This season, the Nationals are in a different position than they have been in the past. Since they are in the heart of a pennant race, they will likely not call up young players only to test them out in the majors. Now, they are will keep an eye on depth and how the player can contribute to the race.
Asked if was looking forward to the call-ups this season, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said he was indeed.
“I really was last year, much more so than this year,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how many we had last year but we couldn’t have too many. This year we’ll probably have about five or six. And the majority of them, if not all of them, will have been here.”
But Johnson added one caveat: one of those players may have not been with the team this season but spent time with the Nationals in spring training. This could be outfielder Eury Perez or infielder Zach Walters, both at Class AAA Syracuse.
If Chien-Ming Wang, Henry Rodriguez and Mark DeRosa return from rehabbing injuries in time, they, too, could rejoin the Nationals when rosters expand.
Here’s a quick look at players in the minor leagues who could potentially receive a call-up, grouped by likelihood. But, again, any of this can change and this is just a best guess about who may join the Nationals in a week.
●Corey Brown, 26: Has spent time with the Nationals twice this season, hitting .188 (3 for 16 with a home run). He adds depth and a power bat to the outfield, and can play center field. He has hit 23 home runs in Syracuse this season. On the 40-man roster.
●John Lannan, 27: A familiar name who has plenty of major league starting experience (career 3.99 ERA over 130 starts). He notched two wins during spot call-up starts this season, performing well and allowing five runs over 13 innings. He is a leading candidate to take Stephen Strasburg’s spot in the rotation. His 4.89 ERA over 130 2/3 innings in Syracuse isn’t a concern for the Nationals. On the 40-man roster.
●Eury Perez, 22: A speedster from the Dominican Republic who could be useful as a pinch runner. He has stolen 47 bases across three minor league levels this season, 45 in Class A Potomac last season and 64 in Class A Hagerstown the year before. He is hitting .331 in 33 games at Syracuse. He participated in the 2010 All-Star Futures games with Danny Espinosa. On the 40-man roster.
●Jhonatan Solano, 26, and/or Sandy Leon, 23: Solano is rehabbing an oblique injury, hitting .200 in two games for Class AA Harrisburg. He went 11 for 35 in 12 games (.314) for the Nationals. Leon, a switch hitter known for his defense, went 7 for 28 in 10 games (.250) for the Nationals. He is at Syracuse now, hitting .371 in 14 games. Both on the 40-man roster.
●Brett Carroll, 29: Known for his strong arm, he could add more outfield depth or a pinch-hitting right-handed bat. He is hitting .246 with 10 home runs in 102 games for Syracuse. He saw action in only five games for the Nationals in early April and was hitless in two at-bats.
●Christian Garcia, 27: After a strong showing in Harrisburg, he was promoted to Syracuse and continued. The right-handed reliever allowed only his second earned run in 29 1/3 innings for Syracuse on Thursday and carries a minuscule 0.61 ERA.
●Yunesky Maya, 30: Cuban prospect is pitching better this season, sporting a 3.42 ERA and walking only 35 over 152 2/3 innings. The right-handed starter spent some time in the majors over the past two seasons and struggled (5.52 ERA over 58 2/3 innings). On the 40-man roster.
●Carlos Rivero, 24: The Venezuelan native, whom the Nationals claimed on waivers from the Phillies in December, is hitting .304 with 10 home runs and 61 RBI in 119 games for Syracuse. He could add infield depth. On the 40-man roster.
●Zach Walters, 22: The Nationals are high on the middle infielder, acquired in the Jason Marquis trade. He was promoted to Syracuse earlier this month after hitting .293 in 43 games for Harrisburg. He has jumped from Hagerstown to Harrisburg to Syracuse in one season. He is hitting .175 in 19 games for Syracuse, and is a valuable prospect for a position the Nationals are thin at in the minors.
●Chris Marrero, 24: The first baseman’s season was short-circuited by a hamstring injury and setbacks. The 2006 first-round pick hit .248 in 109 at-bats for the Nationals last season. He is hitting .260 in 28 games with Syracuse. On the 40-man roster.
●Anthony Rendon, 22: Injury also hurt Rendon’s season. He fractured his ankle in April and began his rehab games only a month ago. He quickly worked back to Potomac and was recently promoted to Harrisburg. He is hitting .162 in 10 games there. The Nationals are high on his talent, a quick bat and nifty glove, but fear he hasn’t had enough at-bats since his return. On the 40-man roster.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
FROM TODAY’S POST
There’s something pretty special about these Nats, maybe destiny?, writes Tracee Hamilton.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Gwinnett 5, Syracuse 4: Zach Duke allows three runs on five hits over seven innings. Christian Garcia allows only his secon earned run for Syracuse. Zach Walters drives in two runs.
Bowie 17, Harrisburg 2: Catcher James Skelton went 2 for 2 and is hitting .304. Ryan Perry allows eight runs on ten hits over four innings.
Potomac 7, Carolina 5: Steven Souza, Jr. hits a two-run home run and Blake Kelso went 2 for 4 with two RBI. Alex Meyer allows only one run on five hits over six innings, walking two and striking out three.
Hagerstown 8, Delmarva 5: Caleb Ramsey went 3 for 3, Billy Burns went 2 for 3, and Justin Miller and Khayyan Nofork each added two hits. Taylor Jordan allowed only one run over five innings.
Auburn 6, State College 3: Shawn Pleffner went 2 for 4, as did Brandon Miller. Pleffner (Arundel) is hitting .333 over 43 games with 12 walks and 24 RBI.