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Washington Nationals' Bullpen Prospect Zech Zinicola's Wild Night In Arizona.

The Washington Nationals' 6th Round Pick (181st overall) in 2006 out of Arizona State University, Zechry Zinicola, started his professional career with 9.0 scoreless innings in 8 appearances for the Low A- New York/Penn League's Vermont Lake Monsters, in which the 21-year old 6'1'' right-hander struck out 10 batters, walked 1 and allowed 6 hits while saving his first 4 games and earning calls, first to Class A+ Potomac where Zinicola was (3-0) with a 1.98 ERA and 3 saves in 8 games and 13.2 IP, and then to Double-AA Harrisburg where the rookie pitcher was (1-1) with 5 saves and a 2.57 ERA in 10 games and 10.0 IP...

The Nationals' Front Office was so impressed with Zinicola's start in the system that, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in a 2/6/07 article entiled, "Nationals Spring Training quick hits":

"Dana Brown, Washington's director of amateur scouting, told general manager Jim Bowden to trade reliever Gary Majewski because Zinicola would be part of the bullpen in 2007."

A month before Mr. Brown's predicition, Baseball America's Aaron Fitt ranked Zinicola as the 6th best overall prospect (and 3rd Best Pitching Prospect) in the Nationals' organization in his article, "Top 10 Prospects: Washington Nationals", which also recognized Zinicola's slider as the best in the DC system. 

After saving 12 games at three levels of the minors in '06, Zinicola saved just 6 games in 2007 with Double-AA Harrisburg, allowing 53 hits and 36 walks in 42 relief appearances and 57.2 IP over which he allowed 35 runs and 3 HR's while collecting 45 K's. In a March '08 article entitled, "Minor League Report: Zechry Zinicola", Zinicola told MLB.com's Bill Ladson that he wasn't happy with the way he'd pitched during the 2007 season:

"'I didn't perform the way I should have. I took it as a learning experience,' Zinicola said. 'My fastball location was the main reason I struggled. I was getting behind in the count.'"

Zinicola started 2008 back at Class-A with the Potomac Nationals, but by the end of the season he'd worked his way back up to Triple-A, where the now-23-year-old righty went (3-3) with a 7.53 ERA in 34.2 IP, giving up 44 hits, 29 ER, 6 HR's and 17 walks with 22 K's in 24 appearances. 

The last time I checked in on Zinicola, on June 21st of '08, I did so after I'd noticed his name in an article I'd read:

"...I noticed Zech Zinicola's name in Columbus' box score from last night, and a quick look at his '08 stats show that after 8 games in which Zinicola was (2-0) with a 0.00 ERA, 3 saves and 15 K's in 12.1 IP at Class-A Potomac, Zinicola moved to Double-AA Harrisburg, where he was (3-2) with a 2.89 ERA and 6 saves in 15 appearances and 18.2 IP in which he collected 13 K's, earning a call to Columbus, where Zinicola's now added 1.0 scoreless and 1 K to his resume...Might Zech Zinicola complete the climb this September? Two years ago, there was talk he was already close?" 

The most recent Zinicola sighting was in last night's Peoria Saguaro's Arizona Fall League matchup with the Scottsdale Scorpions...The Saguaro's improved to 2-0 with a 10-7 win for two straight over the Scorpions to start the Fall season...Nationals' first base prospect Bill Rhinehart was 1 for 4 with 1 run scored, 1 walk and 2 K's...Leonard Davis, batting second, and DH'ing, was 1 for 2 with 1 RBI...and then there was Zech Zinicola, (BS, 1.2 IP, 2 hits, 1 ER, 1 walk, 2 K's, 1 HR, a wild pitch, a balk, 1 hit batter, and a 5.40 ERA to end the day after throwing 38 pitches, 24 of them strikes...What Happened, Zinicola?

MiLB.com has the Recap in the box scores, and it seems Zinicola came on in the sixth and got the first out from LA Angels' backstop prospect Tim Duff before surrendering a single to DC-born SF Giants' infielder Emmanuell Burriss, who then advanced to second on a balk. Zinicola hits the next batter, Giants' second baseman Kevin Frandsen, throws a wild pitch, allowing Burriss to take third, and then walks Drew Sutton, an Astros' infielder, to load the bases, continuing a DC Closer Tradition of, "Making It Interesting." A pop up and a groundout and Zinicola's out of trouble...

Back out in the seventh, Zinicola recorded the first two outs of the frame before surrendering a solo shot to Red Sox' outfielder Josh Reddick and handing the ball to the next reliever. Reddick's HR tied the game at 6-6 in the seventh, and the Scottsdale Scorpions scored another run in the eighth, temporarily taking a 7-6 lead which was lost in the bottom of the frame when the Saguaros scored four to go up 10-7, where it ended.

A rough night for Zinicola...I'll keep an eye on him throughout the Fall. Next game for the Nationals' prospects is tomorrow night against the Mesa Solar Sox...