The Gulf Coast League Nationals roster includes several draft picks from this season's first-year haul. But Nationals director of player development Doug Harris is particularly excited about how the franchise's baseball academy in the Dominican Republic is now graduating several players to the GCL Nationals and the New York-Penn League Auburn Doubledays.
Harris said the GCL squad has a couple of Dominican players that have really caught his eye.
"The exciting part here is we have three young Dominican kids that (Nationals Latin American director of operations) Johnny Dipuglia signed," Harris said. "They are catcher Pedro Severino, first baseman Arialdi Peguero and center fielder Narciso Mesa."
In Auburn, we have talked about pitcher Wirkin Estevez, but also there has been an incredible start by Dominican infielder Hendry Jimenez.
Jimenez, a second baseman, is batting .432 through 11 games, with two doubles, four triples, one homer and 17 RBIs. His OPS is 1.207.
Jimenez has at least one base knock in every game he has played and six times he has had at least two hits.
Estevez has won his last two starts, going 10 innings, allowing one run on five hits with 10 strikeouts.
"They are really young, interesting players that we haven't had in the system here for awhile," Harris said. "It is really great examples of the commitment to the Latin program and where things are headed there."
Other Dominican players on the Auburn roster include pitchers Pedro Encarnacion, Manuel Rivera, and catcher Wilfri Pena.
I will speak to Auburn manager Gary Cathcart this weekend. Check out the interview on 106.7 The Fan in Sunday's "Nats Insider" at 6 p.m.