With the trade of a pair of top pitchers in the Nationals' system (Brad Peacock and Tom Milone), there will be roster availability at Triple-A Syracuse in 2012 for starting pitchers. One of the hurlers who will get an extended look in spring training to fill the void is right-hander Erik Arnesen.
Arnesen blazed through Double-A last season, going 8-4 with a 2.43 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 26 games, including 16 starts. He was called up to Syracuse late in the campaign, going 0-2. You really feel like if Arnesen is given a full season look in Triple-A, the Eastern League All-Star will shine like he did in Double-A Harrisburg because his stuff is good enough to succeed.
Former Harrisburg Senators pitching coach Randy Tomlin was impressed with what he saw all season from Arnesen, proving he has the ability to belong in such a setting.
"(The guy that) gets overlooked more than anybody is Erik Arnesen," Tomlin said. "The guy walks up to the field and asks what he can do for you today. He is 'Mr. Consistency.' You know what you are going to get when he goes out there. He pitched at Triple-A and was extremely successful at Double-A. He is a good quality guy to have in your organization."
Arnesen has been in the Nationals' system since 2006 when he was a 17th-round selection - and another example of the franchise cultivating a maybe underappreciated arm and getting him to the point where he is ready to contribute. Tomlin said Arnesen does this by getting the batter out with a confusing mix of pitches.
"He has a fastball, slider and throws a split," Tomlin said. "(Arnesen) does a couple of different things with his split. He uses a changeup as his out pitch. But his biggest out pitch is his heart because he is coming at you from the beginning."
Arnesen has also shown consistency in his challenging velocity.
"He will pitch at 90 and 91 mph and occasionally bump it up to 92 and 93 mph," Tomlin said. "Erik is going to pound you strike one and he is not afraid to pitch inside. His breaking stuff got better. When he gets rolling (he is hard to beat). He has really worked hard enough to the point that I believe he can fill in for a time (in the majors). His command and his no-fear attitude allows him to hold his own. You are not afraid to put him out there."
Having a taste of Triple-A opens the door for Arnesen to make a statement this season in Syracuse. If he continues the consistency he has shown in the recent past, Arnesen could be a call-up to D.C. in late 2012.