September 2009

Game two vs. the Dodgers

Dodgers:

Furcal – SS

Belliard – 3B

Ethier – RF

Ramirez – LF

Kemp – CF

Loney – 1B

Martin – C

Hudson – 2B

Billingsley – P (12-10, 4.05)

 

Nationals:

Harris – LF

Guzman – SS

Dunn – 1B

Zimmerman – 3B

Dukes – RF

Bard – C

Maxwell – CF

Gonzalez – 2B

Detwiler – P (0-6, 5.80)

 

With last night’s homer, Adam Dunn is now just two long balls shy of reaching the 40-homer plateau for the sixth straight season. If Dunn gets to 40, he will become just the fourth Big Leaguer in MLB history to hit 40 or more long balls in six straight seasons. The other three? Babe Ruth (seven straight years, 1926-32), Alex Rodriguez (six, 1998-2003) and Sammy Sosa (six, 1998-2003).

 

By virtue of a 9th inning walk last night, Elijah Dukes extended his string of consecutive games reaching base safely to 22. In those 22 contests beginning August 25th, Dukes is batting .348 (24-for-69) with four doubles, two triples, one home run, nine RBI, two HBP and 17 walks. Those stellar numbers render a superb .489 and .507 on-base and slugging percentages, respectively.

 

The voice of the Dodgers, Hall-of-Famer Vin Scully, began his broadcasting career at WTOP radio in Washington, DC shortly after graduating from Fordham University. WTOP’s sister station, WFED 1500 AM, is the Nationals’ flagship radio station.

 

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harris at the the plate 1.JPG

Nats open nine-game homestand against the Dodgers

Dodgers:

Furcal – SS

Ethier – RF

Ramirez – LF

Kemp – CF

Loney – 1B

Blake – 3B

Belliard – 2B

Martin – C

Kuroda – RHP (7-6, 3.86)

 

Nationals:

Harris – CF

Guzman – SS

Zimmerman – 3B

Dunn – 1B

Willingham – LF

Dukes – RF

Bard – C

Desmond – 2B

Hernandez – RHP (8-11, 5.22)

 

The Nats have a chance to play spoiler against Los Angeles. The Dodgers have all but secured a playoff spot but they haven’t yet locked up the NL West. They lead the Rockies by 5.0 games, the Majors’ hottest team since June 4th with a 65-33 record. With 13 or less games in the season, a 5.0 game deficit is almost insurmountable but the Rockies have already proved that nothing is impossible. If the Nats can take two of three from the Dodgers and the Rockies sweep the Padres, the lead will be cut to 3.0 games. The Dodgers finish up with a three game series at home against the Rockies. Either way, the Nationals will play a role in the NL West race.

 

Slugger Manny Ramirez has been nasty against the Nats. He is batting .429 (12-for-28) with two home runs and seven RBI in seven games since 2006.

 

In case you were counting… with Adam Dunn (101) in the 100-RBI club and Ryan Zimmerman (97) zeroing in on the club, note that, if/when Zimmerman records three more RBI, they’d become the first set of franchise teammates (1969-pres.) to tally 100 or more RBI in the same season. In fact, since the RBI became an official stat in 1920, there’ve been only three sets of DC-based teammates to tally 100 RBI in the same year: ’32 (Joe Cronin-116, Heinie Manush-116), ’33 (Joe Cronin-118, Joe Kuhel-107) and ’59 (Harmon Killebrew-105, Jim Lemon-100).

The Gold Glove at the Hot Corner

Ryan Zimmerman is having one of the best offensive seasons of his young career and is tops among NL third basemen. He continues to get clutch hits. It seems like his list of walk-off home runs grows each month. The offensive numbers are nice but Zimmerman wants a Gold Glove.

“I think that’s one of the most important things that I want to do in my career,” Zimmerman said. “I wasn’t always a great hitter or a great presence in the lineup or anything like that. When I was younger, I was always the smallest kid and defense was the way that I stayed in the game. I take a lot of pride in that still and it’s what built the basic foundation for me playing baseball, learning how to play good defense and being good at it. So, winning one of those would take it full circle for me–from where I started to completing a goal.”


 
zimmerman is amazing c.jpgIt is tough to consider Zimmerman the favorite to win the award but he ranks among MLB leaders in total chances (MLB-best 427), total chances per 9.0 innings (NL-best 3.13), assists (MLB-best 302) and putouts (2nd in NL, 110). For what it’s worth, he is the leading contributor to ESPN’s nightly Web Gems segment too–typically the top-five best, most acrobatic, spectacular defensive plays are picked.

