Results tagged ‘ Erik Davis ’

One Good Ross Deserves Another

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The Nationals were expecting a lift from a player named Ross in this Colorado series, but it came a day earlier than anticipated. With the club slated to get Ross Detwiler back off the Disabled List on Thursday, it was Ross Ohlendorf – summoned from Triple-A Syracuse for a spot-start against a strong Rockies lineup at Coors Field – who provided an enormous performance Wednesday night.

Ohlendorf allowed just a single run on two hits over six innings of work as the Nationals emerged with a 5-1 victory to get back to the .500 mark at 32-32. The right-hander had enjoyed recent success at Syracuse, where he compiled a 1.56 ERA and 27 strikeouts over his final 17.1 innings of work. But his performance against the Rockies exceeded all reasonable expectations.

Ross Ohlendorf delivered a huge performance Wednesday night.

Ross Ohlendorf delivered a huge performance Wednesday night.

“I’ve been feeling really good all season,” said Ohlendorf, who has experienced a spike in his velocity and has seen his slider improve lately. “It’s the best I’ve felt in a long time.”

Ohlendorf had not pitched at Coors Field since July 28, 2010, when he was a member of the Pirates. With two outs in the first inning of that contest, Troy Tulowitzki ripped a liner back up the middle and off Ohledorf’s head, knocking him out of the ballgame. Nearly three years later, Ohlendorf took control in Denver.

“He used all his pitches, he went right after them,” said Davey Johnson when asked the most impressive aspect of the right-hander’s performance. “That ain’t easy in this ballpark.”

Johnson went on to indicate what the club made official today, that Ohlendorf’s tenure with the Nationals would last longer than just last night’s six sparkling innings.

“I’m going to try to find a way to keep him around,” Johnson said.

As Detwiler returns for Thursday’s start, the Nationals chose instead to option right-handed reliever Erik Davis to Triple-A Syracuse, where he will be available when the big league team again needs his services. Meanwhile, Ohlendorf will remain as the long man and emergency starter out of the Washington bullpen, giving the Nationals a Major League first.

With Detwiler’s activation, the Nationals become the first Major League team to ever employ a pair of players named Ross (though Ohlendorf’s first name is actually Curtis – Ross is his middle name). But that’s not the first bit of MLB history the two Ross’s have made. Detwiler’s first Major League start came at home against Pittsburgh on May 18, 2009, where he was opposed by none other than Ohlendorf, making them the first two players named Ross ever to face-off against one another in the Majors.

What to Watch for: 6.8.13

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Minnesota Twins (26-31) vs. Washington Nationals (29-30)

RHP Kevin Correia (5-4, 4.09) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.64) 

After two rainouts, the Nationals are ready to get back on the field as they welcome the Minnesota Twins to Washington for the first time since 1971 in the first of a three-game set. Exactly a week after his last start in Atlanta where he received a no decision, despite only allowing one run on three hits, Gio Gonzalez takes the mound again, looking to replicate his stellar performance.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Rendon 2B

7. Bernadina LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

YOUTH IS SERVED HERE

At the completion of play on June 4, the Nationals had the fourth-youngest 25-man roster in Major League Baseball with an average age of 28.11 years. When combining each team’s active roster and Disabled List, Washington is tied for the second-youngest MLB roster at 27.74 years. Of the 32 players either on the Nationals active roster or DL, nine are aged 25 or younger: Nathan Karns (25), Wilson Ramos (25), Drew Storen (25), Steve Lombardozzi (24), Stephen Strasburg (24), Jeff Kobernus (24), Anthony Rendon (23), Ian Krol (22), Bryce Harper (20).

THE NEWEST NEOPHYTE NATIONAL

Ian Krol struck out three (Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Lucas Duda) during a scoreless sixth inning in an impressive MLB debut for the Nationals on Wednesday. vs. NYM. Krol became the fifth Nationals to make an MLB debut this season. Krol joined Anthony Rendon (April 21 at NYM), Jeff Kobernus (May 25 vs. PHI), Nathan Karns (May 28 vs. BAL) and Erik Davis (June 2 at ATL) on this list. Only three teams in MLB have had more players make MLB debuts this season: Cardinals (7), Marlins (6), Twins (6).

SAINT ANTHONY

Anthony Rendon was selected by the Nationals two years (June 6, 2011) with the sixth overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Rice University. During a pair of big league stints, Rendon has played in nine games for the Nationals this season. The only other position player from the ‘11 Draft to have played in more MLB games is Boston’s Jackie Bradley, Jr. (19).

Highlights: 6.2.13

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6.2.13 – Braves 6, Nationals 3

Stat of the Game: Ian Desmond had two hits, including his seventh home run of the season.

Under-the-Radar Performance: In his Major League debut, Erik Davis retired all five batters he faced, including a pair of strikeouts.

It Was Over When: Freddie Freeman missed a grand slam by inches, but padded the Atlanta lead with a two-run double.

