Inbox: Which players are the future?

Inbox: Which players are the future?

Should the Nationals sign another reliever? Is Elijah Dukes part of the Nationals' long-term plans? Those are two of the many questions Nationals fans have been asking. Here are some answers to their queries.

Besides John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann and Ryan Zimmerman, who fits in the Nationals' long-term plans?
-- Alex C., Montreal

I think right-hander Craig Stammen and catcher Jesus Flores, provided he stays healthy, are part of the team's future. I think the jury is still out on right-hander Tyler Clippard, left-hander Ross Detwiler and infielder Alberto Gonzalez. Ask me this question after the season, and I might give you more players.

Do you think that there would be any benefit to the Nats making an offer to B.J. Ryan? He's certainly struggled this year, but he can't be any worse than what they already have?
-- Richard H., Toronto

With Mike Rizzo at the helm, anything is possible. Ryan could come in at reasonable price because the Blue Jays are paying the rest of his salary. I think, however, the Nationals should find out what they have in the Minor Leagues first. Let's see what Clippard and, maybe, Zech Zinicola can do before we see what a veteran can do.

J.D. Martin has a pretty good record with Triple-A Syracuse. Why not bring him up to work out of the bullpen.
-- Jeff. H, Washington, D.C.

Martin is a starter, and I would not be surprised if he were given a chance to start for the Nationals on July 20 against the Mets. Detwiler is scheduled to start that game, but I expect he could be in the Minors by then because he has given up 16 runs in his past 12 1/3 innings.

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Do you see the Nationals calling up Kory Casto this year? If so, at what position? I remember him playing left field, third base and some first base last year.
-- Patrick S., Fairfax, Va.

He is having decent season for Syracuse, but I don't see him in the big leagues unless one of the backup players gets hurt and ends up on the disabled list. I know the organization no longer considers him a top prospect or a future big league starter.

I completely agree with sending outfielder Elijah Dukes down to Syracuse to work on his swing. At the same time, Dukes has 10 outfield assists, which leads all Nationals outfielders. So, on that note, do you believe that he's the long-term solution at right field, assuming he gets his swing going again?
-- Harris F., Silver Spring, Md.

As of right now, I have to say no. I know the Nationals are looking to trade him. The only thing I can say is, Dukes will be back in the Major Leagues as a backup once they make changes to their roster. Right now, there is no way Dukes is going to replace Adam Dunn, Nyger Morgan or Josh Willingham. All those players have been pretty good with the bats.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.