The problem is the Gold Glove Award is a lot like the Homecoming Queen and class president elections–it’s a popularity contest. Like the MVP, there isn’t a clear-cut definition of what Gold Glove means either. Fewest errors? Best fielding percentage? Most jaw-dropping, acrobatic catches? It isn’t always the best fielder that wins but the one that has the best reputation for being an elite fielder. Granted, it is rare that the recipient of any award is unanimous but once a fielder wins a couple Gold Gloves their reputation precedes their performance. Torii Hunter just needs to be an average outfielder to win it now. Same with Ichiro Suzuki.

The Gold Glove Award was first presented by Rawlings in 1957 and the voting is currently done by the managers and coaches from each Major League team. (They aren’t able to select their own players). What’s the main criteria for the selection? There really isn’t any. That is why reputation is crucial. Was Greg Maddux really the NL’s best fielding pitcher 18 times?

The Gold Glove at the Hot Corner

The coaches will likely debate between Zimmerman, Kevin Kouzmanoff and David Wright (as you will see, he isn’t the statistical favorite at all but he was the winner the last two seasons and reputation goes a long way with this award). We will start with slightly more candidates: Zimmerman, Pedro Feliz (Phillies), Kouzmanoff (Padres), Wright (Mets), Casey Blake (Dodgers) and Andy LaRoche (Pirates).

The best superficial defensive stats are errors and fielding percentage. They are the easiest stats to look at and determine the number of “mistakes” in the field relative to their total number of chances.

 

Player (Games Started)         Errors                         Fielding Percentage

Ryan Zimmerman (142)           15                                .965

Pedro Feliz (139)                    14                                .966

Casey Blake (127)                  10                                .972

Kevin Kouzmanoff (130)        3                                .990

Andy LaRoche(130)               14                                .964

David Wright (132)                 15                                .956

Kouzmanoff clearly has the edge in fewest errors and fielding percentage but they don’t tell the whole story. Kouzmanoff has three errors, all with the glove. Zimmerman has 15 errors, three with the glove and 12 on throwing miscues. Defensive statistics are a slippery slope.

First, the error isn’t a black and white stat like the home run. There are many shades of gray–it isn’t the simple question of whether it went over the wall of not. Second, a more mobile, faster third basemen will have more chances to make an error than a slower, less nimble player.

For example, a bunt down the third baseline that Kouzmanoff fields cleanly but doesn’t have the time to throw is a bunt hit. He doesn’t get an error and his fielding percentage stays put. Zimmerman may turn that same play into an out 90 percent of the time but on one opportunity throws it over the first baseman’s head. He is penalized and is given the error. Kouzmanoff will look better in the box score for never making the throw. Zimmerman will take the hit away nine time out of ten but when he air mails it, his fielding percentage will take a hit.

Fangraphs.com tries to quantify it with the stat “range runs.” The range runs stat calculates the number of runs above or below average a fielder is, determined by how the fielder is able to get to balls hit in his vicinity. Bill James introduced range factor per game which is the average number of putouts and assists per game–the premise being that the total number of outs a player participates in per game is more relevant than the conventional fielding percentage.

Player                                     RngR              RF/G

Ryan Zimmerman                 18.2                 2.90

Pedro Feliz                              4.2                   2.74

Casey Blake                            2.5                   2.69

Kevin Kouzmanoff                   1.3                   2.21

Andy LaRoche                        1.2                   2.84

David Wright                          -7.2                  2.45

 

Zimmerman clearly has the edge. He saves the Nats 18.2 runs with his range. There isn’t anyone even close.

Mitchel Lichtman created the Ultimate Zone Rating which is another measure of how many runs a player saves or costs his team relative to the positional average–the all encompassing defensive stat.

Player                                     UZR

Ryan Zimmerman                 17.9

Pedro Feliz                              7.3

Casey Blake                            7.1

Kevin Kouzmanoff                  6.8

Andy LaRoche                       1.7

David Wright                          -7.8

 

We will go with one more stat to seal the deal. Since history is replete with examples of an average glove + a sensational season at the plate = Gold Glove. The Runs above replacement stat secures the Gold Glove for Zimmerman. It factors in everything: batting + fielding + replacement player + position.

