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Nationals RF Bryce Harper breaks NL voting record en route to starting spot in MLB All-Star Game

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by Amanda Comak

Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper was announced Sunday night as a starter in the 2015 Major League All-Star Game. Harper earned his selection to the National League team by garnering 13,964,950 fan votes, the most votes of any player ever to appear on the National League ballot and third-most votes for any player in MLB this season.

GettyImages-472862308Harper, 22, entered Sunday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants hitting .344 with a .470 on-base percentage and a Major League-best .719 slugging percentage. In 75 games this season, Harper has hit 25 home runs to go along with 19 doubles and one triple. He has walked 60 times in 319 plate appearances.

The Nationals’ right-fielder, who won back-to-back National League Player of the Week awards in May, as well as the National League Player of the Month Award for the same month, currently leads the Major Leagues in on-base percentage (.470), slugging percentage (.719) and on-base plus slugging percentage (1.189). He ranks tied for second in the Major Leagues in home runs (25), third in walks (60) and fourth in RBI (60). His batting average (.344) ranks fourth, and his 57 runs scored slot in fifth.

With his 25th home run, hit on Saturday vs. the Giants, Harper became just the seventh player in Major League history, age 22 or younger, to hit 25 home runs in the season’s first 81 games. He joined four Hall of Fame players (Harmon Killebrew, Eddie Mathews, Joe DiMaggio, Mel Ott) on that list, along with Alex Rodriguez. On May 6 vs. the Miami Marlins, Harper became the 10th-youngest player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a single game.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two other players in Major League history have hit .340 or better with at least 25 home runs, 60 RBI and 60 walks through July 4th – Hall of Famers Frank Thomas (1994 and 2000) and Babe Ruth (1921, 1926-27, 1930).

While Harper’s home runs have drawn him significant praise, as well as placed him in some elite company, Harper’s .470 on-base percentage is more than .100 points higher than any of his previous career marks. Harper has reached base safely (including on errors) in 68 of the 75 games he’s played in this year, and hasn’t been held hitless in back-to-back games since May 4-5.

This will be Harper’s third career All-Star Game selection and his second career All-Star start. Harper, who previously attended the 2012 and 2013 All-Star Games (in Kansas City and New York-NL), started in center field for the National League team in the 2013 contest. Harper, the first three-time All-Star in Nationals history (2005-present), is also the first Nationals player to claim multiple fan-elected starting assignments. He is the fourth player in franchise history to accomplish the feat, joining Hall of Famers Gary Carter (1981-84) and Andre Dawson (1981-83), as well as Tim Raines (1982-83).

The rest of the 2015 Major League All-Star participants will be announced Monday night at 7 p.m. during the “Esurance All-Star Selection Show” on ESPN. The 86th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be held at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Tuesday, July 14.

Nationals select contract of INF Emmanuel Burriss, place INF Anthony Rendon on 15-day DL

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals selected the contract of infielder Emmanuel Burriss from Triple-A Syracuse on Friday and placed infielder Anthony Rendon on the 15-day disabled list with a left quadriceps strain, retroactive to June 25. Outfielder Reed Johnson was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

Burriss, a Washington, D.C. native and a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Northwest D.C., joins the Nationals for his first Major League assignment since 2012 (San Francisco).

The 30-year-old infielder is coming off one of his finest professional seasons, posting a .300 average, .377 on-base percentage and .412 slugging percentage in 116 games for Triple-A Syracuse in 2014. In 62 games with Syracuse this season, Burriss is hitting .278 (66-for-237) with eight doubles, five triples, three home runs, 25 walks, 10 stolen bases and 21 RBI.

A versatile infielder, Burriss has Major League experience at all four infield spots (183 games at second base, 62 games at shortstop, eight games at third base and two games at first base), and has appeared in four games in the outfield as well. Over the course of his Minor League career, Burriss has primarily played shortstop (470 games) and second base (146 games).

Over parts of five Major League seasons, all with the San Francisco Giants, Burriss is a career .243 hitter with 14 doubles, one triple and one home run.

