I talked with Nationals player development director Doug Harris about a number of minor leaguers this morning. Here's what he had to say about Daniel Rosenbaum, who was promoted from Hagerstown to Potomac this morning, and here's what he had to say in a quick rundown of the rest of the system.
-Harris was extremely pleased with the Nationals' entire group of position players at Single-A Hagerstown; first baseman Justin Bloxom is hitting .320 with 10 homers, and outfielder Destin Hood is batting .286. "Destin Hood has just continued to make stride after stride after stride. He's in a very good place in his development," Harris said. "(Hitting coach) Tony Tarasco has done a tremendous job with those guys. We've got Bloxom, Hood, (outfielders) JP Ramirez and Eury Perez have made incredible strides, (shortstop Francisco) Soriano has come a long, long way, (catcher) Sandy Leon continues to learn consistency, (infielder Jeff) Kobernus has done a nice job since he's come back from the little heel thing, the foot that bothered him, I'm really excited about that group. I think our staff has done a tremendous job. I'm like a proud papa."
-At Potomac, Harris pointed out infielder Stephen Lombardozzi, who's got a .292 average and a .377 on-base percentage. Outfielder Michael Burgess, who just got back from bereavement leave following the death of his grandmother, was "really lighting it up" before that, Harris said. He also highlighted a number of pitchers -- Brad Peacock and A.J. Morris among them. And catcher Derek Norris, one of the top prospects in the Nationals' system, is making strides behind the plate. "Norris has done a great job," Harris said. "His defense has come a long, long way for me. There's great accountability with (learning) that part of the game." Norris has only homered five times this year after blasting 25 last season, but Harris attributed some of the recent lull to Burgess' absence. Norris is extremely patient at the plate - he's got a .407 on-base percentage despite a .231 batting average, and actually has more walks than hits. With Burgess not there to protect him, "they pitch to him like he's Babe Ruth," Harris said. He said nothing has changed about Norris' approach, and added that Norris' wrist isn't giving him any trouble after his surgery to remove his left hamate bone last fall.
-Shortstop Danny Espinosa had five hits for Double-A Harrisburg last night, and that's been part of a surge for the shorstop; he's hitting .261 with a team-high 13 homers. "Espinosa has done a tremendous job, with where he's come on both sides of the ball," Harris said. "He's incorporating his lower half in his swing." And Chris Marrero, the possible first baseman of the future, has become "a very dangerous hitter in that league," Harris said. He's got a .797 OPS, and has 12 homers and 55 RBI. But the Nationals haven't had a conversation about moving Marrero up, or giving him a possible September call-up, Harris said, adding that it's an important part of the Nationals' philosophy to let a player have a dominant season at one league to build confidence. "We'd like to see him continue to dominate that league," Harris said. "Mentally, he's in a different place right now. He's got a little swagger."