Player                                     RAR

Ryan Zimmerman                 64.6

Pedro Feliz                              14.1

Casey Blake                            39.4

Kevin Kouzmanoff                  26.1

Andy LaRoche                       16.0

David Wright                          35.7

Ryan Zimmerman has 15 errors and a .965 fielding percentage. It would be easy for voters–the managers and coaches outside of the NL EAST who haven’t watched Zimmerman more than a handful of times–to vote for the Kouzmanoff and his three errors and .990 fielding percentage. It would be even easier to give it to Wright who has a great defensive reputation.

But in a convoluted way, it seems crystal clear that the Gold Glove deserves a spot on Zimmerman’s mantle.

 

In case you were wondering…

It seems like years ago that Daniel Cabrera opened Nationals Park for the 2009 season. He isn’t the only Nationals player that is somewhere else in a land, far, far away… here are a few other notable Nats no longer on the team.


johnson c.jpgNick Johnson:
The Marlins are on the outside looking in for a playoff spot, the chances are slim to none–4.8 percent to be precise. They are 4.5 games behind the Wild Card leading Rockies with 16 games remaining and six games left against the Phillies. Johnson has been as good as advertised for the Marlins since he was traded moments before the trading deadline on July 31st. He made his annual trip to the DL and missed the latter half of August with a strained right hamstring but he is back for the stretch run. He has been doing exactly what he did for the Nats. He is batting .333 (27-for-81) with two home runs, 17 RBI, 27 walks and an astronomical .505 on-base percentage in 25 games. Don’t forget… he will be a free agent at the end of the season.

Joe Beimel: He became known as the “Steroid Stopper” for his ability to get Barry Bonds out during his days with the Dodgers–Bonds batted .063 (1-for-16) against him. He isn’t having as much success with the Rockies after joining the likely NL Wild Card team on July 31st. The left-hander isn’t the set-up man or the closer, but is used primarily for the lefty-lefty matchup. He has been hit hard at times and posts a high .306 BAA in 19 games. He has a 4.38 ERA (6 ER/ 12.1 IP) with 15 hits and 10 strikeouts. In 2006, he missed the entire Divisional Series with the Dodgers when he cut his hand on glass at a bar in New York City. Don’t expect him to miss the 2009 playoffs.


hanrahan c.jpgJoel Hanrahan:
He wasn’t built for the pressure cooker situation, late in the game with only a run one lead. With the Nationals in 2009 he blew five saves in 10 chances. Hanrahan was traded to the Pirates with Lastings Milledge in exchange for outfielder Nyjer Morgan and reliever Sean Burnett on June 29th. In Pittsburgh, he has flourished in his new role as a reliever, just a reliever without the stress of saving a game–he hasn’t pitched in one save situation. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in nearly a month, a span of 13 games to be exact.  Overall, he has a 1.84 ERA (6 ER/ 29.1 IP) with 36 strikeouts and a .215 BAA.

Lastings Milledge: The free swinging, show-up-when-I-want-to leadoff hitter didn’t quite fit in the Nationals clubhouse. (It is hard to believe that he lead the club in home runs (14) and RBI (61) last year). He is still the same free swinger but he isn’t leading off for the Pirates. Milledge bats primarily sixth but has also batted second, fourth and fifth. Dropping him in the orderhas helped to lower the pressure and raise his average. He still strikes out a lot, doesn’t hit for power and has been caught stealing four times in seven attempts.  On the bright side, he is batting .287 (43-for-150) in 41 games with the Pirates. belliard c.jpg


 Ronnie Belliard:
He is becoming the Marlon Anderson of 2006. (See HERE), filling in nicely at second and third base with the Dodgers since he was acquired on August 30th. He has played error free baseball in 12 starts and is batting .319 (15-for-47) with three home runs and eight RBI in 15 games. Last night, he had his second three hit game with the Dodgers in the 3-1 win over the Pirates.

Anderson Hernandez: He returned to the Mets on August 5th and quickly became their everyday shortstop. His numbers are nearly identical to his Nats numbers, batting .257 (26-for-101) with 1 home run, 11 RBI and two stolen bases in 34 games.

Daniel Cabrera: Control, Control and Control. That has been the top three things that Cabrera has needed to work on most during his pro career. He walked 35 batters in 40.0 innings in eight starts with the Nats. Cabrera went 0-5 and the Nats went 0-8. The results have been the same with the D-backs. In his first relief appearance with Arizona, Cabrera didn’t retire a batter, gave up five runs, two hits and two walks. His last appearance was much better. He went three innings, didn’t walk a batter and only gave up two hits. It is anyone’s guess how he will pitch in his next appearance.

