Results tagged ‘ Wilmer Difo ’

Nationals Game Notes: August 18 at Atlanta Braves

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Washington Nationals (70-49) at Atlanta Braves (44-76)
RHP Reynaldo Lopez [1-1, 5.74] | RHP Rob Whalen [1-1, 7.31]
Thursday, August 18 l Game #120 / Road #61 l Turner Field l Atlanta, G.A. l 7:10 P.M.
Television: MASN l Radio: 106.7 The Fan & Nationals Radio Network

HEADING BACK EAST
The Nationals will open the second leg of their nine-game, three-city trip with the first of four games in Atlanta on Thursday night…Washington dropped the series finale in Denver on Wednesday, 12-10, just its sixth road series loss of the season…The Rockies sealed the series, in part, with a seven-run first inning — the 12th time that one team scored at least seven first-inning runs in a regular-season game at Coors Field…According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the most seven-run first innings at any MLB park since Coors Field opened in 1995…Fenway Park & Kauffman Stadium are T2nd with nine each over that 22-season span.

  • At 70-49 (.588), the Nationals boast the third-best record in Major League Baseball, trailing only the Chicago Cubs (76-43, .639) and Texas Rangers (72-50, .590)…The Nationals, Cubs, and Rangers as the only 70-win teams in the Major Leagues…Reaching the 70-win mark on Monday, in game No. 117, the 2016 Nationals are the fastest in club history to that total since the 2012 Nationals picked up win No. 70 in game No. 113
  • WSH also ranks second in MLB with a +137 run differential, behind only the Cubs (+206).
  • As a team, the Nationals rank in the top five among National League clubs in home runs (2nd, 159), runs scored (4th, 568), and walks (4th, 411)…Washington’s 896 strikeouts, as a club, are the second-fewest in the National League.

STAUB IN HIS SIGHTS
With a walk in the third inning on Wednesday, Nationals LF Jayson Werth extended his career-best on-base streak to 45 games, extending the Nationals record (2005-present) for the longest on-base streak in club history…Werth surpassed 1B Ryan Zimmerman, who reached base in 43 consecutive games from April 8 – May 25, 2009.

  • Werth is now chasing Rusty Staub (46) for the longest on-base streak in franchise history (Nationals/Expos)…His 45-game run tops that of Tim Raines’ for the second-longest streak in franchise history, however, the streaks put together by both Staub and Raines spanned multiple seasons — Raines from 1985-86, Staub from 1969-70.
  • This is the longest on-base streak in MLB this season and the longest since CIN 1B Joey Votto reached base in 48 straight games from Aug. 11-Oct. 2, 2015.
  • During this stretch, Werth has collected 41 hits (13 2B, 6 HR) & 32 walks (.379 OBP)…Werth also clubbed his fourth home run in his last 11 games on Monday night.

BUMP FROM THE BENCH
Nationals manager Dusty Baker summoned Pedro Severino (PH), Wilmer Difo (PH) and Chris Heisey (def. replacement) off the bench on Wednesday, and the trio combined to go 3-for-3 with two home runs (Severino & Heisey), three RBI and two runs scored…Severino’s homer, the first of his MLB career, was also a pinch-hit home run — making him the fourth player in Nationals history (2005-pres.) to collect his first homer as a pinch hitter (per STATS, LLC)…He joined Jeff Kobernus (6/18/13 at PHI), Kory Casto (6/15/08 at SEA), & Justin Maxwell (9/11/07 at FLA).

  • As a group, the Nationals’ are second in the Major Leagues with 11 pinch-hit home runs this season, and fourth in slugging percentage (.551)…On the season, the Nationals have 33 pinch hits, with 19 of them going for extra bases (7 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR)…The 11 pinch-hit home runs hit by Washington are already a single-season Nationals record (2005-pres.).
  • Five of WSH’s 11 pinch-hit HRs this season have tied the game or given WSH the lead.
  • Stephen Drew & Heisey are tied for the most WSH pinch-hit home runs (3), as well as the most in a career Nationals history (2005-present)…They are also second in MLB.

ANOTHER TREY FOR TREA
Nationals INF/OF Trea Turner collected his sixth triple of the season (in his 30th game) on Wednesday, part of a 2-for-4 afternoon with a double, RBI and two runs scored…Turner’s six triples are already tied for the eighth-most in the Major Leagues and lead all MLB rookies.

