Previewing the 2017 Hagerstown Suns

Jun Soto, courtesy of

Hey guys, welcome to another round of the SAL team preview series, I’m excited to get these going again.  Today I’ll be talking about the 2017 Hagerstown Suns as I continue alphabetically around the league.  The Suns are the single-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

Previously I covered:

The Asheville Tourists (Rockies)

The Augusta Greenjackets (Giants)

The Charleston Riverdogs (Yankees)

The Columbia Fireflies (Mets)

The Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles)

The Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins)

The Greenville Drive (Red Sox)


For those not familiar with the SAL team preview series, I scour the lower levels of each organization and speculate on who might be coming to the Sally in 2017 and whenever possible I try to include a scouting report. It’s a lengthy process but I enjoy it and I learn a ton from it.

For the purpose of this piece I studied the 2016 Hagerstown Suns, Auburn Tigers and the GCL Nationals.

At Notes From The Sally it’s all about live look scouting.  Once I see the Hagerstown Suns you can expect write ups on many of the players listed below.  I have a goal to see every team in the Sally twice in the 1st half (April 7-June 18).  I plan to see the Suns when they come to Asheville in mid May and in Greensboro in early June.  But I’ll get more into that as we get closer to the season.


Lets meet the notables


Juan Soto, courtesy of

RF) Juan Soto- Age 18, listed 6’1″ 185 lbs, bats and throws left.  Soto was a high profile signee out of the Dominican Republic in 2015.  He skipped the Dominican Summer League and came straight to the Gulf Coast League which is pretty aggressive but he excelled there and won the league MVP award. He also got a cup of coffee in Auburn and smacked 9 hits in 21 at bats.  Soto is high on the list of position players I’m looking forward to seeing in 2017. wrote this last Summer about Soto when they last updated there top 30 Nationals prospects list:

“Soto opened eyes in the Dominican Prospect League, endearing himself tao scouts with some of the best natural hitting ability in the 2015 international class. The Nationals made signing the then-16-year-old a top priority and gave him a $1.5 million bonus, a franchise record for Latin American teenager. After receiving his first taste of pro last fall during instructional league, Soto has rewarded the Nationals with a strong start in 2016.”

“Soto has a smooth and balanced left-handed swing which enables him to barrel the ball and make hard contact consistently. He has good strength to his frame and room to tack on even more strength, while his feel for hitting should help him utilize his impressive raw power in games. Soto’s approach is advanced for his age, with scouts praising his pitching recognition and overall selectivity at the plate.”

“Soto shows good instincts in the outfield but is limited to a corner spot due to his below-average speed. His average arm strength makes him a cleaner fit in left field, though his bat profiles nicely at either position.”

For more of the Nationals top 30 prospects click here:



Carter Kieboom, courtesy of

SS) Carter Kieboom – Age 19, listed 6’2″ 190 lbs, bats and throws right.  Kieboom was drafted 28th overall in the 2016 draft out of high school in Marietta, GA ( Atlanta Metro). did a piece called quoting the experts in regards to Carter Kieboom, it’s a good read and it’s nice to get so many opinions in one place. 



Sheldon Neuse, courtesy of

3B) Sheldon Neuse- Age 22, listed 6′ 195 lbs, bats and throws right.  Neuse was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of Oklahoma.

Prospect Junkies put together a detailed scouting report on Neuse.  Not a monster ceiling player but a potential regular with a pretty high floor.

2016 MLB Draft Scouting Report: Sheldon Neuse



Blake Perkins, courtesy of

CF) Blake Perkins- Age 20, listed 6’1″ 165 lbs, bats and throws right.  Perkins was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft out of high school in Buckeye, AZ (Phoenix area).

Ryan Sullivan of counted down his top Nationals prospects prior to the 2016 season and had this to say of Perkins:

“Washington’s second 2nd round pick, 69th overall last June, Perkins was selected from an Arizona high school with the reputation as an excellent athlete with terrific speed, but raw baseball skills. His speed, coupled with surprisingly good instincts and a good throwing arm make him a surefire future centerfielder. The present risk in his profile lies with his bat, as the 19-year-old has resumed switch-hitting after abandoning it in high school. The early returns were positive according to reports, but Perkins will need significant at-bats in the minors to refine each swing.

