Washington Nationals: AFL/Winter Updates - Jesus Flores Still Hot, Derek Norris Still Walking.

Jesus Flores' Bat: Everyone knows the competition one faces in the Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional isn't on par with the talent at the major league level, often comparing it to Double-A ball or lower, but that doesn't make the start of Jesus Flores' winter league campaign any less impressive. Flores, the Washington Nationals' about-to-turn-27-year-old catcher, posted a .322/.365/.460 line with six doubles and two home runs in 25 games and 87 at bats for the Navegantes del Magallanes last winter before putting up .209/.253/.314 line in part-time duty with the Nats in 2011, to go along with a .234/.252/.378 slash, 15 doubles and 5 HR's at Triple-A Syracuse. Flores was in his first full season back playing baseball, however, having suffered first a stress fracture in his shoulder, then a torn labrum which cost him two years at the start of what was a promising major league career. 

After going 3 for 5 with a two-run HR last night in the Navegantes' 5-4 win over the Cardenales de Lara, Flores is 17 for 35 (.486/.515/.857) with four doubles and three home runs in 8 games this year in Venezuela. Flores is 2nd in the VWL in doubles, with four to Lastings Milledge's five, second in HR's behind Bryan LaHair, the Chicago Cubs' 28-year-old OF/1B, who's hit six in nine games, and tied for second with LaHair with nine RBI's behind four other VWL players with 10 runs driven in. A healthy Jesus Flores behind Wilson Ramos could provide the Nationals with a strong tandem behind the plate in 2012, if the Nats decide to part ways with Pudge Rodriguez, whose two-year deal with the Nats ended this season.

• VWL: Seth Bynum was 0 for 3 with a walk last night in a 4-3 Aguilas del Zulia loss to the Caribes de Anzoategul. The 30-year-old Expos' 38th Round pick in the '03 Draft is 0 for 15 in his last five games, 5 for 31 with a double and two HR's in nine games overall in the VWL. Nats' prospect Adrian Sanchez was 1 for 3 last night in the Aguilas' loss, Sandy Leon was 1 for 1 with a run scored and Carlos Maldonado was 1 for 1 with both catchers coming through in pinch hit opportunities. Gregor Blanco was 0 for 2 with a walk and a K last night in a Tiburones de la Guaira 3-1 win over the Bravos de Margarita. Blanco's 9 for 35 with a double and a home run in 10 games with the Tiburones. 

• DWL: 21-year-old Nats' OF prospect Eury Perez was 1 for 4 with a run scored and two RBI's for the Leones del Escogido in a 6-2 win over the Gigantes del Cibao. Perez, who had a .283/.319/.321 season with nine doubles, two triples and 45 stolen bases in 60 attempts in 119 games and 424 at bats at Class-A Potomac in 2011, has six hits in 22 at bats and five steals in six attempts so far for the Leones. Jhonatan Solano was 1 for 3 with a run scored last night in a 5-4 Tigres del Licey loss to the Toros del Este. Solano's 5 for 22 with a double in 7 games for Licey. Tigres' lefty Atahualpa Severino faced and retired one Toros' batter. The 26-year-old who made his debut with the Nats this past September, has walked two but thrown 1.2 scoreless in four DWL apperances thus far. 

• AFL Weekend:

FRI - So, things didn't go so well for 2011 3rd Round pick Matt Purke in his first start for the Scottsdale Scorpions. The 21-year-old left-hander threw 23 pitches, 10 of them strikes, retired just one batter, and surrendered five hits and seven runs, all earned. Purke's fellow Nats' pitching prospect Pat Lehman surrendered 5 hits and 5 ER in 1.1 IP. Rafael Martin gave up a hit and a walk in 1.2 IP. Bryce Harper was 1 for 4 with a walk and a run scored on Friday. The now-19-year-old prospect is 9 for 42 with two doubles, a triple and a HR in 11 games.

SAT - Derek Norris and Zach Walters were the only Nats' prospects in action on Saturday. Norris, the Nats' 22-going-on-23-year-old backstop prospect, was 1 for 3 with two walks and he's now 9 for 31 (.290/.395/.419) with a double, a home run and six walks so far in the Arizona Fall League. Walters, acquired from the D-Backs for Jason Marquis in July, was 1 for 5 with a HR and two RBI's Saturday night. The 22-year-old infielder is 7 for 35 with two doubles and a home run in 35 at bats. Scottsdale's 9-4 win over the Phoenix Desert Dogs left the Scorpions 5-11, in last place in the AFL East. 

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