Woodbridge, VA-Enter the 2013 Potomac Nationals Opening Day Roster. With first pitch of the 36th campaign in Potomac franchise history less than one week away, the P-Nats have unveiled their official roster to begin the 2013 Carolina League season.
First-year Nationals field manager, Brian Daubach, a former World Series Champion with the Boston Red Sox, in his third year within the Washington Nationals Minor League system after the last two seasons leading the Class-A Hagerstown Suns, is tasked with mentoring 13 returning players and 15 fresh faces on the Potomac roster. Daubach led Hagerstown to winning records in each of his two seasons at the helm and took the Suns to a South Atlantic League playoff appearance for the first time since 2005.
Former Major League veteran, Chris Michalak, will oversee a 13-man pitching stable that includes potential starters: RHP A.J. Cole, LHP Robbie Ray, RHP Taylor Jordan, RHP Taylor Hill, and LHP Kylin Turnbull.
Cole (4th Rd., 2010) was signed for a MLB Draft fourth round record, $2 million bonus out of Oviedo High School in Florida, and showed flashed of brilliance (staff-best 108 strikeouts in 89.0 innings) with Class-A Hagerstown in 2011 before being packaged with C Derek Norris, RHP Brad Peacock, and LHP Tommy Milone in a trade to the Oakland Athletics that netted the Washington Nationals 2012 20-game winner, LHP Gio Gonzalez. Then, in the swap that shipped LF Michael Morse to the Seattle Mariners this off-season, the Nationals re-acquired Cole in a three-team deal with the Oakland which instantly put Cole back on Washington's prospect radar for 2013 (Baseball America and MLB.com Prospect #4). When in sync, Cole dominates his opposition with a steady diet of mid to upper 90's fastballs and a budding slider that he continues to refine.
Ray (12th Rd., 2010), an exciting southpaw slinger, who owned a 3.13 earned run average over 20 starts with Class-A Hagerstown in 2011, looks to rebound from an arduous 2012 ledger. Ray, MLB.com's #10 Washington Nationals prospect, who was signed away by Washington from a commitment to play college baseball at Arkansas, fanned 95 batters in 89.0 innings pitched just two seasons ago, and looks to build on his three-pitch arsenal and crafty potential.
Jordan (9th Rd., 2009) had a successful comeback season in 2012 following Tommy John surgery. Jordan was terrific for Hagerstown in 2011 with a 9-4 record and petite 2.48 ERA before his injury sidelined his track. The powerful right-hander went 3-4 with a 4.05 ERA in 9 starts last year to build his strength back and feel comfortable using his entire repertoire in preparation for the 2013 season. Jordan enters this year's P-Nats slate as the 17th ranked Washington Nationals prospect by MLB.com.
Hill (6th Rd., 2011) found success in 2012 over both Class-A affiliates pitching to an 11-7 record and walking only 34 batters in 139.1 innings pitched. Hill pitched to contact but many of those balls were bounced on the ground and found the gloves per his 1.18 groundball-to-flyball ratio. Hill was promoted to Potomac in late August after going 10-6 over 24 appearances and 20 starts with the Suns. Hill saw action in three starts over 15.0 innings and finished the season 1-1 in the Carolina League. A true strike-thrower, Hill was honored by Baseball America with the Best Control designation with regards to all Nationals farm arms.
Turnbull (4th Rd., 2011) brings with him plenty of hype. MLB.com's 17th ranked Washington Nationals prospect signed late in 2012 and began his full-season MiLB career in Hagerstown after a four-outing stint with the Gulf Coast League Nationals. A projectable southpaw that throws flames, Turnbull covets consistency in 2013 after registering a 4-5 record and 5.16 ERA in 18 appearances, 17 of those starts, a season ago. The ceiling is high for Turnbull if he can exhibit control and command with his secondary pitches, a developing slider and emerging splitter combination that could prove deadly for Carolina League opposition if he can get them over for strikes. Turnbull has a big frame and will look to maximize his very live arm that pumps heaters as high up as the mid-90s.
Potomac's lone returning right-handed bullpen arm is Robert Gilliam, a former Oakland farmhand exchanged in the Gio Gonzalez trade, who will begin his 2013 season inactive following 36.0 innings logged with the P-Nats in which he garnered 30 strikeouts.
Nationals returning left-handed pitchers in the bullpen feature Paul Applebee, who will begin the season inactive after earning a 2-1 record in 13 appearances in 2012, Matt Grace, winner of a team-high nine games last season for Potomac, and Josh Smoker, a 2007 compensation 1st round draft pick who will also start the season inactive after just two trips to the bump for the P-Nats in 2012.
