Results tagged ‘ First-Year Player Draft ’

Nationals Select UNLV’s Fedde

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by Mike Feigen

The Washington Nationals finished off a three-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday afternoon, then added to their deep farm system with the selection of pitcher Erick Fedde with the 18th overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

Fedde, a 6-foot-4, 180 pound right-hander out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, compiled an 8-2 record with a 1.76 ERA in 11 starts for the Rebels in 2014, striking out 82 batters and walking just 21 batters in 76.2 innings pitched. He was named to the All-Mountain West First Team and also earned 2014 Mountain West Conference Pitcher of the Year honors.

“We’ve scouted him intensely over the last three years,” Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo said, noting Fedde’s competitiveness on the mound. “He’s got two plus-plus pitches, and his third pitch, a change-up, is on the come. We think that’s going to be an above average pitch.”

The 21-year-old, who played at Las Vegas High School with Bryce Harper in 2009, underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on Tuesday. Rizzo said that the team is excited about Fedde’s potential, despite the injury.

“[Erick is a] big, physical guy — we had him toward the top of our draft board,” Rizzo said. “We felt that the risk of him rehabbing and coming back to pre-injury form was worth the draft pick.”

Assistant General Manager & Vice President of Scouting Operations Kris Kline was also sold on Fedde’s pedigree and repertoire.

“I actually saw his first start of the year at UNLV and it was really, really good,” Kline said. “I walked out of there thinking that we’ve got no shot at getting this player, because he was a top-five type guy. He doesn’t throw anything straight … a lot of life, very heavy, above average slider up to 88 [miles per hour] and the makings and flashes of an above-average change-up.”

Following a year in which the Nationals did not have a first-round selection, the Nationals will look to extend their impressive run of successful first round picks since Rizzo was promoted to the team’s GM post in 2009. Fedde joins Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Harper, Anthony Rendon and Lucas Giolito as first-round draft selections in Washington during Rizzo’s tenure.

Rizzo said the Nationals’ medical team has been in touch with the doctors who performed Fedde’s surgery, and assuming Fedde signs with the organization this summer, the team will at that point take over the rehabilitation process.

“We’ll put him in the Viera [Fla.] rehab mode,” Rizzo said. “We’ll have our really talented rehab coordinators get after it and allow him to hopefully be pitching at this time next year somewhere.”

[UPDATE]

With their second round selection at No. 57 overall, the Nationals tabbed Andrew Suarez, a 6-foot-2 left-hander out of the University of Miami. Suarez, 21, went 6-3 with a 2.95 ERA in 2014, walking a minuscule 15 batters in 109.2 innings of work for the Hurricanes.

The draft is set to continue with rounds three through 10 on Friday and rounds 11 through 40 Saturday.

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.”

Top 10 List

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The 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft concludes Saturday with rounds 11-50 taking place this afternoon. On Friday, the Nationals completed the first 10 rounds of selections, snagging eight amateur players to join their second-round selection Jake Johansen, who was taken on Thursday night. Here is a brief overview of the first 10 rounds of Washington’s latest draft class.

RD.   PICK        NAME                     POS.      HT.      WT.      B-T        SCHOOL

2       68            Jake Johansen      RHP       6’6”      235      R-R        Dallas Baptist

3       105           Drew Ward           3B        6’4″      210      L-R        Leedy (OK) HS

4       136           Nicholas Pivetta    RHP      6’5″      210      R-R        New Mexico JC

5       166           Austin Voth         RHP      6’2″      210      R-R        U. Washington

6       196          Cody Gunter         3B        6’3″      195      L-R        Grayson Cnty (TX) JC

7       226          James Yezzo         1B        6’1″      190      L-R        U. Delaware

8       256          David Napoli          LHP       5’10”      180      R-L        Tulane (LA)

9        185         Jake Joyce             RHP      6’0″      185      R-R        Virginia Tech

10      316         Brennan Middleton  SS      6’0″      185      R-R        Tulane (LA)

Check out our detailed report of Johansen, who took no time at all in becoming the first player of the draft class to sign with the club. In the meantime, here’s more on some other notable names on the list. Drew Ward is a unique case, having graduated high school early to make himself Draft eligible after what would have been his junior year. Already 6’4”, 210 pounds at just 18 years of age, the Oklahoma University commit is the highest position player selected by Washington this year.

