Espinosa Makes His Case





Best Player: Switch-hitter Danny Espinosa solidified a spot in the franchise's plans for the future with a combination of power and speed at Double-A Harrisburg, Triple-A Syracuse and as a September callup.

He might get a chance next spring to start alongside fellow homegrown talent Ian Desmond in the major league middle infield. Espinosa, who had been a shortstop, tried second base in Triple-A in mid-August and showed positive signs. The 2008 third-round pick from Long Beach State has a strong arm and solid range for the position.

After hitting .268/.337/.464 in 481 minor league at-bats with 22 home runs and 25 stolen bases, Espinosa doubled home Desmond in his first major league at-bat.

Best Pitcher: Stephen Strasburg is not expected to pitch in the big leagues again until late 2011 at the earliest, but before his Tommy John elbow surgery he pitched like a No. 1 overall pick and then some. Strasburg, 22, went 7-2, 1.30 with 65 strikeouts in 55 innings between Harrisburg and Syracuse. Then he was 5-3, 2.91 with 92 strikeouts in 68 innings in his truncated rookie season.

Keep An Eye On: First baseman Tyler Moore was the Carolina League player of the year as he led high Class A Potomac to a second-half division title. He reached the 30-homer and 110-RBI marks while hitting .269/.321/.522 with 125 strikeouts and 40 walks. Moore, 23, was coming off a nine-homer, 87-RBI season at low Class A Hagerstown.

"He needs some work on his positioning around the bag, but I think he'll do fine," Potomac manager Gary Cathcart said. "He can be an average defender now that he has a routine he can trust. Offensively, he's had as amazing a second half as anyone in the minors."

CAPITAL GAINS

• Lefthander Sammy Solis, a second-round pick, pitched two scoreless innings in his professional debut at Hagerstown. He's part of the franchise's contingent that will play for Harrisburg manager Randy Knorr with the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. Righthanded relievers Adam Carr and Cole Kimball, catcher Derek Norris, second baseman Steve Lombardozzi and outfielder Michael Burgess will join Solis.

• Hagerstown outfielder Destin Hood and DH Justin Bloxom were named to the South Atlantic League's end-of-the-year all-star team. The team was chosen by the league's managers, general managers, beat writers and broadcasters.