Rendon, 25, returns to the disabled list for the second time this season. The Nationals’ dynamic infielder missed the first 52 games of the season as he worked through a left knee sprain as well as a left oblique strain. Rendon is hitting .290 (20-for-69) in 18 games this season with a .375 on-base percentage. He’s clubbed five doubles, walked nine times, driven in five runs and scored nine runs.

Nationals top prospects Lucas Giolito & Trea Turner selected for 2015 Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game

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by Kyle Brostowitz

Right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito and infielder Trea Turner have been selected to represent the Washington Nationals in the 2015 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which will be played at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 12th at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Giolito, 20, is considered by many, including industry experts Baseball America and MLB.com, as the top pitching prospect in all of baseball. He is the consensus top prospect in the Nationals’ organization and is ranked by MLB.com as the No. 4 prospect and by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect overall. Giolito will participate in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game for the second consecutive season.

A first-round pick (No. 16 overall) in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, Giolito is 2-4 with a 2.71 ERA (18 ER/43.2 IP) in eight starts for the Potomac Nationals of the Single-A Carolina League. He has piled up 57 strikeouts (seventh in the Carolina League) and has allowed 51 hits against just 12 walks this season.

Giolito was named the Washington Nationals 2014 Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 10-2 with an organizational-best 2.20 ERA in 20 starts for Single-A Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League. He led Nationals farmhands with 110 strikeouts and, following the season, was named the “Most Outstanding Pitcher” and the “Top Major League Prospect” in the South Atlantic League by MiLB.com.

Turner, 21, joined the Nationals organization on June 14, completing the Dec. 18, 2014 three-team trade in which Washington also acquired right-handed pitcher Joe Ross. In ten games since joining the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, Turner is 14-for-39 (.359) with four doubles, one triple, four RBI, four stolen bases and six runs scored.

He joined the Nationals after hitting .322 (73-for-227) with 13 doubles, three triples, five home runs, 35 RBI, 24 walks, 11 stolen bases and 31 runs scored in 58 games for San Diego’s Double-A affiliate, the San Antonio Missions. He posted a .385 on-base percentage, a .471 slugging percentage and an .856 OPS along the way. Turner’s .322 average ranked third and his .471 slugging percentage ranked tied for sixth in the Texas League at the time of the trade.

A first-round selection in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft (No. 13 overall), Turner entered the 2015 season rated as the No. 2 prospect in the Padres’ chain and the No. 65 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America. The same publication cited Turner as having the “Best Strike-Zone Discipline,” and being the “Best Athlete” and “Best Defensive Infielder” in the San Diego Minor League system prior to the trade to Washington. He is currently ranked as the No. 51 prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com.

Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America and the 30 Major League Clubs, selected the 25 players currently on each team.

Year Name Team Position
2005 Frank Diaz World OF
2006 Salomon Manriquez World C
2007 Emiliano Fruto World RHP
Collin Balester USA RHP
2008 Shairon Martis World RHP
2009 Danny Espinosa USA SS
2010 Eury Perez World OF
Danny Espinosa USA INF
2011 Bryce Harper USA OF
Brad Peacock USA RHP
2012 Alex Meyer USA RHP
2013 A.J. Cole USA RHP
Taylor Jordan USA RHP
2014 Michael A. Taylor USA OF
Lucas Giolito USA RHP
2015 Lucas Giolito USA RHP
Trea Turner USA INF

Nationals reinstate RHP Stephen Strasburg, option RHP Joe Ross to Triple-A

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday and optioned right-handed pitcher Joe Ross to Triple-A Syracuse. Strasburg will start for the Nationals on Tuesday night vs. Atlanta.

Strasburg returns to the Nationals after missing 21 games due to neck tightness. The right-hander, who tossed 5.0 innings in his lone rehab start, with Double-A Harrisburg vs. Richmond on June 17, allowed one earned run off four hits and six strikeouts while on rehab assignment.

Strasburg was 3-5 with a 6.55 ERA in 10 starts prior to landing on the disabled list on May 30. A career 46-35, Strasburg has posted a 3.25 ERA in 119 Major League starts.

