Tag:Danny Espinosa
Posted on: September 26, 2010 6:33 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2010 6:33 pm
 

Riggleman wants new leadoff hitter for Nats

Roger Bernadina Nationals manager Jim Riggleman isn't sure who will be his leadoff hitter in 2011, but he's hoping the name comes from outside the organization.

There are several internal candidates such as Roger Bernadina, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Nyjer Morgan, but the Washington skipper sees them as options for the No. 2 spot, not leadoff.

But what if he has no choice but to choose a leadoff hitter from his current list of options?

"The players will make the decision, whether it's Morgan, Espinosa, Bernadina, whoever," Riggleman told MLB.com . "Somebody has to hit up there, and the one that doesn't will hit in the two spot. It's almost interchangeable.

"I think Nyjer can be a real plus for us in that two spot, but that means Desmond doesn't hit in the two spot, Bernadina [and Espinosa don't hit there, either]. It's going to have to work itself out at the end of the year and spring training."

All told, Morgan is likely the best internal option. Although suffering a down season by hitting .257/.317/.319 in 551 plate appearances with 33 stolen bases (and 17 caught), Morgan represents the best blend of on-base percentage and speed for Washington. After all, this is a player that stole 51 bases across two seasons of 2008-09, hitting .304/.363/.385 in full-time duty.

Bernadina (pictured) is receiving extended playing time in the bigs for the first time as a 26-year-old and has amassed 438 PA, hitting .256/.312/.400, stealing 16 bases. Bernadina has the speed and some more power than Morgan, but needs to improve his plate discipline before he can be viewed as a No. 2 hitter. Bernadina could end up the best long-term option, but Morgan should receive the benefit of the doubt for the time being.

Desmond, the starting shortstop and candidate for Rookie of the Year, has thrown up a .278/.316/.408 mark in 544 PA, swiping 16 bases. If Desmond can reclaim some place discipline he lost on the transfer from the minors to majors, he could be an excellent No. 2 hitter. Until then, he belongs in the No. 6 or 7 hole on a postseason-caliber team.

Lastly, Espinosa, in the hunt for the second base job next season, has a .224/.280/.539 line in 82 plate appearances, blasting six home runs. Power aside, Espinosa is struggling with the adjustment to the bigs. The 23-year-old hit .268/.337/.464 across Double- and Triple-A in 542 place appearances, so it doesn't seem like he'll have the bat skills to lead off or even bat No. 2, although he does have 25 stolen bases down on the farm. Espinosa, if he can improve his batting average/OBP and prove his power isn't a fluke, could be the ideal No. 5 hitter.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: September 20, 2010 8:38 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 8:50 pm
 

Desmond stays at short despite Espinosa presence

Danny Espinosa's natural position is shortstop, but Ian Desmond currently occupies the position for the Nationals.

That's not stopping Espinosa from manning short Monday night as Desmond gets a day off.

With Espinosa's .246/.271/.526 line in 59 plate appearances making it more and more likely that he opens 2011 with the major-league team, would Washington return him to short?

"No chance," manager Jim Riggleman told MASN Sports .

That will relegate Espinosa to second base permanently, which he started playing regularly six weeks ago in anticipation of a September call-up.

Desmond has 33 errors in the game, but scouts believe that number will eventually drop. Couple that with some of the best range in the game, and it's understandable why the Nats wouldn't want to move the rookie off short. Desmond, 24, is hitting .279/.316/.416 in 521 PA.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: September 8, 2010 2:01 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2010 2:01 pm
 

Nats prepare for life without Morgan

Danny Espinosa
Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan will be sentenced Friday for his baseball crime spree, and while he might not have to serve his entire 15-game suspension, he's definitely going to be out for a while.

Roger Bernadina will likely man center field in Morgan's place, but manager Jim Riggleman will need to figure out who will bat leadoff. One intriguing possibility is rookie second baseman Danny Espinosa. The 23-year-old (pictured) spent most of the season at Double-A but has turned heads since his arrival, entering play Wednesday 9-for-18 with three homers and 10 RBI.

Those don't really sound like leadoff-man numbers, but Espinosa also has wheels. As CSNWashington.com notes, the switch-hitter was one of only two players in the minors to hit 20 homers and also steal 20 bases (Espinosa stole 25 total). Morgan's troubles could mean an opportunity for the rookie to make himself a big part of the Nationals' future plans.

-- David Andriesen

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