Perkins has a high floor as a prospect due to his base running and defensive value. The Nationals are gambling that with experience and physical maturation he can develop into a potential “45-50 hit / 40 power” batter while playing terrific defense up-the-middle. The risk is large but the reward could be substantial if the production ever matches his tools.”

For the rest of the top prospect list and for much more click here:



Anderson Franco, courtesy of×594

3B) Anderson Franco- Age 19, listed 6’3″ 190 lbs, bats and throws right.  Franco was signed of the Dominican Republic in 2013.  I was hoping to see Franco last season but he was injured to start the year, surfaced in late July and just played out the season in the GCL.  The Nats may send him to Auburn this year so both he and Neuse can get full time reps at 3rd. wrote about Franco for there top 30 Nationals list last Summer here’s a snippet:

“Though already a physical specimen with tremendous upper-body strength, Anderson is just beginning to grow into his projectable frame. He has a quick bat and generates good power to his pull side, the combination of which could lead to at least average over-the-fence pop down the road. His pitch-recognition issues highlight his youth and inexperience, but the overall approach is advanced for his age and offers a solid foundation for offensive development.”

For more on Franco and the rest of the Nats top 30 click here:



Nick Banks, courtesy of

RF-LF) Nick Banks- Age 22, listed 6’1″ 215, bats and throws left.  Banks was drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 draft out of Texas A&M.

John Sickles wrote about Banks a couple of months before the draft last year, here’s a snippet from that:

“Performance is key for Banks since his physical tools aren’t spectacular. None of them are weak, either; hitting skills, raw power, speed, arm strength, all generate solid 50-55 grades with this throwing arm the best of the lot. He isn’t a strict pull hitter and can drive the ball the opposite way for distance, but on the other hand his swing is tailored more for line drives than home runs. At least that’s been the case up until this spring: although his overall 2016 slash line is weaker than 2015, his isolated power stats are actually the best of his career and at his current pace he would set career-best marks in doubles, triples, and homers.”

For more on Banks click here:



Around the diamond



Tres Barrera- Age 22, listed 6′ 215 lbs, bats and throws right.  Barrera was drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 draft out of Univ of Texas at Austin.

Striking out looking has a detailed report on Barrera:   Scouting Report: Tres Barrera (UT Austin)


Joey Harris- Age on opening day 23, listed 6′ 200 lbs, bats left and throws right. Harris was drafted in the 9th round of the 2016 draft out of Gonzaga Univ.  A senior sign, he handled the bat pretty well post draft albeit with no power in a small sample size.


Others who could see time at Catcher: Jorge Tillero , CJ Picerni, Luis Vilorio, Jeyner Biez,


Middle Infield

2B) Jake Noll- Age on opening day 23, listed 6’2″ 195 lbs, bats and throws right.  Noll was drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 draft out of Florida Gulf Coast Univ (Ft Myers, FL).

“cookiedabookie” does a lot of the draft coverage at Minor League Ball and had this to say about Noll when he broke down the top 2nd Basemen in the 2016 draft:

“Noll can hit, period. Over three years at FGC, he hit .361/.417/.493. He’s hitting .367/.427/.620 this year, with 20 walks to 29 strikeouts – a much better rate than he’s shown previously, and a good sign of growth at the plate. That followed up a stellar Cape Cod League stint, where he hit .326/.366/.452. He also has good speed, although his stolen base numbers dropped last summer and this spring. There’s some worry he won’t stick at second, which would push him to left field or first base, but I think those concerns are a bit overblown. He should go by the end of the fifth round.”

For more on the top 2nd basemen in last years draft plus a whole lot more draft and minor league coverage click here:


SS) Carter Kieboom


2B, 3B, SS) Paul Panaccione- Age 23, listed 5’10” 190 lbs, bats and throws right.  Panaccione was drafted in the 10th round of the 2016 draft out of Grand Canyon Univ (Phoenix, AZ)

The Baseball draft report as well as Prospect Junkies are two of my favorite sites for pre and post draft coverage.  Rob Ozga of the Baseball draft report wrote this about Paul Panaccione while listening his top players from the WAC to watch for:

“It’s fairly well-established by now that this year’s college shortstop class isn’t good. I’m about as positive a guy as you’ll find willing to do this for free and even I’ll admit that. That said…there are way more mid-major and small school types that can a) probably stay at shortstop in the pros, and b) hit frozen ropes even when dragged out of bed to do so. Paul Panaccione is one of the best of those types. In drafting Panaccione, you’d be getting a steadying influence in the middle infield, a hitter with a very clear plan with every trip to the plate, and an all-around solid performer with an increasingly intriguing track record of getting it done at the college level.”

