***Potomac Nationals Opening Day is this Friday, April 8, 2011.*** 
If you've never been to down to Woodbridge, check it out!

Prospect-Laden Group Set to Defend Carolina League Title

(WOODBRIDGE, VA) When the Potomac Nationals begin the defense of their Carolina League championship on Friday against the Lynchburg Hillcats, they will do so with a 25-man roster stocked with prospects. An exciting young core and some familiar faces will highlight the opening day roster, unveiled by the Washington Nationals Monday.

First-year manager Matthew LeCroy will be quite familiar with many of the names on his Opening Day lineup card; the overwhelming majority of the Potomac club spent time with him in low-A Hagerstown a season ago, including a trio of young outfield prospects in Eury Perez, Destin Hood and J.P. Ramirez. Perez, ranked the number 8 prospect in the Washington system by Baseball America, was second in all of minor league baseball with 64 steals in 131 games for Hagerstown a year ago. The fleet-footed 20-year old centerfielder, who won the Gulf Coast League batting title in his first professional season in 2009, batted .345 and stole 21 more bags in 37 games in the Dominican Winter League. Perez will be joined in the outfield by Hood – a 20-year old pure athlete who turned down a football scholarship to play at the University of Alabama to sign with the Nationals as a second-round pick in 2008. Hood, ranked the 20th best prospect in the Nats’ system by Baseball Prospectus, hit .285 in Hagerstown with 65 runs driven in. Ramirez, meanwhile, hit .296 with 16 home runs and 75 RBIs after signing a record signing bonus as a 15th-round pick in 2008. This exciting triumvirate will be joined in the outfield by a familiar face: Chris Curran, a key part of the Nationals’ 2010 Mills Cup run, brings his defensive prowess and a spark at the top of the order back to Pfitzner Stadium.

Potomac fans will be extremely familiar with the names in the Nationals’ starting rotation on Opening Day. Trevor Holder and Danny Rosenbaum, a pair of young prospects who both made playoff starts for Potomac in 2010, begin the year back in the Carolina League and will anchor the staff. Patrick Lehman, the George Washington product who impressed when he was healthy for Potomac in 2010, also returns, as does Marcos Frias, the Dominican righthander who started the Mills-Cup clinching game for the Nationals seven months ago. Those four returners will compete with a talented group of young arms making their Potomac debuts: Josh Smoker (1st round, 2007), Paul Demny (6th round, ’08), and Mitchell Clegg (21st round, ’09) all reunite with LeCroy for the second consecutive campaign.

The Potomac pitchers will throw to a pair of catchers: one of them a new face, the second a very familiar one. 22-year old Sandy Leon will make his Nationals’ debut, while 26-year old Brian Peacock returns for his fifth campaign with the P-Nats. Leon, the Venezuela native, threw out 51 percent of would-be base stealers in 2010.

The 2011 Potomac infield is a virtual carbon copy of the 2010 Hagerstown diamond: Stephen King, Jeff Kobernus, Steven Souza and Rick Hague all make the leap from low-A. They will be joined by new Nationals acquisition Cutter Dykstra, the son of a three-time MLB All Star, Lenny Dykstra who was picked up in the deal that sent Nyjer Morgan to the Brewers a week ago. Rounding out the infield is Francisco Soriano, another major component in Potomac’s 2010 championship season.

The roster is attached (click to enlarge). Jersey numbers will be assigned and added prior to Opening Day.

The Nationals begin their Carolina League title defense this Friday, April 8 against the Lynchburg and will look for their third league championship in four years. To lock in your tickets for the exciting 2011 campaign, fans can call 703-590-2311 or visit the club’s website at www.potomacnationals.com.