  • Turner’s 12 stolen bases also rank fourth among all rookies, and all ahead of him on the list have played in 46 games or more…In his last seven games, Turner is 13-for-33 (.382) with three doubles, two triples, one home run, three RBI, four stolen bases and 10 runs scored.
  • Dating to the All-Star break, Turner leads MLB lead in triples (6) & ranks third in SB (12).
  • Among players with at least 12 stolen bases this season, Turner is one of only three who hasn’t been caught more than once.

Nationals Game Notes: August 3 at Arizona Diamondbacks

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Washington Nationals (63-44) at Arizona Diamondbacks (43-64)
RHP Max Scherzer [11-6, 2.85] | RHP Zack Godley [3-1, 5.63]
Wednesday, August 3 l Game #108 / Road #57 l Chase Field l Phoenix, AZ l 12:40 P.M.
Television: MASN l Radio: 106.7 The Fan & Nationals Radio Network

MORE OFFENSE
For the second consecutive night the Nationals posted a double-digit run total, topping the Arizona Diamondbacks, 10-4…Washington recorded 15 hits, marking the first time since April 28-29, 2015 vs. ATL that the club recorded at least 15 hits in back-to-back games…LF Jayson Werth (3-for-5, HR, RBI, R) and 2B Wilmer Difo (3-for-5, RBI, R) led the way on offense.

  • With the win, the Nationals (63-44, .589) boast the second-best record in Major League Baseball, behind only the Chicago Cubs (65-41, .613).
  • Washington ranks second in Major League Baseball with a +131 run differential, also behind only the Cubs (+170).
  • A win Wednesday afternoon at Arizona would secure Washington’s fourth road sweep of the season, first since May 30-June 1 at Philadelphia.

MURPH KEEPS ON HITTING
2B Daniel Murphy has hit safely in 16 of the 18 games he’s played since July 7…During this current stretch, Murphy is hitting .413 (64-for-63) with nine doubles, one triple, six homers, 23 RBI, five walks, one stolen base and 15 runs scored.

  • Murphy leads the National League in average (.356), slugging percentage (.623), OPS (1.018), hits (136), doubles (32), extra-base hits (57) and multi-hit games (43).
  • In addition to those categories, Murphy leads all NL 2B in HR (20), RBI (79) and XBH (57).

ROAMING AROUND THE BASES
Nationals C Wilson Ramos has hit safely in 16 of his last 20 games, including multi-hit efforts in six of his last 12 contests.

  • With 16 home runs this season, Ramos has matched his career high of 16 in 2013…His 27 walks this season are the second-most in his career behind his 38 in 2011.
  • Ramos ranks among National League hitters in batting average (2nd, .331) and average with Runners In Scoring Position (7th, .351).
  • He leads all MLB catchers in on-base percentage (.381), slugging percentage (.536) and RBI (59)…He is tied for first among NL catchers (T2nd in MLB) with 16 home runs.
  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ramos is on pace to become the second player in the Modern Era (since 1900) to raise his batting average 100 points from one year to the next (min. 500 plate appearances in both seasons)…OF Darin Erstad is the only player to do so…He hit.355 in 2000 for the Angels after hitting .253 for Anaheim in 1999.

Spring Training Preview: Infielders

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SPRING TRAINING PREVIEW – INFIELDERS

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 course of this week, we are introducing these players in their position groups, continuing today with the infielders.

SPRING TRAINING NATIONALS

March 5 – Starting Pitchers

March 6 – Relief Pitchers

March 7 – Catchers

March 8 – Infielders

March 9 – Outfielders

CHRIS BOSTICK

2015 Season Totals: N/A

A speedy, versatile defender, Bostick was added to Washington’s 40-man roster following the 2015 season. After being acquired from the Texas Rangers along with right-handed pitcher Abel de Los Santos on December 11, 2014, Bostick led Nationals Minor Leaguers with a career-high 31 stolen bases while hitting .258 with 22 doubles, eight triples, 12 home runs, 58 RBI, 31 walks and 57 runs scored between High-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg.

WILMER DIFO

2015 Season Totals: .182/.182/.182, -9 wRC+, 0.0% BB rate, 18.2% K rate, -0.1 fWAR

Difo, a switch-hitting middle infielder with speed, enters 2016 rated as the No. 6 prospect in Washington’s system, per Baseball America. He was recalled from Double-A Harrisburg on May 19, making his MLB debut and notching his first MLB hit that night vs. the New York Yankees. Difo hit .286 with 39 extra-base hits, 30 stolen bases and 61 runs scored in 106 games between Single-A Potomac and Harrisburg.

