Get To Know A Nat 2014: Zach Walters

Name: Zachary Butler Walters
Nickname(s): ZeWeezy
DOB: September 5, 1989
Twitter?: @Zwalters02
From: Cheyenne, Wyoming
Position: Infielder/Outfielder
Hand: Bats: Switch / Throws: Right
With the Nats Since: Acquired via trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 30, 2011 for RHP Jason Marquis. 

Just Who Is This Guy?: Zach Walters is one of the Washington Nationals highly touted prospects and is rated No. 10 overall by MLB.com for 2014. He’s a versatile, switch hitter with some pop that can play multiple positions.

In the end, Walters may not be an every day starter, but he definitely is rosterable because of his hit potential and versatility.

What Happened in 2013: Walters made his MLB debut on Sept. 6, 2013 versus the Miami Marlins, going 1-for-1 with a pinch-hit single. Walters’ pinch-hit in the sixth inning broke up Jose Fernandez’s no-hit bid. Pretty clutch if you ask me. He appeared in eight games with the Nationals and had a triple slash line of .375/.444/.625. He scored two runs, had three hits (one of which was a triple), drove in a run and drew a walk. Walters made appearances at shortstop and third base for the Nationals in 2013.

During his time in the minors, Walters honed his skills at Triple-A Syracuse. With the Chiefs, he played in 134 games, with the majority of his games coming at shortstop (104). Walters had a low batting average, .253 but a high slugging percentage, .517 last season in the minors. He had 123 total hits, 32 of which were doubles, five triples and 29 home runs. I repeat, he had 29 home runs last season. He drove in 77 RBI and scored 69 runs. He also struck out a whopping 134 times.

Defensively, woof. He made 31 errors at shortstop and seven errors at third base. At least he had more extra base hits than he did errors!

What’s happening in 2014 so far?: Given all the injuries that the Nationals have had thus far in 2014, Walters actually has had some playing time with the big league club. On April 15, 2014, Walters hit his first big league home run against the Miami Marlins. It was a solo shot in the ninth inning, but he was still able to showcase some of that power. In an assortment of 27 games with the Nationals so far, Walters is batting a mere .182 with three homers, four RBI, five runs and six hits. He’s also walked three times and struck out 14 times. Walters has spent time at third base, shortstop and in left field and has yet to make an error at the big league level.

With Triple-A Syracuse again this season, Walters has appeared in 34 games and has a .288/.331/.629 triple slash line. He has hit 10 home runs, driven in 31 runs and has scored 21 runs so far this season. Walters has 38 total hits, nine of which are doubles and three triples. His strikeout totals are lower (37) and he has taken more walks this season so far (seven total in 2014 through 34 games, 20 total in 2013 through 134 games).

His defensive numbers in the minors have gotten much better, too. He’s only committed seven errors so far (three at second base and four at shortstop). Walters has played in 16 games at second base, two games at third base, 10 games at shortstop and five games in left field. Gotta love that versatility.

My take is that unless there is another injury that happens to the Nationals this season and hopefully there’s not, Walters will spend most of his time in Triple-A working on all aspects of his game. He’ll probably get the call once the minor league season is over and the MLB rosters expand. When he does come up, I hope that he continues to “Let It Go” and asks everyone, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

*Note* All stats are as of June 22.

Get To Know A Nat 2014: Sandy León

Sandy

Name: Sandy David León
Nickname(s): None that I could find
DOB: March 13, 1989
Twitter?: @sandyleon41
From: Maracaibo, Venezuela
Position: Catcher
Hand: Bats: Switch / Throws: Right

With the Nats Since: Signed by the Washington Nationals as an amateur free agent on January 21, 2007.

Just Who Is This Guy?: León is a backup catcher who made his Major League debut on May 14, 2012, the day after he was first called up. He went 0-for-1 with a strikeout in his debut but severely sprained his ankle during the game because of a home plate collision with Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres. (ed: We wrote about Sandy Leon, briefly, back in 2013.)

León came back later that season and finished off the year with a .267 batting average in 12 games. He had eight hits, scored two runs and drove in two RBI. He walked four times and struck out 11 times. León caught a total of 83.1 innings, making one error and allowed three passed balls.

Digging a little deeper into his catching stats, León is actually a decent catcher in terms of framing. In 2012, he had 663 chances to frame a pitch and earned 14 strikes extra for his pitcher based on his framing skills. That’s 4.4 extra runs added, which was good for No. 30 overall on Baseball Prospectus’ list of catchers for that year.

