Spring Training: Game 1 Game Thread: Washington Nationals vs Houston Astros.

Baseball America's List of the Top 100 Prospects in Baseball...

There is one Washington Nationals' prospect on Baseball America.com's just-published list of the "Top 100 Prospects" in baseball, and his name is Jordan Zimmermann. (Two "nn's", got it?) The good news is that the 22-year-old, 6'2'', 200lb, right-handed starter is in the top half of that draw, coming in at #41, with the fact that his 2.90 '08 ERA was, "the lowest among Nationals farmhands" mentioned by the BA Staff, who collectively determined the rankings. 

Baseball America.com's Aaron Fitt had Zimmermann listed as the top prospect in the DC system when he published his list of the, "Top 10 Prospects: Washington Nationals", back on January 6th of '09, so the fact that he's the highest-ranked Nationals' prospect here is not surprising...The fact that he's the only product of the DC system to make the list? Not that surprising either, considering the next player on Mr. Fitt's list, LHP Ross Detwiler, is thought by most to have taken a step back in the first half of last season, before recovering in the second half and helping the Class-A Potomac Nationals win the Carolina League crown. 

"Several prospects who passed throught Potomac took major steps forward," Baseball America's Aaron Fitt writes, "...headlined by Jordan Zimmermann, who emerged as the clear-cut top prospect in the organization." Zimmermann posted a (3-1) record and a 1.65 ERA in 4 starts and 27.1 IP for the P-Nats before being promoted to Double-A Harrisburg, where he went (7-2) in 20 starts as a Senator with 103 K's and a 3.21 ERA, working with the Best Slider and Best Fastball in the Nationals' organization in Mr. Fitt's estimation. 

ESPN.com's Keith Law** had Zimmermann 42nd overall when he published his article, "Ranking the top prospects", on January 2nd, and Mr. Law described Zimmermann as a "classic four-pitch pitcher" with a "90-94 mph four-seamer", change and curve, whose, "...best pitch remains his mid-80's slider," which Mr. Law, like Mr. Fitt, believes makes Zimmermann the best prospect in Washington's system, listing him atop his list of the Top 5 Prospects by organization. (ed. note - ** = ESPN INSIDER's only, sorry). 

Described to Washington Post writer Chico Harlan by Nationals' Assistant GM Mike Rizzo, "...as someone who could be 'major-league ready as soon as this spring training," in a Nationals Journal post by Mr. Harlan entitled, "The Season Ticket Holder Luncheon (And A Dukes Update)", on January 23, 2009, the Nationals' fourth pick in the first two rounds of the '07 MLB Draft, taken 67th overall, Jordan Zimmermann is in camp with the Nationals competing for a spot in the '09 starting rotation. With the recent release of Odalis Perez, Zimmermann's MLB debut seems inevitable in the near-future...

And Now...

THE FIRST GAME THREAD of SPRING...

Washington Nationals at Houston Astros 1:05 pm EST, Kissimmee, Florida's Osceola County Stadium.

Selected with the 324th overall pick in the 11th Round of the '05 MLB Draft, lefty John "Cool Hand" Lannan takes the mound for the Washington Nationals today at Houston's Spring Training home, Osceola County Stadium, with the Astros starting left-handed free agent acquisition Mike Hampton in the first game of 2009 for each team. 

Lannan, who is auditioning for the role of staff ace with DC this season, was (2-0) with a 2.18 ERA and 16 K's in 20.2 IP last Spring, but Lannan lost a battle with Matt Chico, who dazzled the DC coaching staff with a high leg kick and took the last spot in the '08 Nationals' rotation out of camp. Lannan traveled to Triple-A Columbus but never pitched there, as "The Injuries" began and he was quickly recalled. "Cool Hand" Lannan ended '08 with a (9-15) record, 117 K's and a 3.91 ERA in 31 starts and 182.0 IP. 

After Lannan, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Lannan gets the nod", the Nationals will throw Garry Glover, Mike Hinckley, Shairon Martis, Garrett Mock and Steven Shell at the Astros tomorrow. Washington Post writer Chico Harlan has the roster that's traveling to Kissimmee in a post entitled, "Let The Games Begin", and those of you hoping to see Elijah Dukes, Ryan Zimmerman or Adam Dunn will be disappointed, (alternately, those of us who want to imagine that Dunn isn't a National, can pretend for a few more days...)

Who's Watching The Watchme...Sorry, that's next week...

WHO's WATCHING, LISTENING OR SOMEHOW FOLLOWING THE NATIONALS' FIRST GAME OF SPRING...???? See you in the Comments section a little before 1:05 pm EST...

Other News and Notes...

In case you missed it yesterday, I published a rumor that had made its way into the ears of more than a few members of the Natosphere, (as the Washington Post's Nationals Journal has taken to calling all the internet writers who cover DC's favorite baseball team on the interwebs), about the Nationals' interest in Toronto Blue Jays' Assistant GM Tony LaCava as a possible replacement for DC GM Jim Bowden, should Mr. Bowden be forced to step down as a result of his connection to the federal investigation of the skimming of signing bonuses given to Latin American players. 

It's now 10hrs after I first published the rumor, which three separate source had confirmed having heard themselves, there's been no response to the rumors from anyone involved with the Nationals...The response from the Natosphere:

- Steven at Fire Jim Bowden, whose opinion on the current DC GM is unclear, weighed in on the rumors with a post entitled, "Meet Tony LaCava."

- Brian Oliver at the Nationals Farm Authority included Tony LaCava in a post that was up before the rumors even surfaced entitled, "GM Candidates"...and Mr. Oliver also had an interview recently with ESPN.com's Keith Law entitled, "Keith Law Talks Nationals", which everyone around the Natosphere considers a must-read.

WHO'S WATCHING THE NATIONALS?

For Random Updates Whenever I Hear Something...Check out the FEDERALBASEBALL.COM TWITTERFEED.

And for Spring Training News From Around the SB Nation, there's the SBN's Spring Training Hub...

Wondering How Astros' Fans Are Feeling About Their Chances in '09, check out...The SBN's Astros' Blog: The Crawfish Boxes.

The weather in Kissimmee, Florida? Right here

eMb.

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