The rosters for minor league baseball teams are like secret birthday parties.
No one ever knows what’s going on until someone opens up the door and yells, “Surprise.”
That is pretty much the case for the Hagerstown Suns, who may not know who will be playing here officially until they appear at Municipal Stadium for Tuesday’s media day festivities.
The only thing certain is that Bryce Harper won’t be back for a second season. The Nationals’ top prospect and former Sun will start his year at Triple-A Syracuse.
Hagerstown is in line to be home for two of Washington’s top prospects, according to a published report on masn-sports.com.
Pitcher Alex Meyer and outfielder Brian Goodwin, a pair of first-round picks in the 2011 amateur draft, are penciled in to start with Hagerstown when it opens the season at home on Thursday at 7 p.m. against the West Virginia Power.
“Penciled in” is the key phrase, since the Nationals are saying nothing will be certain until they finalize their 25-man roster. Last-minute moves and injuries could still cause player movement throughout the organization.
But Meyer and Goodwin would be considered strong centerpieces for the Suns to build around on a roster that will possibly include at least four returnees and the son of a former major leaguer.
Meyer, a 22-year-old right-handed pitcher, is rated as the Nationals’ third best prospect after being selected 23rd overall. He was drafted out of Kentucky and possesses a 97 mph fastball and a strong power slider as his top pitches.
Goodwin is considered a five-tool outfielder who was selected 34th overall with a sandwich pick, an added selection Washington received as compensation for the Chicago White Sox free agent signing of Adam Dunn. Goodwin, 21, is rated as the Nationals’ No. 8 prospect and is a left-handed hitter with power, speed and a strong throwing arm who could play center field.
The Suns may not have Harper, but they are scheduled to have another Bryce in their midst. Shortstop Bryce Ortega is reportedly slotted to play for the Suns after leading the Nationals’ minor league organization in hitting with a .314 average at Single-A Auburn last year. Ortega drove in 21 runs and stole 23 bases in 25 tries last season for Washington’s short-season affiliate.
The four returning players named in the report are catchers Adrian Nieto and Cole Leonida, first baseman Brett Newsome and J.P. Ramirez. According to Kerr, the players who stay on the same level or move back are placed with certain teams to make sure they will play and get at-bats.
That would be the case for Ramirez, who hit .296 in 132 games for the Suns in 2010. The outfielder, who was selected in the 15th round in 2008, played only 85 games at Single-A Potomac last season.
The Suns could possibly get the buzz factor they will miss without Harper with Cutter Dykstra, the son of former Philadelphia and New York Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra. Cutter Dykstra is in his second year in the Nationals’ system after being drafted in the second round by Milwaukee in 2008. He hit .212 with a homer an 27 RBIs in 94 games at Potomac last season.
Other possible Suns players listed on the MASN report were infielders Matt Skole and Justin Miller and outfielder Caleb Ramsey.