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Lannan: Johnson is “best out there to lead us”

Nationals left-hander John Lannan, coming off his first 10-win season, was very pleased to hear that Davey Johnson will return as manager for 2012. Lannan said he was impressed with the way Johnson kept the Nationals going after Jim Riggleman abruptly resigned in late June. “It is great (to see Davey back),” Lannan said. “Davey inherited a tough situation. He said he was never a

Nationals’ 2012 interleague schedule no easy task

The Nationals got on their biggest roll in 2011 when they feasted on Seattle, Baltimore and the Chicago White Sox in June. It was one of the many reasons that factor into how a season plays out: the strength of schedule. The Nationals won 15 of their final 20 games to finish with at least 80 wins for the first time since 2005. Those two

Solis gets even better, Lehman rebounds, Harper homer streak

Scottsdale left-hander Sammy Solis built on last week’s solid performance with a gem Saturday, pitching four innings, allowing one unearned run, scattering five hits, striking out five and walking two. Solis left with the game tied at one, and did not factor in the decision. Salt River eventually won 4-3 over Scottsdale. He also picked off a runner. Solis faced 18 hitters, ending up with

Solis looking to put back-to-back consistent outings together

Left-hander Sammy Solis bounced back from a pair of starts where he allowed a total of eight runs by pitching five innings with just two runs allowed in his last outing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. Tonight, the University of San Diego product makes his fifth start as the Scorpions entertain Salt River. Scorpions pitching coach Paul Menhart reports Solis has

Nationals adjust Lehman’s mechanics in effort to break slump

Scottsdale Scorpions reliever Patrick Lehman has lost three straight in the Arizona Fall League and pitching coach Paul Menhart believes he’s found out what has been going wrong. Lehman got through his first two AFL appearances with the Scorpions unscathed. However, over the last four outings, the George Washington product has allowed 11 runs,10 of them earned, on 12 hits in 6 1/3 innings. Menhart,

Rafael Martin doing all the right things in Arizona (plus Harper update)

Despite the Scorpions’ 5-13 last-place record, Scottsdale right-handed reliever Rafael Martin has pitched well this month in the Arizona Fall League. The San Fernando, Calif., native has pitched six relief innings over four games since Oct. 11, allowing just one run on four hits, with two walks and five strikeouts, for an impressive 1.50 ERA. Scorpions and Potomac Nationals pitching coach Paul Menhart said Martin

Could Tyler Moore be Nationals’ version of Rangers’ Mitch Moreland?

Watching Game 5 of the World Series on Monday and seeing Texas Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland crank a crucial solo home run, it reminded me of a conversation I had with Baseball America national writer Aaron Fitt comparing the Rangers’ young player with the Washington Nationals’ Tyler Moore. There are similarities between the two sluggers, except for what side of the batter’s box they

Solid Solis leaves with lead, gets AFL no-decision

Scottsdale left-hander Sammy Solis had a consistent outing Monday, staking the Scorpions to a 3-2 lead through five innings of an 8-4 setback at the Peoria Javelinas of Arizona Fall League play. Solis allowed only two runs, struck out three, scattering four hits with one walk. He threw 63 pitches, 44 for strikes. He did hit one batter and had a pickoff attempt that turned

Goodwin makes “huge strides” at instructional league

Brian Goodwin was selected in the sandwich round at No. 34 in June’s draft by the Nationals and was hailed for his speed and defensive tools in center field. The former University of North Carolina outfielder put on an impressive display of his talents during instructional league in Viera, Fla., this month, according to Nationals director of player development Doug Harris. “Goodwin made huge strides

Nationals draft rated No. 1: Rising talent level in system not going unnoticed

The Nationals saw it in September with callups Chris Marrero, Stephen Lombardozzi, Brad Peacock and Tommy Milone making significant contributions to a run that resulted in a 15-5 record in the final three weeks of the season. Nationals director of player development Doug Harris said the increased number of Triple-A players that did well in the big leagues is a prime example of how the

Nationals adjust Meyer’s delivery during instructional league work

University of Kentucky pitcher Alex Meyer had an excellent instructional league camp with the Nationals in Viera, Fla., and now prepares for his first professional season. The 6-foot-9, 220-lb., right-hander struck out 110 hitters in 101 innings last season with the Wildcats, and features what the Nationals call three plus pitches: a fastball, slider and change up. Nationals director of player development Doug Harris said

With Walters playing third base, could Rendon wind up at second?

