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GCL Nats finished the season

Posted by admin | Gulf Coast League

Unlike last season where pitching was the primary area of strength (Colton Willems, Yunior Novoa, Adam Carr, Edulin Abreu, Marco Estrada) the 2007 GCL Nationals showed an strong menu of hitters primarily from the 2007 draft, especially power hitters.

GCL Nats finished the season with a 23-31 record (identical to their 2006 finish) placing them fourth in a five team division, easily dominated by the GCL Dodgers who finished with forty victories. The GCL Nats could only manage a 7-20 record against the Dodgers and Marlins (teams one and two in their division) but held their own with a 16-11 record against the other also-rans (Mets [9-5] & Cardinals [7-6]).

STATISTICS

Hitting

Team AB R H HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SB
GCL Nats 1781 258 422 33 273 522 237 349 343 692 54
GCL Avg 1857 263 467 29 190 434 252 332 359 691 57

Pitching

Team IP ERA WHIP BA OPS BAbip K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9
GCL Nationals 468 4.77 1.51 267 743 331 8.8 4.0 2.2 0.7
League Totals 484 3.84 1.36 252 691 311 8.1 3.5 2.3 0.5

As it is clear, the GCL Nats pitching was their Achilles heel. While their strikeouts were better than the league average, the GCL Nats were worse than average in practically every other pitching rate statistic. Conversely, the GCL Nats slugged their way to league average in hitting spearheaded by players like Michael Burgess or Jake Smolinski.

As with the DSL, there is some value to consider the relative age of the players comprising the roster for the GCL Nats, though not as pronounced as the DSL

Team Hit Pit
GCL Nats 19.3 20.7
GCL Avg 19.7 20.2

The GCL Nats had their fair share of younger prep bats from both the 2007 draft as well as carryover from the 2006 draft (the equivalent of a college freshman) which led them to a younger than average everyday lineup. With the exception of 1B Clint Pridmore who was 20 years old, every other starter for the GCL Nats was between 17-19 years of age. As for their pitching, the GCL Nats did feature some prep arms in their rotation, however, their strongest performers were players such as LHPs Ross Detwiler (21) & Atahulpa Severino (22) and RHPs Randy Matias (20) & Kyle Gunderson (22).

Regular Lineup

HIT GCL Nats, Age
CA Sandy Leon, 18
1B Clint Pridmore, 20
2B Stephen King, 19
3B Steven Souza, 18
SS Smiley Gonzalez, 17
LF Jake Smolinski, 18
CF Stephen Englund, 19
RF Michael Burgess, 18
DH Derek Norris, 18
BENCH
CA Norris
CA Ricky Nolan, 21
IF Angel de Castro, 22
MI Frank Cruz, 18
MI Luis Castillo, 17
OF Yhonson Lopez, 18
OF Christopher Blackwood, 19
OF Richard Hidalgo, 19
PIT
SP Brad Peacock, 19
SP Atahaulpa Severino, 22*
SP PJ Dean, 18
SP Patrick McCoy, 18*
SP Patrick Arnold, 18
SP Randy Matias, 20
RP Robert Almonte, 21
RP Noel de Leon, 18
RP Justin Phillabaum, 21
RP Jose Pinales, 21
RP Wuillys Bravo, 19*
CL Kyle Gunderson, 22

The overall story of the Nationals 2007 draft was the signing of arguably three of the top lefthanded pitchers (Detwiler, Josh Smoker, and Jack McGeary). But the story in Viera was the performances of the bats where Burgess, Smolinski, Englund, King, Gonzalez and Lopez demonstrated the Nationals may have begun the long process towards establishing an offensive pipeline.

