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Diamondbacks scribe on Williams: “He is a classic old-school baseball type guy”

Former Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman and coach Matt Williams was named manager of the Washington Nationals on Thursday. Bob Baum, an Associated Press writer based in Phoenix who covers the Diamondbacks, remembers Williams as a player for Arizona. “I covered him since he was a player in his first year,” Baum said. “He is a classic old-school baseball type guy. He is very straightforward. I

Nats set to debut strength and conditioning camp next week for young prospects

The Nationals will conduct their first strength and conditioning camp for select prospects starting next week at the training facility in Viera, Fla., according to Nationals director of player development Doug Harris. Twenty young players - 12 pitchers and eight position players - will participate. The camp begins Monday, Nov. 4 and runs for five days. “It is an opportunity to give our young players

Purke named AFL Pitcher of the Week

A couple of Nationals prospects have been close to earning the honor this month, but Matt Purke is the first to break through. The left-hander was named Arizona Fall League Pitcher of the Week for week No. 3. Purke went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in three starts. He had a rough outing Tuesday, going three innings and allowing five runs on eight hits in

Goodwin honored with Fall Stars Game invite, Solis and Purke have been outstanding

Mesa’s rally came up short against Salt River Monday in the Arizona Fall League, as the Solar Sox fell 3-2. Trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the eighth, the Solar Sox scored two runs to cut the Rafters advantage to one run on a Kris Bryant two-run shot. C.J. Cron lined out to left field to end the game. Center fielder Brian Goodwin went 1-for-3,

Spin Williams believes Roark can challenge for starting spot

Right-hander Tanner Roark made a big splash with the Nationals at the end of the season, and put himself in a good position to contend for starting spot next year. Question is, is he ready for the long haul? Can he be the fifth starter for the Nationals in 2014? Nationals pitching coordinator Spin Williams believes Roark would make an excellent choice. “Oh, absolutely,” Williams

Barrett on Williams: “He was one of the best managers I have ever played for”

Matt Williams, who appears to be the choice at the next manager of the Nationals, managed the 2012 Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. He helped guide the Rafters to an appearance in the championship game, a 4-3 loss to Peoria. I caught up with right-hander Aaron Barrett and infielder Jason Martinson, two of the eight Nationals prospects on that team, to get

Spin Williams: A.J. Cole has grown by “leaps and bounds”

Right-hander A.J. Cole wrapped up his 2013 season at fall instructional league in Viera, Fla. It was the culmination of his first full season back with the Nationals after spending last season in the A’s organization. In 2012, Cole went from high Single-A to low Single-A in the Oakland system. In 2013, Cole jumped from high Single-A to Double-A in the Nationals system. In his

Souza showing hitting and speed ability early in Arizona play

Outfielder Stephen Souza Jr. is excited to be able to continue his season playing in the Arizona Fall League, even if it is only two games a week. Souza is on Mesa’s taxi squad, which means he is eligible to play Wednesday and Saturday each week for the Solar Sox. Souza’s first week went so well he was nominated for Player of the Week even

Mesa falls to Surprise 4-2, but Mirowski throws scoreless frame

Mesa fell to Surprise 4-2 on Tuesday in Arizona Fall League play. The Solar Sox had an early 1-0 lead, and held that advantage until the bottom of the sixth, when the Saguaros tied the game. Mesa then retook the lead 2-1 in the seventh, and Surprise had a surprise waiting for Mesa in the bottom of the inning (you knew I had to try

Solis goes five strong innings as Mesa wins 9-6 in Arizona

Mesa snapped its two-game skid with a 9-6 win over Surprise behind the pitching of Sammy Solis and big hits from Devon Tarvis and former Nationals prospect David Freitas in Arizona Fall League play. Solis went five innings and scattered six hits, allowing one run, one walk and striking out four. He is now 3-0 in three starts and has a 1.42 ERA. Solis tossed