Schedule set for 2010

2010 Schedule Released

The 2010 schedule is out. The Nationals kick off the season on Monday April 5, 2010 vs. NL East-rival Philadelphia for the second consecutive season. It will be Washington’s 77th home opener since 1901.

 


041309-255 opening day c.JPGHighlights include:

 

  • To get the action started NatsTown battles Red Sox Nation in an exhibition game on Saturday, April 3. Earlier this season, the Red Sox-Nationals series resulted in three sellouts, as over 125,000 fans witnessed Boston’s initial pilgrimage to Nationals Park.

 

  • The Nats are hosting a Fourth of July game for the fifth time since moving to the District in 2005–the most logical place for an Independence Day game. The New York Mets come to town for a four-game set over the Fourth of July weekend (July 1-4). They will be back for Labor Day weekend too.

 

  • Other clubs of note making weekend plans in DC next season that aren’t in the NL East are the Milwaukee Brewers (April 16-18), Los Angeles Dodgers (April 23-25), San Francisco Giants (July 9-11) and the St. Louis Cardinals (August 27-29).

 

  • The Cubs come to Washington for a three-game series, August 23-25.

 

  • The 14th season of interleague play starts with the annual home-and-home series with their friendly neighborhood rival, the Orioles. The 2010 version of the “Battle of the Beltways” series begins at Nationals Park the weekend of May 21-23 and concludes at Oriole Park, June 25-27.

 

  • The NL East plays the AL Central for Interleague play. The Nats make interleague treks to Cleveland (June 11-13) and Detroit (June 15-17). They host a three-game visit from the Chicago White Sox, June 18- 20, which headlines the interleague slate at Nationals Park. The Kansas City Royals will also visit the Nation’s Capital for the first time, June 21-23. The interleague tilts against the White Sox and Royals allow the Nationals to officially complete the Major League Baseball circuit of having played each of the other 29 clubs at least once. They don’t play the Twins in 2010.

 

  • Washington fans will enjoy 12 homestands in all, three of which last a season-long 10 games. The Nationals and their fans will notice a concentration of home dates both early and late in the season. Washington opens the 2010 campaign with 13 of its first 18 games played at home. Then, starting with an August 23 contest against the Cubs at Nationals Park, 23 of Washington’s next 38 contests will be played in the District.

 

  • The NL will aim to end a winless streak dating back to 1996 as the Angels host the 81st All-Star Game on July 13.
  • There are a few interleague matchups that are World Series rematches:  the Mets at Baltimore (1969 World Series), Atlanta at Minnesota (1991 World Series), the Yankees at Arizona (2001 World Series), Cincinnati at Oakland (1972 and 1990 World Series, Boston at Colorado (2007 World Series) and Philadelphia at Toronto (1993 World Series).The Yankees travel to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers from June 25-27. They met in 10 World Series.

You can see the complete 2010 Nationals schedule here.  

Instructional League Lineup Announced

The Nationals announced their 50 man roster for the Florida Instructional League which includes both first round draft picks, Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen. The players selected will report to the Nationals Florida complex in Viera on Friday and begin practice on Saturday. They will play 15 games against other Florida area clubs including Detroit, Atlanta and Houston. Players are sent down to the Instructional League each year at the end of the Minor League season to get further development and refinement in preparation for the following season.

 

Here is the complete Instructional League roster.strasburg 5 c.JPG

Catchers
C Dan Killian
C Sany Leon
C Ricardo Martinez
C Adrian Nieto
C Bill Pena

Infielders
INF Justin Bloxom
2B Jeff Kobernus
2B Stephen Lombardozzi
1B Tyler Moore
1B Brett Newsome
SS Roberto Perez
3B Adrian Sanchez
3B Steven Souza
INF Michael Taylor
INF Jean Valdez

Outfielders
OF Michael Burgess
OF J.R. Higley
OF Destin Hood
OF Jesus Morales
OF Eury Perez
OF Derrick Phillips
OF J.P. Ramirez
OF Wander Ramos
OF Aridio Rodriguez
OF Brandon Whiting

