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Operation: Pester Lester

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Two evenings after succumbing to the Rodney Dangerfield of failed 1999 first round draft picks (Kyle Snyder, who Over the Monster notes was sent back to Pawtucket despite shutting down the Nats on Monday night), the Nats face the genuine article tonight . . . well, either the genuine article or a 2010 version of Kyle Snyder, at any rate.

Jon Lester rated as Boston's No. 2 prospect heading into this season, according to Baseball America. His minor league line through 2005 (excluding two brief, one-start stints):

YR/LVL  IP      HR/9    K/BB    ERA
03/A    106     0.59    71/44   3.65
04/A+   90      0.20    97/37   4.28
05/AA   148     0.61    163/57  2.61

In two starts upon receiving the call to Boston (he had a 2.70 ERA with a 43/25 K/BB at Pawtucket), Lester is 1-0 with a 3.48 ERA in 10.2 innings. He has surrendered 10 hits, no homers, and seven walks, while striking out nine batters.

His BA scouting report, in relevant part:

Lester is a big, physical lefthander with a chance for three plus pitches. His fastball has late life and has risen from 87-88 mph in 2003 to 90-91 in 2004 to 92-93 last year, when he topped out at 95. He has turned his cut fastball into a true slider that's now his No. 2 pitch. He can get both swings and misses and called strikes with his changeup. Once Lester gets a little more consistent with his secondary pitches and his command, he'll be ready for the big leagues. He'll keep batters off balance by throwing an occasional curveball, but it lags behind his other offerings.

In other Red Sox pitching prospect news, former prospect Paxton Crawford admitted to juicing; apparently, he's just a country boy who didn't know better. In other lefty starter prospect news, Mike Hinckley (who is perilously close to losing his prospect status) was named Carolina League pitcher of the week.