The Arizona Fall League is on the way and we will cover it somewhat here. The AFL is put on by major league baseball and is a fall league usually reserved for the best prospects in a team's system. Rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg was in the AFL last year for the Nationals.
The other rookie phenom, 2010 first rounder Bryce Harper, has not been added to the AFL roster by the Nationals. That does not necessarily mean he will not be added later. Here are the players the Nationals are sending to the AFL:
P Sammy Solis: Solis was the 2nd overall pick in the Washington Nationals draft class this year. Solis was just signed on deadline day and has not made an appearance in the Nats system. Solis is said to be the most major league ready pitcher the Nationals drafted this season. The Natsdrafted Solis out of the University of San Diego where he posted a 9-2 record with a 3.42 ERA in 14 starts. H was rated the 7th best prospect in California and 3rd best college prospect int he state.
P Adam Carr: Carr put up impressive numbers that beg for attention from the Nats for the bullpen in DC next year. Once thought to be the future closer for the Nats, Carr is putting up big time numbers and could earn a setup role. 2009 first rounder Drew Storen will be and has become the new Nats closer, but that does not mean there is no role for Carr. Carr was selected in the 18th round of the 2006 MLB draft by the Nats. He started the season in AA Harrisburg andpitched in 36 games posting a 6-1 record with 5 saves and an ERA of 3.04. He was promoted to AAA Syracuse andhas embraced the closer role at the highest level, posting a 0-1 record with 6 saves andan ERA of 2.55. For the season, Carr has appeared in 49 games, is 6-1 with 11 saves and a combined ERA of 2.92. He has struck out 63 in 68 innings.
P Cole Kimball: You want to talk about a Nats bullpen remake. Add Carr to Storen andthen don't forget about converted starter to reliever Cole Kimball. Kimball has had an absolutely phenomenal year in his second season after his conversion from starter to reliever. Kimball was selected by the Nats in the 12thround of the 2006 draft. Kimball started the season in A Potomac andpitched in 13 games posting a 3-0 record with 6 saves anda ERA of just 1.82. That was enough to earn a promotion to AA. He has been just as impressive. In 35 games for Harrisburg, Kimball is 4-1 with 10 saves and an ERA of 2.13. Combined, on the season, Kimball is 7-1 with 16 saves and an ERA of 2.03. Most impressive --- he has whiffed 96 batters in 75.1 innings. MORE AFTER THE JUMP --- CLICK CONTINUE READING FOR TH REST OF ARTICLE
As a Nationals fan, when thinking about the future, especially the bullpen, how can you not get excited with Carr and Kimball in the wings?
OF Michael Burgess: Burgess chose to focus on average over power this season. Last year he smashed 19 home runs but hit just .235. This year at a higher level, Burgess has 14 homers and a combined .260 batting average. Burgess was selected in the first round (supplemental) of the 2007 draft. He is an exciting prospect who has the ability to provide power. Burgess started the season off in A Potomac and batted .262 with 11 homers and 70 RBI. He also added 21 doubles and 4 triples in 101 games. Burgess was promoted late to AA and is hitting .244 with 2 doubles, 2 triples and 2 home runs with 6 RBI in 13 games. Combined, Burgess has hit .260 this year with 23 doubles, 6 triples, and 14 home runs to go along with his 76 RBI.
Steve Lombardozzi: I would rank Lombardozzi in my Top 3 easily in the Nationals system. Lombardozzi is having a fantastic season. He was drafted by the Nationals in the 19thround of the 2008 draft. He started the season in A Potomac and played in 110 games hitting .293. Lombardozzi piled up stats, nailing 30 doubles, 9 triples and a home run. He scored 71 runs, stole 20 bases and drove in 38 runs. That was enough to earn him an AA promotion. In 19 games thus far at Harrisburg, Lombardozzi is batting .307 with 5 doubles, 2 triples, and3 home runs withscoring 12 runs. Combined with A and AA, he is hitting a solid .295 with 35 doubles (leads the Nats system), 11 triples (leads the Nats system), 4 home runs and has scored 83 runs (leads the Nats system) and stolen 23 bases.
Offensively, there are a few solid prospects in the Nationals lower system, like Tyler Moore, Adrian Sanchez, Eury Perez, Randolph Oduber, and others, but at this higher level, Lombardozzi is one of the most exciting. One player I was hoping to see continue on to AFL was Tom Milone. Milone has had a fantastic season at AA Harrisburg, posting a 11-5 record with a 2.92 ERA.