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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Top 15 Position Players (Part 1 of 3)

The Nationals, unfortunately, have one of the weakest crop of minor league hitters of any Major League ball club. That said, they do have a few promising youngsters who could turn into slightly above average major leaguers. There are also a few players in the low minors that have a lot of promise but are very raw and will need a lot of time to develop.

1. Larry Broadway, 1B, 24
2005 destination: triple-A

Broadway put together a good season in 2004 and possesses nice power potential, which he will need as a first baseman. His left-handed swings could produce a .270-.280 average with 25-30 homer runs in the majors. He is also an above-average defensive player at first baseman. With incumbent first baseman Nick Johnson’s history of injuries, Broadway could see time in the majors sooner rather than later.

2. Ryan Church, OF, 26
2005 destination: triple-A

Getting Church and Maicer Izturis (now with the Angels) from the Cleveland Indians for reliever Scott Stewart was a huge steal for the Expos. Izturis was used to obtain right fielder Jose Guillen. Church is above average in most offensive categories, although he may not produce enough home runs to play full time at a corner position and he lacks the range for full-time duty in centre. Church, a left-handed hitter, has more offensive upside than current left fielder Terrmel Sledge, although at the age of 26 time is running out to prove himself.

3. Brendan Harris, 2B/3B, 24
2005 destination: triple-A

Harris is currently blocked at the Major League level by both Vinny Castilla and Jose Vidro. Should either be traded or get injured, Harris should be first in line to fill in at either position. Offensively, he has a line-drive swing with occasional home run power. His power potential is below average for a third baseman and a little above average for a second baseman. Harris does not have the greatest range, but he makes up for it with a strong arm.

4. Kory Casto, 3B, 23
2005 destination: high-A

Casto’s biggest problem is his defence, which might necessitate a switch in position. On the plus side, Casto works hard and has shown improvement. He has enough power potential to try out a corner outfield position. At the age of 23 and still in the low minors, Casto needs to get on the fast track pretty soon if he wants to become an impact major leaguer. A more patient approach at the plate could help speed up his arrival time in The Show.

5. Rogearvin Bernadina, OF, 21
2005 destination: high-A

Bernadina is probably the most talented position player in the system but he is a long way from making the Nationals Major League club. He is quite inexperienced, even though he has played three professional seasons, because he played limited baseball growing up in the Netherlands. Bernadina showed promise in low-A ball in 2004 by taking a fair number of walks and stealing 24 bases in 26 attempts. He has the potential to be a five-tool center fielder and invokes memories of Vladimir Guerrero.

Come back on Wednesday to see the next five players in the Nationals’ Top 15 position players list.

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