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How close are the Nationals to developing their own leadoff center fielder?

With Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings beginning Monday in Dallas, it is no secret the Nationals have a starting pitcher and leadoff hitter as their two priorities. How difficult will it be to solve both of those issues next week in Texas? It probably will not be an easy task to complete for many teams, not just the Nationals, because the Michael Bourns are not

Baseball America’s top Nats prospects - No. 2: Anthony Rendon

As the 2011 First-Year Player Draft moved along, it was apparent that there was a run on pitchers, and with guys like Danny Hultzen and Gerrit Cole setting the tone, the Nationals quickly realized top position players would still be available at No. 6. Only outfielder Bubba Starling was taken before Washington selected Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon with the sixth pick. Many mock drafts

Baseball America’s top Nats prospects - No. 3: Brad Peacock

In 2011, right-hander Brad Peacock had one of the best overall seasons of any minor league pitcher in the Nationals’ short history. Peacock went an incredible 15-3 with a 2.39 ERA in 23 starts in the minor leagues. In 146 2/3 innings, Peacock fanned 177 batters. Then in September, Peacock continued his dominance with the Nationals, going 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in three games

Adjustments to Purke’s delivery led to outstanding Arizona finish

Former Texas Christian pitcher Matt Purke was one of the bigger headlines coming out of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and with good reason. The tall southpaw could bring the heat and had an impeccable college career with the Horned Frogs, leading them to their first College World Series. After looking very good in instructional league camp with the Nationals, Purke was sent to the

Baseball America’s top Nats prospects - No. 4: A.J. Cole

Right-hander A.J. Cole made a nice splash in the Nationals’ system in his debut season with the Single-A Hagerstown Suns. The fourth-round selection from the 2010 draft posted a 4-7 record with a 4.04 ERA in 20 games, 18 of those as a starter. He struck out 108 batters in 89 innings, allowing only 24 walks. His best month was in June, where he went

Harper, Norris selected to 2011 AFL Top Prospects Team

Scottsdale Scorpions Derek Norris and Bryce Harper were named to the Arizona Fall League 2011 Top Prospects Team, which was announced over the weekend. The team was selected by managers and coaches in the AFL under the criteria of fall league performance and which prospects were most likely to have successful major league careers. Harper was tied for third in the AFL with six homers,

Baseball America’s top Nats prospects - No. 5: Brian Goodwin

The Nationals were very impressed with the speed and hitting ability of outfielder Brian Goodwin at instructional league. The coaches marveled at his speed from home plate to first base and were equally appreciative of his work at the plate. The way Goodwin played in Viera, Fla., showed a little bit of the potential and a great deal of the talent that the Nationals were

Baseball America’s top Nats prospects - No. 6: Alex Meyer

The Nationals’ prospect list has moved into the fast lane this offseason, thanks to the franchise’s big take in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. The team was able to select Anthony Rendon, Matt Purke, Brian Goodwin and pitcher Alex Meyer with their early June selections. Meyer, at 6-foot-9 and 220 lbs., could be an imposing force in the Nationals’ rotation once he gains experience and

Kimball said it’s “tough” to leave Nationals

Right-handed reliever Cole Kimball was claimed off waivers Wednesday by the Toronto Blue Jays, ending his tenure with the Nationals after only 12 big league games. Kimball made a quick rise to the Nationals early last season before a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder shut down his year. He finished with 14 innings, 1-0 record and a 1.93 ERA, including 11 strikeouts. So when

Pitcher’s perspective: The art of throwing a ball

While watching and listening to postseason baseball, I came upon a conversation going on during a radio broadcast of the Texas Rangers/Detroit Tigers series. The announcer and newly appointed Marlins hitting coach Eduardo Perez were discussing how difficult it is for a pitcher to throw a ball instead of a strike. One of the pitchers in the series had given up a game-changing home run

Baseball America’s top Nats prospects - No. 7: Matt Purke

BERKELEY, Calif. - Greetings from the Golden State. College basketball season is under way and this weekend, I am on assignment with the George Washington Colonials as they venture into Haas Pavilion to take on the No. 24 California Golden Bears. When we arrived, I got a good report on the pitching of left-hander Matt Purke, who threw another scoreless inning in the Arizona Fall

Baseball America’s top Nats prospects - No. 8: Sammy Solis

Scottsdale left-handed starter Sammy Solis gave up three early runs, only two earned, in Wednesday’s loss to Phoenix, 5-0, but has continued to show the stuff in the Arizona Fall League that has the Nationals abuzz over the potential of the former University of San Diego standout. The Nationals have always been very pleased with the makeup Solis possesses, especially his plus-plus fastball and changeup.