What Happened in 2013: During the 2013 campaign, León spent virtually all of the season in the minors. He played two games with the Nationals, logging one at-bat and struck out. He played three games with the Auburn Doubledays and didn’t do much, but was then promoted to Double-A Harrisburg and played in 95 games there. León batted .177/.291/.252 and hit three home runs and drove in 26 RBI. He walked 47 times, struck out 57 times and scored 35 runs. He even legged out a triple. In terms of defense, León committed six errors with Harrisburg and allowed nine passed balls.

What’s happening in 2014 so far?: I feel like I write this every time, but with the sheer amount of injuries that have pillaged the Nationals so far this season, León has gotten some playing time because of it. Filling in as the backup catcher (behind Jose Lobatón who was filling in for Wilson Ramos), León has a batting average of .170 in 16 games (as of June 22). He had one home run, three RBI and nine hits.

León’s defense has actually gone down from his 2012 season to his 2014 season in terms of advanced catching metrics. In 2014, he’s had 930 framing chances and only gained nine strikes extra from them, adding 2.9 runs.

During his 16 games at Triple-A Syracuse (when Ramos wasn’t injured), León is batting .294/.390/.392. He has yet to hit a home run but has drive in six RBI and has 15 hits. He has a perfect fielding percentage behind the plate and is 4-for-6 throwing runners out attempting to steal.

Overall, León is more of a defensive catcher than an offensive threat. The injuries to Ramos have given León an opportunity to showcase some of those skills, but he still needs some grooming in the minors at the plate. There is a good chance he’ll be going back down as soon as Wilson Ramos is healthy enough to catch again, which may be any day now.

*Note: All stats are as of June 22.

Get To Know A National 2014: Xavier Cedeño

i

Name: Xavier Cedeño
Nickname(s): None that I could find
DOB: August 26, 1986
Twitter?:  None that I could find
From: Guayanilla, Puerto Rico
Position: Relief Pitcher
Hand: Left
With the Nats Since: Selected off waivers by the Nationals from the Houston Astros on April 23, 2013.

Just Who Is This Guy?: Xavier Cedeño is a left-handed relief pitcher who made his Major League debut with the Houston Astros on September 16, 2011 at the age of 25. In his first relief appearance, he pitched 1/3 of an inning and gave up a hit.

According to the Brooks Baseball page on Cedeño , he has a four-pitch arsenal that ranges from the low 90s (fourseam fastball and cutter) to mid-80s (changeup) and a low-80s curveball.

What Happened in 2013: After being claimed off of waivers in April, Cedeño was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse where he pitched until he was called up for a brief stint in June 2013 (two appearances) before he was sent back down to Syracuse again. When rosters expanded in August, he was brought back up and made nine more appearances out of the bullpen, giving him 11 total appearances on the season for the Nationals. Cedeño pitched a total of six innings, giving up five hits and one earned run. He struck out six batters and only walked one. It’s interesting that while he was with Houston, Cedeño  pitched 6.1 innings and got shelled to the tune of a 11.37 ERA in only five games, but was lights out for the Nationals.

Coming from the American League to the National League, mixed with some fine-tuning in the Minors really seems like it turned Cedeño’s season around. With Syracuse, he appeared in 39 games, going 2-0 with a 1.31 ERA in 34.1 innings and even notched four saves. He only allowed 23 hits, 11 runs (five earned) and had an 11.8 K/9 ratio. This could be one of those cases where the player has all the tools necessary to succeed, but just needs a change of scenery in order to achieve that success. It’s definitely a small sample size to work with, but it’s worth watching for the rest of this season.

What’s happening in 2014 so far?: Cedeño has spent the majority of his time in Syracuse again this season, but has one appearance with the Nationals on April 21, 2014. In that game, it only took him 15 pitches to go 1.1 innings but gave up two hits along the way. As of June 6, Cedeño has picked up where he left off last season, owning a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings. He has 16 strikeouts, has only issued three walks and given up seven hits with Syracuse.

If he can keep turning it around in the minors and accomplish the same success in the Majors once he gets called back up, he has the chance to be a valuable asset to an already strong Nationals bullpen.

Get To Know A Nat 2014 – Greg Dobbs

GDF

Name: Gregory Stuart Dobbs
Nickname(s): “Dober” or “Roy Hobbs”
DOB: July 2, 1978
Twitter?: None that I could find
From: Los Angeles, California
Position: Corner Infield/Outfield positions
Hand: Bats lefty, throws righty
With the Nats Since: Signed a Minor League contract with the Nationals on May 12, 2014 and was called up on May 16, 2014.

