Results tagged ‘ Billy Burns ’

Down on the Farm: The Rule 5 Draft

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by Noah Frank

One of the most confusing and misunderstood of all of baseball’s annual traditions took place last week at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel in Orlando. The Rule 5 Draft, the unofficial closing to baseball’s Winter Meetings, is a function of the Major League Baseball Players Association’s collective bargaining agreement that helps give players a chance with a new club if they meet certain eligibility requirements. Unlike the Rule 4 Draft (more commonly known as the First-Year Player Draft, which takes place each June), players are picked from other organizations in both a Major League and Minor League phase. You can learn more about the intricacies and minutiae of the proceedings in this handy FAQ.

farm graphicThe Nationals’ 40-man roster was already full heading into the draft, so they did not procure anyone in the Major League phase (though they saw catcher Adrian Nieto taken by the White Sox). They did, however, make a couple of acquisitions in the Minor League portion of the event, selecting outfielder Theodis (Theo) Bowe from the Cincinnati Reds and right-handed pitcher Martires Arias from the New York Mets.

Aside from his terrific name, Bowe brings both speed and defense as a center fielder. In essence, he helps replace Billy Burns, recently traded to Oakland for left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins. Bowe is one season removed from a 70-steal campaign, and at just 23 years of age, Nationals Director of Player Development Mark Scialabba hopes to get a look at what he might provide moving forward.

“Bowe is still a young, left-handed outfielder that possesses two plus tools in his speed and defense,” explained Scialabba. “We had good information on his makeup, skill set and the way he played the game. He will compete for a spot at Double-A Harrisburg.”

Finding Arias is a credit to Nationals Director of Player Procurement Kasey McKeon, who scouted him in the Dominican Republic earlier this year and recommended him for the Rule 5 Draft. Also 23 years old, the 6-foot-7 hurler reaches the mid-90s with his fastball, giving Scialabba and the Nationals’ staff another pitcher in the mold of many the organization has drafted in recent years.

“He’s another tall, power arm that we can add to our inventory and take on as a project,” Scialabba said. “We would like to see if we can make some adjustments to maximize his ability.”

Nationals acquire LHP Jerry Blevins from Athletics

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals acquired left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins from the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday in exchange for minor league outfielder Billy Burns.

Blevins, 30, has spent parts of the last seven seasons in the Athletics’ bullpen, where he’s worked to a career 3.30 ERA while averaging 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Working against both left-handed batters and right-handers, Blevins has thrown back-to-back 60-plus inning seasons (60 IP in 2013, 65.1 IP in 2012).

In 2013, Blevins held opponents to a .218 batting average against while possessing a 5.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio against left-handed batters in particular. Blevins also held opponents to just a .202 batting average in games away from the O.co Coliseum.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jerry Blevins to our bullpen,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “We look forward to him bolstering our depth in that unit.”

Burns, 24, was selected by the Nationals in the 32nd round of the 2011 draft out of Mercer University. A speedy outfielder, Burns stole a career-high 74 bases in 2013, between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg.

With the addition of Blevins, the Nationals’ 40-man roster is full.

MiLB Postseason Preview

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While the Major League club continues to fight its uphill climb toward the fifth and final postseason spot in the National League, the Washington Nationals Minor League system has combined to compile quite a year. Four of the six stateside affiliates clinched postseason spots, with one already taking home its league title.

After cruising through the regular season, the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals swept through the postseason to claim the GCL Championship on Sunday.

Rafael Bautista hit .322 and tied for the GCL lead with 26 stolen bases. (Cliff Welch/MiLB)

Rafael Bautista hit .322 and tied for the GCL lead with 26 stolen bases. (Cliff Welch/MiLB)

The GCL Nats, who set a Minor League Baseball record for the best domestic regular-season winning percentage (49-9, .845), defeated the GCL Pirates in a one-game semifinal on Friday, 6-1, to reach the best-of-three championship. On Saturday, they snatched a 10-3, come-from-behind win over the GCL Red Sox at the Washington Nationals Training Complex in Viera, then followed that with a 7-2 win, in Game 2 on the road in Fort Myers to earn the title.

The pitching staff, which led the league in ERA, WHIP and shutouts this season, compiled a 1.67 ERA through the playoffs, led by righty Wander Suero and southpaw Hector Silvestre. Suero tossed five solid innings in the clincher, allowing just one run on one hit with seven strikeouts, while Silvestre shut down the Pirates in the semifinal with six shutout innings in which he allowed just one hit and struck out seven.

Offensively, the GCL Nats showed pop in all three playoff games, but impressively used an eight-run outburst in the seventh inning of Game 1 of the Championship Series to erase a 3-0 GCL Red Sox lead. Randy Encarnacion collected five hits, four runs scored and five RBI throughout the three-game postseason run, while Drew Ward added four hits, three runs and four RBI.

The Nationals have three other playoff-bound affiliates remaining, with the Low-A Hagerstown Suns, High-A Potomac Nationals and Double-A Harrisburg Senators and each headed for the postseason.

South Atlantic League First Half Northern Division Champion Hagerstown (80-57) will take on the West Virginia Power (Pirates) in a best-of-three series, where the Suns will have the home-field advantage for the final two games. The series opens Wednesday at 7:05 p.m., while the Augusta GreenJackets (Giants) and Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) battle for the Southern Division title.

Two Hagerstown representatives earned SAL All-Star honors in second baseman Tony Renda and Manager Tripp Keister. Renda leads the league in games played (134), at-bats (517), doubles (43) and runs scored (99). Keister is in his first season with the Suns after helming the GCL Nationals last year. Both were also named as midseason All-Stars.

