Chiefs charge into new era

The rest of the squad is comprised mostly of strangers, including hitting coach Darnell Coles and pitching coach Steve McCatty. It'll take time for fans to familiarize themselves with the players, but it appears as though the Nats have crafted a Triple-A ballclub with a potent combination of pitching and hitting, novices and journeymen.

Hard-throwing hurlers

On the mound, we'll see talented right-handed rookies such as Jordan Zimmermann, Collin Balester and Jason Bergmann. Zimmermann, 22, was named the Nationals' best prospect by Baseball America. Nats manager Manny Acta calls the kid "a warrior" who throws 93 mph fastballs.

Another righty, former Yankee hurler Tyler Clippard, will start for the Chiefs as will 2008 International League All-Star pitcher, Garrett Lee Mock.

This year's batsmen look even better.

Slugging first-baseman Brad Eldred, called "Big Country" by his teammates because the Floridian stands 6-foot-5 and tips the scales at 275, led the IL in home runs last year. Eldred smacked 35 dingers and drove in 100 runs while batting .244 for the Charlotte Knights.

Outfielders like 25-year-old prospect Justin Maxwell and veteran Vento can be expected to drive the ball consistently as will catcher Luke Montz who has hit 75 round-trippers over six seasons.

Hard-hitting infielders

Third baseman Joel Guzman hit 20 HRs for the Durham Bulls last year, and Puerto Rican League 2007 MVP Jorge Padilla has knocked out 86 homers over 11 seasons. Utility infielder Freddie Bynum is a consistent .275 hitter.

Switch-hitting infielder Alex Cintron has played more than 600 games in the major leagues and hit .316 in spring training this year for the Nats, so he's ready to rock for Syracuse. Cintron had his best season in 2003 with the Diamondbacks batting .317 with 13 HR.

With his years of experience, his hustling attitude and an elbow recently repaired by surgery, the 30-year-old Cintron could easily emerge as a Syracuse sparkplug that is if the Nats stay healthy enough to leave him down here on the farm. And that's the whole story of minor-league baseball, player transactions will inevitably effect on-field performance. Fans can do little but sit back and watch as players develop and finally make their move to The Show.

Vote on this Story by clicking on the Icon


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment