Results tagged ‘ Lucas Giolito ’

Spring Training Preview: Starting Pitchers

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This spring, 63 players — each member of the Nationals’ 40-man roster, plus 23 additional non-roster invitees — will vie for the 25 spots on Dusty Baker’s Opening Day ball club. Over the next week, we will introduce these players in their position groups, beginning today with starting pitchers.

SPRING TRAINING NATIONALS

March 5 – Starting Pitchers

March 6 – Relief Pitchers

March 7 – Catchers

March 8 – Infielders

March 9 – Outfielders

A.J. COLE

2015 Season Totals: 5.79 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 8.68 K/9, 0.96 BB/9, .394 BABIP, 0.1 fWAR

A highly-regarded right-handed pitching prospect, Cole saw his first Major League action in 2015. He opened the season with Triple-A Syracuse before being recalled to Washington on April 28 to make his MLB debut that night against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Cole later rejoined the Nationals in mid-May and made two relief appearances, converting his first save May 15 at San Diego. The Winter Springs, Fla. native went 5-6 with a 3.15 ERA in 21 games (19 starts) for Syracuse.

GIO GONZALEZ

2015 Season Totals: 3.79 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 8.66 K/9, 3.54 BB/9, .341 BABIP, 3.7 fWAR

Entering his fifth season in Washington, Gonzalez will look to improve upon his stellar 53-34 record as a member of the Nationals’ organization. The affable southpaw induced a career-high 53.8 percent ground ball rate in 2015, but was also stung by a .341 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). A correction to previous levels could be a key indicator for Gonzalez’s success in 2016, as his previous Nationals high was just .294 prior to last season.

TAYLOR JORDAN

2015 Season Totals: 5.29 ERA, 2.90 FIP, 5.82 K/9, 3.18 BB/9, .333 BABIP, 0.3 fWAR

Jordan, a local product out of Merritt Island High School and Brevard County Community College, enters the 2016 season looking to catch the eye of new manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach Mike Maddux. The 6-foot-5 sinkerball specialist appeared in nine games (six starts) for the Nationals over the past two seasons, after earning nine starts and posting a 3.66 ERA over 51.2 innings in 2013. Jordan put together 19 solid outings at the Triple-A level a season ago, contributing a 2.95 ERA.

TANNER ROARK

2015 Season Totals: 4.38 ERA, 4.70 FIP, 5.68 K/9, 2.11 BB/9, .292 BABIP, -0.2 fWAR

One of the game’s biggest success stories in 2013 and 2014 when he compiled a 22-11 record with a 2.57 ERA, Roark will battle in Spring Training to return to the Nationals’ starting rotation on a full-time basis. The 29-year-old appeared in 40 games in 2015 (12 starts), picking up his first career save with a scoreless ninth inning on May 4 against the Miami Marlins. Roark had his best stretch of the season from July 25 to August 11, holding his opponents scoreless with a .103 batting average over six games.

JOE ROSS

2015 Season Totals: 3.64 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 8.10 K/9, 2.47 BB/9, .265 BABIP, 1.4 fWAR

Ross burst onto the scene for the Nationals in early June, making the leap from Double-A Harrisburg to the big leagues and holding his own at the highest level. Still just 22 years of age, the big right-hander posted historic numbers in his first seven starts, recording 47 strikeouts against just four walks in 45 innings pitched. Ross finished his rookie campaign with a 5-5 record and a 3.64 ERA over 16 games in Washington (13 starts), plus 2-2 with a 2.81 ERA in Double-A and 3-1 with a 2.19 ERA in Triple-A.

SPRING TRAINING NATIONALSMAX SCHERZER

2015 Season Totals: 2.79 ERA, 2.77 FIP, 10.86 K/9, 1.34 BB/9, .268 BABIP, 6.4 fWAR

No hurler had ever authored two no-hit performances as dominant as the pair Scherzer turned in this past season, as the right-hander etched his name in the history books. Between his performances on June 20 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and October 3 against the New York Mets, Scherzer fired 18 no-hit innings, walked no opposing hitters and struck out 27. For the year, the first-year National compiled an 8.12 strikeout-to-walk ratio, the fifth-best mark in MLB history for a pitcher with 200 strikeouts.

STEPHEN STRASBURG

2015 Season Totals: 3.46 ERA, 2.81 FIP, 10.96 K/9, 1.84 BB/9, .311 BABIP, 3.4 fWAR

Strasburg recovered from early ankle and back ailments to deliver one of baseball’s best second-half performances, building momentum toward the 2016 campaign. Over his last 13 starts, Strasburg compiled an 8-2 record with a 1.76 ERA, held opponents to a .175 batting average and recorded a 112-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 82 innings. He enters the season just two strikeouts shy of Jordan Zimmermann’s team record and just 99 punchouts from the 1,000 mark for his career.

 

NON-ROSTER INVITEES

BRONSON ARROYO… 39-year-old veteran right-hander has 145 victories and a World Series ring.

PAULO ESPINO… Panamanian righty posted a 3.21 ERA in 117.2 IP for Triple-A Syracuse in 2015.

LUCAS GIOLITO… Nats’ consensus top prospect split time between Single-A and Double-A last season.

TAYLOR HILL… Made 22 starts for Triple-A Syracuse and added six relief appearances in Washington.

AARON LAFFEY… Southpaw has pitched in the Major Leagues for CLE, SEA, NYY, TOR, NYM and COL.

AUSTIN VOTH… 23-year-old righty with a 2.70 career ERA in three Minor League seasons.

 

Six Nationals prospects among Baseball America’s Top 100

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by Kyle Brostowitz

farm graphicIndustry expert Baseball America released its 2015 Top 100 Prospect list on Thursday night and the Washington Nationals placed six prospects on that list. They were tied with the Cubs and Diamondbacks with six, and behind only the Mets (7) and Red Sox (7) for the most in Major League Baseball.

Below is a quick look at the Nationals prospects represented on this year’s Top 100 list:

No. 7 – RHP Lucas Giolito

Giolito jumped from No. 21 in the 2014 ranking all the way into the Top 10 thanks to a stellar 2014 campaign, and for the second straight season, he is ranked as the top prospect in the Nationals system. Giolito was named the 2014 Washington Nationals Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 10-2 with an organizational-best 2.20 ERA in 20 starts for Single-A Hagerstown. He was selected to represent the Nationals in the 2014 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Minneapolis. His 110 strikeouts were fifth-best among Nationals farmhands.

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals - Game TwoNo. 32 – OF Michael A. Taylor

Taylor was absent from the 2014 Top 100 list but catapulted to No. 32 after a breakout 2014 season that included his Major League debut. He has always boasted advanced defensive skills, but showed his ability at the plate last season. He began the season with Double-A Harrisburg before being promoted to Triple-A Syracuse on Aug. 2 and was summoned to D.C. on Aug. 12 for his big league debut. He posted his first hit (second-inning single off Rafael Montero) and home run (sixth inning, two-run, off Carlos Torres) in his MLB debut, Aug. 12 at New York. At the top two levels of Washington’s chain, he ranked among system leaders in batting (fourth, .304 AVG), home runs (second, 23) & stolen bases (third, 37). Following the season, he was ranked by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Eastern League. Along with Giolito, Taylor was selected to play in the Sirius-XM All-Star Futures game in Minneapolis.

No. 49 – RHP Reynaldo Lopez

Like Taylor, Lopez was unranked prior to the 2014 season, but went 7-3 with a 1.08 ERA in 16 starts between Short-Season Auburn and Single-A Hagerstown to vault into the top 50 in all of baseball. From July 9 through the end of the season, a span of 10 starts (55.0 IP), Lopez allowed just one earned run (a solo home run) while holding opposing batters to a .126 average. Following the season, he was rated by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in the South Atlantic League and the No. 2 prospect in the New York-Penn League.

No. 90 – RHP Erick Fedde

Fedde was the Nationals’ first-round selection (18th overall) in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft after going 8-2 with a 1.76 ERA (15 ER/76.2 IP) and 82 strikeouts in 11 starts for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in 2014. He was named the 2014 Mountain West Pitcher of the Year. Fedde underwent “Tommy John” ligament replacement surgery in mid-May, but remains ranked as the No. 4 prospect in Washington’s system.

Washington Nationals v St Louis CardinalsNo. 91 – RHP A.J. Cole

In his second season in the organization, after returning in 2013, Cole took the next step in his development, going 13-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 25 combined starts between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse. He ranked among Nationals farmhands in wins (tied, first), strikeouts (tied, third) and ERA (fourth), and his 13 wins marked a career high. Cole was a non-roster invitee to 2014 Spring Training and did not allow a run in three Grapefruit League contests (6.2 IP, 5 H, 7 K).

No. 96 – RHP Joe Ross

Ross came to the Nationals’ chain from San Diego in the three-way deal that sent OF Steven Souza Jr. and LHP Travis Ott to Tampa Bay. Prior to being traded to the Nationals, Ross was rated by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in San Diego’s chain. In 2014, 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. While with Lake Elsinore, he was named a California League mid-season All-Star. He was promoted to Double-A in mid-July. Following the season, he was rated by Baseball America as the No. 6 prospect in the Single-A California League.

Wilmer Difo named South Atlantic League MVP; Lucas Giolito named Most Outstanding Pitcher & Top Prospect

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by Amanda Comak

Two more Washington Nationals prospects earned end-of-year accolades on Thursday with the South Atlantic League announcing Single-A Hagerstown infielder Wilmer Difo as the league’s Most Valuable Player and right-hander Lucas Giolito the league’s Most Outstanding Pitcher and Most Outstanding Major League Prospect. Additionally, Suns center fielder Rafael Bautista was named to the SAL post-season All-Star team and Single-A Potomac manager Tripp Keister was named the Carolina League Manager of the Year.

Difo, a mid-season SAL Northern Division All-Star and post-season All-Star second baseman, currently leads or is tied for the league lead in hits (174) and total bases (257). Hitting .321 this season, good for sixth in the league among qualifiers, Difo has worked to a .366 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging percentage for the Suns.

The 22-year-old native of the Dominican Republic is among the SAL leaders in RBI (88, third), stolen bases (49, second), runs scored (90, tied for second), extra-base hits (50, fourth) and most plate appearances per strikeout (9.55, fifth).

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game - World Team v United StatesGiolito, ranked by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect in all of baseball at mid-season, went 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA for the Suns in 20 games this season. Over 98.0 innings he allowed 28 runs (24 earned) on 70 hits, including seven homers. Giolito, the Nationals’ first-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, walked 28 and struck out 110.

The 20 year old was named the SAL Pitcher of the Week on two occasions this season and represented the Nationals at the Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game, along with outfielder Michael A. Taylor, in Minneapolis in July.

Bautista, like Difo, was named to the mid-season Northern Division All-Star team as well. The 21-year-old currently leads the league in stolen bases (66), and is tied with Difo for second in runs scored. Bautista is hitting .283 this year with a .337 on-base percentage and .373 slugging percentage. His 66 stolen bases are a Suns single-season record since the team has been a member of the South Atlantic League.

Keister managed Potomac to the first- and second-half Northern Division titles, clinching the second-half crown on Wednesday night. With a 75-55 record this season, Potomac will host Game 1 of the Northern Division Championship Series on Sept. 3 at Pfitzner Stadium.

Nationals Minor League Report

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Welcome back to the 2014 Minor League Report, a comprehensive collection of notes from the Washington Nationals PR staff that highlights the outstanding performers in the Nationals’ Minor League system through the last few weeks.

Here are the top headlines:

TOP PERFORMER: LUCAS GIOLITO —  In four starts dating to July 25, RHP Lucas Giolito is 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA (3 ER/22.0 IP). He has tallied 24 strikeouts while allowing just 12 hits and three walks, with opponents hitting just .160 against him over that stretch. Following his start on July 25 vs. Kannapolis (CWS), Giolito was named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week, the second time he’s earned the honor in 2014. Despite making just 19 starts this season, Giolito ranks second among Nationals farmhands and fourth in the SAL with 105 strikeouts. All told this season, the 2012 first-round pick is 9-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 starts, all for Single-A Hagerstown. He falls just short of qualifying to be among the SAL leaders in ERA, WHIP (0.98) and AVG (.188).

LAIRD LEADS — With the promotions of Steven Souza Jr., and Michael A. Taylor3B Brandon Laird has stepped up to lead the Triple-A Syracuse offensive attack. Laird is 14-for-34 (.412) with seven doubles, three home runs, 13 RBI and six runs scored over the last eight games. Syracuse has gone 6-2 over that stretch. On the season, the 26-year-old is hitting .316, second-best among Nationals farmhands and fifth-best in the International League. He also leads Syracuse’s active roster with 29 doubles and 14 home runs.

Below is the full report. To view this report on your full screen, please click the icon in the bottom right corner of the notes.

Enjoy!

Nationals Named in Top 5 Under 25

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by Amanda Comak

Spring Training is the season of prospect lists. Industry insider Baseball America comes out with theirs, ESPN.com with their own, Baseball Prospectus chimes in, and MLB.com posts their updated rankings of the best up-and-coming talent in baseball in their Top 100 prospects, as well as organizational rankings.

farm graphicAs has been the case for the previous several years, the Washington Nationals are often viewed very favorably in those rankings as they continue, under President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo, to stockpile top young talent through the First-Year Player Draft and various trades.

But those lists usually focus on the still-developing talent in the Minor Leagues.

This week, Baseball Prospectus released its list of “25-and-under talent rankings,” a compilation of each organization’s best talent born after March, 1988 and a fascinating look at an organization’s youth and depth — even when that talent has already reached the Major Leagues.

“It’s hard enough to analyze immature and still-developing talents in their own context, but it’s even more demanding to compare those future Major Leaguers with the models they are aiming to become,” wrote Jason Parks in his introduction to the rankings. “It’s a thankless task that can get lost in the shuffle of the team prospect fury, but the compiled Under-25 lists are excellent snapshots of organizational health, at least as far as young, promising talent is concerned.”

The Nationals were ranked No. 2 in all of Major League Baseball.

From the article:

1. Stephen Strasburg (25)
2. Bryce Harper (21)
3. Lucas Giolito (19)
4. Anthony Rendon (23)
5. A.J. Cole (22)
6. Brian Goodwin (23)
7. Taylor Jordan (25)
8. Michael Taylor (22)
9. Jake Johansen (23)
10. Jefry Rodriguez (20)

Made MLB Debut? 4
Farm System Ranking: 18
Top 10 Prospects: RHP Lucas GiolitoRHP A.J. Cole, CF Brian Goodwin, CF Michael Taylor, RHP Jake Johansen, RHP Jefry Rodriguez, 1B Matt Skole, C Pedro Severino, RF Drew Vettleson, 3B Drew Ward
Prospects on the BP 101: 3
Top Prospect: Lucas Giolito
Summary: While the Nationals’ U25 list isn’t as deep as the Cardinals’, it offers an intriguing package of star power. Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper might be the best tandem in baseball for the next 10 years, and each offers an elite ceiling. Lucas Giolito is far from reaching his massive promise, but the trio of potential 8-grade ceilings at the top of Washington’s list is unmatched in baseball. For good measure, Washington has a potential all-star in Anthony Rendon and some solid role-5 guys at the back of its top 10. –Jordan Gorosh

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, still just 29 despite the fact that he is about to appear in his 10th Major League season, often jokes that people think he’s old because he’s been around for so long. But in reality, 24 members of the Nationals’ projected 40-man roster will be under the age of 30 on Opening Day, 2014.

The rest of the rankings are fascinating in their own right, with the St. Louis Cardinals coming in just above the Nationals at No. 1 and the Atlanta Braves at No. 3, followed by the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins. The bottom five (No.’s 26-30), according to these rankings: Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers.

To read the full article, click here.

Nationals Youngsters Wrap Up Instructional League Camp

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by Mike Feigen

As the Nationals concluded the regular season and some of their top prospects prepared for the Arizona Fall League, other Nationals farmhands headed to Viera, Fla., to take part in the Instructional League.

Instructional League provides an opportunity for young players to continue their development by maximizing their strengths and working through their weaknesses in a controlled environment. It also allows executives, coaches and scouts to evaluate the progress players made during the year, and give further instruction as they head into the offseason.

Roughly 45-50 players participated this year, according to Mark Scialabba, Nationals Director of Minor League Operations. They ranged in age from 16-year-old third baseman Anderson Franco, one of the Nationals’ newest international signings, to Double-A infielder Jason Martinson, who celebrated his 25th birthday this past week. The camp also included a number of 2013 draft picks, who have yet to participate in Spring Training.

Ross Detwiler made great progress in the Instructional League.

Ross Detwiler made great progress in the Instructional League.

“Overall, it was a good camp,” Scialabba said. “It was about three-and-a-half weeks long, so it’s not an extremely long period of time – but when we’re on the field, we play the game hard.”

The Instructional League schedule is also helpful for rehabilitating Major Leaguers. This year they had left-hander Ross Detwiler, who did very well in his continued rehab from a back injury. Scialabba said everything was a success during Detwiler’s time in Viera, where he headed during the final weeks of the big league club’s season and pitched in game situations.

“Ross threw the ball really well,” Scialabba said. “He finished the camp healthy. Outing to outing he improved, and his fastball velocity was there. We couldn’t ask for anything more from Ross.”

For players with less experience than Detwiler, the Instructional League also helps prepare them for the length of a full big league season. Many Minor Leaguers see their game action come to an end around Labor Day, so the extra few weeks of baseball can be essential to their development. The extra playing time can particularly benefit players like 2012 first-round pick Lucas Giolito, who came back from Tommy John surgery to throw 36.2 innings between the Rookie Gulf Coast League Nationals and Short-Season A Auburn Doubledays this year.

“(Lucas) did a great job,” Scialabba said of the 6-foot-6 righty. “His stuff is off the charts and he has an electric arm. He has to learn to put away hitters with all three pitches, continue his development with PFP (pitchers’ fielding practice), hold runners and control the strike zone. We’re really pleased with his progression so far.”

Two other pitchers who earned high praise following their Instructional League performances were 2013 top pick Jake Johansen and young Dominican hurler Jefry Rodriguez.

Lucas Giolito continued to impress in his first full season of professional ball.

Lucas Giolito continued to impress in his first full season of professional ball.

Johansen, selected in the second round out of Dallas Baptist University, dominated in his first taste of Minor League action. The right-hander compiled a 1.06 ERA in 10 starts for Short-Season A Auburn, striking out 44 batters and allowing just 22 hits in 42.1 innings. Rodriguez, 20, went 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA for the GCL champion Nationals squad during the 2013 season and continued his progression in the Instructional League. Scialabba said the lean, 6-foot-5 right-hander touched 96 miles per hour with a good curveball in Viera, giving Nats fans another young arm to keep an eye on for the future.

On the offensive side of the ball, Scialabba singled out 2013 third-rounder Drew Ward and 20-year-old catcher Pedro Severino as stars of the Instructional League camp.

“Drew Ward really shined,” Scialabba said of the 18-year-old third baseman, who completed high school a year early to enter the draft. “He’s mature beyond his years; not only physically, but mentally. He has very good plate discipline for a young player, with a very short stroke that stays in the zone for a long period of time.

“Pedro is a young catcher with tremendous makeup. He’s a high-energy guy who has worked really hard at learning the English language. He has a contact bat, but his value is going to be his defense. He has a cannon behind the plate.”

