Stevenson excelling at Hagerstown after big season for LSU

Outfielder Andrew Stevenson has already been promoted from short-season Single-A Auburn to low Single-A Hagerstown.

The 2015 second-round selection from Louisiana State played in the College World Series and gained valuable experience by playing for a top-flight collegiate program in the Southeastern Conference. The SEC had four teams earn trips to the College World Series in Omaha to start this summer (LSU, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Florida).

andrew-stevenson-lsu-bunting-sidebar.jpgStevenson was already a highly rated centerfield prospect and Auburn manager Gary Cathcart said the 21-year-old showed his ability in the field to begin his pro career. Cathcart also observed how Stevenson adapted to what his staff was trying to teach him in adapting his defensive game to the minor leagues.

“That’s an impressive young man right there,” Cathcart said. “Extremely respectful, just a wonderful young man, wants to learn. Really understood quickly how different the pro game was from the college game. We made some adjustments with a few things he was doing with his throwing. You just give him one thing and he works so diligently on it. Chance to be a Gold Glove center fielder. Covers ground.”

Cathcart said the Doubledays put Stevenson as their leadoff man and he quickly adapted well to the role. That was a different perspective for Stevenson than he had with the Tigers.

“(Stevenson is) learning how to bat at the top of the order,” Cathcart said. “He was more of a middle, five-, six-hole guy at LSU, but he’s going to be top of the order for us, obviously. Use his speed, probably 70 runner. Really above average, just a wonderful off-the-charts type kid. Being a college guy with his baseball aptitude, he’s going to be a guy that moves pretty quickly, as well.”

Cathcart said the Nationals did not alter or adjust Stevenson’s swing mechanics. They preach to their prospects to keep their offensive game as is for the first year or so and let them just play.

“We really don’t do very much first go,” Cathcart said. “He’s going to be an instructional league guy. It’s one of those things for me just because it doesn’t look the way everybody else does. I look at the results. He hit about .360 here, he’s hitting (.317) in Hagerstown. Just kind of let it go. I don’t like to cookie cut guys. If it works for him, even though it might be a little unorthodox looking, if it works for him, he’s able to barrel up the ball, he knows what kind of hitter he is. He’s already learned to be a line drive (hitter), put the ball on the ground and run, he’ll drive the ball every now and again, I saw him hit a home run (on August 2).

“He’s got a nice tool set. On top of the makeup and the baseball aptitude, he’s going to be fun to watch.”

* Major League Baseball announced that former Triple-A Syracuse right-hander Jose Valverde has been suspended for violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Valverde received an 80-game suspension without pay following a positive test for a metabolite of Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance. His suspension will become effective immediately upon his signing with another Major League organization.

Valverde asked for his release from the Nationals on July 22. He had a 2.39 ERA in 27 games with Syracuse. Valverde also had an opt-out in his contract if not promoted to the Nationals. Several other relievers were promoted in front of Valverde, so he asked for and was granted his release

Valverde has 288 major league saves and most recently pitched for the Tigers and Mets.

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