Pitchers
LHP Gregori Baez
RHP Cleto Brazoban
RHP Dustin Crane
RHP Paul Demny
RHP Pedro Encarnacion
RHP Robinson Fabian
RHP Marcos Frias
RHP Luis Garcia
RHP Danubio Gonzalez
LHP Bobby Hansen
LHP Graham Hicks
RHP Juan Jamie
LHP Chad Jenkins
RHP Taylor Jordan
RHP Nathan Karns
RHP Brandon King
LHP Pat McCoy
RHP A.J. Morris
LHP Dan Rosenbaum
LHP Josh Smoker
RHP Drew Storen
RHP Stephen Strasburg
RHP Matt Swynenberg
RHP Wanel Vasquez
RHP Dean Weaver

 

Catcher Flores to Undergo Surgery for Torn Labrum


042009-240 jesus flores.JPGAfter missing most of the season with a nagging injury, catcher Jesus Flores was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his right shoulder which will require surgery. Flores was originally injured after being struck by a foul ball on May 9th. However Flores was never able to fully recover and his injury worsened from a contusion to a stress fracture to tendonitis to the final diagnosis of a torn labrum. The procedure will be performed today by Dr. James Andrews who expects a 3-6 month recovery period for Flores. However, the Nationals aren’t worried about his availability for next season.

 

“He should be ready for the middle of Spring Training, worst-case scenario,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said.

 

Know your Nats: Adam Dunn

You asked, and Adam answered. Notes from NatsTown sat down with first baseman Adam Dunn during the previous homestand with the questions you submitted. Check it out and see if your question was answered.


042109-208 adam dunn.JPG1.     
Jana Robbins, Woodbridge, VA: What did you do with your days off? You have made this year exciting.  Thanks!
Well, Jana what I do on my days off, normally if they’re at home,  spend time with the wife and kid and do whatever they want to do. But I definitely get a lot of rest and play a lot of X-Box.

2.       Joey Robbins, Woodbridge, VA: What kind of gum do you chew out there when you play?
Joey, when I play I choose the sugarless Double Bubble. This one right here [takes gum out of his mouth].

3.       Carol O’Hagan, Stafford, VA: How many packs of gum do you go through in one game?
Carol, I don’t know how many packs of gum I go through a day but I probably go through, probably 15 or 20 pieces in a game. I chew a lot of gum.

4.       Kimberly Everts, Hagerstown, MD: Growing up, who was your baseball idol? Do you model your play after anyone in particular?
Kimberly, to answer your question about my baseball kind of role model growing up, I try to patent my game. I was a big fan of Larry Walker. For some reason, I don’t know why, I just liked the way he played. 

5.       Lucas Pillar, Great Falls, VA: Have you ever considered bunting for a base hit when the other team has the over-shift on? With only one infielder on the left side, it seems like they are asking you to send a hard bunt down the third-base line. When they start defending against it, it will open up space on the right side.
Lucas, to answer your question about bunting, I do think about it but I’m not that good of a bunter so I figured if it’s a good enough pitch to bunt it, I’ll pop it up and be really mad at myself.  So that’s probably a pitch that I probably could have maybe hit a homer.

6.       Robert Floyd, Furnace Mountain, VA: I’m really curious as to your thought process when you come to the plate.  Are you thinking home run, or just hit it hard?  Does your approach vary, depending on situation, pitcher or pitch count?  I’d love to know what you’re thinking when you stand there at the plate and hold your bat up in the air – that has to freak pitchers out.
Robert, to answer your question about when I’m at the plate, kind of what I’m thinking, it kind of depends on the pitcher and the situation. If we’re down by one late in the game and I’ve got a chance to tie it, put us ahead, I’m going to try to tie or put us ahead. If not, if we need baserunners, I’ll try to work a walk or try to get a base hit.

7.       Cassie Little, Ocean City, MD: I’m an Alan Ashby Fan too. I have seen numerous times on the Jumbotron that your favorite player was Alan Ashby because of his hair… you have grown your hair out a little bit but not to the extent that he did but can we count on you growing a fro and having a mustache like him for next year
Cassie, Alan Ashby was my favorite player growing up. I actually have becom
e really good friends with him. But to answer your question about my hair, growing out like his, absolutely not. That was more of an 80′s mullet.

8.       Neil Hendricks, Blacksburg, VA: How much video do you watch of opposing pitchers? Do you tailor your strategy based on who is pitching or do you have a general strategy when you hit?
Neil, to answer your question about how much video I watch, I try not to because it always looks a lot nastier and the pitchers look a lot better than they normally are on video. All I want to know is what they have and kind of their tendencies in counts, what pitches they throw.

