Here is a rundown of the Arizona Fall League invitees from the Nationals. Included on the team is one coach and one trainer. They will play for the Mesa Solar Sox and the first game is Oct. 7.
The list includes two catchers, two left-handers, two right-handers and one second baseman.
2B Tony Renda, high Single-A Potomac - Renda has fought through injury this season. If not, he likely would have garnered Carolina League MVP honors. He has all the tools and is a solid leader. He really knows the game and plays smart. The 23-year-old second baseman has hit .301 this season and has drawn 39 walks and stolen 17 bases in 101 games. His on-base percentage is .372.
C Pedro Severino, Potomac - The Dominican catcher is a find and a hidden gem no longer thanks to this AFL invite. The 21-year-old Severino has hit .248 with eight homers and 33 RBIs in 90 games. But most importantly is his work with the pitchers, communication, pitch framing and defense.
C Spencer Kieboom, low Single-A Hagerstown - Kieboom is another in a long line of outstanding backstops this organization has produced. The Clemson catcher returned from injury to have a very good season. The 23-year-old Kieboom has hit .307 with 38 extra base hits and 58 RBIs in 84 games with the Suns. He was a fifth-round selection in 2012.
LHP Felipe Rivero, Double-A Harrisburg - The lone starting pitcher among Nationals invitees, the 23-year-old Venezuelan southpaw had nine starts for the Senators and looks to build more innings, having only 49 combined innings so far in 2014. Rivero was 2-6 with a 4.38 ERA, allowing only 19 earned runs with the Senators. Rivero has a fastball clocked at 92-94 mph, and can get to 96 mph. He also features a curveball and changeup, plus other pitches.
LHP Matt Grace, Triple-A Syracuse - The Nationals want to get a long look at some of their left-handers against top competition, and Grace fits that bill. The 25-year-old is 5-1 with three saves, a 1.22 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 74 innings on the season, surrendering only 10 earned runs the whole campaign. He was a 2010 eighth-rounder out of UCLA.
RHP Neil Holland, Harrisburg - The 26-year-old Owensboro, Ky., native is a 2010 11th-rounder out of Louisville. He has been on fire the last 10 games, going 1-1 with a 1.04 ERA in 17 1/3 innings. He pitched in six games for Syracuse, but worked the bulk of his season (38 games) with Harrisburg. He was 6-3 with a 3.05 ERA for the Senators and projects as a solid middle reliever. This should be a good test for him in Arizona against top prospects.
RHP Derek Self, Harrisburg - Another Louisville product, Self spent time at Potomac and Harrisburg. The 24-year-old was a ninth-round selection in 2012. He went 3-0 with three saves and a 1.69 ERA in 26 2/3 innings over 17 games with Potomac. He has battled the last 10 games with Harrisburg, and an opportunity to test his pitches against top AFL hitters will be fun to watch, especially with the chance to throw to a pair of the organization’s best catchers.
Hagerstown Suns manager Patrick Anderson is an extra coach and Potomac trainer TD Swinford will also assist in training the Solar Sox. Anderson told me he is so excited about being included and can’t wait to coach up these Nationals prospects on a coveted stage.
Roster size is established at 35 players per team. Each major league organization is required to provide seven players. Here is the AFL’s press release on eligibility requirements:
* All Triple-A and Double-A players are eligible provided they are on Double-A rosters no later than August 15.
* Each organization is permitted to send two Class A Advanced-level players in addition to the current allowance of two “A-exempt” players (who are under contract as of August 15). Foreign players are allowed as long as the player is not on his native country’s primary protected player list.
* No players with more than one year active or two years total of credited major-league service as of August 31 (including major league disabled list time) are eligible except a team may select one player picked in the most recently concluded Major League Rule 5 Draft.
* Each team is allotted 20 pitchers but only 15 are designated “eligible” each game day.