As has been previously reported, the Nationals are adding an additional five players today, now that the minor league season has completed (for everyone except Vermont and the DSL Nationals1). After adding LHSP Matt Chico and RHRP Winston Abreu on Friday, the Nationals are adding 2007 first rounder LHSP Ross Detwiler, 2005 4th rounder CF Justin Maxwell, minor league free agent LHRP Arnie Munoz, minor league free agent RHRP Jon Albaladejo, and CF Ryan Langerhans(they are also activating LHRP Micah Bowie from the 15-day DL). Most people are aware of who Chico, Langerhans and Bowie are so I’ll give the quick recap on the other five players:
- Abreu: The 30-year old Abreu was signed as a minor league free agent by the Nationals after the 2006 season pitching in the Orioles system. He had a less than stellar cup of coffee with the Nationals earlier this season but was dominant in Triple-A Columbus where he put together a great season in relief, going 3-0 with a 1.20ERA and 0.84WHIP over 37 appearances. In 52 1/3 innings, he struck out an impressive 82 hitters while walking 20. Abreu is a righthanded relief pitcher brought in to bridge the game to the setup man/closer.
- Munoz: after spending his entire career in the Chicago White Sox system, the 25-year old Munoz signed with the Nationals as a minor league free agent after the 2006 season. Munoz was the lefthanded compliment to Abreu in Columbus compiling a 3-1 record with a 2.61ERA and 1.20WHIP over 53 appearances (51 1/3IP) with 45 strikeouts and 18 walks. Munoz will be like Ray King, a guy brought into the game to face lefthanded hitters. In Triple-A, he held LH to 179/238/256. Munoz is getting the chance to show the organization whether he worthy of a spot in the organization, perhaps even a role in the bullpen as the lefty specialist.
- Albaladejo: The 24-year old RHRP was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2001 out of Puerto Rico. He has a low-90s fastball and was known as a strikeout pitcher in his six years in their organization. Released by the Pirates earlier this season, the Nationals picked him up as a righthanded arm for the Harrisburg bullpen. Over 21 appearances (36 2/3 IP), he didn’t have eye-popping numbers, a 1.23WHIP and 4.17ERA with 35 strikeouts. But given the roster shuffle in the organization, he saw himself thrust into action for the Clippers where his numbers improved. He was 3-0 with a 0.78ERA and 0.83WHIP in 14 appearances (23IP). He struck out 20 while walking seven. He’ll likely be used against righthanded hitters down the stretch, in Columbus, he held RH hitters to 130/203/185. Like with Munoz, the Nationals are trying out Albaladejo to see what he has to offer and whether he is worth retaining in the organization.
- Detwiler: Everyone knows the background on Detwiler. The #6 overall pick in 2007 spent the last month of his professional time in High-A Potomac where he was 2-2 with a 4.22 ERA in five appearances. The 21-year old Detwiler is being brought up to get him some exposure to the major leagues. It’s unlikely that he’ll start any games but will probably get a few innings or at the very least a few batters during the final weeks of the season. There have been questions whether it makes any sense to add Detwiler to the 40-man roster at this point. The most common concern is options and service time. I see no issues with adding him to the roster because as a top 10 draft pick out of college, he’ll need to demonstrate within the four year window (the number of option years he’d have) that he’s ready to perform at a major league level. If he’s not ready to be a full time majorleaguer at that point, there are bigger questions than adding him to the 40-man in his first season as a professional. As for the service time clock, I don’t believe that ~25 days is going to make the difference on whether he becomes a Super Two. In the the best case scenarion, he makes the team out of spring training in 2008 (not a 100% guarantee by any stretch) and not be eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2010 season. And the possibility exists that if he spends a total of roughly a month and a half in the minor leagues over the next three seasons, that arbitration timeline can be bumped out to 2011 (and even further depending upon how much time he actually spends in the minors).
- Maxwell: Of all the promotions, this is probably the more surprising one, the soon-to-be 24-year old former Terp put together an impressive season split between Low-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac. Combines, Maxwell hit 281/363/533 with 27 home runs, 85 RBI and 35/43 stolen bases. It seems the Nationals want to see what he can do when exposed to major league pitching. He’s likely to only see spot duty as a late inning pinch-hitter/defensive replacement though he may get a start here and there. The issue of options and service time come up again with Maxwell, though similar to Detwiler there are some reasonable explanations. Maxwell is older than the level he played at this season and if he is to be a part of the Nationals future, he’ll need to make his move soon as his age will quickly move him out of the “prospect” discussion. The Nationals willhave options on him for 2008 through 2011, or when he is 24 through 27 years of age. The Nationals would likely know by that point whether he is ready to be a major league regular and the concern with options would not be a problem. As for the service time, he’s in the same boat as Detwiler again where careful roster placement can push off his arbitration years until 2011 or beyond (more likely the beyond).
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