by Matt Laux
The Washington Nationals and Harris Teeter teamed up to host their annual Food Drive at Nationals Park on Aug. 2 and 3, benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB). Over the two-day span, the Food Drive collected a record total of 8,331 lbs. of food for the CAFB, which assists roughly 500,000 children, seniors and families struggling with hunger in the Washington metro area each year.
The first day of the Food Drive began extra early as the team accepted donations prior to the Nationals Season Plan Holder Event. As volunteers opened for business, they eagerly anticipated the possibility of surpassing last year’s 3,854-pound first-day total. The exceptional turnout aided in the 4,879 pounds donated. The event’s success continued on Day Two, as the Nationals and Harris Teeter received another 3,452 pounds in donations.
Fans who contributed three or more non-perishable food items earned two tickets to one of two future Nationals games, while supplies lasted. Additionally, the first 1,000 fans to donate three or more Harris Teeter Private Label canned goods each day of the drive were rewarded with $5 in Nats Bucks.
The campaign began in earnest on July 8, when relief pitchers Jerry Blevins and Craig Stammen worked with the Jubilee Housing Teen Renaissance at CAFB’s Kid’s Cafe. Blevins, Stammen and the children made “1-2-3 Salsa,” a healthy, budget-friendly snack, while raising awareness for the August Food Drive.
On top of the Food Drive, fans were able to donate at their local Harris Teeter stores. While this year’s total is still being counted, Harris Teeter raised an additional 2,145 pounds last year. Harris Teeter is also a proud supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project, as well as the Together In Education program.
The Washington Nationals are honored to sponsor the DC Public Library’s Summer Reading program. And as part of that sponsorship, Denard Span, Drew Storen, Scott Hairston and Matt Williams were at local libraries on Saturday morning to read to kids.
The Nationals are honored to be a part of this program, and Span, Storen, Hairston and Williams were thrilled to participate. Here are a few photos from the events:
The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with 24 players selected in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.
Here’s a rundown of the latest players to join the Nationals organization (signed players in bold):
RD PICK PLAYER POS SCHOOL
1 (18) Erick Fedde RHP University of Nevada-Las Vegas
2 (57) Andrew Suarez LHP University of Miami (FL)
3 (93) Jakson Reetz C Norris (NE) High School
4 (124) Robbie Dickey RHP Blinn (TX) Junior College
5 (154) Drew Van Orden RHP Duke (NC) University
6 (184) Austen Williams RHP Texas State University
7 (214) Dale Carey CF University of Miami (FL)
8 (244) Jeff Gardner LF University of Louisville (KY)
9 (274) Austin Byler 1B University of Nevada-Reno
10 (304) Matthew Page RF Oklahoma Baptist University
11 (334) Weston Davis RHP Manatee (FL) High School
12 (364) Domenick Mancini RHP Miami (FL) Dade CC
13 (394) Austin Davidson 3B Pepperdine (CA) University
14 (424) James Bourque RHP University of Michigan
15 (454) Ryan Ripken 1B Indian River (FL) State Junior College
16 (484) Cole Plouck LHP Pima (AZ) Community College
17 (514) Alec Keller CF Princeton (NJ) University
18 (544) McKenzie Mills LHP Sprayberry (GA) High School
19 (574) Clay Williamson RF Cal State – Fullerton
20 (604) Bryan Langlois RF Pepperdine (CA) University
21 (634) Connor Bach LHP Virginia Military Institute
22 (664) Daniel Salters C Dallas (TX) Baptist University
23 (694) Chris Riopedre SS East Tennessee State University
24 (724) Kyle Simmons RHP Texas Lutheran University
25 (754) Kyle Bacak C Texas Christian University
26 (784) Chase McDowell RHP Rice (TX) University
27 (814) Conor Keniry SS Wake Forest (NC) University
28 (844) Kida De La Cruz RHP Volunteer State (TN) CC
29 (874) D.J. Jauss RHP University of Massachusetts
30 (904) Tyler Mapes RHP Tulane (LA) University
31 (934) Samuel Johns RHP University of Evansville (IN)
32 (964) Elliott Cary CF Clackamas (OR) High School
33 (994) Clay Casey CF DeSoto Central (MS) High School
34 (1024 Evan Skoug C Libertyville (IL) High School
35 (1054) Tommy Doyle RHP Flint Hill (VA) School
36 (1054) John Henry Styles LHP Episcopal (TX) High School
37 (1114) Quinn Brodey LHP Loyola (CA) High School
38 (1144) Stuart Fairchild RF Seattle (WA) Prep
39 (1174) John Littell OF Stillwater (OK) High School
40 (1204) Jacob Hill LHP Orange Coast (CA) CC
The 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft continued with rounds 3-10 Friday afternoon. Here’s a look at Washington’s seven selections:
At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Reetz is known as a hard-nosed competitor and a tremendous athlete behind the plate. He was named the 2013-14 Gatorade Nebraska Baseball Player of the Year after hitting .487 with eight home runs, 37 RBI and 37 runs scored in 2014. Reetz was rated by Baseball America as the No. 62 overall draft prospect (No. 1 in Nebraska) in this year’s draft class. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Nebraska. When he inked with the Cornhuskers, he was rated the No. 28 overall recruit in the country, and was named a 2013 Perfect Game First-Team Underclass All-American.
Nationals Assistant GM & VP of Scouting Operations Kris Kline: “We’re very excited (about Reetz). He’s a high school catcher that we love. Power bat, (and) he’s got a great feel to hit. Catching skills are maybe a tick better than (Oakland A’s catcher and former Nationals prospect) Derrick Norris at the same time. We have the right people to help him progress in that area. I think you’re looking at an offensive catcher at the big-league level down the road.”