9.       Jeanie Barlett, Bel Aire, MD: What are your predictions for the upcoming College Football season? Now that Sam Bradford is out do you think Colt McCoy can lead the Longhorns to the title?
Well Jeanie, to answer your question about College Football, I think even if Sam Bradford was healthy and the tight end wasn’t out for the season, I think Texas would still kick their butts. I think it’s going to come down to whoever wins in the SEC and Texas.

10.   Cary Kisner, Vienna, VA: Is it safe to say that you would have owned Rob Dibble had you and he played at the same time?
Cary, that’s a very good question about me and Rob Dibble. I think asking him, he would probably say that he would own me but I would like to beg to differ.

 

Desmond Makes Major League Debut

It will be the first time Nationals fan hear… batting seventh and playing shortstop #6 Ian Desmond. The much anticipated Major League debut for Desmond comes after he had the best Minor League seasons in his young career. The third round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft hit a combined .330 with 24 doubles, three triples, seven homers, 30 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 97 games with Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg. He is batted .354 (63-for-178) with 12 doubles, two triples, one homer, 14 RBI, 20 walks and eight stolen bases in 55 games since being promoted to Syracuse on July 16. In 42 contests with Harrisburg, he collected 52 hits, including 19 of the extra-base variety (12 doubles, one triple, six home runs).

 

Phillies:

Rollins – SS

Victorino – CF

Utley – 2B

Howard – 1B

Ibanez – LF

Werth – RF

Feliz – 3B

Ruiz – C

Blanton – P (RHP, 9-6, 3.80)

 

Nationals:

Harris – CF

Orr – 2B

Zimmerman – 3B

Dunn – 1B

Willingham – LF

Dukes – RF

Desmond – SS

Nieves – C

Hernandez – P (RHP, 7-10, 5.44)

 

 

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macdougal c.jpg 

Lineups 9/9/09

Phillies:

Rollins – SS

Victorino – CF

Utley – 2B

Howard – 1B

Ibanez – LF

Werth – RF

Feliz – 3B

Bako – C

Lee – P (LHP, 12-11, 3.06)

 

Nationals:

Maxwell – CF

Guzman – SS

Dunn – 1B

Zimmerman – 3B

Willingham – LF

Dukes – RF

Bard – C

Gonzalez – 2B

Mock – P (RHP, 3-7, 5.63)

Norris, Meyers earn Minor League Awards


Norris and Meyers c.JPGAll the hype was around first round pick Ross Detwiler after the 2007 First-Year Player Draft for the Nationals. Fourth round pick Derek Norris (right) and fifth rounder Brad Meyers (left) went under the radar. They’re not under the radar anymore. The two of them made a name for themselves with the impressive numbers they produced this year.

 

The 2009 Minor League season is in the books and the awards have been handed out. The Nationals named Norris, a catcher, as their Minor League Player of the Year and Meyers, a right-handed pitcher, as their Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

 

They join John Lannan (2007), Jordan Zimmermann (2008), Justin Maxwell (2007) and Leonard Davis (2008) as past recipients of the awards. Three of the four are with the Nationals right now and Davis finished the season with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs.

 

The Goddard, Kansas native, Norris turned down a scholarship to play at Wichita State and signed with the Nationals in 2007. He hit .286 with 30 doubles, 23 home runs, 84 RBI and 78 runs scored in 126 games with the Single-A Hagerstown Suns this season. He paced full-season Washington farmhands in home runs, walks (90), on-base percentage (.413), slugging percentage (.513) and OPS (.926).

 

The player of the year award adds to the laundry list of accolades the 20-year-old has received this year. The right-handed hitting slugger earned both midseason and postseason South Atlantic League All-Star honors. Last week, Norris was named the SAL Most Outstanding Major League Prospect. He was recently cited in Baseball America‘s annual Best Tools survey voted upon by league managers as the Best Batting Prospect and Best Power Prospect in the SAL.

 

On the award: I actually came up here the other day to get an x-ray for my finger and I was sitting, had a ticket to the game, and [Mark] Scialabba [Assistant Director, Player Development] came up and [Mike] Rizzo and Bob Boone were sitting there and we were just talking about the results of the x-ray and they went ahead and told me. So they told me to come back on Tuesday and not go back home yet. I haven’t really put too much thought into it. It’s been a long season so the only thing on my mind was getting out of Hagerstown and going home. It’s nice to get an award for something. You work hard and it’s nice to be rewarded for something like that.

