Nationals hitting coordinator Rick Schu is preparing to head back to Florida to begin the instructional league, which runs from September 16 through October 13.
This week we will cover a few of the Nats prospects that Schu worked with this season and update some of their offseason schedules.
Hagerstown first baseman Justin Bloxom had his season cut short on August 7 but is working hard to recover from minor knee surgery.
The Kansas State product put up some nice numbers: a .309 average in 104 games, 66 runs, 11 homers and 70 RBI.
Schu says Bloxom will be ready to roll come spring training.
Bloxom won the organization’s coveted “Beaver Award”, emblematic of the hardest working “animal” in the animal kingdom.
Field coordinator Bobby Henley established the in-house award for the player who works the hardest day-in and day-out to get better on the field.
“He plays the game right. Justin worked hard every day to become a great ballplayer.”
Another prospect the Nats are high on is shortstop Adrian Sanchez, who did well in his short time in Hagerstown.
GCL hitting coach Sergio Mendez worked diligently with Sanchez after he struggled a little bit in spring training.
“Mendez really connected with Sanchez and helped him to make some adjustments to improve,” Schu said.
“Sanchez was a little bit of a bailer, but showed great hand speed. We worked on getting a base underneath his legs, spreading out his stance and taught him not to stride so much.
“I saw him in Hagerstown and I thought he did a great job. He really came out of nowhere - a sleeper kind of guy.”
Sanchez’s combined numbers between GCL and Hagerstown really stand out: a .350 average in 54 games, 11 doubles, 4 homers, 36 RBI and 38 runs.
Potomac Nationals catcher Derek Norris has made steady strides throughout the season and is now primed for a trip to the Arizona Fall League.
Norris is batting .313 in his last 10 games with the P-Nats entering the postseason tonight. He has hit 12 homers with 49 RBI this season and has drawn 89 walks, totaling a very nice .419 OBP. Although his overall average is .235, he has had to go through a lot this season to just stay on the field.
Schu says Norris has had an “interesting year. He battled his hand issue early in the season and then got drilled in the dome, which set him back. I am not worried about his numbers.
“He has been really focused in on his catching, He has really improved on defense, calling games. Derek made it a priority to finish the season strong.
“He will work to improve in all those areas during the fall league. Having a former catcher, Matt Nokes, as hitting coach really helped Derek.”
Stay tuned for more to come from Schu on Tyler Moore, Danny Espinosa, Bryce Harper, Michael Burgess and Stephen Lombardozzi.