The Nationals also selected a pair of junior college pitchers as well as a pair of Tulane University teammates on the second day of the Draft. But perhaps the player who stands out the most from the college ranks is seventh-rounder James Yezzo, a left-handed hitting first baseman who becomes the first player selected out of the University of Delaware since 2010. Yezzo led the Colonial Athletic Conference in a host of offensive categories on his way to Conference Player of the Year honors and a first-team All-American selection by Louisville Slugger.

The 2013 First-Year Player Draft concludes Saturday night while the Nationals are taking on the Twins.

Another Arm in the Stable

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When fans of teams other than the Nationals think of Washington’s recent First-Year Player Draft history, they tend to focus on the pair of No. 1 overall picks, Stephen Strasburg from 2009 and Bryce Harper a year later.

However, Nationals fans know as well as anyone how important the second round of the draft can be. They drafted Jordan Zimmermann in the second round in 2007 out of little-known Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and two years later found another big leaguer in the recently promoted Jeff Kobernus. When their first pick came around at No. 68 this year, took the route they traveled six years ago, again daring to dream on a powerful, right-handed arm from a small school in Jake Johansen, a 6-foot-6 hurler out of Dallas Baptist University.

Johansen gives the Nationals another powerful, right-handed arm.

Johansen gives the Nationals another powerful, right-handed arm. (Paul Metzgar/Dallas Baptist)

There were differing opinions of Johansen from the draft experts, but ESPN’s resident guru Keith Law had the Allen, Texas native ranked 63rd on his board heading into Thursday night. The Nationals liked what they saw, especially Director of Scouting Kris Kline, who watched Johansen pitch twice in games this year before inviting him to a workout in D.C. earlier this week.

“This is what we seek when we go out to the ballpark every day,” said Kline of finding a player like Johansen among the countless hours of driving around the country scouting amateur players.

Kline does not like to make Major League comparisons when discussing draft selections, but he conceded that Johansen’s arm action and delivery very were similar to that of Josh Beckett, another hard-throwing Texan.

With a fastball that can top out in triple digits, Johansen’s upside is obvious. Kline says he usually sits around 94 with his fastball, which is complemented by a pair of breaking balls – a hard cutter/slider that he throws around 88-90 and a curveball. Kline suggests that the former is already an out pitch, but sees both developing as the Nationals coaching staff gets a chance to work with him.

“There’s no reason why, with a few tweaks from our staff, this guy can’t be a front-line guy,” said Kline, who went on to compare him to Washington’s first selection in last year’s draft. “If you put him next to (Lucas) Giolito, you’ve got some pretty good-looking bookends.”

Of course, the Nationals had the different experience of patiently sitting through more than four hours of proceedings before they could finally make their pick. While that’s a good thing in the larger view of it all – drafting later means you’re performing better on the field at the Major League level – it was nonetheless a relief to finally be able to choose the player they hoped would be available after all that time.

“I’m glad he fell into our laps at 68,” said Kline. “When I called him up, I said, ‘Are you as excited as I am? I’ve been waiting all night for this.’”

The 2013 First-Year Player Draft continues Friday at 1 p.m. with selection number 74. The Nationals next selection does not come until the 105th pick.

Down on the Farm: Brian Goodwin

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Of all the names you may hear tossed around in association with the Nationals this offseason, one is of particular interest. In the midst of the potential free agent singings and the large number of returning players on the Nationals roster, few will have as much impact on the decisions made regarding the future of the Washington outfield as a young man who will not turn 22 for another couple of weeks. Perhaps you’ve already heard of Brian Goodwin, but it is safe to say that you will hear much more in the weeks, months and, hopefully, years to come.

Alex Meyer (left) and Anthony Rendon (center) with fellow 2011 draftee Brian Goodwin.

