Nationals' top prospects fortified by "second wave" of talent

When the Nationals beat the New York Mets 6-4 on Monday with a roster filled with the future of the organization, the team's development staff had to be beaming with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

It wasn't too long ago the Nationals would bring 80 guys to camp and didn't know if they had a handful of major leaguers in that lot.

The entire starting lineup Monday night featured the best the minor league system had to offer, sprinkled with a couple of players already with the Nationals.

This crew built a 5-1 lead, with the help of Gio Gonzalez and some timely hits from Steve Lombardozzi, Tyler Moore, Carlos Rivero and Destin Hood.

Eury Perez went 3-for-3, scored two runs and also stole a base. Michael Taylor went 1-for-2. Lombardozzi finished 2-for-3. Will Rhymes went 2-for-2 with a run scored and a stolen base. Corey Brown went 1-for-2.

Anthony Rendon went 1-for-2 and had a home run taken away by a spectacular catch from the Mets center fielder Matt den Dekker.

Chris Marrero was 1-for-3. Hood added an RBI double. Matt Skole was 1-for-4 with a double and Zach Walters 1-for-3.

Jason Martinson pinch ran and played shortstop, going 0-for-1. Adrian Sanchez went 1-for-2 with a RBI.

Out of the 17 hits by the Nationals Monday night, 14 of the hits came from players that did not play more than one month with the team last season. Eleven of those hits were from home grown Nationals' talent.

When would the Nationals feel this comfortable sending out a lineup of pretty much minor league organizational All-Stars against David Wright and the New York Mets?

This year definitely they would, but four or five years ago? Probably not, and probably not with the result they had Monday.

"We are pleased with the overall talent of the players in the system and we feel like we have a second wave coming," Nationals director of minor league operations Mark Scialabba told me late last week.

Scialabba said minor league Player of the Year Skole has had a good start to camp and has continued to do what they saw from him at the end of last season.

"Skole is making strides," Scialabba said. "He has power to all fields. He can play third base and first base. At the plate, he is getting good back spin on his ball and has a good eye."

Meanwhile, Nationals minor league Pitcher of the Year Nathan Karns pitched two innings Monday, allowing only a seeing-eye single in a great battle with Wright.

The pitching will be interesting with Matt Purke (shoulder) and Sammy Solis (Tommy John) coming off surgery and working their way back to the mound. Also, right-hander Taylor Jordan will be able to do a little bit more this season following Tommy John surgery himself.

"We are going to have fun watching these pitchers," said Nationals director of player development Doug Harris. "They are very talented guys, and it is really the next wave. Taylor Jordan, we can take the reins off of him a little bit. His stuff was very impressive in instructional league. It is another wave of guys that if we are blessed with health have really interesting skills."

Jordan returned to the Nationals' minor leagues mid-season in 2012. He pitched in 15 games last season, nine of those at low Single-A Hagerstown, winning three of his last five decisions with the Suns.

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