This week’s minor-league updates with Doug Harris

I had this ready to go yesterday, but then Drew Storen got promoted to Syracuse and my minor-league updates on a bunch of other guys suddenly lost their newsiness. So I decided to save it for this morning, since there’s nothing to take a Second Look at:

I caught up with Nationals player development director Doug Harris for another round of minor-league updates, which I’m going to try to do weekly during the season. If you’ve got guys you’d like to know more about, just post your suggestions in the comments and I’ll ask Harris about them the next week.

Jack McGeary: Remember him? The Nationals took the left-hander in the sixth round of the 2007 draft, paid him a $1.8 million signing bonus and worked out a deal where McGeary could attend Stanford and pitch in the Nationals’ farm system in the summer. The arrangement limited McGeary to short-season ball in 2007 and 2008, and after committing to a full season of baseball last year, he started at Single-A Hagerstown and struggled before being demoted to short-season Vermont again. McGeary, though, threw seven innings of two-hit ball for Hagerstown on Tuesday, getting 13 groundouts to four flyouts. He didn’t get the win; Hagerstown scored five runs in the eighth inning to beat Delmarva 5-0. But he impressed Harris, who was in attendance for the game. “Three of his last four (starts) have been really good,” Harris said. “He’s got a great tempo, a good mound presence, he’s establishing his fastball, maintaining a quality mix. He’s continued to progress. The Stanford thing messes with the timeline a little bit, in the totality of what he’s doing. But he’s a very intelligent and focused kid. We feel good about the strides he’s making.”

Aaron Thompson: The left-hander made a spot start at Triple-A Syracuse earlier this month, helping the Chiefs out after a run of extra-inning games, but is back at Double-A Harrisburg now. The promotion was purely because it was Thompson’s day to pitch, but he’s been sharp at Harrisburg this year, as well. He’s allowed five runs in 15 2/3 innings, striking out 13 and walking just four. “His first outing, statistically, wasn’t great. But it was a horrendous night to pitch - it was cold, snowing, all that stuff,” Harris said. “If you take that one out, he’s been very good. He’s leveraged his fastball. He continues to develop the cutter, his changeup’s been good. He’s throwing key strikes. We’re pleased with where he is.”

J.D. Martin: The right-hander, pitching at Triple-A Syracuse after nearly making the Nationals’ rotation out of spring training, missed a couple days with some back stiffness, but Harris said he should be fine. The cause of the injury, actually, was the same thing that put Stephen Strasburg out for a couple days in the Arizona Fall League - shaky beds. It actually happens with minor-leaguers more than you’d think, Harris said; players are traveling from one small town to another, staying in hotels and sleeping in beds that aren’t always first-rate. Occasionally, a player sleeps on something the wrong way, wakes up with some stiffness and is held out as a precaution. “When you’re bouncing around to some of these minor-league cities, you don’t know how quality of the beds are going to be, how they’re going to affect each person,” Harris said. “It’s something you don’t give a lot of thought to, but when you’re in the middle of it, it is a factor.” Nonetheless, Martin is back to normal now, and has pitched well at Syracuse (he has allowed six runs in 18 1/3 innings).

Brad Meyers: After missing the start of the season with some muscle spasms, Meyers still hasn’t pitched in a game at Double-A Harrisburg. “He’s in the process of building himself up to come out and start,” Harris said. “Everything’s been on track. There are no issues. We have a luxury right now of slowing it down. Our Double-A and Triple-A pitching staffs are going pretty good. We’re in a good spot with him.”

Robinson Fabian: The wiry right-hander, who the Nationals acquired from the Rockies for Joe Beimel at last year’s trade deadline, is back from a stint on the seven-day disabled list and pitched for Single-A Potomac on Thursday night. “He had a little touch of forearm tenderness. It was not significant, at all,” Harris said. “Any time for us, a prospect has any type of tenderness, we err on the side of caution. We skipped him a turn.” The Nationals have held a number of starters out for precautionary reasons lately, which owes something to the amount of pitching depth they have in the minors. But Harris cautioned against thinking the Nationals have a surplus there. “I don’t think anybody’s ever going to tell you you have too much pitching,” Harris said. “The minute you do, it will bite you in the rear end. We feel good about the volume. But minute you say that (you have enough), there’s going to be a tweak, and all of a sudden, you’re saying, ‘I need pitching.’ We will figure that out (how to get everyone enough work).”

Carlos Alvarez: The former Esmailyn Gonzalez is still something of a curiosity for Nationals fans, who want to know what the prospect at the center of last year’s Dominican upheaval is doing. Harris said he’s playing at the Nationals’ Dominican facilities, and Nationals executives would like to get him to the U.S. this year. “We’re working through the process,” Harris said. “Several guys that take longer than others. There are different dynamics to get that visa cleared.”

Single-A Hagerstown: Harris spent the last several days with the Suns, and offered an overview of the players that stood out to him there: “We’ve talked about (starter) Daniel Rosenbaum. He had his first outing where he gave up some hits. It’s probably healthy for him to go through that. When you’re going too good, sometimes you need to get your ears pinned back and be assessed. Destin Hood is swinging the bat very well there. He’s capitalizing on mistakes, he’s getting a better sense of hitting zone. He’s done a real nice job with that. Not too many mistakes are getting by him. (Catcher) Sandy Leon is doing an excellent job running that staff. He’s got a tremendous knowledge of game calling. (Third baseman) Steven Souza continues to develop. They’re minimizing mistakes on offense, defense, baserunning. They’re maturing in front of your eyes. (Starter) Trevor Holder had a real nice outing the other day. You look at the line and go, ‘Wow, not a great night.’ But the defense made a few mistakes. He’s (throwing) 88-92 (mph). He really sank the ball. We’re really pleased where he’s at right now compared to last year.”

Leave your minor-league inquiries for next week in the comments section below; remember, you can sign in to the site with third-party accounts from Facebook, Google, Yahoo, AIM and more, and have the site remember your information so you don’t have to enter it each time. Harris said he’s spending some time at Potomac this week, so he’ll get a look at anyone you’re curious about there.