Most Nationals fans have only seen Goodwin once, as one of the two short-in-comparison draftees smiling in the shadow of Alex Meyer at a press conference at Nationals Park last summer. Goodwin is actually 6’1” and a shade under 200 pounds, a left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing outfielder with the defensive tools to project as a Major League-caliber center fielder. Goodwin began his 2012 campaign at Low-A Hagerstown before skipping a level and finishing at Double-A Harrisburg, a very advanced level for a 21 year-old position player. He swatted 26 doubles, launched 14 home runs and stole 18 bases in 100 total games, posting a combined .280/.384/.469 slash line in his first year of professional ball, showing the promise that made him the 34th overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

Now Goodwin is showcasing his talents in the Arizona Fall League with fellow farmhands like Anthony Rendon, the third member of that draft class photo. Goodwin blasted his team-leading third home run in just eight games for the Salt River Rafters, where he has posted an encouraging early line of .294/.368/.618 while playing against some of the premiere prospects in the game. He reached base four times in Tuesday’s game, thanks to three hits, including that third home run.

Baseball America had Goodwin ranked as the number five prospect in the Nationals system going into last winter, behind only Bryce Harper, Rendon, Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole. In fact, Aaron Fitt and the BA staff stated that Goodwin “has the tools to be an impact center fielder who hits in the top third of a big league lineup.” It was high praise for a player yet to appear in his first professional game, but he has done nothing to dissuade anyone of that projection to date.

With Harper’s ascension to the Major Leagues coupled with Peacock and Cole’s departure in the Gio Gonzalez trade, one figures Goodwin will find himself battling it out with Rendon (who missed a good portion of the 2012 season with an ankle injury) for the organization’s top prospect rank heading into next year. His continued success in the AFL would certainly help those chances, and offer him an opportunity to compete not just with the great talent in the Washington system, but the cream of the crop from around the game.

Weekly Review (6/18)

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Here at Curly W Live, we will be conducting a weekly review every Tuesday of all the storylines from the week that was. If you’re new to the site or have just been too busy to stay current with all the day-to-day action, this is your way to get caught up on everything going on with the team.

The Nationals enjoyed a rare mid-homestand off day, as they prepared for their final six games of Interleague Play for the 2012 season. With the break in the action, we took the time to fill you in on some of the top signees out of this year’s First-Year Player Draft. As Washington prepared to host the Rays in the opener of a three-game set on Tuesday, we reflected upon the striking similarities between this year’s Nationals club and Tampa Bay’s 2008 edition. Once the dust had settled from a 5-4 Nationals loss on Tuesday, the team rebounded with an athletic performance that led to a 3-2 victory on Wednesday. The Nationals then went out and won the battle of rookies named Moore, taking the series with a 5-2 triumph on Thursday.

From there, Washington traveled to the Beltway to the north for a rematch with the Orioles. The Nats couldn’t get much going against Jason Hammel on Friday night, falling 2-1 in the series opener. They rebounded behind Edwin Jackson, who took a perfect game into the fifth inning, in a 3-1 victory on Saturday to set up a second consecutive series to be decided by a pivotal rubber game. After leading 1-0 much of the way, the Nationals were unable to get the ball to Tyler Clippard for the ninth, as the Orioles rallied in the eighth for their second 2-1 victory of the series.

Mon: OFF

Tue vs. TAM: L, 4-5

Wed vs. TAM: W, 3-2

Thu vs. TAM: W, 5-2

Fri @ BAL: L, 1-2

Sat @ BAL: W, 3-1

Sun @ BAL: L, 1-2

Weekly Record: 3-3

Names and Numbers

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With 40 rounds and over 1,000 picks, the MLB First-Year Player Draft can be confusing to follow. That was even more the case for the Nationals this season considering first-round pick Lucas Giolito joins current starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez, and second-round selection Tony Renda shares nearly the same name with 2011 first-rounder Anthony Rendon. If that wasn’t enough, third-rounder Brett Mooneyham was selected fresh out of Stanford University, while Brandon Miller, the player the Nats selected next, set numerous records in his time as a power hitter for… wait for it… Samford University.

To help clear it all up here is a more detailed look at those who signed from the Nationals top 10 selections.

Tony Renda: 2B, University of California, Berkeley

Renda, the Nationals second-round selection, was a junior playing second base for the University of California, Berkeley Golden Bears. Where he truly excels, however, is at the plate.

