One option the Nationals may be looking at which we haven’t discussed for their 10th overall pick is an economically sound one. With Strasburg likely to demand big money with the first overall pick, they Nats have been considering taking a reach with the 10th pick to get someone at a cheaper price.
One player the Nats have been looking at in this capacity for the number 10 slot has been Brett Jackson, a centerfielder for the University of California. Jackson is a solid build at 6 foot 2, 210 pounds and he fields his position well. His arm is about average but he has a lot of power and pop in his bat. The left handed slugger projects to be an Aaron Rowand type batter according to The Sporting News.
The Nats Blog has learned however that Jackson was at the Giant's ATT Park on Thursday taking batting practice for the clubs front office. The word is that he absolutely impressed the Giants scouts so its possible the late rising centerfielder may find himself off the board before the Nationals can get him at 10th overall.
Despite trying to keep it a secret, San Diego State manager Tony Gwynn has spilled the beans that the presumptive number one overall pick for the Nationals come June, Steven Strasburg will pitch tonight in the NCAA Regional tournament.
Strasburg will face the number two seed University of Virginia tonight and the game will be televised on Comcast Sports Net at 7 P.M. Check him out.
“We’re in a position of strength here in that we know,” Gwynn said in an address to the media on Wednesday. “When you need to find out, you’ll know… TV thinks they should know. Opposing teams think they should know. We don’t think they should know. We’re doing what’s best for San Diego State.“
The Phillidelphia Phillies (25-20) welcome the Washington Nationals (13-33) for a three game home stretch as they try and regain first place in the National League East.
It has been a three-year continual battle between the New York Mets (26-20) and the Phillies for first place in the division, usually causing a dramatic showdown late into the waning days of the season. It seems that in each case the Washington Nationals have played their own little role in this cat and mouse game, and it will be no different this week as the Nats are coming off a sweep by the Mets which catapulted them back into first place. The Phillies are looking for the same Nationals bump.
The Phillies come into the series coming off a very poor showing against the Florida Marlins (22-26), which saw them drop two of three. The club couldn’t convert with runners in scoring position (3 for 23 on the series) and had struggles with the bullpen. The fighting Phil’s wont fret however knowing that they’re going to face their favorite team in the league this weekend.
In the two clubs last meeting the Phillies hitting problems seemed to dissipate, as the team batted .327 while scoring 33 runs in only three games. In general the top of the Phillies line up has succeeded against the Nationals all year. Shane Victorino is batting .297 with eight runs and seven RBI, Chase Utley is batting .380 with 11 runs and six RBI, and even Jimmy Rollins who up until a few weeks ago was batting below .200 is hitting .350 with seven runs scored against the Nationals in 2009.
Pitching Match Ups
Friday, May 29 Ross Detwiler, LHP (0-0, 2.45) vs. J.A Happ, LHP (2-0, 2.60)
Detwiler has made his two first career starts quality ones. In his first start against Pittsburgh he recorded five strong innings with six strikeouts and no walks, he allowed two earned runs. In his second start against Baltimore he only allowed one hit through six innings, but he did walk four batters while striking out four. Everyone always knew Detwiler had the stuff to be a major league standout, but whether or not he has the head on his shoulders to not self-destruct is still in question. He will be facing J.A Happ who has just recently joined the rotation against the Yankees, allowing just four hits and two runs in six innings. This is his first career start against the Nationals, but he has pitched seven scorless innings in the bullpen against them.
Saturday, May 30 Shairon Martis,RHP (5-0, 4.86) vs. Cole Hamels, LHP (2-2, 4.68)
Martis is still struggling to find consistency. When he is on he throws strikes and is hard to hit, when he struggles he cant find the strike zone and his fastball gets slapped around. He is coming off one of his more difficult outings this season. Hamles is the reigning World Series MVP who is not having quite the season he had hoped to back up his charming 2008. His last outing was much more promising however, as he allowed only two earned runs in six innings against the Yankees. He is 2-0 in his last five starts with a 2.45 ERA, a sign he is turning things around.
Sunday, May 31 John Lannan, LHP (2-4, 4.11) vs. Jamie Moyer, LHP (3-5, 7.42)
John Lannan may want to take a deep look in to Jamie Moyer’s soul when the two go head to head this Sunday. They may very well be kindred spirits, and if Lannan is lucky, he may see his future in the 46-year-old starter. Lannan is very similar to a young Moyer, both use control, a solid curveball, and a little bit of smarts to get the outs that more athletic pitchers may be able to get with their skill. For these two, finesse is the name of the game.
The powers that be told us this would solve everything. Introducing the technology of instant replay would stop calls that were made out of human error, and would allow for the most fair play on the field possible.