When camp wrapped up a week ago, the final step for the Nationals participants was to receive their offseason workout plans and get their nutritional programs in order. Most players will take a break from baseball and start hitting the weights in the next few weeks, before ramping up their baseball activity closer to Spring Training.

Scialabba also said some select players will return to Viera this November for a newly implemented winter conditioning program. The extra instruction will give the staff yet another opportunity to ensure the young talent throughout the organization stays on course for a successful 2014 season.

Not A Minor Accomplishment

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The Washington Nationals farm system hasn’t so much met expectations in 2013 as it’s surpassed every one.

Ranked the No. 13 farm system overall in the preseason by Baseball America, the Nationals have surged to the third-best organizational record at 403-322 (.558) overall, trailing only Houston (.572) and San Francisco (.564). Three of Washington’s seven affiliates are playoff-bound, with a fourth in a close division race.

None of this is entirely unexpected either. Under the guidance of President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo, the Nats have gone from the Minor League cellar six years ago to a brief stint at No. 1 in last year’s Baseball America preseason rankings. Not to mention that this farm system has cultivated such talent as Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon. In fact, 11 players on Washington’s active roster have come through its Minor League system.

Lucas Giolito, Washington's top pick in 2012, was recently promoted to Short-Season Auburn.

Lucas Giolito, Washington’s top pick in 2012, was recently promoted to Short-Season Auburn.

Perhaps most remarkable has been the Gulf Coast League Nationals, which have notched the most impressive mark in all of professional baseball. Since the season began on June 21, the Rookie-level entry has gone 48-9 (.842), better than even the tremendous run by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who posted a 47-12 (.797) record in the same span. The GCL Nationals lead their division by 24.0 games, have 13 more wins than the next best team in the league, and clinched their playoff spot long ago.

Obviously, such a run requires more than just luck. The GCL Nationals are tops in the league in most meaningful statistical categories. Their 2.49 team ERA and .279 team batting average pace the field, while their 5.52 runs per game is more than six-tenths of a run better than the next closest total. They boast the league’s leader and runner-up in ERA among qualifiers, 21-year-old righty Wander Suero (8-1, 1.65) and 20-year-old southpaw Hector Silvestre (7-0, 1.82). Righty Lucas Giolito, the Nationals’ No. 2 prospect, drafted 16th overall out of high school in 2012, has returned from Tommy John surgery and was recently promoted to Short-Season Auburn in the New York-Penn League after notching a 2.78 ERA and 25 strikeouts over 22.2 innings in the Gulf Coast League.

Like the GCL Nats, the High-A Potomac Nationals have put up ridiculous numbers in the Carolina League. Potomac is 81-51 overall, having already locked up a playoff spot by winning the Northern Division’s first-half championship with a 42-27 record. They’re currently 7.5 games up on Lynchburg in the second half, and will earn home-field advantage in all three Carolina League Division Series contests if they secure the second half title as well.

Walters has shown great pop for a middle infielder, sitting on the brink of a 30-home run season.

Zach Walters has shown great pop for a middle infielder, sitting on the brink of a 30-home run season.

Cutter Dykstra has helped pace Potomac on its most recent tear. During the P-Nats recent 10-game winning streak (August 10-20), the infielder racked up a .316/.447/.421 line. He also reached base in a league-best 29 games, putting together an 18-game hitting streak in the process. Meanwhile, right-hander Blake Schwartz is 11-4 with a 2.56 ERA and leads the league with a 1.03 WHIP.

The Low-A Hagerstown Suns (77-53) are also headed to the postseason, while the Double-A Harrisburg Senators (72-63) are a half-game up in their Eastern League division, where the top two teams reach the playoffs. The Suns are pacing the South Atlantic League with 5.03 runs per game, benefitting from a fairly balanced lineup. They’ve also recently added 2013 draft pick Jake Johansen, who was 1-1 with a 1.06 ERA and a 9.4 K/9 rate with Auburn. The Senators, meanwhile, boast a pitching staff that leads the league with a 3.46 ERA. Nationals third-rated prospect A.J. Cole — who earned the save in the 2013 Futures Game — is sitting at 3-2 with a 2.58 ERA since being promoted in late July.