Just Who Is This Guy?: Greg Dobbs is a journeyman corner infielder/outfielder who has bounced around the Majors since 2004. Dobbs made his MLB debut on September 8, 2004 with the Seattle Mariners appearing for the first time as a pinch-hitter and hitting a home run in his first at-bat.

After a few years with the Mariners, he became a Philadelphia Philly and was a part of the 2008 World Series champion Phillies. In 2011, Dobbs signed a minor league contract with the Florida/Miami Marlins and was eventually DFA’d on April 29, 2014 and released on May 6, 2014. His release and eventual signing was perfect timing for the Nationals with Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper, both lefty bats, out with injuries.

Dobbs’ best year came in 2011 with the Marlins where he hit .275/.311/.389 with eight home runs and 49 RBIs. Through 941 games over 11 seasons, Dobbs is a career .262 hitter with 46 home runs and 273 RBIs. In 527 career games playing defense, Dobbs has a decent .972 fielding percentage over 3,547 innings.

What Happened in 2013: The 2013 season for Dobbs had him appear in 114 games, hitting two home runs and driving in 22 runs. He legged out 11 doubles and had a total of 54 hits, giving him a slash line of .228/.303/.300.

In the field, Dobbs played 51 games at first base and one game in right field for the Marlins. He only committed one error in 423 innings at first base and played perfect defense in his five innings in right field for the Marlins last season.

What’s happening in 2014 so far?: In 13 at-bats with the Marlins, Dobbs got off to a horrid start, batting .077 with four strikeouts and only one hit. All of his appearances were of the pinch-hit variety and didn’t log any playing time in the field.

So far, in his brief stint with the Nationals, Dobbs has appeared in seven games and is batting .313/.294/.375 with three hits in 16 at-bats. He has also driven in two runs. Look for him to provide a little bit of help to the Nationals offense when they’re in need of a lefty batter. Otherwise, Dobbs won’t do much more than be a stopgap until ALR comes back from injury. unless there is another injury to ALR.

Get To Know A Nat 2014: Tyler Moore

T Mo At Bat

Tyler Moore at bat. via @ANatsFan

Name: Tyler Michael Moore
Nickname(s): T-Mo, Moore-Power 
DOB: January 30, 1987
Twitter?: @T_Mo12
From: Brandon, Mississippi
Role: Bench Player  Positions Played: First Base, Left Field
Hand: Righty
With the Nats Since: Drafted in 2008, Debuted in 2012

Just Who Is This Guy: If you really don’t know the handsome man that is the personification of country hardball, read our 2013 preview here.

Briefly, Moore is a strong bench bat that plays first base and left field now and then. The plan was for Moore to have a bigger role by now, but a bad 2013 campaign has relegated him back the bench where he’s likely going to be for a while. With Adam LaRoche on the DL, Tyler Moore is going to see some more playing time now and then.

Continue reading

Get To Know A Nat 2014: Blake Treinen

i
Name:
 Blake M. Treinen
Nickname(s): None that I could find
DOB: June 30, 1988
Twitter?: None
From: Wichita, Kansas
Position: Starting Pitcher
Hand: Right
With the Nats Since: Acquired via trade with the Oakland Athletics on January 16, 2013. 

Just Who Is This Guy?: Blake Treinen is a hard-throwing righty who made his Major League Debut in 2014. According to Brooks Baseball, Treinen throws a high 90’s mph sinker and four-seam fastball and a mid-80’s mph slider. He’s currently making spot starts for the Nats, and will pitch today in Pittsburgh replacing Gio Gonzalez who is injured.

Continue reading

Get To Know A Nat 2014: Steven Souza, Jr.

Another quick reminder during #EndNF month that you’ll want to read our Get to Know NF post, The Nats Blog’s follow up post, and today’s post from Patrick Reddington on Federal Baseball. Also, dont’ miss Matt’s Bats post also posted today.

SSJr

Name:  Steven Jeffrey Souza, Jr.
Nickname(s): None that I could find
DOB: April 24, 1989
Twitter?: @StevenSouzaJR
From: Everett, Washington
Position: Bench Outfielder
Hand: Right
With the Nats Since: Drafted by the Washington Nationals in the third round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft. 