STEPHEN DREW

2015 Season Totals: .201/.271/.381, 76 wRC+, 8.6% BB rate, 16.6% K rate, 0.2 fWAR

A veteran left-handed bat with the ability to play shortstop, second base and third base, Drew signed a one-year deal with Washington on January 6, 2016. He clubbed 17 home runs in his first full season with the New York Yankees in 2015, tied for third among MLB second basemen. It was his largest power output since 2008, when he hit 21 home runs with Arizona. Drew appeared in 123 games (94 starts) at second base, 15 games (10 starts) at shortstop and four games (one start) at third base.

DANNY ESPINOSA

2015 Season Totals: .240/.311/.409, 94 wRC+, 8.0% BB rate, 25.7% K rate, 2.3 fWAR

One of Major League Baseball’s best and most versatile infielders, Espinosa will likely see an increased role at shortstop in 2016. A season ago, he clubbed 13 home runs, his most since 2012, and slugged .409, his highest figure since 2011. If qualified, he would have ranked first in UZR/150 (18.4) and third in defensive runs saved among MLB second basemen (10). He earned starts at second base (74), third base (9), shortstop (5), first base (5) and left field (2) during the 2015 season.

TYLER MOORE

2015 Season Totals: .203/.250/.364, 61 wRC+, 5.5% BB rate, 22.5% K rate, -0.9 fWAR

A power hitter who adds defensive versatility to Washington’s roster, Moore saw action at first base (39 games/23 starts), left field (20 games/13 starts), and right field (one game) and as a pitcher (one game/0.2 IP). He posted career highs in games played (97), at bats (187) and doubles (12) in 2015 while ranking second on the club with five hits as a pinch hitter. He became the second Nationals position player to pitch in a game, and the first at Nationals Park, August 5 vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks.

DANIEL MURPHY

2015 Season Totals: .281/.322/.449, 110 wRC+, 5.8% BB rate, 7.1% K rate, 2.5 fWAR

A 2015 postseason hero with the New York Mets, Murphy signed a three-year deal with the Nationals on January 6, 2016. He garnered NLCS MVP honors after clubbing four home runs during New York’s four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs, also becoming the first player in MLB history to hit a home run in six consecutive postseason games. He hit a career-high 14 home runs in 2015, adding 38 doubles and 73 RBI. He proved to be the toughest batter to strike out in MLB, fanning once every 14.2 plate appearances.

SPRING TRAINING NATIONALS

ANTHONY RENDON

2015 Season Totals: .264/.344/.363, 97 wRC+, 10.1% BB rate, 19.7% K rate, 0.9 fWAR

A versatile infielder and one of the top young hitters in Major League Baseball, Rendon looks to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2015 campaign. After suffering a sprained MCL in his left knee in Spring Training, Rendon made his 2015 debut on June 14 before returning to the DL on June 25 with a left quad strain. His best stretch of the season came from August 22–September 17, when he hit .356 (37-for-104) with four doubles, four home runs, 16 runs batted in, 12 walks and 25 runs scored.

CLINT ROBINSON

2015 Season Totals: .272/.358/.424, 115 wRC+, 10.5% BB rate, 14.8% K rate, 0.4 fWAR

Robinson joined the Nationals on a Minor League deal with an invite to 2015 Spring Training, and would end up making his first Opening Day roster. In his first full MLB season, Robinson ranked among NL rookies in on-base percentage (3rd, .358), walks (3rd, 37) and slugging percentage (10th, .424). Robinson finished strong, hitting .284 with three homers, nine RBI and 10 walks in 27 September games. On May 12 at Arizona (1.0 IP, H, SO), Robinson became the first-ever Nationals position player to pitch in a game.

TREA TURNER

2015 Season Totals: .225/.295/.325, 72 wRC+, 9.1% BB rate, 27.3% K rate, 0.1 fWAR

The No. 2 prospect in Washington’s system per Baseball America, Turner was acquired from the San Diego Padres on June 14 to complete an offseason trade between the teams. He had his contract selected from Triple-A Syracuse on August 21 and made his Major League debut that night vs. the Milwaukee Brewers, entering the game as a defensive replacement. In 116 Minor League games in 2015, Turner hit .322 with 24 doubles, seven triples, eight homers, 54 RBI, 29 stolen bases and 68 runs scored.

RYAN ZIMMERMANSPRING TRAINING NATIONALS

2015 Season Totals: .249/.308/.465, 107 wRC+, 8.5% BB rate, 20.3% K rate, 0.6 fWAR

A former Gold Glove third baseman, Zimmerman made the transition across the diamond to first base in an injury-shortened 2015 campaign. He hit .249 with 25 doubles, 16 home runs, 73 RBI, 33 walks and 43 runs scored in 95 games, including .311/.372/.652 after returning from plantar fasciitis in his left foot on July 28. He clubbed his 200th career home run during an 11-game span from August 23–September 2, in which he collected 23 RBI — the most over 11 games in franchise history (Nationals/Expos).

