One month after the strange saga of David DeJesus, the Nationals announced today that 22-y.o. LHP Matthew Spann is the “player to be named later.”
Spann was drafted in the 25th round out of Central High School in Columbia, TN (that’s roughly 40 miles south of Brentwood, hometown of Robbie Ray) and was eased into starting his first year in the GCL (2010) before spending another short season as a starter (2011) and a full season at Low-A (2012).
As you might imagine with a low-round draft pick, scouting reports are few and far between. The most recent is this one from Robbie Knopf at RaysColoredGlasses.com where the upshot was this:
Right now, Spann lives and dies off the late movement on his fastball, with the remainder of his pitches showing flashes but no consistency. Spann throws from a high three-quarters arm slot and has trouble at times getting the finish on his pitches to keep them down in the zone, but when he does, he can be effective even though his arsenal is a long ways away.
That was, of course, last summer and a lot could have (and probably did) changed since then, as the Rays decided to move him to the ‘pen for 2013, where he had some good numbers (2.87 ERA, 3.2 BB/9) and some not so good (1.475 WHIP, 5.3 K/9). According to Baseball America’s Jim Callis, Spann is less of a beanpole — 220 lbs. vs. 185 — and pegged his velo at 86-90 m.p.h.
Best guess is that Spann will be in Woodbridge next summer. If used as a setup man, he’ll be mentioned in conjunction with several bridge puns, though my gut feeling is that we’ll see him used in long relief until he’s ready to start. Considering the dearth of age-appropriate-to-level pitchers in the Nats system, this is quite a return for waiver-claim pickup.