 batting average and displayed his power stroke at times (16 doubles, two triples, five home runs).
The "Groovin' Aruban," OF Randolph Oduber returns to the P-Nats mix for the third straight campaign. Oduber has battled injuries in each of his last two seasons, but when healthy, has been productive at the plate. Oduber hit .252 in 2012 with 22 extra-base hits and 14 stolen bases. In 2013, Oduber homered once in five games with Double-A Harrisburg and collected 24 extra-baggers and 39 RBIs while patrolling mostly right field making only three errors in 59 games in the number nine spot on the diamond.
OF Will Piwnica-Worms will receive a hero's welcome back to Pfitzner Stadium where his walk-off RBI single in Game Two of the 2013 Carolina League Northern Division Series punched through the right side of the infield off Lynchburg LHP Jose Lugo and catapulted the Nationals back to the Mills Cup Championship Series. Piwnica-Worms is a lifetime .248 MiLB hitter in 143 games and played most of his 2013 baseball in Hagerstown. (.257 BA in 93 games, 20 extra-base hits, 44 RBIs, and 55 walks; good for third-most on the squad)
Minor League Baseball coaching veterans, Franklin Bravo (Pitching Coach) and former Nationals Field Manager, Brian Rupp (Hitting Coach) round out the coaching staff along with Assistant Coach, Sean McCauley.
T.D. Swinford will serve as the Nationals Head Athletic Trainer and Mike Warren will be Potomac's strength and conditioning coach.
Jeremy Delewski will handle the Home Clubhouse Manager duties.
2014 Potomac Nationals Opening Day Roster
(Alphabetical by Position)
The Potomac Nationals 2014 home opener is set for Tuesday, April 8th as the P-Nats host the Lynchburg Hillcats (Atlanta Braves) for a 7:05pm first pitch at Pfitzner Stadium with gates opening at 6:00pm.
The first 1,000 fans into The Pfitz on Opening Day will receive a 2014 P-Nats Magnet Schedule presented by: F.H. Furr and a Two-for-Tuesday promotion sponsored by: Logan's Sausage will be running in which fans will get two tickets, two hot dogs, and two small sodas for the price of one. Tickets must be purchased in-person at the Nationals Ticket Office on Opening Day.
Call the Potomac Nationals at 703-590-2311 to join the party at the park in 2014 and enjoy the most affordable, family friendly attraction in Northern Virginia!
The Potomac Nationals of the Carolina League play at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, Virginia, and are the Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Washington Nationals. The Potomac Nationals have claimed four Carolina League Championship titles (1982, 1989, 2008, and 2010) and eight division championships. Most recently, the P-Nats earned a 2013 Carolina League Northern Division pennant. P-Nats 2014 season tickets and mini plans are now on sale. Sponsorship opportunities for the 2014 season and beyond are available. Plan your corporate outing now for the 2014 season to see the future stars of the Washington Nationals at The Pfitz as the P-Nats offer discounted group rates and all-inclusive picnic options. Visit the P-Nats online at www.potomacnationals.com or call the Potomac Nationals Ticket Office at 703-590-2311 for more information!
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.