Scottsdale catcher Derek Norris had a big game at the plate Wednesday, going 3-for-4 with a solo homer and two RBIs in Mesa’s 6-5 win over the Scorpions. Norris is now batting .286. He also scored a run, stole a base (his second of the Arizona Fall League season) and connected on a two-out RBI. Norris talked to me this week of how his swing

Ex-Yankees prospect Garcia making big impression after a pair of Tommy John surgeries

The Nationals took a chance two years ago with a former Yankees pitcher coming off a major shoulder surgery. Chien-Ming Wang paid dividends for the Nationals’ patience with a tremendous return to the big leagues, winning four of his last five decisions, and gaining his confidence and strength back. He had 16 strikeouts and no walks in his final four starts. Several times this summer

Norris “free and easy” at plate after struggles at Harrisburg

Scottsdale Scorpions catcher Derek Norris has made some adjustments to his approach at the plate that have made a positive difference as he wraps up his 2011 season in the Arizona Fall League. Norris hit .210 in 104 games with 334 at-bats for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators this season. He had 17 doubles, one triple, 20 homers, 77 walks and 46 RBIs. Norris said playing

Outfield an “option” for Nationals’ power-hitting prospect Tyler Moore

After hitting 31 homers in back-to-back seasons, first baseman Tyler Moore is the hottest young power hitter in the Nationals organization. Moore hit 15 homers in his first two professional campaigns, and then exploded for 62 in his last two seasons at Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. With first base locked in at Triple-A Syracuse by Chris Marrero, and because of Adam LaRoche’s presence in

Purke goes two innings in Arizona debut; Scottsdale drops 8-7 decision

Scottsdale Scorpions left-hander Matt Purke pitched two innings following Red Sox prospect Brock Huntzinger in Saturday’s 8-7 loss to the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League. Purke fired 38 pitches, 20 for strikes, allowing one run on one hit, one walk and striking out one. He induced two groundouts and two flyouts. Nationals director of player development Doug Harris said Friday that this is

Prospect Purke in Arizona, to work out of bullpen with Scottsdale

Nationals draft pick Matt Purke has arrived in Arizona and is now available to pitch for the Scottsdale Scorpions after a successful instructional league camp in Viera, Fla. The 96th overall selection, a left-hander out of TCU, will work out of the bullpen in Arizona, according to Nationals director of player development Doug Harris. Harris said Purke will usually get one or two innings of

Harper manages base hit in Scottsdale’s 3-1 loss to Salt River

Thursday was a pretty quiet night for the Scottsdale Scorpions as they fell again to the first-place Salt River Rafters 3-1 in Arizona Fall League play. Left fielder Bryce Harper, the Nationals’ top prospect, returned to the lineup, going 1-for-4 with a single. He is batting .087 and left a man in scoring position. Harper singled to center field with one out in the seventh,

Solis allows four runs in four innings; Scottsdale falls 10-5

Left-hander Sammy Solis has sometimes allowed runs early and then settled down during his first year of professional ball. That scenario again played out Wednesday as Salt River scored four runs in the first three frames off the Scottsdale southpaw in a 10-5 setback in Arizona Fall League competition. Solis allowed a two-run single by Nolan Arenado and a pair of RBI outs in the

Solis zeroes in on strike zone for tonight’s second Arizona start

Scottsdale Scorpions left-hander Sammy Solis makes his second start of the Arizona Fall League campaign tonight as he takes to the mound against Salt River. Solis went three innings, allowing one run on two hits with three walks and no strikeouts in a no-decision against the very same Salt River Rafters, Oct. 6. Despite the three walks, Solis was pleased with the outing and came

Lehman allows two runs, Walters RBI hit, Harper plays right field in Scottsdale loss