It had its dissenters, including myself. Why introduce a technology to the game that will take away from its charm. Yes, umpires miss things, yes they make mistakes. It’s part of baseball lure however and as a true fan we take the Jeffery Maier’s no-matter what side of the ruling we’re on.
Wednesday night crossed the line.
A Daniel Murphy double, was turned into a Daniel Murphy home run. The ball landed 10 feet short of the fence and was fielded on one hop by Adam Dunn. Mets Manager Jerry Manuel came onto the field to complain that the ball must have hit an overhanging Subway sign in right field. Not a single umpire had felt this way, and there was no indication by anyone that the ball had left the ballpark.
After reviewing the play, it was ruled a homerun, giving the Mets the go-ahead run.
The evidence? Nowhere near conclusive. The ruling? Unprecedented. The Nats? Screwed.
Later SNY reporters would ask fans in the outfield whether or not they heard the ball hit the Subway sign on the flyball in question, none of them responded saying they heard it, and several said the Mets, “got away with one.”
Now if you are going to introduce this technology to the game, it better be used correctly. I can live, in fact I embrace the occasional human error on homerun calls. It’s those little twirks that make the game go around. But if you are going to take that away, and promise with video replay 100% accuracy, I expect better calls.
I expect calls that aren’t 90% disagreeable. I expect calls that don’t make my gut wrench. I’m not even one to argue calls in general, but if you are going to bring in technology, for gods sake, get it right.
While everybody has accepted that the Nationals will take Steven Strasburg with the number one overall pick June 9th, often overlooked has been the Nationals next pick. For failing to sign Aaron Crow in 2008, the Nats received a compensatory pick at the 10 spot in this years draft. So essentially the Nats have two ‘lottery’ picks in 2009. Over the next several days I will go over a few possibilities of who they may draft.
Today: Tyler Matzek
It seems much of the talent that the Nationals are scouting for their two top-10 picks in the upcoming draft hail from the great state of California. Whether it be the obvious number-one of Steven Strasburg, last weeks pick number 10 candidate Grant Green, or this weeks candidate Tyler Matzek, it seems California is a true hotbed for talent.
Matzek is a hard throwing lefty who is currently a senior for the Capistrano Valley Cougars. At first glance, Matzek stands 6’ 3”, 215 pounds and looks like your typical hard throwing high school prospect looking to sign a division one contract.He packs much more in that frame however.
There are two things that separate Matzek from being a great high school pitching prospect and being the best. The first thing is velocity.
Matzek improved from throwing consistently in the high 80’s his junior year to a fastball that sits at about 91 even into later innings as a senior. This kind of escalation often draws attention of scouts, most high schoolers can not hit 90 on the gun consistently, certainly not with good accuracy. Steven Strasburg himself could barley hit 90 in high school, a large reason for him attending San Diego State in the first place.
What makes Matzek’s velocity so impressive however isn’t the age at which it has developed, but the fact that he’s a lefty. Not many lefty’s have overwhelming power, and most make it to the majors with solid velocity and great secondary pitches. Lefty’s, unlike righty’s, have great natural movement on their fastballs, when you add velocity they can be very difficult to hit.
Matzek has also shown the ability to gas it up, pushing his fastball to as high as 96 during a team trip to Florida in the spring.
The second thing that separates Matzek from other good pitching prospects is his mastery of his secondary pitches. The big lefty throws a very good curve that while it is not yet Major League polished, it has the ability to freeze hitters with his power fastball. He also throws a very solid slider which sits between 79-84 MPH and projects as a plus pitch. Matzek also has a change-up, although he is not often forced to throw it against lower level competition, and he is developing a two seem fastball to induce groundballs against better level hitting.
So far this senior year Matzek has pitched 78.1 innings and has posted a 1.07 ERA with a .153 opposing batting average. He has struck out 97 while walking 28. At the plate he has been nearly as impressive, batting .381 with 5 homers and 26 RBI.
While he is not the best pitcher in this draft, or the best talent, he may very well be the second best of both. Strasburg has a complete stranglehold on all hype regarding pitching talent in the first round of this years draft, and rightfully so, however Matzek’s future is no joke. Given the right upbringing it would not be too unlikely to see him break into the big leagues by the age of 22, or even earlier if he develops fast enough.
The Nats selection of Matzek would certainly make them pitching prospect heavy. They already have four rookie starters in the Major Leagues with Zimmermann, Martis, Detwiler, and Stammen, and with the pick of Steven Strasburg they will have one more very close by. However pitching prospects don’t always pan out, and many argue because of this you can’t have too many. Perhaps he becomes a closer down the line, perhaps he just becomes that much better than the Nats currently breaking into the bigs today.