What to Watch for: 6.1.13

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Washington Nationals (28-27) vs. Atlanta Braves (32-22)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.90) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (4-4, 5.37)

The Nationals snagged the series opener for their third consecutive win over the Braves at Turner Field with a 3-2 victory Friday night. Tonight, they’ll send Gio Gonzalez to the mound, who notched a 2.48 ERA over his five May starts. The Braves will counter with Tim Hudson, who is 0-3 with an 8.69 ERA (19 ER/19.2 IP) over his last four outings.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi LF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Bernadina RF

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

IMPRESSIVE STAMMEN-A

Craig Stammen picked up the win last night with a career-high 4.0 perfect relief innings, in which he fanned three and retired all 12 batters faced. No reliever in Nationals (‘05-present) history has ever faced as many batters in an appearance without allowing a baserunner. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last reliever in Nationals/Expos franchise history to pitch 4.0 or more innings without allowing a baserunner was Sun-Woo Kim (13 batters in 4.1 IP) on May 10, 2004 vs. Kansas City. The longest such relief appearance in franchise history was posted by Jackie Brown (18 batters in 6.0 IP) on May 21, 1977 vs. San Diego.

WINNING MAY

The Nationals went 15-13 in May, which was no small feat considering they played 18 of their 28 games on the road. Dating to September 2011, the Nationals have played winning baseball in eight of the last nine months. Adam LaRoche led the way for the Nationals in nearly every offensive category, including average (.330), on-base percentage (.416), slugging percentage (.608), walks (15), hits (32), home runs (seven) and RBI (19).

GETTING THE CALL

The Nationals recalled right-handed pitcher Erik Davis from Triple-A Syracuse, who has pitched in 167 games over six Minor League seasons, but is wearing a Major League uniform for the first time. After going 8-3 with a 2.71 ERA and 74 strikeouts against 20 walks in 73.0 innings between Double-A Harrisburg and Syracuse last season, Davis was added to the 40-man roster this offseason. He went 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA (8 ER/24.0 IP) and 27 strikeouts with the Chiefs prior to his call-up.

Down on the Farm: Erik Davis

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Before we get too deep into our next Down on the Farm report, let’s explain the significance of the recent roster designation of a couple players. Both Erik Davis as well as Nathan Karns, who we profiled last week, were added to the Nationals 40-man Roster, guaranteeing them an invitation to Major League Spring Training in February. In the meantime, though, the moves had a more immediate purpose: they protected the two players from potentially being snagged away by another club in the Rule 5 Draft, an annual ritual which took place Thursday morning in Nashville.

For those not well versed in this process, allow us to explain how the process works, and why it can be a very big decision. The Rule 5 Draft stands in contrast to the Rule 4 Draft, which takes place in June and is more commonly referred to as the First-Year Player Draft. It is a process in which any Minor League player who was 18 years or younger when drafted who has accumulated four years of service time (or 19 and up at time of selection with three years service) becomes eligible to be taken by other teams. However, that team must keep said player in the Major Leagues for the entire season to follow, or else the player is returned to his original team. Due to that requirement, in the last 60 years, a range of just three to 24 players has been taken per year.

Davis was recently added to the Nationals 40-man Roster.

Davis was recently added to the Nationals 40-man Roster. (Will Bentzel/Harrisburg Senators)

So why does all of this matter? Well, both Davis and Karns are Rule 5 eligible, so the Nationals added them to the 40-man Roster in order to protect them. That means they are safely in the farm system for another year, and each could be called up to the Major Leagues at any time without making a 40-man roster move. For Karns, who topped out at High-A last year, that possibility may seem more remote for the 2013 season. But for the 26 year-old Davis, who put up impressive numbers at Double-A in 2012, it could mean much more.

We spoke recently with Harrisburg Senators Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations Terry Byrom, who shed some light on the skill set Davis brings to the diamond. A former starter who throws downhill with a great off-speed pitch and a solid curveball, he has drawn some comparison to current Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard. But Byrom had another member of the Washington bullpen in mind.

“I would say at this point that he and Christian Garcia are very similar,” he explained. “Garcia probably has better stuff, but I’m not sure I would say it’s a lot better. Erik’s stuff is good enough to play in the big leagues, absolutely, no doubt about it. He could make that roster out of Spring Training.”

Those are likely reassuring words for Davis, who saw Garcia’s ascent first-hand, both as a teammate and a roommate at various stops in the minors. And with Washington still sorting out its final bullpen spots for 2013, Byrom’s projection is not such a stretch. Given the organization’s track record of converting starters into quality relief arms once they reach higher levels of the Minor Leagues (see: Clippard, Craig Stammen, Zach Duke), there is no reason to believe Davis couldn’t follow the same path.

“I think that’s something that the Nationals have been incredibly successful at,” said Byrom, who has seen many of those pitchers make their way through Harrisburg. Especially the Minor League (instructors), they do a really good job of migrating guys from starting roles.”

After shining in Double-A, Davis was even more impressive in the Dominican Winter League.

