Nationals Midseason Report

BEST PLAYER: Before the Stephen Strasburg Show went national, the 2009 No. 1 overall pick dominated in five starts at Double-A Harrisburg and six at Triple-A Syracuse. He went 7-2, 1.30 with 65 strikeouts in his 55 minor league innings, and then had a similarly easy time against major league hitters. The 21-year-old righthander struck out a Nationals record 14 batters in his major league debut.

In the non-Strasburg category, fellow 2009 first-round pick Drew Storen also was having a stellar rookie season. The 22-year-old righthanded reliever was 2-1, 1.88 in his first 14 innings with Washington after also pitching in Double-A and Triple-A.

BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD: Right­hander Trevor Holder struggled through his first stint of professional baseball, going 4-3, 6.97 in 41 innings after being drafted in the third round out of Georgia last year. He pitched his way back to high Class A Potomac this spring by going 4-3, 3.15 with 50 strikeouts and seven walks in 66 innings at Hagerstown. With a 93 mph fastball and a curveball, he was heading in the right direction. "He was running on fumes and tired (last year), as with a lot of college pitchers," farm director Doug Harris said. "Now we're seeing the guy our scouts evaluated. With him, the sum is better than the parts because he knows how to pitch."

Harris also singled out 26-year-old Harrisburg righthanded reliever Adam Carr as someone who was "hanging on for his professional life last year, and now he's a prospect with his fastball up to 96 and a hard slider." Carr, who had shot forward and backward during his minor league career, was back on the upswing at 6-1, 4.41 with 34 strikeouts in 35 innings.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Not every arm was panning out. Lefthander Will Atwood retired before the start of the minor league campaign. Righthander Colton Willems, a 2006 first-rounder, also retired after struggling at Hagerstown. Among those still around, Hagerstown lefthander Josh Smoker, a supplemental first-round pick in 2007, took until mid-June to earn his first win and was 1-7, 6.57 through 51 innings.


• Corner infielder Tim Pahuta, 27, reached Double-A for the first time after hitting .283/.329/.593 with 10 home runs in 145 at-bats at high Class A Potomac.

•  utfielder Boomer Whiting, 26, skipped over Harrisburg and was adjusting nicely at Syracuse, where he started .281/.410/.313 in 64 at-bats with 10 stolen bases.