Top 10 GCL Nationals Prospects

  1. Michael Burgess RF
  2. Smiley Gonzalez SS
  3. Jake Smolinski LF
  4. Stephen Englund CF
  5. Stephen King 2B/SS
  6. Yhonson Lopez OF
  7. Brad Peacock RHSP
  8. PJ Dean RHSP
  9. Steven Souza 3B
  10. Atahaulpa Severino LHP

Burgess was, by far, the top GCL Nats prospect and likely right at the top of the GCL overall. The 18-year old slugger led the GCL in OBP, SLG, and by extension OPS. Though he played in only 36 games, he finished tied for third in home runs and sixth in both BA and RBI. Adding to the offensive package is Burgess’ arm in right field where he has one of the strongest arms in the organization (he threw in the mid-90s as a pitcher in high school). Burgess finished the season in Vermont and is likely to start the 2008 season in Hagerstown.

While Smiley Gonzalez’ batting average was only 0.245, he showed remarkable patience for such a young player with a 0.382 OBP. Gonzalez is already ahead of schedule with his glove and if his plate discipline can be built upon could develop into a top of the order presence with an above average glove. It’s still too early to guess how much power he might develop but he could be a presence for the Nationals in three years or so. It’s unsure what the Nationals will do with Smiley, Hagerstown may be a bit aggressive but the Nationals might want to challenge him in 2008.

A broken foot ended Smolinski’s season in late July but the Nationals have to be impressed with the combination of extra-base power (9/32 hits for extra bases) and his speed (7/9 in SB attempts). Scouts are impressed with his approach hitting and believe that as he gets older, his 6′0″ 195lb frame should fill out and allow Smolinski the chance to develop as an above average hitter with middle of the order power. Assuming Smolinski has recovered from his broken foot, he seems destined to start the season in Short Season Vermont.

This is Englund’s second straight season on the GCL Top 10 list. A thumb injury derailed the start of Englund’s 2007 season but upon his return, he showed tremendous plate patience (28 walks in 107 plate appearances) and great speed on the base paths (13/17 in SB attempts). It was enough to earn Englund a late season promotion to Vermont. Scouts believe that Englund might still develop some power. The Nationals just might have a center fielder with 20+ stolen bases and 15-20 home runs in their pipeline. Englund should begin 2007 in Hagerstown.

Scouts have referenced the names Bobby Crosby and JJ Hardy when they discuss Stephen King. King was likely over-assigned at the start of the season in Hagerstown where he struggles forced the Nationals to hit the reset button and bring him back to the GCL. While King needs to cut down on his strikeouts (47 in 161AB), he showed some impressive power for a middle infielder. King is likely to get a second crack at Hagerstown in April of 2008.

Lopez might be an unfamiliar name for many but the 18-year old lefthanded outfielder did just about everything the Nationals asked of him in 2007. He played all three outfield positions as well as a couple games at 2B. Lopez showed some developing power and above average speed. While he does not seem to project as an elite outfielder, he appears to have the tools necessary to turn into a valuable utility player who can fill in around the diamond. Vermont seems to be his jumping off point in 2008.

Peacock was the GCL Nats best starter given his age. Over thirteen appearances, Peacock struck out 7.8 batters per nine innings with a 1.35WHIP and 3.92ERA. Peacock has a low-90s fastball and likely projects as a middle to back of the rotation starter. Expect the Nationals to challenge Peacock in 2008 with an assignment to Potomac.

Dean is all about projectability. The 6′3″ 175-lb right hander from Texas has a 87-91 mph fastball and a hard breaking ball. If he can fine tune his command and mechanics, Dean is the type of pitcher where things can all of a sudden just click. Given his current performance, expect Dean to make his 2008 debut in Vermont where the Lake Monsters appear to again be on the verge of having a stable of highly projectible arms.

Souza struggled in his professional debut, hitting only 194/299/340 in 44 games as the GCL Nats third baseman. But Souza already has plus bat speed and has shown flashes of power. He’s likely headed for extended spring training in 2008 and a start in Vermont.

Severino continued his battle back from Tommy John surgery. After absolutely dominating the DSL in 2006, the 22-year old lefty made a brief stop in the DSL in 2007 before making his US debut with the GCL. Severino has started so far in his professional career but he might be project best as a lefthanded setup man or even a closer. Severino seems a likely candidate to begin 2008 in the Hagerstown rotation with the possibility of a quick promotion to Potomac if he performs well.

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