For more on the WAC and much more draft coverage click here:  2016 MLB Draft Follow Lists – WAC


These players could also see time in the middle infield:  Dalton Dulin (2B), Jake Jeffries (2B, 3B, SS), Angelo La Bruna (2B, SS), Branden Boggetto (2B, LF)


Corner Infield

1B) Ryan Ripken- (Cal’s son) Age 23, listed 6’6″ 205, bats and throws left. Ripken was drafted in the 15th round of the 2014 draft out of Indian River Community College (Ft Pierce, FL).  He’s struggled so far in his young career offensively (.205/.248/.277) but he’s also amassed  just 517 AB’s in 3 seasons as a pro.  So he’s missed some pretty significant time too.

1B) Conner Simonetti– Age on opening day 22, listed 6’1″ 205 lbs, bats and throws left.  Simonetti was drafted in the 13th round of the 2016 draft out of Kent State Univ.

3B) Sheldon Neuse

3B) Anderson Franco


Others who could see time at the the infield corners:  Tyler Beckwith (3B, SS), Aldrem Corredor (1B, LF)



LF) Nick Banks

CF) Blake Perkins

RF) Juan Soto

LF, CF, RF) Daniel Johnson- age 21, listed 5’10” 185 lbs, bats and throws left.  Johnson was drafted in the 5th round of the 2016 draft out of New Mexico State Univ.

I’m not finding a lot out there on Johnson scouting wise, but this is a good read:

An intriguing power and speed combo, it’ll be interesting to see if all 4 of Soto, Banks, Perkins and Johnson come to the Sally and if they do, how they’ll disperse the playing time.  I can’t imagine Johnson’s a part time player.


Others who could see time in the OF:  Telmito Agustin (LF, CF) and Randy Encarnacion (LF, CF, RF) could both be back. Darryl Florentino (LF, RF, CF), Jack Sundberg (LF), Oliver Ortiz (LF, 1B), Armond Upshaw (CF)


Starting Pitching

LHP) Tyler Watson- Age 19, listed 6’5″ 200 lbs, bats right and throws left.  Watson was drafted in the 34th round of the 2015 draft out of high school in Gilbert, AZ (Mesa, AZ Metro).

John Sickles released his top 20 Nationals prospects recently and had this to say about Watson:

Age 19, 34th round pick in 2015 from high school in Gilbert, Arizona; would have gone 30 rounds higher except he was committed to Loyola Marymount; signed for $400,000; 6-5 southpaw with strong ’16 campaign, 2.64 ERA with 64/15 K/BB in 58 innings between NY-P and Low-A, 46 hits, just one homer; low-90s heat with more projectable; already throws strikes with strong curveball, change-up coming along; highly intriguing prospect with breakthrough potential. SLEEPER ALERT. ETA 2020.

For the rest of John Sickles top 20 Nationals prospects click here:


We could see any of the these starting pitchers return to Hagerstown:

Joan Baez, Jeffrey Rodriguez (these two seem the least likely), Pedro Avila, Matthew Derosier, James Bourque and Andrew Lee.

We may also see any of the following Starting Pitchers from Auburn:

LHP) McKenzie Mills, RH) Weston Davis and  Yonathan Ramirez.




Hagerstown should have an intriguing collection of highly thought of college bats surrounding a potential stud International signee (Soto) and a highly thought of prep bat (Kieboom).  As well as Perkins an excellent athlete who’s still developing baseball skills.  We’ll see who else takes a step forward.  This group should score a lot of runs.

On the pitching side, Watson sound very interesting.  Meckenzie Mills is 6’4″ and left handed that alone makes him interesting.  He threw a lot more strikes in 2016, we’ll see if he can continue to improve the strikeout to BB%.  We;ll see if anyone else steps up.

I enjoyed diving into the Nats system, there’s more here that I imagined.   I hope you got as much out of this as I did.

Up next is a look at the 2017 Hickory Crawdads (Rangers).

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