“In our opinion, Tony has the quickest bat in the draft,” Nationals Director of Scouting Kris Kline said of Renda immediately after the organization selected him.

Brandon Miller, the Nationals fourth-round pick. (Caroline Summers/Samford University)

This season, Renda had a .342 batting average, five home runs, and 27 RBI. As a sophomore in 2011, he was named Pac-10 player of the year, and was selected as one of 50 players on USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award Watch list as the nation’s top amateur baseball player. Look out for Renda’s performance with the Short-Season Auburn Doubledays, as he takes his first step on the long ladder of professional baseball.

Brandon Miller: OF, Samford University

The Nationals selected Samford University’s school record-setting alumnus, Brandon Miller, with their fourth-round pick. In the 2008 draft, the Red Sox picked Miller, a high school senior at the time, in the 33rd round. A true power hitter in college, Miller led the nation with 23 home runs this season, and was 15th with 65 RBI.

Miller “has middle of the lineup power,” said Nationals Area Supervisor Eric Robinson. “[He] reminds me of our own Tyler Moore.”

Washington took Spencer Kieboom in the fifth round. (Rex Brown/Clemson University)

Spencer Kieboom: C, Clemson

Spencer Kieboom (KEE-boom), a duel citizen of the US and the Netherlands, was the Nationals’ fifth-round selection. He struck out only 17 times in 204 at-bats this season. Kieboom was named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List in both 2011 and 2012, and was an All-ACC Academic Team member in 2011. After signing with the Nationals, Kieboom sent the following thank you message to his fans on Twitter:

“These past three years at Clemson have been some of the best years of my life, Clemson baseball is and always will hold a special place in my life. I wouldn’t have traded these past three years for anything.”

Hayden Jennings, OF, Evangel Christian High School (LA)

While Jennings may not have had the same hype as Bryce Harper did going into the draft, he is another left-handed hitting outfielder who just happens to share the exact same birthday as Harper. Jennings hails from Shreveport, LA and the 19 year-old was set to head to LSU this fall until he signed with the team a week ago. Last Thursday, he was sitting at his kitchen table surrounded by his parents and three sisters, when he officially inked his deal with the Nats. Jennings joins the Nationals after leading Evangel Christian High School (LA) to a state championship during his junior season in 2011. He was named the Shreveport Times All-City Player of the Year and Class 2A Most Outstanding Player as a senior this season.

Derek Self, a senior out of Louisville, went in the ninth round. (University of Louisville)

Derek Self: RHP, University of Louisville

Derek Self was the Nationals ninth-round pick out of the University of Louisville, where he pitched for four years. In his first three seasons with the Cardinals, Self had a 14-3 record in 70 appearances (15 starts). Following his junior season, Self was taken in the 27th round by the Oakland A’s, but opted to head back to school for his senior year, where he led the team with seven saves in 26 appearances out of the bullpen. While he started the 2012 season as the Cardinals set-up man, he eventually took over as the closer. In 2009, Self pitched the final three innings in Louisville’s College World Series Regional win over Middle Tennessee State, where he threw 27 of 29 pitches for strikes.

Craig Manuel: C, Rice University

Craig Manuel comes to the Nationals from Rice University, where he was the second of eight Owls selected in the 2012 Draft. This past season he was on the national watch list for the Johnny Bench Award as the best Division I catcher. In his four years with the Owls, Manuel led his team to four straight Conference USA Championships, four NCAA appearances and was error free in 463 attempts. But it wasn’t just behind the plate that Manuel excelled. He finished his collegiate career with a .291 batting average and 100 RBI in 209 career games.

“I think he’s one of the top catchers in Division I, and he may be one of the best situational hitters in college baseball,” Manuel’s Head Coach at Rice, Wayne Graham said.

Nationals Announce Draft Signings

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The Nationals announced today that they have signed 23 of their 40 selections in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, including 10 of the top 14. The complete Draft list is below, with signed selections in bold. For detailed scouting reports on the Nationals top 10 selections, click here.