 

 

NON-ROSTER INVITEES

JASON MARTINSON2010 fifth-round pick enters his first training camp on the Major League side.

BRENDAN RYANDefensive wizard and veteran of nine big league seasons competing for a utility role.

SCOTT SIZEMOREVirginia Beach native and VCU alum got off to a fast start in Grapefruit League play.

MATT SKOLENationals 2012 Minor League Player of the Year hit 20 homers in the Minors in 2015.

 

Nationals reinstate INF Anthony Rendon and recall RHP A.J. Cole, option RHP Taylor Jordan and INF Wilmer Difo

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by Kyle Brostowitz

The Washington Nationals returned from rehab and reinstated infielder Anthony Rendon from the 15-day disabled list and recalled right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday. They optioned right-handed pitcher Taylor Jordan to Triple-A Syracuse and infielder Wilmer Difo to Double-A Harrisburg.

Rendon, 24, missed the first 53 games of the 2015 season recovering from a left knee sprain, and then a left oblique strain. He returns to the Nationals’ active roster after eight total Minor League rehab games (five on his most recent assignment). Over the course of his rehab, Rendon hit .250 with three doubles, three RBI, three walks and one run scored in eight games for Double-A Harrisburg.

The Nationals’ first-round selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Rendon is coming off a superb 2014 season in which he took home the National League Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award for third basemen and finished fifth in the National League Most Valuable Player Award voting.

Rendon, who is an exceptional defender at second and third base, hit .287 with 39 doubles, six triples, 21 home runs, 83 RBI, 58 walks and 111 runs scored in 153 games in 2014. The gifted infielder ranked fourth in the Major Leagues (second in the NL) in wins above replacement (6.6), according to FanGraphs.com, at the conclusion of the season.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 23:  Anthony Rendon #6 of the Washington Nationals warms up before the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park on April 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Cole, 23, returns to the Nationals for his third Major League assignment of 2015. He has appeared in three games for the Nationals, recording his first career save on May 15 at San Diego. In six games for Triple-A Syracuse, he is 0-2 with a 3.26 ERA. Cole entered the 2015 season ranked as the Nationals’ No. 6 prospect, and the No. 91 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America.

Difo, 23, appeared in five games in his first big league assignment. The Nationals’ No. 7 prospect and “Best Defensive Infielder” in Washington’s system, according to Baseball America, went 1-for-5 during his call-up. He picked up the first Major League hit of his career in his first at-bat, a pinch-hitting appearance on May 19 vs. the New York Yankees.

Jordan, 26, appeared in two games for the Nationals during his second MLB stint of 2015. He went 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA, making one relief appearance and one start for Washington.

Nationals recall INF Wilmer Difo, place Jayson Werth on 15-day DL

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals recalled infielder Wilmer Difo from Double-A Harrisburg on Tuesday and placed outfielder Jayson Werth on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 16, with a left wrist contusion.

Difo, 23, is coming off a breakout 2014 season in which he was named the South Atlantic League’s Most Valuable Player. Hitting .315 with Single-A Hagerstown, Difo led the league with 176 hits, while ranking second in total bases (263), second in stolen bases (49), fourth in RBI (90) and fourth in runs scored (91).

Added to the Nationals’ 40-man roster this past offseason, Difo hit .318 with one double, one triple, four RBI and one walk in his first Major League Spring Training (13 games) and has had a strong start to the year.

Recently promoted to Double-A Harrisburg, Difo is hitting .308 (16-for-52) with eight doubles, one triple, four RBI, one walk and three stolen bases in his first exposure to the Eastern League. In 19 games with Single-A Potomac to open the 2015 season, Difo hit .320 with a .386 on-base percentage and a .533 slugging percentage. He clubbed seven doubles and three home runs, walked eight times, stole four bases and drove in 14 runs.

Following the 2014 season, Difo was named the No. 7 prospect in the Nationals’ organization and cited by Baseball America as the “Best Defensive Infielder” in Washington’s system.

A product of the Nationals’ revamped scouting efforts in the Dominican Republic, the switch-hitting middle-infielder hit .324 with a .370 on-base percentage and .568 slugging percentage as a right-hander in 2014, and .311 with a .357 OBP and .436 SLG as a left-hander in 2014.

His tremendous season helped him earn the Bob Boone Award, which is granted annually to the Nationals Minor Leaguer who demonstrates the professionalism, leadership, loyalty, passion, selflessness, durability, determination and work ethic required to play the game the ‘Washington Nationals way.’

