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The stuff of Gio Gonzalez

I have focused many of my recent blogs on the impact of losing four top prospects in the trade with the Oakland A's for Gio Gonzalez and a minor league player. Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole, Tom Milone and Derek Norris are all close, or already have major league experience. They can help Oakland now. But the importance of what an experienced left-handed starter can mean

Nationals believe Rendon is good enough to start career with Potomac

With the trade of four top prospects, the Nationals still have Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon at the top of their list of the best offensive talent in the organization. Harper proved he could hit and hold his own defensively in his debut season with Single-A Hagerstown, Double-A Harrisburg and a second consecutive stint in the Arizona Fall League. Rendon, the team's first-round pick in

New wave of prospects expected to move up from Auburn in spring

The next wave of prospects from the short-season Single-A Auburn Doubledays, including several late round picks, will begin to fill the rosters of Single-A Hagerstown and advanced Single-A Potomac when the 2012 season draws closer. One of those players we will hear from is former Georgia Tech third baseman Matt Skole, who had a very promising start to his career with Auburn. Skole hit .290

Norris ready for "new opportunity" with the Oakland A's

Catcher Derek Norris, one of the four top prospects traded last week and considered one of the highest-rated backstops not yet in the majors, believes he can contribute right now with his new team, the Oakland Athletics. Norris has been the prized possession of the Nationals' revamped minor league system, and each season has continued to develop his defense. Norris has jumped from Single-A Potomac

Milone looking forward to reuniting with USC teammates at Oakland

Left-hander Tom Milone, one of four players traded by the Nationals for Gio Gonzalez, is excited about his opportunity to pitch for the Oakland A's, but also looks back with admiration to the team that believed in him that first season. Milone, a 10th-round selection by the Nationals in 2008, pitched for the University of Southern California, and was Washington's 2010 minor league Pitcher of

41st-round pick Peacock thankful Nationals "treated me like a first-rounder"

Right-hander Brad Peacock is excited about the new challenge of pitching in the American League with the Oakland A's and is very thankful for his time and experience with the Nationals. The trade was made official Friday. Gio Gonzalez and one minor league pitcher Robert Gilliam were acquired by the Nationals in exchange for Peacock, Tom Milone, Derek Norris and A.J. Cole. "I was surprised,"

After Gonzalez trade, what's left in Nationals' system?

The announcement of the blockbuster trade drew a few gasps at the prospects the Nationals gave up to get left-hander Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland A's. Those prospects represented among the top players in the franchise's coveted minor league system, according to Baseball America. Specifically, Brad Peacock (No. 3), A.J. Cole (No. 4), Derek Norris (No. 9) and Tom Milone (No.16 in 2010) were considered

Tripp Keister thrilled to get shot at managing GCL Nationals

The Nationals announced Monday that their Gulf Coast League affiliate will have a new manager in former collegiate coach Tripp Keister. Keister brings two decades as a coach at the collegiate level and major league amateur scout to his new position as skipper of the GCL Nationals. While at Wesley College in Dover, Del., Keister led the Wolverines to a 157-92-1 record since 2006, including

Beasley, LeCroy, Rupp and Daubach named Nats minor league managers

Brian Rupp, who managed the Single-A Wilmington Blue Rocks, will be the new manager of the Single-A Potomac Nationals, the parent Nationals announced today. Rupp spent three seasons at the helm of the Kansas City Royals' advanced Single-A club. The 40-year old Rupp has extensive coaching experience with the Cardinals and the Royals, and reached as high as the Triple-A level as a player, winning

Peacock's role gaining importance as free agent market dwindles

The Nationals were disappointed at not being able to land their offseason prized pitching free agent, Mark Buerhle. There has not been much positive movement on the possibility of the Nats inking veteran Roy Oswalt to round out a talented and young starting rotation. So where does that leave pitchers like Ross Detwiler, Brad Peacock and Tom Milone? Do they have a better chance of

Where will Bryce Harper be on opening day?

