We have all seen the incredible success Bryce Harper has had thus far at Single-A Hagerstown. It hasn't just been the talk of the town, it's been national news, and will continue to be as he makes his march to Washington, D.C. We saw the same phenomenon occur with Stephen Strasburg last season.
One problem, though, is that when you draft superstars first overall in back-to-back seasons, you can lose focus on the other 50-plus selections that you took in that same draft. While Harper and Strasburg are sure to be stars in this league, we can't forget that guys like Mike Piazza got drafted in the 62nd round of the draft.
So let's take a look at the Nationals' top five (plus a bonus) choices in last year's draft not named Bryce Harper, and a quick look at how they are doing so far.
Sammy Solis (Round 2, 51st overall): Solis is a left-handed starter out of San Diego University. Solis was known out of college for his great stuff and command, but worries about the health of his back slipped him into the second round. Thus far he is 0-0 in two starts, allowing just two hits and no walks in four innings pitched. In the Arizona Fall League he went 1-0 in five starts with a 3.80 ERA. He will soon leave extended spring training in Viera, Fla.
Rick Hague (Round 3, 83rd overall): Hague, drafted out of Rice, signed pretty quickly and was able to play in 49 games last season between Rookie League and low Single-A, where he hit a combined .317/.385/.477 with three home runs. This year, in four games for advanced Single-A Potomac,. he has hit .357/.438/.714. Hague has suffered a right shoulder injury which has kept him out of the lineup.
A.J. Cole (Round 4, 116th overall): Cole, 19, was taken out of high school. Many thought he would for sure go to college, which is why he was passed on until the fourth round despite his talent. The Nationals were able to change his mind with their deep pockets. So far, in three starts he is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched for Single-A Hagerstown. This may end up being one of the steals of the draft.
Jason Martison (Round 5, 146th overall): Martison was taken out of Texas State University. The 21-year-old has hit just .244/.356/.333 so far for Hagerstown, showing great patience but poor performance at the plate. He has 40 strikeouts in 39 games.
Cole Leonida (Round 6, 176th overall): This Georgia Tech catcher has joined other top prospects in Hagerstown this season. Like Martison, he has showing great patience but not great execution at the plate, hitting .250/.362/.350 through 13 games.
Biggest Surprise: Blake Kelso (Round 10, 296th overall): Kelso has been the second-best hitter in Hagerstown this spring behind Harper. In 39 games, he is hitting .358/.406/.457. The shortstop may be playing a bit below his level for his age (21), but he is showing great promise.
Will Yoder blogs about the Nationals for The Nats Blog, and offers his viewpoints this week as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.