The Washington Nationals' first four picks with GM Mike Rizzo at the helm after taking over for Jim Bowden in March of 2009, were 1st Rounders Stephen Strasburg (no.1 overall) and Drew Storen (no.10 w/ comp pick for failing to sign '08 1st Round pick Aaron Crow); 2nd Rounder Jeff Kobernus (50th) and 3rd Round pick Trevor Holder (81st).
Strasburg, of course, is Davey Johnson's 24-year-old "horse," the Nats' no.1 starter who's currently working some things out at the top of the rotation in his first restriction-free season following Tommy John surgery in 2010. Storen, 25, who had elbow surgery last season but worked his way back to reclaim the closer's role, is currently working the late innings along with right-hander Tyler Clippard, setting games up for Nationals' closer Rafael Soriano.
As of this morning, Jeff Kobernus, 24, has a .376/.410/.468 line with five doubles, a triple and a home run in 27 game and 120 plate appearances at Triple-A Syracuse. Kobernus was selected by the Detroit Tigers in this past winter's Rule 5 Draft, but returned to the Nationals when he failed to make the Tigers' Opening Day roster.
Trevor Holder, 26, who was drafted out of the University of Georgia, was in his fifth season in the Nationals' organization, pitching at Double-A Harrisburg when he was reportedly released this morning. In a post-draft article by Washington Post writer Chico Harlan in June of '09, the WaPost reporter wrote that Holder fit,"... the exact pitching model [Mike Rizzo] adores." Holder was a 6'3'', 205 lb right-hander:
"A big body, a gritty competitor. (Brandon Webb and Micah Owings are archetypal Rizzo pitchers.) He didn't know that the Nationals had ranked him within their top 40 overall players. He didn't know that Washington's four crosscheckers, as well as Rizzo, each saw him as a future starting pitcher."
I haven't come across too many players more enjoyable to be around than @trevholder, I wish him nothing but the best.— Terry Byrom (@hbgsensradio) May 6, 2013
Holder was also what the WaPost's Mr. Harlan described as a " a discount selection," which he defined as, "Seniors, without the negotiating leverage of juniors or high schoolers, [who] typically accept deals that include below-slot signing bonuses."
Holder signed a $200,000 bonus and began his pro career in the organization. Over five seasons in the Nats' system, Holder was (23-25) with a 4.51 ERA, 87 walks (1.87 BB/9) and 280 Ks (6.02 K/9) in 96 games, 71 starts and 418.2 IP. The right-hander was (0-1) with a 2.89 ERA, 2.77 FIP, four walks (1.93 BB/9) and 13 Ks (6.27 K/9) in seven games (one start) and 18.2 IP for Double-A Harrisburg before today's announcement.
MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr quoted Nationals' Director of Player Development Doug Harris in an article this afternoon explaining the decision to release Holder:
"'It is never easy to make these decisions, particularly with a player who has conducted himself with such class, but the organization has decided to go in another direction,' Harris said."
Bill Bray was assigned to Double-A Harrisburg after Holder was released. The veteran left-hander had been at extended Spring Training up to this point.