We haven't checked in recently on the Nationals players logging time in winter ball, and a number of players who will be fighting for roster spots in spring training are still at it in Latin America. Here's the latest:
--Jesus Flores, playing for the Navagantes del Magellanes in the Venezuelan Winter League, is hitting .328 in 18 games, having gone 15-for-40 in his last 10.
--Wilson Ramos, who will likely be competing against Flores for the second catching spot on the Nationals' roster, is also hitting well in Venezuela. He has a .314 average in 39 games, having homered six times in 153 at-bats. It's difficult to know what to make of the power numbers, given the stadiums and level of pitching, but Ramos projects to have a little more power in his swing than Flores in the majors, as well. He's got the inside track on the second spot, since Flores will have to prove he's healthy, but if he could show some power this spring, it would help his case.
--New Nationals pitcher Henry Rodriguez, acquired in the Josh Willingham trade last week, has allowed eight runs, four of them earned, in 21 1/3 innings. Walks have been Rodriguez's problem, and Nationals GM Mike Rizzo asserted last week that Rodriguez was heading in the right direction. He hasn't walked a batter in his last six appearances, but that's obviously against a lower (and probably less patient) class of hitter than he'll find in the majors.
--Right-hander Yunesky Maya is 4-1 in the Dominican Winter League with a 1.29 ERA. He's got a 3.50 groundout-to-flyout ratio and has 41 strikeouts in 39 innings, but getting hitters out at this level has never been his problem. It'll be interesting to see what the Nationals do with Maya this spring; they maintain his tepid results were partially because he was rushed into the majors last year without getting time to adjust to the U.S., but his stuff seems underwhelming no matter how you cut it. He'll have a tough time making the Nationals' rotation this spring without a set of good performances, but in many games, he'll be facing the same level of hitter he's facing in the Dominican right now. So even if he pitches well, it's hard to know how much stock to put in the performances.
--Lastly, Elvin Ramirez - the Nationals' first pick in the Rule 5 draft this month -- has a 1.88 ERA in 19 games in the Dominican Winter League. Like Rodriguez, he's another power arm that struggles with walks, though he's only walked four batters in the Dominican. Ramirez could be an intriguing case in spring training; he'd have to be impressive for the Nationals to keep him, but if he shows he can cut it, they might be inclined to take a chance on him and see if they can keep the Rule 5 pick on the major league roster all season.