Robert Dickey – Right Handed Pitcher – Blinn (TX) Junior College / Austin, TX – 4th Round (124th overall)
Dickey helped lead Blinn Junior College to its first Junior College World Series since 1992, going 9-4 with a 2.74 ERA (26 ER/85.1 IP) in 14 starts for the Buccaneers. He struck out 100 batters while walking just 44. Entering the season, he was rated by Perfect Game USA as the No. 1 overall junior college prospect in the nation. He’s noted for strong makeup and mound presence. He signed a National Letter of Intent with Texas State University.
National/Midwest Crosschecker Jimmy Gonzales: “Robert is very excited to be a National. He’s a strong right-handed pitcher. Great body, great character, plus fastball and a solid curveball. We feel he’s going to be a starter. He expressed a lot of interest in wanting to play for us.”
At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Van Orden leans on his fastball and slider command to get batters out. He ranked 6th in the Atlantic Coast Conference in strikeouts (91) and paced the Blue Devil staff in innings pitched (87.1), strikeouts and games started (14). Van Orden went 6-5 with a 3.19 ERA (34 ER/87.1 IP) while allowing opposing hitters to post a .219 average against him in 15 games/14 starts during his senior season. He was selected to the ACC All-Tournament Team after tossing his first career shutout in Duke’s 6-0 win over Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament.
Austen Williams – Right Handed Pitcher – Texas State University / Fort Worth, TX – 6th Round (184th overall)
Williams was named All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team after finishing third in the conference in strikeouts (96) and tied for third in wins (8). Standing 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Williams was 8-3 with a 3.65 ERA (40 ER/98.2 IP) in 15 starts for the Bobcats. He struck out 96 batters and hitters posted a .239 batting average against him.
Dale (D.K.) Carey – Center Fielder – University of Miami (FL) / Marietta, GA – 7th Round (214th overall)
Carey is seen as a plus defender and is considered one of the best pure athletes in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. He stands 6-foot-2, weighs 207 pounds, and ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in runs scored (53), as well as ranking fourth in hits (75). On the season, he led the Hurricanes in hitting .305 (75-for-246) and doubles (16) while clubbing seven home runs, 29 RBI and 16 stolen bases. Carey was named Second-Team All-ACC following the 2014 season.
Kris Kline: “Dale was a kid we felt, when he was young, that he was going to be a really good player. He struggled throughout college a bit. We noticed that he simplified his approach, he slowed the game down. He’s a really good defender — throws well, runs well. It’s been encouraging to see him progress to the point to do what we feel he is capable of doing. We’re very excited to have him as part of our system.”
A three-time All-Conference selection (Big East/American Athletic Conference) throughout his career, Gardner was named the 2014 AAC Player of the Year after hitting .326 with 20 doubles, nine home runs and leading the league with 67 RBI and a .551 slugging percentage. He was a two-time AAC Player of the Week and was recently named a Collegiate Baseball Louisville Slugger Second Team All-American.
Austin Byler – First Baseman – University of Nevada-Reno / Peoria, AZ – 9th Round (274th overall)
Byler, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound first baseman, led the Mountain West Conference and ranked seventh in NCAA Division 1 with 14 home runs. He also led the MWC in slugging percentage (.624) and total bases (138), while ranking fourth in on-base percentage (.420), runs scored (51) and fifth in RBI (47). Byler was a First Team All-Mountain West selection and a two-time MWC Player of the Week. He hit .326 with 14 doubles, five triples, 14 home runs, 47 RBI and 51 runs scored in 57 games this season.
Matt Page – Left Fielder – Oklahoma Baptist University / Redwood City, CA – 10th Round (304th overall)
Page was a two-time NAIA First-Team All-American, two-time Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Year as well as the 2013 NAIA Player of the Year. Standing 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Page hit .381 with 26 doubles, six triples, 11 home runs, 84 RBI and 78 runs scored in 64 games played in 2014. His 26 doubles were second-most in NAIA, while his 84 RBI were good for third.
For more on who the Nationals selected in the first and second rounds, click here.
The 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft will conclude on Saturday.
by Amanda Comak
It wasn’t long after Matt Williams was named the Washington Nationals manager last fall before he began to figure out where his help might be needed most in the D.C. community. Little more than a month after he was appointed as the fifth field manager in Nationals history, Williams found himself enjoying lunch at the Red Porch on a cool day among men with whom he shared an interest: teaching the game of baseball.
Williams welcomed a group of District of Columbia Public Schools varsity baseball coaches to Nationals Park that day, and talked with them about the challenges they face in trying to foster the game in the District.
A few months later, each coach received a letter from Williams.
“As a leader of a team, I am aware of the challenges that you face as a coach,” Williams wrote to each coach. “While neither I, nor the Washington Nationals, will have a solution to all of your struggles, I am interested in helping you achieve success.
“One of the challenges that resonated with me during our question-and-answer session was your need for baseballs. Therefore, I’d like to give you 30 practice baseballs for your team’s use during the remainder of this season. Hopefully these baseballs will be of help to you and your kids.”
Last week, as a follow-up to that first meeting, a group of those same coaches enjoyed the Nationals game against the Marlins.
“They’re teaching our young baseball players how to play the game and it’s hard for them to have support,” Williams said last week. “There’s very little funding. They work long hours. They have to find places to practice and they have to find baseballs, so I’m helping them do that. I just want to help them coach and help them teach.”
Williams, who made good on his promise and donated 30 practice baseballs to each team, welcomed the coaches onto the field during batting practice. He set each coach and an assistant up with tickets to the game, and offered each $20 in Nats Bucks to use within the ballpark that night.
“At times, coaching may feel like a thankless job,” Williams wrote. “However, as mentors to student-athletes, you have a sizable impact on these kids’ lives. I am incredibly grateful for the time and energy that you commit to the youth in our community.”