Just Who Is This Guy?: Touted as the Nationals’ No. 10 prospect by Baseball America for 2014 and ranked as the No. 14 overall prospect in the Nationals’ system by MLB.com, Souza Jr., can play any position in the outfield. He is a free-swinging hitter with a tendency to strike out quite a bit. However, Souza Jr.’s bat does have a lot of power potential, giving him the skills to hit to all parts of the field. If he can make constant contact, he has the chance to be a great outfielder. Since that has yet to be seen, Souza Jr. will likely be a fourth outfielder/platoon type guy.

Continue reading

Get To Know A Nat 2014: Kevin Frandsen

Kevin Frandsen

Name:  Kevin Vincent Frandsen
Nickname(s): Pig Pen (Ed: Because I’ve been listening to this song, I’ve been calling him ” I’m the Frand “)
DOB: May 24, 1982
Twitter?:  @KevinFrandsen
From: San Jose, California
Position: Bench Utility Player (Infield, Outfield and Emergency Catcher)
Hand: Right
With the Nats Since: Signed a one-year major league contact with the Nationals on March 26, 2014.

Just Who Is This Guy?: One word describes Kevin Frandsen and that word is versatility. Throughout his eight-year MLB career, Frandsen has played in 411 games with four different teams (San Francisco Giants Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Philadelphia Phillies and now the Nationals). Versatility is a great word to describe him because he knows his role on the team, meaning, he knows that he is a fill-in player and does whatever he can for the team. He’s doesn’t play the game just to boost his own stats; he just wants to get the “W” (or in this case, the Curly W) at the end of the day.

Throughout his career, Frandsen has played second base (115 games), third base (108 games), first base (44 games), shortstop (32 games), and the corner outfield positions (13 games in left field and three games in right field). In his eight seasons, he has a career .973 fielding percentage and a career 0.3 WAR. At the plate, Frandsen has a career slash line of .261/.318/.360 with 14 home runs, 94 RBIs, and seven stolen bases.

Overall, Frandsen doesn’t add much pop, drive in a lot of runs, or steal bases. He does, however, hit for decent average and doesn’t strike out much. He can play virtually anywhere on the diamond, and provides excellent leadership in the clubhouse, especially in a clubhouse with as many young players as the Nationals have. He’s a gritty player who goes out there each game just trying to do something for the team. Frandsen isn’t going up to the plate swinging hard, trying to smash a homer; he’s going up there to try and get on base and give someone else in the lineup an opportunity to drive him in. He is the definition of a team player and I love what he brings to this team because of it.
Continue reading

Get To Know A Nat 2014: Aaron Barrett

Aaron Barrett Pitching for the Senators. (Click for original article).

Aaron Barrett Pitching for the Senators. (Click for original article).

Aaron Barrett  DOB: January 2, 1988
Nicknames: none, but he’s a fake Aussie. So there’s that. (He also shares a name with lead singer of Real Big Fish- Ed.) 
Twitter@aaronbarrett30
From:  Evansville, Indiana, then Ole Miss
Position: Middle Reliever    Hand: Righty
With the Nats Since: Drafted (9th round) by Nationals in 2010 Debut: March 31st, 2014

Who is this Guy?  He’s a bad mamma-jamma, that’s who. Barrett is a 26 year-old, former collegian, who K’d his way through the minor leagues before beating out a host of veterans to earn the last spot in the bullpen this Spring Training. His age means his time is now and so far so good. He has faced 13 batters to this point and he’s struck out 6 of them. He has yet to give up a hit, much less a run. He throws two pitches – a fastball and a slider – almost evenly, in the classic Brad-Lidge-late-inning-reliever mold. Update: Barrett did give up a hit on Friday night, and then was sent back down to make room for players due to an over taxed bullpen. -Ed. 

Continue reading

Get To Know A Nat 2014: Taylor Jordan

via @ANatsFan

via @ANatsFan

Taylor Jordan  DOB: January 17, 1989
Nicknames: TJ Max (just made that up cause he had Tommy John surgery and all)
Twitter@TaylorJordan38
From:  Merritt Island, Florida (Right near Viera).
Position: 5th Starter    Hand: Righty
With the Nats Since: Drafted by Nationals in 2009, Debut June 29, 2013

Who is this Guy? After battling with Tanner Roark, Chris Young, and Ross Detwiler for the last rotation spot, both he and Roark made the team once Doug Fister couldn’t make it out of Spring Training healthy. While he moved ahead of Detwiler (bullpen) and Young (cut, signed with Seattle), the real battle for a rotation spot is just beginning. He and Roark will have around a month to prove they belong with the club once Fister returns – and my money’s on Jordan.

Continue reading