Werth, 35, hits the DL for the second time this season after he missed the season’s first nine games as he completed his recovery from offseason AC joint surgery. In 27 games since his return, Werth is 21-for-101 (.208) with two doubles, two home runs, 12 RBI, 12 walks, and 17 runs scored. In the 11 games before taking a pitch off his left wrist, Werth hit .275 (11-for-40) with a .375 on-base percentage.

Nationals Minor League Report — April 29, 2015

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by Kyle Brostowitz

Welcome to the first installment of the 2015 Minor League report, courtesy of the Nationals Baseball Communications department. All the information below reflects games played from the start of the season through yesterday (April 28).

Here are a few highlights:

TOP PERFORMER

PEDRO SEVERINO – C – HARRISBURG SENATORS

After starting the season mired in an 0-for-22 sump, C Pedro Severino is 17-for-31 (.548) with two doubles, two home runs, 12 RBI, five walks and nine runs scored in his last nine games dating to April 17…On April 27 vs. New Britain (COL), the 21-year-old clubbed two home runs while going 3-for-4 in Harrisburg’s 13-6 defeat to the Rock Cats…Severino leads the Senators and ranks ninth in the Eastern League with 12 RBI…He also paces Harrisburg in average (.321), on-base percentage (379), slugging percentage (.472) and OPS (.851)…His .321 average ranks second in the Nationals’ chain, while his 12 RBI are good for third…Behind the plate, Severino has thrown out nine of 12 baserunners attempting to steal…Baseball America considers him the “Best Defensive Catcher” in the Nationals’ chain…Severino was signed as a non-drafted free agent, December 10, 2010 out of Bonao, Dominican Republic.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS (AAA – International League)

Overall Record:  6-13

Standing – Games Back:  5th place, -6.5, International League North

CUT TO THE CHASE: INF Cutter Dykstra has reached base safely in 14 of 15 games to start the 2015 season…During this stretch, Dykstra has posted a .400 on-base percentage while hitting .250 (11-for-44) with one home run, three RBI, 10 walks and four runs scored…He clubbed his first home run of the season, April 26 at ROC (MIN).

HARRISBURG SENATORS (AA – Eastern League)

Overall Record:  8-11

Standing – Games Back:  4th place, -4.0, Eastern League Western

NOT-SO-AVERAGE JOE: With 24, RHP Joe Ross leads all Nationals farmhands and ranks third in the Eastern League in strikeouts…His 24 strikeouts also rank ninth in all of Double-A…In his last start, April 25 vs. Reading (PHI), the 21-year-old struck out eight in 7.0 innings of two-hit, shutout ball…On the year, Ross is 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA (8 ER/20.0 IP)…Ross, a former first round pick in 2011, was acquired from San Diego along with a player to be named later in a three-team trade that sent OF Steven Souza Jr. to Tampa Bay.

POTOMAC NATIONALS (Advanced-A – Carolina League)

Overall Record:  9-10

Standing – Games Back:  T3rd place, -2.0, Carolina League Northern

SIMPLY OFFENSIVE: INF Wilmer Difo leads the P-Nats, ranks third among Nationals farmhands and seventh in the Carolina League with a .320 batting average (24-for-75)…Through 19 games, the 23-year-old leads the Carolina League with seven doubles and leads all Washington Minor Leaguers with three home runs (T2nd in Carolina League) and 14 RBI (T3rd in Carolina League)…He also ranks in the top 10 among Carolina League hitters in slugging percentage (5th, .533), on-base percentage (9th, .386) and OPS (5th, .919)…Difo is rated as the No. 7 prospect in Washington’s chain, according to Baseball America.

HAGERSTOWN SUNS (A – South Atlantic League)

Overall Record:  9-10

Standing – Games Back:  T5th place, -4.5, South Atlantic League Northern

LEADING MAN:  RHP Austen Williams leads all Nationals Minor Leaguers in ERA (0.83) and is tied for the lead in wins (3)…Williams’ three wins are tied for the most in the South Atlantic League, while his 0.83 ERA (2 ER/21.2 IP) is good for fourth…He also ranks second in the organization with 20 strikeouts…Williams dropped his first start of the season, but has since won three in a row, posting a 0.51 ERA (1 ER/17.2 IP) with 11 hits and a .180 average against him along the way…Williams was selected in the sixth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Texas State University.