Mirowski, Benincasa get in, but Mesa falls 8-2 to Salt River

Mesa hung in its game Saturday night until the ninth inning, before surrendering seven runs in an 8-2 loss to Salt River in Arizona Fall League play. Leading 2-1 heading into the top of the ninth, Salt River tallied seven runs on R.J. Alvarez, who blew the save. It was not all of his fault as four of the runs were unearned. Nationals prospects Richie

Mesa loses first game in AFL play, 11-9 against Surprise

It was an historic day in Arizona. Why you may ask? Well, it was the first time Mesa lost a game in the 2013 Arizona Fall League. Surprise defeated Mesa 11-9 with two runs in the ninth inning. But this was after a dramatic comeback by the Solar Sox fell just a bit short. Mesa rallied from 3-0 and 9-5 deficits to tie the game

Suero a part of new wave of Dominican pitchers making impact in Nationals system

There is a new wave of talent starting to gain momentum in the Nationals organization. That wave of talent is emanating from the Dominican Republic Academy the Nationals established a few years back, led by administrator Fausto Severino. I would not be surprised to see several of these Dominican pitchers work their way up through the minor league ranks of the Nationals system beginning next

Purke dominant, Skole homers in Mesa’s 6-1 defeat of Peoria

Left-hander Matt Purke was outstanding again in the Arizona Fall League, going four innings for his second win as Mesa trumped Peoria 6-1. Purke (2-0) struck out seven hitters in gathering 12 outs, allowing no hits, no runs and walking only one. He tossed 54 pitches, 36 for strikes. Purke allowed only four groundouts and no flyouts. Peoria failed to make good contact against Purke.

Mesa remains unbeaten thanks to Souza’s big hit

Mesa remained unbeaten with a 3-1 win over Peoria in Wednesday’s Arizona Fall League play. A Steven Souza Jr. line drive to right field plated two runs in a three-run sixth inning and six pitchers held Peoria to just a single run. Souza, a taxi squad member playing right field, finished 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs, and is now batting .364. Brian Goodwin

Solis “threw the ball well,” Skole gains momentum in Mesa’s 7-4 victory

Tuesday was time for Sammy Solis and Matt Skole to shine in Arizona. Left-hander Solis was good last week, but put together an even better start Tuesday as Mesa rolled past Scottsdale 7-4 in Arizona Fall League play. The Solar Sox remained unbeaten at 5-0-1 to be the only undefeated team left in AFL play. Solis struck out eight over four innings, allowing three hits,

Goodwin and Nieto guide Mesa past Scottsdale 7-6

Nationals prospect Brian Goodwin had two doubles and a run scored as Mesa held off Scottsdale 7-6 to remain unbeaten in Arizona Fall League on Monday. Goodwin played center field and batted second for the Solar Sox, improving his average to .357 after going 2-for-4. He also reached base on a hit by pitch. Catcher Adrian Nieto picked up two hits in four at-bats with

Handy guide to free agent left-handed relievers for 2014

Hanging with some Nationals fans Saturday at Maryland’s college football game versus Virginia (Terps won 27-26 in a very competitive battle), a lot of them asked me what left-handed relievers might be available next season to fire pitches at Nationals Park. Here is a quick list of available veteran free agent left-handed relievers, according to MLBTradeRumors.com: Scott Downs (38) Mike Gonzalez (36) Rich Hill (34)

Souza shines as Mesa remains unbeaten, 7-3

Maybe they should rename the Arizona Fall League taxi squad the “limousine squad.” Slated to play only Wednesdays and Saturdays, center fielder Steven Souza Jr. instead played Friday for Mesa, and contributed two hits and three RBIs in a 7-3 defeat of the Surprise Saguaros in Arizona Fall League play. Because it was a short week, Friday’s game counts as Saturday’s game for Souza. Taxi

Purke, Goodwin part of Mesa’s 8-1 win over Salt River

For the second game in a row, Mesa’s pitching and hitting was far better than their opponent. The Solar Sox rolled past the Salt River Rafters 8-1 in Arizona Fall League play behind Matt Purke. The left-hander was outstanding, going three innings and allowing one unearned run on two hits with one walk and two strikeouts. Purke tossed 46 pitches, 30 for strikes, inducing six

Could Nationals’ best choice for a new manager come from the outside?