Promoted to Class-A Advanced Potomac in 2013, RHP Colin Bates, will join the P-Nats 'pen after tossing lights out in Hagerstown where he went 8-3 with a 2.79 ERA in 29 relief outings.
LHP Ben Hawkins was terrific pitching out of the Suns bullpen as he racked up 57 strikeouts in 58.1 innings pitched while maintaining a 3-3 record and a 3.55 ERA in 30 trips to the mound.
RHP Greg Holt was a model of consistency in Hagerstown with a 5-2 record while holding opposing batters to a stingy .233 batting average.
LHP Christian Meza was arguably the most dominant force out of the Hagerstown bullpen in 2012. Meza was tied for the 'pen lead with 8 wins and sported an anemic 2.97 ERA in 33 relief appearances and three spot starts. Meza held opposing sticks to a tiny .208 batting clip while collecting 94 strikeouts in 88.0 innings pitched with just 37 walks. Meza only received a losing decision once in 2012.
RHP Richie Mirowski was a stud relief asset for Hagerstown going undefeated in 16 bullpen trips to the mound. Mirowski overwhelmed Sally League swatters to the tune of 28 K's in 27.0 innings and finished the '12 campaign with a 2.00 ERA.
RHP Tyler Herron joins the Washington Nationals after a 2012 tenure spent with the independent Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks of the American Association following an arm injury in 2011. Herron, a former 1st round MLB draft pick selected 46th overall in 2005 by the St. Louis Cardinals, last pitched in affiliated baseball in 2009 with the Double-A Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates) where he fanned 18 batters in 26.0 innings but held a 4.50 ERA in eight appearances and four stars. Herron, a former Baseball America Top-10 St. Louis Cardinals prospect, will look to regain the prominence that enticed the Cards to offer him a $675,000 signing bonus.
RHP Derek Self makes the springboard jump from the Short-season-A Auburn Doubledays to Potomac as a strong closer candidate after shutting down opposing New York Penn League hitters to a .260 batting average against to complement a whopping 14 saves in 15 save opportunities, which was tied for the most saves in the circuit. Self boasted a 3.27 ERA and a 3.13 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
P-Nats hitting coach, Mark Harris, back for his second season overall with the P-Nats, who led the Hagerstown hackers in 2012, will mentor a potent starting lineup this season with Potomac.
The human backstops for the P-Nats in 2013 feature former Baseball America top-25 prospect, C Adrian Nieto, who competed for Team Spain in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. The Cuban-born switch-hitter bashed to a .257 batting clip with six home runs and 39 runs batted in over the course of 70 games for Hagerstown in 2012; results that yielded his best professional season. Nieto caught over 30 percent of would-be base stealers in the Sally League last season (20 caught stealing in 66 base swipe attempts) and returns to the Class-A Advanced level after a two-game stint with the P-Nats in 2011.
Also in competition for time behind the dish, C Cole Leonida joins the Nationals after displaying his pop on the South Atlantic League circuit. Platooning with Nieto in Hagerstown last year, Leonida ripped seven doubles, a pair of triples, and four long balls while producing 24 RBIs in 56 contests. Leonida cut down 24 runners in 86 stolen base attempts good for a punch-out percentage of 28%.
The Potomac infield is set for vast power potential and terrific defense. A converted outfielder-to-infielder, 1B Kevin Keyes returns to the Pfitzner Stadium diamond after cranking a team-high 21 homers while driving in a club-best 78 runs. Keyes' imposing .459 slugging percentage and .749 OPS make him a premier power threat in 2013. Keyes will look to round up his .223 batting average while still squaring up balls that find the gaps as he belted 27 doubles last year.
2B Adrian Sanchez will return to man the right side of Daubach's infield where he earned a .972 fielding percentage and committed only 10 errors in 76 games at second base. Sanchez owned a solid .269 batting average in 2012 over 101 games and his 101 hits ranked 2nd on the team. Finding real estate often, the durable speedster wreaked havoc on the basepaths stealing 25 bags in 41 tries for the 2nd most swipes in the Potomac clubhouse.
SS/3B Jason Martinson had a career season in 2012 splitting his time between Hagerstown and Potomac. Martinson, MLB.com's Nationals #20 prospect, hit .245 between the two Nationals affiliates with 123 base hits, 104 runs scored, 22 four-baggers, 106 RBIs, and Martinson stole 30 bases. Martinson's 2012 .770 OPS swells his bam-box potential at The Pfitz and he projects to be a hallmark in the middle of Daubach's lineup card.