Here is the full Minor League report:

 

 

Spring Training Preview, Part IV: Infielders

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by Kyle Brostowitz

Entering Spring Training, Washington’s 2015 40-man infield unit is a careful mixture of stability (Ian Desmond and Anthony Rendon), transition (Ryan Zimmerman), quality depth (Danny Espinosa, Kevin Frandsen and Tyler Moore) and newcomers (Yunel Escobar and Wilmer Difo). The 2014 unit boasted two Silver Sluggers while leading Major League Baseball with 91 home runs. The combination of power, speed and defensive versatility allows this unit to be one of the most reliable in Major League Baseball.

We’ve already previewed the Nationals’ catchers, relievers and starting pitchers; now, in alphabetical order, let’s review the 2015 infielders.

*Note, 2014 totals reflect only Major League stats.

IAN DESMOND

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals2014 Season Totals: .255/.313/.431, 108 wRC+, 7.1% BB rate, 28.2% K rate, 4.1 fWAR in 648 PA.
2015 Steamer Projection: .258/.313/.416, 104 wRC+, 6.8% BB rate, 24.9% K rate, 2.9 fWAR in 619 PA.

The longest tenured member of the organization, Desmond is the unquestioned leader of this unit. He earned his third consecutive Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award in 2014 and was one of just three big leaguers to earn a Silver Slugger in 2012, 2013 and 2014, joining Andrew McCutchen (NL, outfielder), and Mike Trout (AL, outfielder) on this short list. Since the award’s inception in 1980, Desmond is the first National League shortstop to win back-to-back-to-back honors since Barry Larkin (HOF 2012) won five straight from 1988-1992.

Desmond was one of five “20/20” players in Major League Baseball in 2014 and his 24 home run/24 stolen base effort was his third straight dating to 2012.  He is as dependable as they come, appearing in at least 154 games in four of his five complete big league seasons.

WILMER DIFO

2014 Season Totals: N/A
2015 Steamer Proj.: .219/.252/.300, 53 wRC+, 3.8% BB rate, 14.3% K rate, 0.0 fWAR in 1 PA.

A speedy, switch-hitting middle infielder, Difo is a product of Washington’s revamped scouting efforts in the Dominican Republic. He was signed on June 3, 2010 and progressed steadily through the Nationals’ chain before exploding onto the scene in 2014, earning him recognition and inclusion on Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospect List for the Nationals (No. 7). He was added to Washington’s 40-man roster following the 2014 season.

Difo was named the South Atlantic League’s Most Valuable Player after leading the league with 176 hits while ranking second in total bases (263), second in stolen bases (49), fourth in RBI (90) and fourth in runs scored (91). His 90 RBI were the most among Nationals farmhands, while his .315 average was good for second. He was the recipient of the Bob Boone Award, which is granted annually to the Nationals Minor Leaguer who best demonstrates the professionalism, leadership, loyalty, passion, selflessness, durability, determination and work ethic required to play the game the “Washington Nationals Way.”

YUNEL ESCOBAR

2014 Season Totals: .258/.324/.340, 95 wRC+, 8.1% BB rate, 11.3% K rate, 0.2 fWAR in 529 PA.
2015 Steamer Proj.: .271/.333/.367, 98 wRC+, 8.1% BB rate, 11.8% K rate, 2.1 fWAR in 522 PA.

Escobar, a slick-fielding middle infielder (2013 AL Gold Glove Finalist) is a veteran of eight Major League seasons. He was acquired from Oakland in exchange for right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard on January 14, 2015. Escobar appeared in 137 games for the Rays in 2014, his fewest since 2011, due to right shoulder soreness that sent him to the 15-Day disabled list (June 30–July 11) and a left-knee sprain in mid-September that ended his season prematurely.

Escobar is expected to bounce back from those injuries and return to form in 2015 to provide stability to the Nationals infield. He will transition to second base while also providing depth at shortstop, when needed. When he takes the field for Washington in 2015, he will become the third Cuban-born player to play in the big leagues for the Nationals, joining pitchers Livan Hernandez and Yunesky Maya.

DANNY ESPINOSA

New York Mets v Washington Nationals2014 Season Totals: .219/.283/.351, 75 wRC+, 4.9% BB rate, 33.5% K rate, 0.6 fWAR in 364 PA.
2015 Steamer Proj.: .218/.278/.348, 74 wRC+, 6.0% BB rate, 30.1% K rate, 0.2 fWAR in 181 PA.

Espinosa bounced back from a wrist injury that plagued his 2013 season. He started off strong in the month of April, hitting .291 (23-for-79) with five doubles, one triple, and three home runs in 25 games. He also hit left-handers hard in 2014, batting .301 (31-for-103) with eight doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI, posting an .859 OPS from the right side of the plate. Espinosa’s versatility and elite defensive ability at shortstop and second base allow him to be used in a variety of roles by manager Matt Williams.

