Potomac Nationals: Hitter Of The Year

Brandon Powell was the obvious choice.

The Potomac Nationals finished the season right around the Carolina League average in runs scored (623), total bases (1,755) and home runs (85), with the second most stolen bases overall (182 in 255 attempts). CapitolDugout.com will now award its top hitters in Potomac.

Entering the 2006 season, the Potomac Nationals were expected to be led by a pitching staff comprised of three of the Washington Nationals' top ten prospects, a formula that should require just enough offensive support to allow Mike Hinckley, Clint Everts, and Collin Balester to pile up the wins. Surprisingly enough, all three starters struggled for parts of the season and Potomac was forced to rely on its hitters to carry the team for large stretches of 2006.

His power is what he's best known for and that helped make Luke Montz the #3 hitter in 2006. The 2003 17th rounder continued to show the power that has impressed the organization leading Potomac with 16 home runs while batting .229/.313/.410. While on the surface the numbers may be questioned, the 23-year old Montz spent the 2006 season working on hitting the ball to the opposite field with designs on improving his overall game. His work with hitting coach Troy Gingrich will hopefully provide him with the greatest opportunity of building upon his 2006 gains.

After three seasons in Low-A Savannah, outfielder Rogearvin Bernadina was takes the #2 spot as he made the step up to Potomac and may have just begun to scratch the surface of his potential.

"He is a special talent at the plate and in the outfield," former manager and current Washington bullpen coach Randy Knorr said. "He's got great wheels and he could be an excellent outfielder at the highest level."

In 2006, the 22-year old Bernadina batted a respectable .270/.355/.369 in 123 games for Potomac. He showed developing power hitting 6 home runs hitting primarily out of the leadoff position. He complemented this developing extra base power with the best raw speed on the team, stealing 28 bases in 39 attempts. If he continues to refine his base running instincts and can build upon his extra base power, the sky could be the limit for Bernadina.

The clear cut winner of Potomac's hitter of the year was third baseman, Brandon Powell. Selected from the Kansas City Royals in the AAA portion of the Rule 5 draft, the 26-year old Powell earned a Carolina League All-Star selection batting .280/.341/.463 in 126 games for Potomac. Powell provided a combination of power (14 home runs) and speed (30/39 in stolen base attempts). While a bit old for the Carolina League, Powell showed a consistency that allowed managers Randy Knorr and Edgar Caceres to pencil him in every day knowing he would deliver.

Teammate, Ian Desmond was quick with the compliment, "He never gives up at-bats. He battles better than anyone I have ever played with. He'll go from Jim Edmonds to Ichiro in the same at-bat. His Ichiro comes with two strikes and he just puts the ball in play. It's very impressive."

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