SS/3B Blake Kelso brings his diverse skill set back to Potomac where he stole the most bases on the squad (27) and collected 107 total bases. Kelso was tied for 2nd on the club with 51 runs scored, and defensively owned a .976 fielding percentage in 100 games committing only 8 errors in 338 total chances while turning 32 double plays at second base, shortstop, and third base.
Infielder Cutter Dykstra, son of former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies great, Lenny Dykstra, and MiLB.com 2012 Organizational All-Star, ripped at a .291 pace last season in 110 games in Hagerstown, while connecting for 28 doubles, seven home runs, and 64 RBIs. Supplementing the fleet feet of the P-Nats roster, Dykstra took 32 bags in 35 attempts last season, good for 2nd most on the club.
Potomac Nationals veteran utility man, Francisco Soriano returns to The Pfitz to begin his fourth consecutive campaign with the P-Nats. Soriano, a fan favorite, served the Nationals well in 2012 with a consistent .270 batting average over 87 games with 44 runs scored, 11 doubles, six triples, 40 walks, and 12 stolen bases. Soriano made appearances at first base, second base, third base, shortstop, center field, and right field, and collectively, had a .961 fielding percentage (11 errors in 74 games).
Potomac is poised for a terrific outfield template with a unique combination of speed, power, on-base consistency, and rangy defense.
Outfielder Michael Taylor, MLB.com's #5 ranked Nationals prospect, who some have said is a future center fielder contender for the Washington Nationals, returns to Woodbridge following a well-rounded 2012. Taylor, the club's everyday center fielder, led the team with 33 doubles, while drawing 40 walks (tied for the team lead), and 19 stolen bases. Baseball America has tabbed Taylor as the Nationals farmhand with the "Best Tools" in the categories of Best Defensive Outfielder and Best Outfield Arm. It is Taylor's unique blend of speed, quickness, range factor, power, and a keen hitters' eye that makes him a key piece of the Potomac Nationals' arsenal.
LF Caleb Ramsey, who was a Sally League All-Star in 2012, served as the best all-around hitter with respect to contact and pop for the Hagerstown Suns in 2012. Ramsey batted .294 in 127 games, stomped on home plate 78 times and led the team with 136 hits. Ramsey's southpaw stick got red hot with runners in scoring position and two outs as he logged a .314 batting average in that situation. Ramsey's 66 RBIs were 4th best on the club, and he was also 2nd in the league with 10 triples.
CF Billy Burns had a breakout season in 2012 in the SAL posting a .322 batting clip, 3rd best in the league, in 113 games, while running circles around the basepaths with 38 stolen bases. Burns was on base all the time finishing with a .432 OBP, 2nd best in the SAL landscape. Baseball America has dubbed Burns as the Fastest Baserunner in Washington's organization.
RF Randolph Oduber competed in the '13 WBC as Team Netherlands embarked on an underdog run deep into the tournament. Oduber was injured for a portion of the '12 campaign with Potomac but salvaged his season with a respectable .252 batting average in 80 games along with 13 doubles, four triples, five home runs, and 27 RBIs. Oduber also grooved station-to-station for 14 stolen bases in 17 attempts.
P-NATS 2013 OPENING DAY ROSTER
ACTIVE 25-MAN ROSTER
(Listed alphabetically by position)
INACTIVE ROSTER (3)
The 2013 Potomac Nationals Official Roster will be distributed to press members on Media Day to be held Wednesday, April 3rd and Nationals players and coaches will have been assigned jersey numbers by that time.
Potomac Nationals Opening Day 2013 at Pfitzner Stadium is Friday, April 5th as the P-Nats host the defending Carolina League Champion, Lynchburg Hillcats (Atlanta Braves) at 7:05pm. Gates to The Pfitz will open at 6:00pm.
For all three games of Opening Weekend from April 5th through Sunday, April 7th, the first 1,000 fans in attendance for each contest will receive a P-Nats 2013 Magnet Schedule presented by: Quinn's Goldsmith. In addition, the best fireworks show in Northern Virginia will be on display following Saturday night's 6:35pm game. Then, on Family Day at The Pfitz Sunday afternoon, a 1:05pm first pitch will usher in Kids Eat Free sponsored by: Little Caesars Team Dumfries & Haymarket as kids 12 and under will receive a free slice of pizza courtesy of Little Caesars. Kids Run the Bases will take place after the ballgame.
P-Nats Opening Day 2013 tickets are still available for purchase by calling 703-590-2311 or by visiting www.potomacnationals.com
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. P-Nats 2013 season tickets, mini plans, and individual game tickets are on sale now. Sponsorship opportunities for the '13 season are still available. Plan your corporate outing now in preparation for the summer 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 ticket office at 703-590-2311 for more!
-- Potomac Nationals --
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.