RD PICK PLAYER POS B/T HT WT DOB SCHOOL
1 16 Lucas Giolito RHP R/R 6’6 230 7/14/94 Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
2 80 Tony Renda 2B R/R 5’8 180 1/24/91 University of California-Berkeley
3 111 Brett Mooneyham LHP L/L 6’5 235 1/24/90 Stanford University (CA)
4 144 Brandon Miller OF R/R 6’2 215 10/8/89 Samford University (AL)
5 174 Spencer Kieboom C R/R 6’1 220 3/16/91 Clemson University (SC)
6 204 Hayden Jennings CF L/L 6’1 170 10/16/92 Evangel Christian Academy (LA)
7 234 Robert Benincasa RHP R/R 6’1 180 9/5/90 Florida State University
8 264 Stephen Perez SS S/R 5’11 175 12/16/90 University of Miami (FL)
9 294 Derek Self RHP R/R 6’3 205 1/14/90 University of Louisville (KY)
10 324 Craig Manuel C L/R 6’1 205 5/22/90 Rice University (TX)
                 
11 354 Brian Rauh RHP R/R 6’2 200 7/23/91 Chapman University (CA)
                 
12 384 Carlos Lopez 3B R/R 6’2 220 1/18/90 Wake Forest University (NC)
                 
13 414 Elliott Waterman LHP L/L 6’5 230 11/24/90 University of San Francisco
                 
14 444 Jordan Poole RF R/R 6’3 210 9/11/91 Chipola Junior College (FL)
15 474 Brandon Smith CF R/R 6’3 195 5/1/94 Woodbridge HS (CA)
16 504 Ronald Pena RHP R/R 6’4 210 9/19/91 Palm Beach State College (FL)
                 
17 534 Blake Schwartz RHP R/R 6’3 200 10/9/89 Oklahoma City University
                 
18 564 David Fischer RHP R/R 6’5 200 4/10/90 University of Connecticut
                 
19 594 Bryan Lippincott 1B L/R 6’3 210 9/26/89 Concordia University (MN)
                 
20 624 James Brooks SS R/R 6’1 185 10/12/88 University of Utah
                 
21 654 Austin Chubb C R/R 6’1 220 4/17/89 Florida Southern College
                 
22 684 Will Hudgins RHP R/R 6’4 200 2/12/90 University of Notre Dame
                 
23 714 Casey Selsor OF L/L 6’1 190 2/23/90 University of Texas-San Antonio
                 
24 744 Kevin Dicharry RHP R/R 6’4 200 11/27/89 University of Texas
25 774 Freddy Avis RHP R/R 6’2 195 11/3/93 Menlo HS (CA)
26 804 Skye Bolt CF S/R 6’1 170 1/15/94 Holy Innocents Episcopal HS (GA)
27 834 Cody Poteet RHP R/R 6’1 183 7/30/94 Christian HS (CA)
28 864 Hunter Bailey SS R/R 6’1 180 5/17/89 Oklahoma State University
                 
29 894 Leonard Hollins RHP R/R 6’3 185 7/31/91 Chipola Junior College (FL)
30 924 Robert Orlan LHP R/L 6’1 200 9/28/90 University of North Carolina
31 954 Michael Boyden          RHP R/R 6’1 180 6/18/90 University of Maryland
32 984 Michael Mudron LHP L/L 5’11 190 2/4/90 California State San Bernardino
33 1014 Mike McQuillan 2B L/R 5’11 175 10/2/89 University of Iowa
34 1044 Jake Jefferies 2B S/R 6’1 180 8/7/93 Foothill HS (CA)
35 1074 Cory Bafidis LHP L/L 6’1 190 8/22/90 Texas Wesleyan University
36 1104 Max Ungar C R/R 6’3 200 8/10/94 Charles E. Smith Jewish School (MD)
37 1134 Tyler Watson LHP L/L 5’11 160 6/9/93 Georgetown HS (TX)
38 1164 Jared Messer RHP R/R 5’11 185 7/14/91 Malone College (OH)
39 1194 Mitchell Williams C L/R 5’10 186 8/16/94 Coosa HS (GA)
40 1224 Ricky Gutierrez CF R/R 6’1 170 2/15/93 American Senior HS (FL)

Weekly Review (6/4)

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Here at Curly W Live, we will be conducting a weekly review every Tuesday of all the storylines from the week that was. If you’re new to the site or have just been too busy to stay current with all the day-to-day action, this is your way to get caught up on everything going on with the team.

