In the 40th-year of the franchise, the High-A Carolina League affiliate of the Washington Nationals features new and familiar faces as they look for a second straight playoff appearance. Potomac's season begins Thursday with a four-game stand in Wilmington.

Four things to watch

1. Tripp Keister

The Potomac manager returns for his fourth year at the helm in overseeing one of the youngest teams he’s had among position players. Keister has led Potomac to two playoff appearances in three years, including last season and winning it all in 2014. He’s 323-287 in five seasons in Washington’s minor-league system. His ability to connect with players on a personal level has paid dividends.

2. Victor Robles

The top-rated prospect in the Washington Nationals’ organization returns to Potomac after finishing up there last season. The youngest player last season in the Carolina League, the 19-year-old Dominican Republic native hit .262 for Potomac in 41 games. Robles, who signed with Washington for $225,00 in 2013, ranks as the best hitter for average, best athlete, best defensive outfielder and best outfield arm in the Nationals’ system. Robles is valued so much by Washington that he was one prospect the Nationals refused to part with in any trades. He is on track to become Washington’s everyday outfielder by 2019.

3. The Dominican connection

Ten of Potomac’s 25 players are from the Caribbean country, including all five starting pitchers and five starters in the field.

4. Joan Baez

Pronounced Yo-Hahn, Baez signed with Washington out of the Dominican Republic for $7,500 in 2014. In 2015 during his first full season in the minors, his fastball was clocked at 100 miles per hour. Baseball America ranks the right-hander as Washington’s No. 29 prospect and owner of the system’s best curveball.

Starting rotation

1. Luis Reyes, Right-hander, 22, Sabana Grande de Palenque, Dominican Republic, 2012-international free agent

2. Hector Silvestre, Left-hander, 24, San Pedro De Macoris, Dominican Republic, 2011-international free agent

3. Jefry Rodriguez, Right-hander, 23, Haina, Dominican Republic, 2012-international free agent

4. Joan Baez, Right-hander, 22, San Cristobal, Dominican Republic 2014-international free agent

5. Wirkin Estevez, Right-hander, 25, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 2010-international free agent

Three more players to watch

Telmito Agustin

Baseball America ranks the outfielder the Washington Nationals’ No. 28 prospect. Hit .265 last season for Low-A Hagerstown.

Kelvin Gutierrez

Baseball America ranks the third-baseman the Washington Nationals’ No. 16 prospect and owner of the best infield arm in the system. Finished last season at Potomac, where he hit .237 in 10 games after starting at Low-A Hagerstown, where he hit .300 in 96 games. Gutierrez holds a .288 batting average in his three-year pro career.

Mariano Rivera III

Right-handed relief pitcher went 5-1 with a 4.04 ERA and eight saves in 39 games last season with Low-A Hagerstown. The 2015 fourth-round pick is the son of the former Yankee standout closer.

Batting order

No. 1 Victor Robles (CF)

No. 2 Austin Davidson (IF)

No. 3 Ian Sagdal (IF)

No. 4 Kelvin Gutierrez (3B)

No. 5 Rhett Wiseman (RF)

No. 6 Taylor Gushue (C)

No. 7 Bryan Mejia (2B)

No. 8 Edwin Lora (SS)

No. 9 Telmito Agustin (LF)

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