After shining in Double-A, Davis was even more impressive in the Dominican Winter League. (Will Bentzel/Harrisburg Senators)

Once a promising starting prospect in the Padres organization, Davis won 16 games for Low-A Fort Wayne back in 2008, and owns a career Minor League record of 45-24. The former 13th-round selection out of Stanford was acquired prior to the 2011 campaign for infielder Alberto Gonzalez, and ran into his first trouble as a starter, going just 5-12 between two levels of Washington’s farm system.

After that disappointing 2011 season, Davis moved to the ‘pen and rebounded with a very strong 2012 campaign. In 40 relief appearances with Double-A Harrisburg, Davis went 7-3 with five saves and a 2.52 ERA (18 ER/64.1 IP), striking out 69 while walking just 18 and stranding 20 of 25 inherited runners. He was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse for a short stint in August, but might have put up his most impressive showing in the Dominican Republic this fall. Pitching for Los Gigantes del Cibao, Davis went 3-0 with a 0.47 ERA, holding opponents to a .149 batting average while fanning 19 in 19.0 innings pitched. Davis credited a greater comfort in his second season with the Nationals as a reason for his improved numbers.

“When you go into a new system, obviously it’s a good thing because they traded for you, so that means they want you,” he explained. “But it’s tough not to put extra pressure on yourself to go out and do more than you’re capable of.”

Given a second chance to make a first impression, Davis has made the most of it. And despite a longer road than he may have initially expected, pitching in the Major Leagues is as close a reality as it has ever been before.

“I have the same goal with the Nationals that I did with the Padres,” he said. “I still haven’t really accomplished that goal of getting there and staying there.”

Byrom believes Davis’ continued improvement is certainly possible given his talent, and explained that if the pitcher can maintain his big league work ethic in 2013, it could very well lead to big league results.

“If he chooses to put the time and effort into it, I think that Erik Davis is going to be a guy that pitches for a long time in the bullpen in the Major Leagues.”

Down On The Farm: Nathan Karns

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If you follow the Nationals Minor League system at all, the name Nathan Karns probably sounds familiar. Often the subject of our in-park Down on the Farm reports during the 2012 season, the tall right-hander worked his way from the bullpen to the starting rotation, then impressed enough to earn a mid-season promotion to a higher level, where he continued to succeed. When the dust had settled on his campaign, he was awarded the Nationals Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award for his efforts.

Karns was promoted mid-season and continued to shine at High-A Potomac. (Gary Dize/MiLB.com)

Karns was promoted mid-season and continued to shine at High-A Potomac. (Gary Dize/MiLB.com)

As a result, Karns was one of two players (along with fellow hurler Erik Davis) that the Nationals added to the 40-man roster last week. We will get into more detail about the particulars of that designation next week in advance of the Rule V Draft, but suffice it to say that the organization has liked the early returns from Karns thus far in his professional career.

At 6’5”, 230 pounds, Karns has the big, projectable pitching body type that makes scouts drool. Originally drafted in 2009, Karns fell to the 12th round and got hurt before ever pitching as a professional, requiring labrum surgery in his throwing shoulder that cost him his entire 2010 season. As a result, he did not begin his journey into the professional ranks until 2011 at age 23, where he put up some silly numbers in Rookie Ball (two hits, six walks and 26 strikeouts in 18.2 scoreless innings pitched) and continued to find success despite some wildness following a promotion to Short-Season Auburn.

Karns visited Nationals Park to receive his Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.

Karns visited Nationals Park in September to receive his Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.

The Texas Tech product, who turned 25 earlier this week, expanded upon the success he found at the lower levels of the system in 2011, enough to earn Baseball America’s designation as the number 15 prospect in the Carolina League this season. This year, Karns amassed an 11-4 record and a 2.17 ERA (28 ER/116.0 IP) over 24 appearances (18 starts) between Low-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac. While many numbers pop off the stat sheet – anything from his 1.01 WHIP to his 148 strikeouts in just 116 innings – perhaps the most impressive one has been the Texan’s ability to keep the ball in the ballpark. In 171.1 total innings as a professional, Karns has allowed just three home runs, or less than one for every 57 innings of work. Even Gio Gonzalez, who was the best qualifying starter in the Majors at limiting the longball, allowed nine in 199.1 innings, a rate more than two-and-a-half times as great as Karns.

The good news is that even areas of potential weakness improved this season for Karns. There were concerns about his control in college, where he averaged about 6.0 walks per nine innings over his last two years in Lubbock. The right-hander improved slightly in his first season as a pro (5.4 BB/9.0 IP), then lowered his walk rate to 3.6 – a 33 percent drop – this season. Factor in higher strikeout totals, and Karns made a significant jump from a modest 1.79 to a commendable 3.15 K/BB rate.

Karns’ strength lies in his best two pitches, a fastball that sits in the low 90s and can touch 96, complemented by a swing-and-miss, plus breaking ball which he will showcase at his next likely stop, Double-A Harrisburg. He will need to continue to develop his off-speed pitch there to give himself three plus pitches, the full arsenal to progress to the highest level of the game in a starting role.

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