Renda, Difo, Skole, Suero, Lively, Ward and Taylor shining early in Nats system

Double-A Harrisburg Senators second baseman Tony Renda in a groove at the plate to begin season. Renda is hitting .299 with four doubles, five stolen bases and six RBIs in 17 games. He has four walks and has struck out only seven times in 67 at-bats.

Outfielder Rick Hague leads the Senators with a .735 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) for batters with a minimum of 40 plate appearances. He leads the team with five doubles. He has two stolen bases, but would like to trim the strikeout total (11 through 16 games).

First baseman Matt Skole leads the team with 10 RBIs and homers (two). Kevin Keyes and Mario Lisson have the other home runs.

WilmerDifoSunsSidebar.jpgHigh Single-A Potomac’s offense led by Wilmer Difo (14 RBIs) and Drew Ward (12 RBIs). Difo is hitting .323 and Ward .321. Difo’s OPS is .966 through 17 games with seven doubles and three homers. Difo and Isaac Ballou lead the team with four stolen bases each. Difo and Spencer Kieboom have each drawn eight walks, Ballou has received seven free passes.

Right-hander Wander Suero (3-0) has a 2.50 ERA over three starts, allowing only five earned runs on 16 hits in 18 innings. The 23-year-old has 11 strikeouts and two walks.

It will be interesting to monitor Suero and this positive start. He has been one to watch in the system and looks like he has found his groove in Potomac. It is a small sample size, but certainly a good beginning. I like the 11-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

I would expect top pitching prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez to come north very soon, possibly within the next couple of weeks. The target date was late April and it is likely they would both start at Potomac. They have pitched well in Florida at the Nationals training facility, where 70 prospects plus players recovering during disabled list stints are working out.

Center fielder Michael A. Taylor has hit the ground running for Triple-A Syracuse after being demoted upon the return of Denard Span from the disabled list. In six games, his on-base percentage is a robust .478. Taylor has eight hits in 20 at-bats with three walks. Taylor has used his major league experience to help him at Triple-A, and it is very likely he will be back with the Nationals sometime this summer.

Reliever Mitch Lively has pitched well in his first five games this season with Syracuse. Lively has a 0.93 ERA in 9 2/3 innings, with one earned run allowed, seven strikeouts and only two walks. He has pitched at least two innings in each of his last four games. Lively could be another long bullpen option for the Nationals as they figure out a way to replace the injured Craig Stammen (flexor tendon surgery).

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