 

Life in the Minor Leagues: It’s tough. You pick up different things, kind of funny things that guys do that actually work. I heard about a guy who brought one of those little chairs you put in pools, the little blow up chairs, they put that in the aisles [of the bus on long bus rides], I guess some people do that. We tried it and it ended up working all right so it wasn’t too bad.

 

Key to improving each year: Just sticking with the same approach and not trying to do too much, especially when you get in hitters’ counts. From the hitting aspect, you know you get in hitters’ counts, it’s most likely they’re going to have to throw something out over the plate, they’re not going to be able to nitpick the corners. So not trying to do too much with something, just taking what’s given to you.

 

On the Arizona Fall League: It’s the best of the best. It’s going to be nice to play against the best of the best and play at that competition level. There’s so much hype about Strasburg, it’s going to be kind of nice to meet somebody with that kind of arm. [Danny] Espinosa and [Chris] Marrero are two great ballplayers and I’m excited to be playing with them too.

 

On catching in the Pros: No, I’m not looking to change any positions. I think with continuous work and effort put towards catching I think I can achieve what I want to achieve behind the plate. And I know it looks a little shaky, my numbers, as far as passed balls and errors and stuff but I think that if I keep progressing from year to year I’ll achieve what I want to achieve.

 

Major League role model: [Matt] LeCroy and I were talking, he sees me as a Russell Martin type. Not a [Joe] Mauer though, he’s a freak of nature. No one can just go out there and hit .380 every year. I don’t see myself doing that. But if anything, Russell Martin would be my guy I idolize a lot.

 

What did you learn from LeCroy: Anything and everything. He’s a great guy. He has a lot of knowledge. And being a guy that caught and played a lot of positions as well, he knows the game from more than just behind the plate. So he was a great guy to have, he was a really great manager to have.

 


 
meyers c.JPGMeyers was drafted in the 14th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft by the Mets but decided to attend Loyola Marymount (CA) University. He was drafted in 2007 by the Nats. He has the prototypical projectable pitcher’s body at 6-foot-6 with a fastball in the low to mid 90s. He went 9-7 with a 4.79 ERA with the Suns in 2008. He was brilliant in 2009. He started throwing all his pitches for strikes and went a combined 11-3 with a 1.72 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) with Double-A Harrisburg and Single-A Potomac. Meyers led all full-season Minor League pitchers with a microscopic 1.72 ERA and allowed two earned runs or less 20 of 23 starts (87%) this season.

 

The 24-year-old went 5-1 with a 2.25 ERA (12 ER/48.0 IP) and a 3.9/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (43 K/11 BB) in nine starts with Harrisburg. Prior to his July 7 promotion to Harrisburg, Meyers dominated the Carolina League, going 6-2 with a league-best 1.43 ERA (14 ER/88.1 IP) in 15 games (14 starts) with Potomac. He was selected as a midseason Carolina League All-Star and was a two time MiLB.com Carolina League Pitcher of the Week honors (May 4-10 and June 29-July 5).

 

On the award: It was awesome. I didn’t really expect it but and it’s nice to get an award. Obviously coming out here and standing out there for batting practice and just kind of taking the tour around here. So it’s been good. I got the call a couple of days ago, I was kind of surprised. I was all set and ready to go home and they told me to come up here and I was pretty excited.

 

Life in the Minor Leagues: The toughest thing is that everything is temporary. You don’t know what you’re doing, where you’re going to be, from day to day, always sleeping in hotels and that. It’s been a good experience though.

 

Biggest difference between ’08 and ’09: Just repeating a consistent delivery. I started using my legs this year, got some help from the pitching coach down in Potomac. Just got my mechanics better and threw all my pitches for strikes this year.

 

On walking people: That’s kind of a pet peeve of mine–don’t walk people and force contact. I try to make hitters put it into play. Usually things go good when I’m doing that.

 

Timetable for the pros: There’s really no timetable and if you do put a timetable on it… that’s just going to make it tougher for you, more pressure. But you basically just go out and get better every day. That’s your ultimate goal to get to the Big Leagues. Whatever happens, happens and hopefully the sooner the better.

 

Now the two of them can rest… and that’s what they are going to do.

 

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