Ross, 22, went 2-1 in three starts during the first Major League assignment of his career. The rookie right-hander followed up his MLB debut by pitching into the eighth inning in back-to-back starts. Over the course of his call-up, Ross posted a 2.66 ERA and an 11.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio (23 SO/2 BB).

Max Scherzer earns NL Player of the Week award on heels of no-hit performance

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by Kyle Brostowitz

Following his first career no-hitter on Saturday — and on the heels of 18.0 consecutive scoreless, one-hit frames — Washington Nationals right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer earned the National League Player of the Week award on Monday. Major League Baseball made the announcement on MLB Network. 
 
ScherzerAwardIGScherzer did not allow a hit while striking out ten Pittsburgh Pirates en route to the second no-hitter in Nationals history (2005-present) and the fourth no-hitter in Washington D.C. baseball history. It was the second no-hitter in Major League Baseball this season. 
 
Scherzer was perfect through 8.2 innings before hitting Pirates’ pinch hitter Jose Tabata in the left elbow. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Major League Baseball no-hitter in which only one batter reached base, and did so on a hit-by-pitch, was thrown by Kevin Brown, June 10, 1997 at San Francisco.
 
Combining Saturday’s effort with his one-hit shutout on June 14 at Milwaukee, in which he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning, Scherzer has allowed just three baserunners (hit, walk, hit-by-pitch) while striking out 26 batters over his last two starts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Scherzer is the fifth pitcher in the Modern Era (since 1900) and the first since Jim Tobin (Boston Braves, 1944) to allow one hit or fewer in back-to-back complete games. 
This is the second Player of the Week award of Scherzer’s career. He also earned Player of the Week honors on June 24, 2013 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.
Scherzer, who took home NL Pitcher of the Month honors for May, joins Bryce Harper (May 11-17, 2015; May 18-24, 2015), Jordan Zimmermann (Sept. 22-28, 2014; June 2-8, 2014), Adam LaRoche (Sept. 1-7, 2014), Jayson Werth (June 30-July 6, 2014), Ryan Zimmerman (July 16-22, 2012; Aug. 15-21, 2011; July 30-Aug. 5, 2007), Stephen Strasburg (June 7-13, 2010), Josh Willingham (July 27-Aug. 2, 2009), Cristian Guzman (Aug. 25-31, 2008), and Nick Johnson (May 31-June 6, 2005) as honorees.

Nationals recall OF Matt den Dekker, place 1B Ryan Zimmerman on DL

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by Amanda Comak

​The Washington Nationals recalled outfielder Matt den Dekker from Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday and placed first baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list with left foot plantar fasciitis.

den Dekker, 27, joins the Nationals for the third time this season. A member of the Nationals’ Opening Day roster, den Dekker appeared in four games for the Major League team, going 0-for-2 in two at-bats off the bench. He was also added last week as the 26th man for the nightcap in the Nationals’ doubleheader split with Toronto, but he did not appear in the game.

In 47 games for Triple-A Syracuse this season den Dekker has hit .234 (41-for-175) with seven doubles, two home runs, 20 RBI, 16 walks and eight stolen bases.

Acquired from the New York Mets on March 30 in exchange for left-handed pitcher Jerry Blevins, den Dekker is a career .236 hitter with a .322 on-base percentage. He’s hit 12 doubles, one home run and 11 stolen bases in 84 Major League games (212 at-bats).

Zimmerman, 30, is hitting .209 with a .265 on-base percentage and a .346 slugging percentage through 56 games this season. He’s clubbed 12 doubles, one triple, five home runs, and driven in 34 runs.

Nationals Select Contract of RHP Joe Ross

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by Kyle Brostowitz

The Washington Nationals selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Joe Ross, optioned right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole to Triple-A Syracuse, and moved right-handed pitcher Craig Stammen to the 60-day disabled list on Saturday. President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcements.

 

                Ross, 22, joins the Nationals for his first Major League assignment after going 2-2 with a 2.81 ERA (16 ER/51.1 IP) in nine starts for Double-A Harrisburg. He has struck out 54 while allowing 46 hits and walking 12 over those nine starts. At the time of his promotion, Ross ranked among Eastern League pitchers in ERA (T10th, 2.81) and strikeouts (4th, 54). His 54 strikeouts led all Washington Minor Leaguers while his 2.81 ERA was good for fourth.