KEVIN FRANDSEN

2014 Season Totals: .259/.299/.309, 72 wRC+, 2.5% BB rate, 11.0% K rate, -0.6 fWAR in 236 PA.
2015 Steamer Proj.: .270/.309/.357, 86 wRC+, 3.6% BB rate, 10.8% K rate, 0.0 fWAR in 173 PA.

Frandsen returns for his second season with the Nationals. He brings a strong bench bat and defensive versatility to Washington’s roster. Frandsen is a career .255 (38-for-149) pinch hitter, and his 25 pinch hits the last two years rank second in MLB behind only Reed Johnson (27).

In his first season in Washington, Frandsen led the Nationals with 11 pinch hits (T-10th in NL) and started 42 games at four positions (6 at 1B, 9 at 2B, 12 at 3B, 15 in LF). He hit .303 (23-for-76) vs. left-handed pitching and .298 (14-for-47) with runners in scoring position.

JEFF KOBERNUS

2014 Season Totals: .000/.250/.000, 4 wRC+, 12.5% BB rate, 12.5% K rate in 8 PA.
2015 Steamer Proj.: .250/.302/.332, 77 wRC+, 6.1% BB rate, 18.3% K rate in 1 PA.

Kobernus began the 2014 season with Triple-A Syracuse, playing in two contests before sustaining a broken left hand suffered when he was hit by a pitch on April 7. He was placed on the 60-Day DL on April 12 and after several rehab assignments, was recalled on June 25 and reported to Triple-A Syracuse, where he would hit .269 with 13 doubles, one triple, two home runs, 22 RBI, 22 walks, 14 stolen bases and 27 runs scored in the final 56 games of the season.

He joined Washington when rosters expanded in September and appeared in four games for the Nationals.

TYLER MOORE

2014 Season Totals: .231/.300/.385, 94 wRC+, 7.0% BB rate, 29.0% K rate, 0.3 fWAR in 100 PA.
2015 Steamer Proj.: .244/.305/.426, 104 wRC+, 7.5% BB rate, 25.2% K rate, 0.2 fWAR in 99 PA.

Moore was set to begin the 2014 season with Triple-A Syracuse, but was recalled to Washington on April 6 when outfielder Scott Hairston was placed on the 15-Day disabled list. Moore enjoyed three stints with the Nationals, appearing in 42 games. While with Syracuse he hit .265 with 21 doubles, 10 home runs, 44 RBI and 45 runs scored in 84 games. It marked the fourth time in the last five seasons Moore hit at least 10 home runs at the Minor League level.

ANTHONY RENDON

San Francisco Giants v Washington Nationals2014 Season Totals: .287/.351/.473, 130 wRC+, 8.5% BB rate, 15.2% K rate, 6.6 fWAR in 683 PA.
2015 Steamer Proj.: .279/.350/.454, 125 wRC+, 9.0% BB rate, 15.6% K rate, 5.0 fWAR in 643 PA.

In his first full big league season, Rendon posted MVP-level numbers, finishing fifth in the NL MVP voting en route to his first National League Silver Slugger Award. He ranked fourth in MLB (2nd in NL) in Wins Above Replacement (6.6), according to Fangraphs.com, and his 111 runs paced the National League (3rd in MLB). He also ranked among National League leaders in hits (T-5th, 176), total bases (3rd, 290), doubles (T-4th, 39), extra base hits (T-5th, 66) and times on base (10th, 239).

Although he appeared in 28 games at second base in 2014, Rendon has solidified himself as one of the top third baseman in the game and will man the hot corner for Matt Williams in 2015.

RYAN ZIMMERMAN

2014 Season Totals: .280/.342/.449, 120 wRC+, 9.2% BB rate, 15.4% K rate, 1.2 fWAR in 240 PA.
2015 Steamer Proj.: .275/.344/.449, 122 wRC+, 9.2% BB rate, 18.5% K rate, 3.4 fWAR in 570 PA.

Houston Astros v Washington NationalsZimmerman’s 2014 season was marred by two extensive disabled list stints that limited him to just 61 games. He fractured his right thumb sliding head first back into second base on April 13 at Atlanta. He returned June 3 and, upon his return, selflessly shifted to left field to allow Matt Williams flexibility when filling out the lineup card. He suffered a strained right hamstring on June 23 in Colorado sprinting to first base to beat out a ground ball. He rejoined the Nationals active roster on September 20 and started four games, all in left field. Zimmerman played defensively in left field (30 games), at third base (23) and first base (1). He did not commit an error in left field while connecting on two outfield assists.