The managerial search continues for the Nationals. Most likely, a decision or announcement will not come until after the World Series. Manager Davey Johnson leaves with a Hall of Fame legacy. Finishing his career with the Nationals, he won 100 games in 2012 and 86 in 2013. General manager Mike Rizzo has to make one of the bigger decisions of his tenure. His choice will

Mesa earns first win of season with Solis solid in initial start

The Mesa Solar Sox flexed their offensive muscle early, racing to a 7-0 lead after two innings in their home opener against the Glendale Desert Dogs in Arizona Fall League play Wednesday. Mesa went on to win 13-3. Left-hander Sammy Solis (1-0) went 3 2/3 innings for the victory, allowing three hits, no runs, one walk and striking out two. Solis tossed 56 pitches, 39

Mesa and Glendale end up tied at 8-8 after 11 innings in AFL opener

One of the main rules in the Arizona Fall League is the 11-inning rule. To avoid games that could go on and on all day or all night, the rule was set up to end games after 11 innings if they are tied. The statistics count, but the game is suspended. The first game of the season for the Mesa Solar Sox, who are partially

Eight Nationals prospects open season with Mesa Solar Sox today

The Mesa Solar Sox begin play in the Arizona Fall League today at the Glendale Desert Dogs. The season runs through Nov. 6. The Nationals have eight players on this team, with four position players and four pitchers. Today’s starters feature Mesa left-hander Michael Roth opposing former Nationals top prospect and Glendale starter Alex Meyer. Two of the pitchers are left-handed starters, Sammy Solis and

Benincasa, Grace promotions reveal strong Nationals system

A couple of more pitchers who made moves this season deserve praise as we look ahead to 2014 and setting up the organizational rosters. Robert Benincasa and Matt Grace both were promoted this season and showed promise with their efficiency and consistency. One a right-hander and the other a southpaw, both spent time under high Single-A Potomac manager Brian Daubach in 2013. Daubach said Benincasa

Skole on Tommy John recovery: “I am swinging without even thinking about my elbow”

Nationals hitting prospect Matt Skole recovered from a well-known baseball injury this summer: Tommy John surgery. But what was unusual is that Skole is not a pitcher and the injury occurred to his non-throwing arm. Therefore, he didn’t need a long, drawn-out recovery. And he will not be placed on an innings limit in his comeback. In the second post of our two-part interview with

Skole on return to baseball: “It has been a long wait, but I am really excited about it”

The Nationals’ minor league Player of the Year for 2012 is back on the field and only a couple of days away from heading to the Arizona Fall League. In the first post in a two-part series, I got to speak with third baseman Matt Skole on a myriad of subjects. First and foremost, he spoke about the long summer of rehab. Skole was injured

Taylor Hill honored with a minor league Gold Glove

Nationals minor league right-hander Taylor Hill was named a minor league Gold Glove award winner on Tuesday. The announcement was made by Minor League Baseball and the Rawlings Sporting Goods Co., Inc. The Gold Glove is awarded to players that exhibit stellar defense at their position for the season. The 24-year-old Hill joins second baseman Steve Lombardozzi as the second Nationals farmhand to be honored

Mirowski adds third pitch, now preps for Arizona Fall League

One of the under-the-radar hurlers that is making a nice move within the Nationals organization is right-handed reliever Richie Mirowski. Along with Aaron Barrett and Robert Benincasa, Mirowski is one to watch for in 2014. Mirowski went 8-3 with a 1.50 ERA in 32 games for high Single-A Potomac. In 48 innings, Mirowski had 59 strikeouts and 11 walks, yielding an amazing .180 batting average

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