 

                Ross’ most impressive start of the season came on April 25 vs. Reading (PHI) when he struck out eight batters in 7.0 innings of two-hit, shutout ball in Harrisburg’s 7-4 win. In his most recent start on May 31 at Bowie (BAL), Ross allowed one earned run on three hits in 7.0 innings of work, striking out seven and not walking a batter in the 6-4 defeat.

 

Ross was acquired, along with a player to be named later, from the San Diego Padres in a three-team trade that sent outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and Minor League left-handed pitcher Travis Ott to the Tampa Bay Rays on December 18, 2014. He was originally selected by the Padres in the first round (25th overall) of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He is a native of Berkeley, California where he attended Bishop O’Dowd High School. Ross’ older brother, Tyson, pitches for the San Diego Padres.

 

                Prior to being acquired by the Nationals, Ross was rated by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in San Diego’s chain. He went a combined 10-6 with a 3.92 ERA in 23 games/22 starts between Single-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio in 2014. While with Lake Elsinore, he was named a California League mid-season All-Star and garnered California League Pitcher of the Week honors on May 5. He was promoted to Double-A in mid-July and, following the season, was rated by Baseball America as the No. 6 prospect in the Single-A California League.      

 

                Cole, 23, has appeared in three games for Washington (one start), notching one save in 9.1 innings of work.

 

Stammen, 31, was originally placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 15 with a right forearm strain. He was 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in five games (4.0 IP) prior to his injury. Since transitioning exclusively to relief work in 2012, the versatile righty is 17-12 with a 2.89 ERA in 167 games (246.1 IP) for the Nationals. ​

Nationals reinstate INF Anthony Rendon and recall RHP A.J. Cole, option RHP Taylor Jordan and INF Wilmer Difo

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by Kyle Brostowitz

The Washington Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated infielder Anthony Rendon from the 15-day disabled list and recalled right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday. They optioned right-handed pitcher Taylor Jordan to Triple-A Syracuse and infielder Wilmer Difo to Double-A Harrisburg.

Rendon, 24, missed the first 53 games of the 2015 season recovering from a left knee sprain, and then a left oblique strain. He returns to the Nationals’ active roster after eight total Minor League rehab games (five on his most recent assignment). Over the course of his rehab, Rendon hit .250 with three doubles, three RBI, three walks and one run scored in eight games for Double-A Harrisburg.

The Nationals’ first-round selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Rendon is coming off a superb 2014 season in which he took home the National League Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award for third basemen and finished fifth in the National League Most Valuable Player Award voting.

Rendon, who is an exceptional defender at second and third base, hit .287 with 39 doubles, six triples, 21 home runs, 83 RBI, 58 walks and 111 runs scored in 153 games in 2014. The gifted infielder ranked fourth in the Major Leagues (second in the NL) in wins above replacement (6.6), according to FanGraphs.com, at the conclusion of the season.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 23:  Anthony Rendon #6 of the Washington Nationals warms up before the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park on April 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Cole, 23, returns to the Nationals for his third Major League assignment of 2015. He has appeared in three games for the Nationals, recording his first career save on May 15 at San Diego. In six games for Triple-A Syracuse, he is 0-2 with a 3.26 ERA. Cole entered the 2015 season ranked as the Nationals’ No. 6 prospect, and the No. 91 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America.

Difo, 23, appeared in five games in his first big league assignment. The Nationals’ No. 7 prospect and “Best Defensive Infielder” in Washington’s system, according to Baseball America, went 1-for-5 during his call-up. He picked up the first Major League hit of his career in his first at-bat, a pinch-hitting appearance on May 19 vs. the New York Yankees.

Jordan, 26, appeared in two games for the Nationals during his second MLB stint of 2015. He went 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA, making one relief appearance and one start for Washington.

Nationals reinstate RHP Casey Janssen, place LHP Sammy Solis on 15-day DL

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated right-handed pitcher Casey Janssen on Friday and placed left-handed pitcher Sammy Solis on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 18, with left shoulder inflammation.