The bottom line is, the Nats shouldn’t hesitate to take Matzek, and should bank on his great future and upside.
According to Gorden Edes at Yahoo Sports, the Washington Nationals currently have scouts evalutating both the Mets Triple-A team in Buffalo N.Y and their Double-A team in Binghamton, N.Y.
This is a clear-cut sign that the Mets currently have interest in trading for the Washington Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson, as they have been left without the services of Carlos Delgado for the next two months following hip surgery.
Johnson is in the last year of a heavy contract and the Nationals are not likely to resign, making him prime trade bait. Johnson is having one of his best starts in years, currently batting .329/.436/.460, and more importantly, his glove is a lot better than Daniel Murphy’s.
According to Edes, the Nats are paying close attention to pitchers Jon Niese, Mike Antonini, and Eddie Kunz.
Lets take a look:
Jon Niese-Jon Niese is a 22 year old left-handed starting pitcher from Lima, Ohio. A childhood friend and teammate of the Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley, Niese has often been overshadowed by great talent around him. This is what caused him to slip to the 9th round of the 2005 MLB draft, where the Mets selected him 209th overall. Since being drafted Niese has been successful at every level, including a 2008 that saw the young lefty combine to go 11-8 with a 3.13 ERA with 144 K’s to 58 BB’s, in AAA New Orleans and AA Binghamton. 2009 however has been rough so far as Niese has only gone 0-3 with an 8.17 ERA in six starts.
Mike Antonini- Antonini was drafted by the Mets in the 18th round of the 2007 draft out of Georgia College & State University.He combines a solid fastball that sits in the mid-low 90’s with a plus change up that keeps hitters off balance. The 23 year old saw early success in 2007 where he combined for a 1.99 ERA in 12 games. 2009 has not been as productive for Antonini however, as he has combined for a 6.28 ERA in 8 games. His strikeout-walk ratio still stays high however at 32/15.
Eddie Kunz- Eddie Kunz is a 23-year-old righty drafted out of Oregon State by the Mets in the second round of the 2007 MLB draft. In his first full season in professional ball, Kunz had pitched 44 games for the Double-A Binghamton Mets, recording a 2.79 ERA with 22 saves. He was called up to the Major League Mets during the club’s bullpen meltdown in the fall of 2008, but only saw limited action. So far through 12 games for the Mets Triple-A affiliate he has a 3.79 ERA. He has also allowed 14 walks in 19 innings pitched.
How often did we sit back and watch Livan Hernandez pitch 9 innings while scattering nine hits on well over 120 pitches to complete the unorthodox complete game.
What was one more time?
This was the case Tuesday night as the Nats fell to their one-time ace, now pitching for the Mets, 6-1. Hernandez lobbed 127 pitches en route to his fourth victory of the year, proving that a true junk-baller never ages.
Of the nine hits the Nationals managed to muster against the old righty were Josh Bard and Cristian Guzman doubles and an Adam Dunn homer. But while Hernandez threw junk all day long, he did throw strikes, only allowing one Washington walk.
Tuesday’s game also saw career start the second for rookie Craig Stammen. Despite earning his first decisions, a loss, Stammen posted a quality start for the second straight game. Tuesday the 25-year-old pitched five innings, scattering seven hits, allowing three earned runs. He walked two and struck out two. His first career start, he pitched 6.1 innings, allowed four hits, four earned runs, struck out three and walked only one.
As Stammen is 25, this is the type of development we should expect for someone in his age group. While its rare for a ball player not to get their first taste of the majors until the age of 25, he is a college pitcher (from Dayton) so he is probably arriving just about on time. Because of his age however, if he doesn’t continue to adjust at the rate he currently is, he may be given up on before long.
Garry Sheffield wants you to know: He’s not finished
Garry Sheffield entered the 2009 season expecting to be the starting designated hitter for the Detroit Tigers. He had a $14 million, a hall of fame career, and was one homer shy of reaching the illusive 500 record club.
Then, as if out of nowhere, the Tigers dropped Sheffield the day before the season, eating his $14 million just to get him off the team. The reason wasn’t clear, the Tigers simply said they wanted to have ‘more diversity at the DH position.’ Some obviously speculated that the Tigers, as well as others in the league thought the 40-year-old former star was done. In 2008 he had only batted .225/.326/.400.
So far this year after being picked up by the Mets, he has proven that he’s anything but finished. The 40 year old is batting .291/.430/.535 while platoonning in the outfield. He earned his 500th homer in his first at bat of the 2009 season, and has hit four more in only 86 at bats this year. He has walked more times than he has struck out, and is providing a pop to this line up that the Mets need in this injury filled time.