Zimmerman will again transition to a new position in 2015, making the full-time move across the diamond to first base. Zimmerman’s elite hands and instincts hope to prove valuable in making the transition as smooth as possible.

Nationals add Cole, Difo, Goodwin and Grace to 40-man roster

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals added four prospects to the team’s 40-man roster on Thursday, selecting the contracts of right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole, infielder Wilmer Difo, outfielder Brian Goodwin and left-handed pitcher Matt Grace.

All four prospects are now protected from the Dec. 11 Rule 5 Draft.

Washington Nationals v St Louis CardinalsCole, a fourth-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, was rated by industry expert Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in the Nationals minor league system prior to the 2014 season. The 6-foot-5 righty went 13-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 25 starts between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse, including a perfect 7-0 record in 11 starts for the Chiefs. He ranked among Nationals minor league pitchers in wins (T1st, 13), strikeouts (T3rd, 111) and ERA (4th, 3.16).

“A.J. has made a rapid ascension through the organization,” said Nationals Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Player Development Doug Harris. “He’s on the cusp of accomplishing his, and our, ultimate goal, and we look forward to his contributions going forward.”

 

At 22, Cole features a mid-to-upper 90s-mph fastball and front-end-of-the-rotation potential. He owns a career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.24 and has struck out 9.1 batters per nine innings over the course of his career.

Cole was a significant piece of the six-player trade with the Oakland Athletics on December 23, 2010 that netted the Nationals left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez, among others. Washington then reacquired Cole, along with right-handed pitcher Blake Treinen, and left-handed pitcher Ian Krol in exchange for outfielder Michael Morse on January 16, 2013.

Difo, 22, set career marks in nearly every offensive category in 2014, hitting .315 with 31 doubles, seven triples, 14 home runs, 90 RBI, 37 walks and 91 runs scored in 136 games for the Hagerstown Suns. He was named the South Atlantic League’s Most Valuable Player after leading the league with 176 hits while ranking second in total bases (263), second in stolen bases (49), fourth in RBI (90) and fourth in runs scored (91). His 90 RBI were the most among Nationals farmhands, while his .315 average was good for second behind only Steven Souza Jr.

Difo, a native of the Dominican Republic, was signed as a non-drafted free agent on June 2, 2010.

“Wilmer is coming off a breakout season, in which he was honored accordingly with the South Atlantic League MVP,” Harris said. “He burst onto the scene and we expect him to continue on this upward trajectory.”

Following the season, Difo became the second recipient of the Bob Boone Award, which is granted annually to the Nationals minor leaguer who best demonstrates the professionalism, leadership, loyalty, passion, selflessness, durability, determination and work ethic required to play the game the ‘Washington Nationals Way.’

Washington Nationals v Detroit TigersGoodwin, 24, is considered one of the top position player prospects in the Nationals minor league system. He is an elite athlete with the ability to play any outfield position. During his first three professional seasons, Goodwin posted a .362 on-base percentage and has drawn a walk every 7.42 plate appearances. He advanced to Triple-A Syracuse for the first time in 2014, hitting .219 with 10 doubles, four triples, four home runs, 32 RBI, 50 walks and 31 runs scored in 81 games for the Chiefs.

Goodwin was selected in the supplemental round (No. 34 overall) of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

“We’re excited about Brian’s potential,” Harris said. “He shows five tools, and we’re looking forward to his future, and his ability to impact the game in a variety of ways.”

Grace went 5-1 with three saves and a 1.17 ERA (10 ER/77.0 IP) in 50 appearances between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse in 2014. He was promoted to Syracuse on June 16 and posted a 1.30 ERA (6 ER/41.2 IP) and a .194 batting average against in 28 appearances at the highest level of the Minor Leagues. Following the season, he was selected to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League as a member of the Mesa Solar Sox.

“Matt has made significant strides and really found his niche in the bullpen,” Harris said. “He’s performed extremely well in a relief role and we feel like he’s got a bright future as a left-handed bullpen guy going forward.”

The 25-year-old Grace features a heavy, sinking fastball, and induced ground balls at a rate of 69 percent in 2014. He was selected by the Nationals in the eighth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of UCLA.

To make room for these players on the 40-man roster, infielder Pedro Florimon was claimed on waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates, right-handed pitcher Ryan Mattheus was placed on outright assignment and elected free agency while catcher Jhonatan Solano was granted his unconditional release. With these moves, the Nationals’ 40-man roster is now full.

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.

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