Baseball reacts to Ramos’ kidnapping

Many major leaguers, including some Nationals players and prospects, spend their offseasons playing winter ball in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and other places. Since yesterday’s news of catcher Wilson Ramos’ kidnapping, several of them have expressed their concern via Twitter or on Internet blogs. Nationals pitching prospect Ryan Tatusko is playing in the same Venezuelan winter league that Ramos was about to play

Baseball America’s top Nats prospects - No. 9: Derek Norris

Scottsdale Scorpions catcher Derek Norris’ bat has made a lot of noise in the Arizona Fall League, with coaches, scouts and media noticing across the nation. Considered one of the Nationals’ top catching prospects for a few seasons now, Norris hit just .210 during the season at Double-A Harrisburg. But Norris said he realized he was freezing up a bit in the batters’ box this

Baseball America’s top Nats prospects - No. 10: Steve Lombardozzi

Nationals fans were able to finally see infielder Steve Lombardozzi play in the big leagues with 13 games in September. Lombardozzi batted .194 with six hits, one double and one RBI for the Nationals. But he also played in 134 games in the minors in 2011, hitting a stellar .309 with 25 doubles, nine triples, eight homers, 30 stolen bases and 52 RBIs. Baseball America

Solis wins AFL Pitcher of the Week honors

Scottsdale left-hander Sammy Solis has been named the Pitcher of the Week for Week 5 of the Arizona Fall League. Solis worked eight innings, allowing no earned runs with 14 strikeouts in his last two outings. He shone Friday in his only start of the week, striking out nine batters in four scoreless frames in a win over Phoenix. The nine punchouts were a single-game

Baseball America’s top 10 Nationals prospects

Baseball America is out with its annual top 10 list of prospects for the Nationals and it is no surprise who is listed at No. 1. Here’s the full list: 1. Bryce Harper, OF 2. Anthony Rendon, 3B 3. Brad Peacock, RHP 4. A.J. Cole, RHP 5. Brian Goodwin, OF 6. Alex Meyer, RHP 7. Matt Purke, LHP 8. Sammy Solis, LHP 9. Derek Norris,

Harper, Solis and Norris AFL updates

Nationals prospects Bryce Harper and Derek Norris played in Saturday’s AFL Rising Stars Game in Surprise, Ariz. The AFL West, led by former Virginia standout Danny Hultzen, beat the AFL East 11-2 at Surprise Stadium. Harper connected on an RBI sacrifice fly in the fourth for the East. He finished 0-for-2 with a walk and two strikeouts. Norris went 0-for-2 with a walk and a

Bo Porter will remain third base coach for the Nationals

Bo Porter will remain the third base coach of the Nationals, according to general manager Mike Rizzo. Porter spoke with Rizzo about the vacancy on the coaching staff at the bench coach position, following manager Davey Johnson’s announcement that Pat Corrales would not return at that post next season. The Nationals believe Porter is very valuable to the organization as a coach, especially as the

Harper goes yard again as Scottsdale rolls over Surprise

So much for a slow start. That is ancient history, again, for Bryce Harper. The Scottsdale outfielder slammed a home run in the third inning, his fifth round tripper in the past six games, leading the Scorpions to a 10-6 win over Surprise in Arizona Fall League play. He went 3-for-3 with two runs, a homer, two walks and three RBIs in the victory. Harper

Solis adds traditional curve to pitching repertoire

Scottsdale Scorpions left-hander Sammy Solis has the stuff: a lethal, high-velocity fastball and mesmerizing changeup. Since high school, he has featured a rarely seen knuckle-curve taught to him by his father Bob, who was a southpaw at Notre Dame. But as the competition got better and he had trouble throwing the knuckle-curve for strikes, Solis, pitching for the Nationals in the Arizona Fall League, realized

Lehman believes adjustment is helping delivery; also working on slider

Scottsdale Scorpions right-hander Patrick Lehman believes the mechanical adjustment recently implemented by pitching coach Paul Menhart is having a positive effect on his delivery. “(Menhart) observed a bad habit coming from where my legs were positioned,” Lehman said. “I needed to throw in more of a downhill plane instead of a straight line. My focus was to stay tall and throw down more.” He did

Bryce Harper, Derek Norris named to AFL Rising Stars Game

Two of the topNationals prospects, Bryce Harper and catcher Derek Norris, have been named to the East squad for the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game set to be played Saturday night in Surprise, Ariz., according to the league’s Twitter account. The AFL Rising Stars game is Saturday at 8:10 p.m. Eastern time at Surprise Stadium. The game will be broadcast on the MLB Network.

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