Monday brought with it the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, in which Washington snagged prep right-hander Lucas Giolito with the 16th overall pick. Meanwhile, the Nationals returned home as they continued their stretch of 33 straight games versus east division opponents with a three-game set against the New York Mets. The teams went extra innings on Tuesday, as Ian Desmond became the first player since Cincinnati’s Art Shamsky in 1966 to tie a game three separate times in the 8th inning or later before Bryce Harper hit the first walk-off by a teenager since 1988 in a 7-6, 12-inning win. On Wednesday, Adam LaRoche homered in the first inning on his way to a four-RBI night in support of Edwin Jackson, as the Nationals won their second series in as many tries against the New York National League Ballclub. The Mets bounced back on Thursday behind a sparkling performance by knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to salvage the final game of the set, 3-1.

Washington then hit the road for just the club’s second visit to Fenway Park in team history since the move from Montreal. Friday night, the Nationals recorded their first-ever win in Boston, using a superb team effort to back a 13-strikeout performance from Stephen Strasburgon the two-year anniversary of his Major League debut – in a 7-4 victory. The team struck early on Saturday, jumping out to a four-run lead early, then hanging on late for a 4-2 victory thanks to some solid work by the bullpen. The Nationals then capped off the week with a Sunday victory for just their second full-series sweep of the year, as Tyler Clippard recorded his third save in as many days in a 4-2 final.

Mon: OFF

Tue vs. NYM: W, 7-6 (12)

Wed vs. NYM: W, 5-3

Thu vs. NYM: L, 3-1

Fri @ BOS: W, 7-4

Sat @ BOS: W, 4-2

Sun @ BOS: W, 4-3

Weekly Record: 5-1

What A Difference A Day Makes

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The Washington Nationals head into a three-game series in Boston Friday night in a situation that surprises many on the outside of the baseball world. The Nationals reside in first place in the NL East, while the Red Sox pull up the rear of the AL East, albeit with a winning record of 29-28. Peripheral fans, who see Boston as a perennial playoff contender and winner of two of the last eight World Series, and the Nationals as a franchise with no winning seasons under its belt, might feel that the natural order of the game has been turned on its head this season. But really, that transformation began exactly two years ago, in what may arguably have been the most significant 24-hour period in the history of the young Washington franchise.

Bryce Harper has been one of the biggest stories of the 2012 season.

The first round of Major League Baseball’s 2010 First-Year Player Draft was televised on MLB Network, beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, June 7. The number one overall pick had been preordained for months, as the Nationals had made clear their intentions to select 17 year-old catcher/outfielder Bryce Harper out of Southern Nevada College, much the same way they had taken San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg with the first selection the year prior. They did so just a few minutes after 7 o’clock, and so began this defining 24-hour stretch.

Fittingly, Strasburg – after overwhelming batters at each of his Minor League stops – had been summoned to make his Major League debut the very next day. He took the field in front of more than 40,000 raucous fans at Nationals Park and turned in a performance for the ages, striking out 14 Pittsburgh Pirates, including the last seven batters he faced that night, to set a new franchise record.

24 hours after Harper was drafted, Strasburg took the baseball world by storm.

While it was just a single game, and Harper was still unsigned, seemingly several years away from the Major Leagues, there was good reason to hope for a bright future as a Nationals fan.

Fast-forward two years, and here we stand, with Harper having just recorded his first Major League walk-off (and the first by a teenager since 1988), and Strasburg putting up All-Star-caliber numbers atop the rotation. It is only fitting that the two phenoms take their show on the road this weekend to one of baseball’s most hallowed grounds, Fenway Park, where Strasburg will face the Red Sox for the first time in his career Friday night.

It is amazing to think what a difference two years makes, but perhaps more so, the difference those pivotal 24 hours made – from a few minutes after 7:00 p.m. on June 7 to the same time on June 8, two years ago.

Meanwhile, Strasburg, Harper and the first-place Nationals will take the field a few minutes after 7:00 p.m. Friday night (7:10, to be exact), seeking their first-ever win at Fenway.

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