Though the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs have posted just a 65-72 record, they have their bright spots as well in prospects like Jeff Kobernus and Zach Walters. Kobernus served a brief stint in the big leagues and earned International League Player of the Week honors for the week of August 12-18. He leads the team and is second among Nationals farmhands with a .324 batting average. Walters, meanwhile, has slugged 29 home runs, 10 more than the next closest total in the organization. The infielder has posted a .531 slugging percentage on the season, especially impressive from the shortstop position.

What to Watch for: 8.21.13

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Washington Nationals (61-64) vs. Chicago Cubs (54-71)

RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 1.85) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (1-0, 0.69)

The Nationals send Ross Ohlendorf to the mound against the Chicago Cubs, his first appearance since going on the 15-day disabled list on August 4 (retroactive to August 1). Washington Manager Davey Johnson said he expects Ohlendorf to throw roughly 90 pitches in this evening’s contest. The Cubs will counter with former Baltimore Oriole Jake Arrieta, acquired on July 2 along with reliever Pedro Strop and cash considerations in exchange for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. Arrieta has never bested the Nationals (0-1, 5.57 ERA in four starts), but has been excellent in his two big league starts since joining the Cubs organization.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

8. Kurt Suzuki C

9. Ross Ohlendorf RHP

31 FLAVORS OF VICTORY FOR HAREN

Dan Haren continues to make career history, pocketing his first-career win at Wrigley Field – his 31st different park with a W – as the Nationals doubled up the Cubs, 4-2, on Tuesday night. The victory was his first since beating the Philadelphia Phillies on August 9, giving him wins against all 30 franchises. In between, Haren notched his first Major League save in a close-out effort against the Braves Saturday night.

NATS COME THROUGH IN CLUTCH

Despite a rough night in which Washington brought home just four of its 21 base runners, the Nationals made it count when it mattered most. Ian Desmond singled home Bryce Harper with nobody out in the ninth to extend the Nats lead to 3-1, and four batters later Denard Span brought home a two-out insurance run, when he plated Ryan Zimmerman to give the Nationals a 4-1 advantage.

NOT A MINOR ACCOMPLISHMENT

The Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals are a stunning 45-8 (.849) this season, which began June 21. However the GCL Nats did lose 2012 No. 1 pick Lucas Giolito, who was promoted to the Short Season-A Auburn Doubledays – and promptly won his first start, a gem of a performance earlier Wednesday afternoon. Giolito went five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, while striking out four. He did not walk a batter.

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.

Surfing The Pipeline

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As you may have noticed, MLB.com released its Top 20 prospects for each team earlier this week as part of its MLB Pipeline debut. There should be a number of names familiar to many Nationals fans, as the Top 10 on the list closely parallels that of the Baseball America rankings filed just a few weeks ago. The BA rankings came out prior to Washington’s reacquisition of A.J. Cole, who would have (as we can figure out through deductive reasoning, by his appearance as the fourth and final Nationals prospect on the overall Top 100) ranked in the top five. As such, seven of the same players appear among the 10 on each list.

Here is the full list of MLB.com’s Top 20, complete with links for those to whom we have already showcased one way or another within the last calendar year.

1. Anthony Rendon – INF

2. Brian Goodwin – OF

3. Lucas Giolito – RHP

4. A.J. Cole – RHP

5. Michael Taylor – OF

6. Nathan Karns – RHP

7. Eury Perez – OF

8. Destin Hood – OF

9. Matt Purke – LHP

10. Robbie Ray – LHP

11. Matt Skole – INF

12. Chris Marrero – INF

13. Sammy Solis – LHP

14. Zach Walters – INF

15. Christian Garcia – RHP

16. Taylor Jordan – RHP

17. Brandon Miller – OF

18. Sandy Leon – C

19. Jason Martinson – INF

20. Kylin Turnbull – LHP

Keep your eyes peeled for plenty more prospect coverage as Curly W Live heads to Spring Training in just a couple more weeks!

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