Potomac (84-55) claimed both first- and second-half Carolina League Northern Division titles and will face the Lynchburg Hillcats (Braves) in a best-of-three set starting Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. at Pfitzner Stadium. By virtue of winning both halves, the P-Nats will enjoy home-field advantage for all three games of the series, should a third game be necessary. The winner will take on either the Salem Red Sox or Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Rangers) in the best-of-five Mills Cup Championship Series.

The Harrisburg Senators will begin postseason play on Wednesday. (Will Bentzel)

The Harrisburg Senators will begin postseason play on Wednesday. (Will Bentzel)

Potomac righty reliever Robert Benincasa and outfielders Michael Taylor and Billy Burns were chosen as year-end Carolina League All-Stars. The trio ties the P-Nats with the Carolina Mudcats (Indians) for most representatives on the roster. Benincasa has registered 25 saves in 26 chances between Hagerstown and Potomac this season, logging a 3.54 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 28.0 innings since his promotion in June. Taylor leads the league in doubles (39) and extra-base hits (55) and has also fired 20 outfield assists this season. Burns, who was recently promoted to Harrisburg, led the Carolina league in batting average (.312) and steals (54) in 91 games.

Burns and Harrisburg (77-65) will face the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers) in the first round of the Eastern League playoffs, as the Senators wrapped up their Western Division title with a 1-0 shutout Monday. They will play in a best-of-five set starting Wednesday, and the winner will advance to the Eastern League Championship series for another best-of-five showdown with either the Binghamton Mets or Trenton Thunder (Yankees).

The Senators feature a dynamic starting rotation, headlined by righthanders Nathan Karns and A.J. Cole, and rising lefty Robbie Ray. Karns, who made his Major League debut in May, went 10-6 with a 3.26 ERA and 155 strikeouts in 132.2 innings this year for Harrisburg. Cole, acquired from Oakland prior to the season, had a terrific finish in Double-A after starting the season in Potomac. He went 4-2 in seven starts for the Senators, compiling a 2.18 ERA and 0.904 WHIP in 45.1 innings of work. The 21-year-old Ray capped off a breakthrough campaign with an 11-5 record across two levels, striking out a system-high 160 batters in 142 innings.

To catch all the Nationals Minor League postseason action streaming online, click here for gameday audio listings.

What to Watch for: Rat Pack Night

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Atlanta Braves (69-45) vs. Washington Nationals (54-59)

RHP Kris Medlen (8-10, 3.85) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (13-6, 3.06)

As music has become an increasingly popular element of baseball – from the pregame play list during batting practice to the players’ walk up songs – we have decided to incorporate different musical themes throughout the season. Motown Monday made its debut earlier this year, and tonight the Nationals will be celebrating the music of the Frank, Dean and Sammy. That’s right, it’s Rat Pack Night in The District. Check out which Rat Pack classics your favorites players will be walking out to tonight:

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span, CF: Come Fly With Me by Frank Sinatra

2. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B: Summer Wind by Frank Sinatra

3. Bryce Harper, LF: Luck Be a Lady by Frank Sinatra

4. Jayson Werth, RF: My Way by Frank Sinatra

5. Adam LaRoche, 1B: I Get a Kick Out of You by Frank Sinatra

6. Ian Desmond, SS: The Best is Yet to Come by Frank Sinatra

7. Anthony Rendon, 2B: Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra

8. Wilson Ramos, C: Mambo Italiano by Dean Martin

9. Jordan Zimmermann, RHP: Ain’t That a Kick in the Head by Dean Martin

THE BENCH:

Roger Bernadina: Send Me the Pillow You Dream On by Dean Martin

Scott Hairston: That Old Luck Sun by Dean Martin

Steve Lombardozzi: Back In Your Own Backyard by Sammy Davis Jr.

Chad Tracy: They Can’t Take That Away From Me by Frank Sinatra

Kurt Suzuki: In the Misty Moonlight by Dean Martin

THE BULLPEN:

Fernando Abad: Sway by Dean Martin

Tyler Clippard: That’s Life by Frank Sinatra

Ian Krol: Chicago, My Kind of Town by Frank Sinatra

Ryan Mattheus: When The Feeling Hits You by Sammy Davis Jr.

Tanner Roark: I Should Care by Sammy Davis Jr.

Rafael Soriano: Dancing in the Dark by Frank Sinatra

Craig Stammen: Love and Marriage by Frank Sinatra

SERIES-LY SPEAKING

Nine of the 12 games between the Nationals and Braves in 2013 have been decided by two runs or less. In 2012, the Nationals (98-64) claimed their first NL East flag over the 94-win Braves and finished ahead of Atlanta in the NL East standings for the first time since 1994. Washington is 3-1-1 in season series play against the Braves dating to 2008.

CLIP AND SAVE

On June 25, 2009 vs. Boston, Tyler Clippard made his MLB debut as a reliever and struck out a pair in 2.0 innings of work. Since his debut, Clippard leads the majors in relief strikeouts with 420:

1. Tyler Clippard (Washington) 420

2. Carlos Marmol (CHI – LAD) 396

3. Jonathan Papelbon (BOS – PHI) 373

TOPPS FOR JULY

Nationals Minor League outfielder Billy Burns, recently promoted to Double-A Harrisburg, was named the Carolina League’s Topps Player of the Month for July. Over the course of 24 contests in July, Burns hit .359 with eight walks, six hit-by-pitches, five doubles, three triples, 16 runs scored, 10 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts. Burns logged an on-base percentage of .443 and a slugging percentage of .478, compiling a .922 OPS. Originally selected in the 32nd round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Burns departed the Carolina League as the circuit leader in stolen bases (51), OBP (.417), and triples (9).

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