Prospecting for Nats minor-league gold

Prospecting for Nats minor-league gold
November 27, 2011, 8:45 pm
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We all know about Bryce Harper, who isn't just the best prospect in the Nationals' farm system but perhaps all of baseball.

But the 19-year-old phenom isn't the only prominent minor leaguer who appears poised to make his big-league debut in 2012.

Here are some other names to keep in mind as spring training approaches...

DEREK NORRISPosition: Catcher
2011 stats: .210.367.446, 20 HR in 104 games at Class AA Harrisburg
The lowdown: One of the organization's best prospects since he was drafted in 2007, Norris has a great eye at the plate and prodigious power. But he hit just .210 this year after batting .235 last season at Class A Potomac. While that may just be a sign of pitchers' reluctance to throw to Norris, he's going to have to raise that number some when he opens 2012 at Class AAA Syracuse.

Position: First base
2011 stats: .270.314.532, 31 HR in 137 games at Harrisburg
The lowdown: Moore has flown under the radar a bit, but this late-bloomer has burst onto the scene the last two seasons hitting 62 combined home runs at Potomac and Harrisburg. He turns 25 in January, so there's only so much time left before Moore is going to be considered too old to be a real prospect. But if he continues to hit the ball out of the park at Syracuse, the Nationals will find a spot for him on their 25-man roster.

BRAD MEYERSPosition: Right-handed starter
2011 stats: 9-7, 3.18 ERA, 116 K, 15 BB in 24 starts at Class A Auburn, Harrisburg and Syracuse
The lowdown: Meyers doesn't have the most-dominating stuff in the organization, but he keeps the ball in the strike zone as well as anyone (as evidenced by his ridiculously good strikeout-to-walk ratio). After dealing with a foot injury in 2010, the right-hander enjoyed a strong season that included his first stint at Class AAA. There are others ahead of him on the Nationals' pitching depth chart, but GM Mike Rizzo will keep an eye on Meyers if he needs another starter at some point in 2012.

RAFAEL MARTINPosition: Right-handed reliever
2011 stats: 5-1, 1.65 ERA, 13 saves at Potomac and Harrisburg
The lowdown: Plucked out of obscurity in the Mexican League in 2010, Martin proved this year he can succeed out of the bullpen, not only in the lower levels of the minors but also in the Arizona Fall League (where he posted a 1.50 ERA in 10 games). Martin could be a strong option for the Nationals if they need relief help next summer.

JHONATAN SOLANOPosition: Catcher
2011 stats: .275.325.388, 5 HR in 78 games at Syracuse
The lowdown: Solano hasn't received nearly as much attention as the other young catchers who have come up through the Nationals' system (Wilson Ramos, Jesus Flores, Norris) but he's quietly established himself as a solid backstop who could make it as a backup in the big leagues. The fact the Nationals chose to add him to their 40-man roster earlier this month suggests they see him as a potential call-up in 2012.