Janssen, 33, joins the Nationals’ active roster for the first time this season after missing the first 41 games with right shoulder inflammation. The eight-year Major League veteran, who signed with the Nationals this past February, made six rehab appearances between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. He allowed two earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched and held opponents to a .182 batting average.

No stranger to late-inning relief, Janssen brings 90 career saves to the Nationals’ bullpen. The right-hander is a career 29-24 with a 3.52 ERA in 493.0 innings pitched, including five consecutive Major League seasons with an ERA of 3.95 or lower.

In 2014, Janssen was 3-3 with a 3.94 ERA over 45.2 innings pitched. From 2011-2013, however, Janssen was 11-2 with a 2.46 ERA while appearing in 173 games (102 games finished), racking up 58 saves, 170 strikeouts, and posting a 0.977 cumulative WHIP over 172.0 innings pitched.  Before the All-Star break in 2014, Janssen was 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in 23 games (22 IP) with 14 saves.

Solis, 26, is 1-0 with a 5.00 ERA in five appearances. Called up for his first Major League assignment on April 29, Solis began his Major League career with six scoreless innings over three appearances, including his impressive Major League debut (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 K), vs. the New York Mets on April 30 at Citi Field.

Nationals RF Bryce Harper wins NL Player of the Week again

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by Amanda Comak

 

 Following an historically powerful week with an encore that continued to solidify his place among the game’s elite, Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper earned his second consecutive National League Player of the Week award on Monday. 

 

Harper went 12-for-23 (.522) over the last week, posting a .656 on-base percentage and a 1.087 slugging percentage, courtesy of two doubles, one triple, three home runs, nine RBI, nine walks, 10 runs scored and two stolen bases. In the month of May, Harper is hitting .411 with a .529 OBP and a .982 SLG. 

 

Since the inception of the award in 1974, the Nationals’ 22-year-old right fielder is just the 10th player in its history to take home back-to-back Player of the Week honors.

 

Harper joins Domonic Brown (2013: May 20-26; May 27-June 2), Andrew McCutchen (2012: July 2-8; July 9-15), Matt Kemp (2012: April 4-8; April 9-15), Troy Tulowitzki (2010: Sept. 6-12; Sept. 13-19), Jose Reyes (2006: June 12-18; June 19-25), Jason Bay (2006: May 15-21; May 22-28), Jeff Bagwell (1994: June 13-19; June 20-26), Tony Gwynn (1988: July 4-10; July 11-17), and Jason Thompson (1982: April 26-May 2; May 3-9) as consecutive winners

 

Breaking Harper’s splits down to just the last 11 games (since May 6), he is 22-for-39 (.564) with 22 RBI. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other player in the last 75 seasons to compile a batting average over .550 with at least 22 RBI in an 11-game span during a single season was Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker. Walker, who hit .571 with 22 RBI during 11 games in April, 1997, was the first to tally such gaudy numbers since Rudy York (.556, 26 RBI) did it for the Detroit Tigers in Sept. 1940.

 

Thanks to his torrid pace, Harper now leads the Major Leagues in the following categories: runs (36), RBI (37), walks (36), on-base percentage (.476), slugging percentage (.729), OPS (1.206), at-bats per home run (9.50), plate appearances per walk (4.72) and WAR (3.5 per Baseball Reference). He also leads the National League in home runs (14, 2nd in MLB) and intentional walks (5).


This is the second Player of the Week award of Harper’s careerfollowing last week’s honors, and the 13th such honor for the Nationals organization. 

 

He joins Jordan Zimmermann (Sept. 22-28, 2014; June 2-8, 2014), Adam LaRoche (Sept. 1-7, 2014), Jayson Werth (June 30-July 6, 2014), Ryan Zimmerman (July 16-22, 2012; Aug. 15-21, 2011; July 30-Aug. 5, 2007), Stephen Strasburg (June 7-13, 2010), Josh Willingham (July 27-Aug. 2, 2009), Cristian Guzman (Aug. 25-31, 2008), and Nick Johnson (May 31-June 6, 2005) as honorees.

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