Nationals Midseason Report





Best Player: Once outfielder Bryce Harper was fitted with contact lenses, he was tearing up the low Class A South Atlantic League as would be expected for the game's top-rated prospect. He was hitting .231 on April 19 before the improved vision boosted his numbers at Hagerstown to .322/.421/.564 in 239 at-bats.

At age 18, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft was leading the Sally League in on-base percentage, third in slugging percentage, third in OPS and tied for fifth with 14 home runs. Harper was making a successful transition from playing mostly catcher as an amateur to mostly right field (with a little center field) as a professional.

Though Harper received heat for blowing a mock kiss toward a pitcher after hitting a home run, Nationals officials liked the leadership he was showing with the Suns. Harper ran into several outs in the first half of the season, but the organization also considers his aggressiveness a strength.

Biggest Leap Forward: With a bit more deceptive delivery this season, 22-year-old righthander Brad Peacock went from an intriguing prospect to a dominating pitcher at Double-A Harrisburg. He was the Eastern League leader with 114 strikeouts against just 18 walks in 87 innings. At 8-2, 2.28, he was tied for first in the league in wins and second in ERA.

Peacock and Harper were chosen to represent the Nationals at the Futures Game in Phoenix.

Biggest Disappointment: After a sparkling winter in which Cuban righthander Yunesky Maya was named the Dominican League's top pitcher, he was unable to take advantage of an opportunity in the major league rotation. Maya, 29, went 0-1, 6.86 in 20 innings before returning to Triple-A Syracuse. With the Chiefs, he was 1-4, 4.28 in 67 innings.

CAPITAL GAINS

• Second baseman Steve Lombardozzi had no trouble adjusting to Triple-A after moving up a level. Through 39 at-bats at Syracuse, he was hitting .436/.450/.487. The 22-year-old had a .309/.366/.454 line in 262 at-bats with 16 stolen bases in 19 attempts at Harrisburg.

• John McLaren, bench coach for 2010 and almost half of 2011, went 2-1 as interim manager between the resignation of Jim Riggleman and the hiring of Davey Johnson as manager through at least the end of the season. McLaren remained in the organization in a scouting role.