Mar 032011
 

OK, so maybe I’m a day late on the Dr. Seuss peg, but the Nationals were most definitely a dollar short on Thursday, falling to the St. Louis Cardinals 7-5 for their first Spring Training loss in 2011.

Derek Norris’s solo HR in the top of the 8th was the highlight on the prospect front, taking a bit of the sting off an ugly fourth inning that saw Garrett Mock serve give up five runs in two-thirds of an inning on two hits and three walks.

Danny Espinosa’s error helped prolong the five-run fourth, as he started again at 2B and went 1-for-3 with a stolen base. Wilson Ramos was the DH and went 2-for-3 with a runs scored and an RBI.

Other notable prospects…

  • Bryce Harper went 0-for-2, lowering his batting average to .143
  • Jhonatan Solano went 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter for Ramos.

With the loss, the Nats drop to 3-1 for the spring. They return to Viera for a split-squad game against the Braves tomorrow. Over the weekend, the Nats travel to Tampa to visit the Yankees and then rematch against the Braves on Sunday, which will also be the first MASN telecast. The first round of cuts is expected after Saturday’s game, setting up the possibility for Harper to be sent to minor-league camp.

Speaking of which, minor-league pitchers and catchers are due to report tomorrow while position players are scheduled to report on Tuesday.

Mar 022011
 

Yunesky Maya, one of several candidates for the back end of the Washington Nationals rotation, made his case with two scoreless innings as the Washington Nationals doubled up the Florida Marlins, 8-4.

Maya struck out three and allowed two hits, featuring his curveball and throwing 23 pitches, 16 for strikes. He also started a 1-6-3 double play in his second inning of work (the fifth) and was credited with a hold.

Offensively, the Nationals were paced by another four-run outburst, this time in the second inning and highlighted by a three-run blast by Roger Bernadina.

No prospects got the start, as projected bench player Jerry Hairston Jr. manned 2B instead of  Danny Espinosa and non-roster invitee Michael Aubrey took 1B as Adam LaRoche once again was the DH.

Other notable prospects…

  • Bryce Harper drew a walk and scored a run while pinch-hitting for Laynce Nix in his first at-bat and flew out to deep LCF in his second at-bat.
  • Wilson Ramos followed Jesus Flores as the team’s backstop and went 0-for-1. No baserunners attempt to steal against him.
  • Atahualpa Severino threw a 1-2-3 seventh inning and finished the inning with a caught-looking strikeout.

Tomorrow, a split-squad team travels to Jupiter, Florida to visit the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mar 022011
 

As mentioned in the comments by NFA Brian, the Nationals have signed a couple of pitchers to minor-league contracts.

Most notably, one of those signed was Sam Brown, who was drafted in the 7th round by the Nationals out of high school in 2006 but did not sign. He was drafted again in 2008 by Arizona in the 18th round but did not sign with his drafting team until 2009 by the Texas Rangers. Brown appeared in 31 games and posted a 3.45 ERA (all in relief) for Spokane in the short-season Northwest League that year. He repeated briefly last year before getting promoted to Hickory in the Sally League, but pitched poorly (6.45 ERA, 1.917 WHIP) in 19 games. He released this past January.

Also signed was Scott Mueller, another thrice-drafted pitcher that finally signed with the Baltimore Orioles in 2007. He rose as high as Frederick in 2008, but was released following a dismal 2009 season with Delmarva. He pitched last season in the independent Frontier League, making the All-Star game as a closer for the Traverse City Bums with a 2-0, 2.04 ERA mark and 14 saves in 38 games.

Should they make the cut, Hagerstown would appear to be the most likely destination for the 23-year-old Brown and the 24-year Mueller (both have June birthdays), given their lack of success or experience at High-A (the Frontier League is a middle-tier indy, roughly equivalent to Low-A). It may also be a signal from the front office that there will be fewer pitchers making the leap from the GCL and the New York-Penn League than usual.

Mar 012011
 

The beauty (and agony) of baseball is that every day is a new chance to forget yesterday. After striking out twice yesterday, Bryce Harper buried his inglorious two-K debut and served up an opposite-field single in his first at-bat today as the Nationals escaped a shaky 9th to beat the New York Mets, 5-3. Harper went 1-for-2 overall and fielded two doubles, the second of which was not fielded cleanly according to NatsNQ (via Twitter).

Danny Espinosa started again at second base, with Chris Marrero at first base, filling in for DH Adam LaRoche (shoulder soreness). Espinosa knocked in two with a two-run HR in the bottom of the Nats’ four-run fourth inning and laid down the tag on a strike-em-out-throw-em-out DP in the previous half-inning. Marrero singled twice in two at-bats out of the #9 hole and did not make an error.

Other notable prospects…

  • Corey Brown once again spelled Nyjer Morgan in CF, rapping an RBI single in the bottom of the 7th, but left the game after a collision at home plate while trying to score on an grounder to 1B by Harper.
  • Derek Norris replaced Ivan Rodriguez and went 1-for-2, popping to short in his first at-bat and singling to 3B in his second AB
  • Cole Kimball pitched a scoreless sixth inning, walking one and striking out one. The stadium’s radar gun was inoperative so no word on how hard he was throwing.

The Nationals remain in Viera tomorrow for an afternoon tilt against the Florida Marlins.