There are thoughts and arguments on both sides of the fence on where a particular 19-year-old No. 1 Nationals prospect should play in 2012. Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr remembers how disappointed Bryce Harper was last season when he was told after an impressive spring that he was not going to go north with the big club. So after starting slow and then tearing up

Knorr to D.C. alters minor league coaching staffs (updated)

With Randy Knorr leaving Triple-A Syracuse to be the Nationals bench coach, Tony Beasley will move up to manage the Chiefs this season, according to MiLB.com. (Updated: The Nationals are expected to announce the complete minor league coaching staffs early next week.) Matt Lecroy goes to Double-A Harrisburg to manage the Senators after leading the Single-A Potomac Nationals last season. Brian Daubach is still listed

Nationals interested in Mike Cameron and Greg Dobbs, among others

The bench for each major league team is a major part of a team's long-term success through the ups and downs of a rigorous 162-game season. Many times, if you make the right choices for your bench this time of year, it can reap short-term return if you trade them at the trading deadline for future prospects. Jerry Hairston Jr., made a big splash with

Nationals get brand new field grass for 2012 at Nationals Park

I had the opportunity to visit Nationals Park twice in the last month and viewed progression of installation of the brand new field grass. In November, the top picture shows the entire outfield in dirt after the original grass was removed and the new grass was being installed in the infield portion. The bottom picture, taken Tuesday night, shows the new outfield grass in place

Meyers will switch to long relief as he begins career with Yankees

Right-hander Brad Meyers was selected by the New York Yankees in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings on Thursday and is looking forward to the new challenge. "My agent called me at 7 a.m. and woke me up," Meyers said. "I didn't know what time the draft would be, but, yes, I was excited." After getting promoted mid-season

Will the Nationals move some of their catching depth?

When building a solid major league system, a franchise can never have enough catching depth. The Nationals have demonstrated this on their 40-man roster, with four backstops. Jesus Flores, Derek Norris, Wilson Ramos and Jhonatan Solano represent the top four catchers protected on the Nationals' 40-man. It has been an emotional offseason for incumbent Ramos, who had to endure a horrible kidnapping. Despite that deeply

Pitchers Stammen, Slaten, Tatusko and Mandel could be bullpen fixtures in near future

The Nationals are closer to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in Viera, Fla., as the team sizes up what they could have in a talented and deep relief corps for 2012. New Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr, the former Syracuse Chiefs manager, was pleased with the staff he worked with in Triple-A last season. He sees some of those pitchers, either already with

Would Nats ever consider Moore or Marrero in a utility role?

Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr did not have first baseman Tyler Moore much last year, but realizes what an asset the Mississippi State star can be and why he resides on the 40-man. With the recent injury to Chris Marrero, it is likely that Moore will see a ton of time in Triple-A Syracuse at first base. 'You just can't deny the numbers of the

Solis seeing doctor in L.A. to check sore elbow (updated with Rizzo confirmation)

Left-hander Sammy Solis has seen a doctor in Los Angeles to check discomfort in his throwing elbow, a club source confirmed. As first reported in the Washington Times, Solis has consulted with Dr. Lewis Yocum and team doctor Wiemi Douoguih the past few weeks after feeling soreness in his elbow during Arizona Fall League competition. Rizzo told the Times they are not considering Tommy John

Could batting stance change get Bryce Harper to Nationals early this season?

Talk at the Winter Meetings regarding the Nationals outfield has general manager Mike Rizzo considering putting veteran Jayson Werth in center field. Werth enjoyed playing the spot in limited duty last season and did well defensively. If the Nationals cannot get Denard Span or B.J. Upton through a trade and their other center field options dry up, one possibility could be to move Werth there

Marlins' "Reyes"-ing the bar in the NL East?

With the news that the Miami Marlins have pried shortstop Jose Reyes away from his previous team, the New York Mets, and other teams, and the announcement of the signing of free agent closer Heath Bell, it's certainly raised eyebrows at Nationals Park and in Dallas at the Winter Meetings. Reyes reportedly has signed a six-year guaranteed deal worth up to $106 million with Miami.

Hector Nelo hits 100 mph, Nationals believe he has "best arm" in system

Right-hander Hector Nelo was able to display command of his mid-90s fastball and showed some positives from his other offerings in a solid first campaign with the Single-A Potomac Nationals last season. Nelo went 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA in 36 games in 2011, taking over the closer role when Patrick Lehman was promoted to Double-A Harrisburg. Nelo had 18 saves in 41 1/3 innings,

Baseball America's top Nats prospects - No. 1: Bryce Harper

"You want to talk Bryce? He is sitting right here", then-College of Southern Nevada coach Tim Chambers said to me over the phone a couple of years ago. Bryce Harper was getting ready for his first and only season of collegiate baseball for the Las Vegas-based junior college and regularly sat in his coach's office talking baseball or reading books. That day, Harper was reading

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