First-year prospect Manny Rodriguez and others grab attention early in Florida

The Nationals are continuing to assemble and coordinate their rosters between Florida and Auburn (and I don’t mean the Gators and the Tigers for you southeastern conference fans, although the Florida Gators obviously have some guys to watch in the College World Series).

There are several players that have jumped out with their talent in the first few weeks of workouts from the Nationals training facility in Florida and Gulf Coast League competition. Also, a few of the guys are on the roster for the short-season NY/Penn League Auburn Doubledays, including Georgia Tech product Matt Skole (.250).

Right-hander Manny Rodriguez is one of those many players that have garnered some publicity sense draft day with what they have done on the field, according to Nationals director of player development, Doug Harris.

“A guy that grabs me is Manny Rodriguez, our 10th-round pick,” Harris said. “He is a really interesting kid. He is former position player who has pitched for a year or a year and a half. He looks like Alex Fernandez.”

Harris said Rodriguez has displayed tremendous velocity the first few weeks in Florida.

“Our scouts had him get up to 96 mph,” Harris said. “He leverages a baseball really well. He has got a good feel to pitching. He is a good athlete. He can spin two different breaking balls.”

Other intriguing prospects (and Harris is quick to point out that he is not excluding any of the guys) include George Washington University left-hander Bobby Lucas, who struck out three of the first four batters he faced in his first game.

“Bobby Lucas was really good down here the other day when I saw him,” Harris said. “He has a great body. He has a hard breaking ball that is going to be a bear on left-handed hitters.”

Also, Harris said right-hander Brian Dupra and left-hander Blake Monar showed well early on.

“The ball really jumps out of Brian Dupra’s hand,” Harris continued. “Blake Monar was very impressive in his debut, and I am sure I am forgetting some guys but they have really done a nice job.”

Here is the list of signed players (so far) from the 2011 First-Year Player Draft:

Matt Skole (3B) - Georgia Tech Univ.
Brian Dupra (RHP) - Notre Dame Univ. (IN)
Manny Rodriguez (RHP) - Barry Univ. (FL)
Caleb Ramsey (OF) - Univ. of Houston (TX)
Blake Monar (LHP) - Indiana Univ.
Deion Williams (SS) - Redan HS (GA)
Todd Simko (LHP) - Texas A&M Univ.-Corpus Christi
Travis Henke (RHP) - Univ. of Arkansas-Little Rock
Khayyan Norfork (2B) - Univ. of Tennessee
Erick Fernandez (C) - Georgetown Univ. (DC)
Shawn Pleffner (OF) - Univ. of Tampa (FL)
Bobby Lucas (LHP) - George Washington Univ. (DC)
Kenneth Ferrer (RHP) - Elon Univ. (NC)
Trey Karlen (2B) - Univ. of Tennessee-Martin
Alex Kreis (RHP) - Jamestown College (ND)
Ben Hawkins (LHP) - Univ. of West Florida
Bryce Ortega (3B) - Univ. of Arizona
Ritchie Mirowski (RHP) - Oklahoma Baptist Univ.

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