Mesa dropped Scottsdale 3-2 in Arizona Fall League play Tuesday with George Washington product pitcher Pat Lehman getting knocked around for four hits and two runs. An Aaron Hicks triple, which glanced off the glove of Bryce Harper in right field, and a home run by Brandon Short were the big hits for the Solar Sox off Lehman in two innings of work. Rafael Martin

Harper tallies first hit, RBI as Scottsdale comes back to win in Arizona

The Nationals’ top prospect, left fielder Bryce Harper, contributed in a big way as the Scottsdale Scorpions ralled to beat the Mesa Solar Sox 4-3 in the Arizona Fall League Monday night. Harper had a single for his first hit in the fall and added an RBI groundout. He showed off his speed with a pair of stolen bases. Harper’s batting average is now 1-for-16

Scottsdale rebounds with two wins, Harper still hitless in AFL

The Scottsdale Scorpions, the Arizona Fall League team partially stocked by the Nationals, has won two in a row over Phoenix as the hitting has come around and the pitching has improved. George Washington University product Patrick Lehman pitched the last inning of a 7-3 victory Saturday, going one inning, allowing one hit, no runs, one walk, two strikeouts and hitting one batter. Lehman tossed

Martin’s big leap earns ticket to Arizona Fall League

Right-handed pitcher Rafael Martin had one of the best seasons for a reliever in the Nationals’ chain in 2011. It all clicked for the 27-year-old, who mesmerized hitters in the Double-A Eastern League. After starting the season at Single-A Potomac, Martin rolled at Harrisburg, earning a spot on the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. The 6-foot-2,195-lb., San Fernando, Calif., native went 5-1 with

Solis struggles with command; Harper hitless as Scottsdale falls again

The Scottsdale Scorpions were able to get the early lead they needed, but left-hander Sammy Solis was not able to last long enough to earn the victory Thursday. The Scorpions led at one point 2-1, but fell 3-2 at Salt River in the Arizona Fall League, after allowing two late runs. Scottsdale is now 0-2. Solis allowed only one run, but walked three hitters in

Solis will work on breaking pitches in first AFL start

Scottsdale Scorpions left-hander and former University of San Diego standout Sammy Solis makes his 2011 Arizona Fall League debut today against Salt River Rafters. The Scorpions (0-1) fell to Surprise 10-1 in the season opener Wednesday. Nationals prospect Zach Walters went 1-for-3, but Bryce Harper (0-for-3, one strikeout) and Derek Norris (0-for-3) did not register a hit in the first game. Reliever Pat Lehman faced

GW product Lehman ready to showcase stuff in Arizona

Right-hander Patrick Lehman, a George Washington University product, advanced very well in 2011 from Single-A Potomac to Double-A Harrisburg and now looks to cap off the season with a good run in the Arizona Fall League. Lehman had such a quality campaign that he was selected to the Scottsdale Scorpions roster as one of the representatives from the Nationals organization. Lehman went a combined 3-2

Purke to join AFL soon, Rendon to stay at instructional league

Left-hander Matt Purke, the former Texas Christian star, will join the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League at the conclusion of fall instructional league in Viera, Fla., according to a Nationals source. Former Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, however, will stay at instructional league for now, and the Nationals’ future plans for him are not known. Rendon, the team’s first-round selection in June’s First-Year

Instructional prospect updates: Keyes, Hood, Perez, Goodwin

While in Hagerstown to see Stephen Strasburg rehab, one of the outfield stories that really caught my eye was the power displayed by Kevin Keyes. Keyes is continuing his season at the Nationals’ instructional camp in Florida. Single-A Potomac Nationals hitting coach Mark Harris is one of the many coaches at instructs and likes what he sees from the former Texas Longhorn. “I think he

Nationals’ instructional prospect updates: Walters, Leon, Skole

The intructional league season, which continues for two more weeks at the Nationals complex in Florida, benefits players who have not had much time in the Nationals’ organization, and others who are getting back from injury and need extra at-bats under the watchful eye of the coaching staff. Shortstop Zach Walters, acquired in the July trade from Arizona for Jason Marquis, started to get on

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