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Washington Nationals Travel Day Musings...Ayala Out, Estrada In...Don't Worry, Not That Estrada Again."

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The Class of '05...Reuniting in Nationals Park...

If and when, as reported everywhere, Marco Estrada, the Nationals' 24-year old right-handed pitching prospect is called up to Washington to replace the recently-dealt Luis Ayala in the bullpen, Estrada, selected by DC in the 6th Round of the '05 Amateur Draft, (174th overall) out of Long Beach State in California, will become the fourth member of that draft class to make it to the Majors with the Nationals, joining 1st Round pick, third baseman, Ryan Zimmerman, who debuted on September 1st of '05, 11th Round pick, lefty pitcher John Lannan, who Philly fans will remember from his July 26th '07 debut and outfielder Justin Maxwell, the Nationals' 4th Round pick in '05, who jumped up from Class-A Potomac on September 5, 2007, hanging around 'til the end of the year in DC, and hitting .269 in 15 games and 26 at bats with 2 HR's, 5 RBI's and 5 runs scored. 

Zimmerman's hit for a .279 AVG over his first four years in DC, with 116 doubles, 8 triples, 52 HR's and 240 RBI's in his first 412 games. John Lannan's (8-14) with a 3.88 ERA over his first 30 starts and 176.1 innings pitched in the Majors, and before injuring his wrist in May, Maxwell was constantly mentioned as a possible replacement as one after another of the Nationals' outfielders fell to an assortment of injuries, but Maxwell's yet to return to the lineup, and hasn't played a game now since May 26th...

Marco Estrada's success this season, (as a starter) after being called up to the Columbus, Ohio-based Clippers, the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate, earned him a mention in an interesting article by Columbus Dispatch sports writer Jeremy McLaughlin entitled, "Prospects crop up on farm", where the writer mentions Estrada amongst other prospects he praises, writing about Collin Balester, and, "Starting pitcher Marco Estrada and relievers Levale Speigner and Mike Hinckley," as Mr. McLaughlin examines prospects at the Triple-A level of a DC farm system that was, "...so depleted that the Washington Nationals started from scratch when it took over the Expos in 2005," but is now a system which, Mr. McLaughlin then points out, has caught the attention of those who pay attention to such things:

"Baseball America has noted the progress. The publication said the Nationals have the ninth-best minor-league system this season after being the worst in 2007."

The latest product of the Nationals' system is heading to the nation's capital (well actually to the old nation's capital in Philly). Marco Estrada was (6-3) with a 2.66 ERA in 13 starts for Double-A Harrisburg, and (3-3) with a 3.58 ERA in 12 starts after being moved up to Columbus, leaving him (9-6) with a 3.09 ERA in 25 starts and 139.2 innings pitched this season, over which he's accumulated 119 K's, allowed 48 ER's and 8 HR's and held opposing batters  to a .254 AVG...And now he heads to Washington where, knowing DC Manager Manny Acta, he'll make his debut in a tight situation, the first time such an opportunity arises...

Marco Estrada's delivery...

Marco Estrada: April 12, 2008 (via mashmore98)

Saying Goodbye To Luis Ayala...

Luis Ayala was (10-3) with a 2.92 ERA in 65 games and 71.0 innings during his rookie season with the Montreal Expos as a 25-year-old in 2003, after Ayala had been pried away from Arizona the Rule 5 Draft the previous December. In 2004, Ayala was (6-12) with a 2.69 ERA in 90.1 innings pitched in the last season of the Expos. 

2005 was arguably Luis Ayala's best season in the Majors, Washington's first year, or more accurately even, the first half of the first year in DC when Ayala combined with Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero for one of the most formidable bullpens in baseball, constantly allowing the Nationals to remain in games and mount rallies, which the "Comeback Kids" did successfully throughout the first half of the '05 season...The work load apparently took its toll on Ayala's arm...

After working 53.0 innings in 49 games in the first half of '05, Ayala was (7-5) with a 3.06 ERA, 28 K's and just 8 walks and 18 ER's allowed. After the All-Star Game, Ayala pitched just 18.0 innings in 19 games, and after posting a 0.77 ERA in 10 games in August, Ayala pitched just twice in September. After the season, Ayala had surgery on the elbow, but declared himself fit to pitch for his home country of Mexico in that Spring's World Baseball Classic, during which, Ayala blew out his elbow completely, requiring Tommy John surgery which cost the then-28-year-old reliver the entire 2006 season...

The Luis Ayala that returned in 2007 was not the Ayala DC had known, starting the season late, in June, and putting up a 3.19 ERA in 42.1 innings pitched. The 2008 Luis Ayala was even further from the memories of '04-'05, with a (1-8) record and 5.77 ERA, and finally a request to be traded away from DC, personal issues, and a ballclub that's going nowhere fast while he joins a contender...What better way to reinvigorate your love for the game...Good Luck, Ayala..Oh wait, you're on the Mets now, sorry, that makes you the enemy...

Next Game : 7:05 pm Tuesday night against the Phillies...