NATIONALS FARM UPDATE
With a Hitch, Starting Without a Hitch
Over the course of his senior season at storied Hillsborough High in Tampa -- the school that produced Gary Sheffield and Dwight Gooden, among others -- Michael Burgess developed a hitch in his swing that scared off several teams from what, before the year, was widely viewed as a first-round talent.
So when the Nationals found Burgess, 18, still on the board when it came time for their third selection -- the 49th overall -- they jumped. And he's off to a fast start in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, hitting .316 with six homers, 27 RBI and a .570 slugging percentage in his first 32 games. He has reached base safely in 15 of his last 16 games, posting a .541 on-base percentage in that time.
Burgess's teammate, shortstop Stephen King, has nine homers and 29 RBI in 38 games. . . . RHP Brad Myers, a fifth-round pick in this year's draft, hasn't allowed an earned run in his first six professional starts (23 2/3 innings), split between the GCL and low-Class A Hagerstown. . . . LHP Justin Jones of high-Class A Potomac lost a no-hitter with one out in the ninth last Saturday against Winston-Salem. He is a combined 8-7 with a 3.36 ERA for Potomac, Hagerstown and Class AA Harrisburg. . . . Columbus OF Brandon Watson ranks fourth in the International League, and first in the Nationals' system among players with at least 200 at-bats, with a .319 batting average.
-- Barry Svrluga