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Filed under: Declares Jordan Zimmermann: The Washington Nationals' "Next Big Thing!"

The Washington Nationals, (with the addition of two compensatory draft picks which they received when Alfonso Soriano departed for Chicago as a free agent after the '06 season), found themselves with four picks in the first two rounds of the '07 MLB Amateur Draft, which they used to select Ross Detwiler, with DC's first pick, 6th overall, outfielder Chris Marrero, 15th, pitcher Josh Smoker, 31st, and with the 67th pick in 2007, out of Auburndale, Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, pitcher(and DH!) Jordan Zimmermann.

Mets's Kevin J. Cunningham's December 22, 2006 article entitled, "2007 Draft Prospects", (which previewed the players Mr. Cunningham believed the San Francisco Giants, who held "6 picks in the top 62 picks" might select from from amongst the top collegiate and high school age prospects should they still be available when the Giants' turns to choose came around)...described Jordan Zimmerman(n) as a possible target for San Francisco with one of the later picks, since, as Mr. Cunningham wrote, "...the Giants always have a habit of finding good arms in unusual places, and Zimmerman(n) fits the bill,":

"...He works mostly in the low-90’s, but can ramp up to 95. He is still developing a slider and changeup, but has a huge slow curve that can baffle hitters and make his fastball look even faster.  He may be a sandwich round choice, or might be gone by the time the Giants pick again in the 4th round."

Washington Times' writer Jay LeBlanc interviewed Zimmermann in the middle of his first full season as a professional in DC's system, on July 24th, 2008, and Mr. LeBlanc asked the young pitcher what his thoughts were when he was told he'd been drafted by Washington the previous summer:

"I was excited, my agent said it was a great team to get drafted by. The ballclub was struggling a little bit and they need some pitching, and he said, 'This is a good fit for you..."

Asked to, "' a bit about the different pitches you throw and how you like to use them?'" Zimmermann essentially provided an update on the development of the selection of pitches Mr. Cunningham mentioned in the article I quoted above, telling the Times' Mr. LeBlanc:

"'I like to get ahead with my fastball. Late in the game I like to start guys out with the curveball and put them away with the slider. I'm developing a changeup right now; it needs a little work, but it's coming around."

By the time he arrived at Spring Training this season, after having posted a (3-1) record with a 1.65 ERA in 4 starts and 1 relief appearance with Class-A Potomac, and a (7-2) record with a 3.21 ERA in 20 starts with Double-A Harrisburg in 2008, Zimmermann's arsenal of pitches was described by DC Manager Manny Acta as an "electric four-pitch repetoire" in Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's Nationals Journal post entitled, "The Special, Electric and Great Jordan Zimmermann", which also quoted DC Pitching Coach Randy St. Claire who:

"...spoke of Zimmerman(n)'s 'great' arm, and 'great' mechanics, and, yes, 'great' feel for pitching..."

Through 8.1 IP, in 2 starts and 1 relief appearance, Jordan Zimmermann's struck out 10, walked 2, and allowed 4 hits, but no runs, and though he's yet to record a decision, the 22-year-old right-hander, "...has lived up the billing as the Nationals' best pitching prospect," so far this Spring according to's Bill Ladson, who also quotes Mr. St. Claire for an article entitled, "Zimmermann living up to promise", in which the DC Pitching coach states that the young starter is also reacting well to the pressure of competing, (along with several other young pitchers) for a starting role in the Nationals' '09 rotation, even when he's struggled:

"'I didn't see him try to do more [on the mound],' St. Claire said. 'He just kept going after it without his best stuff. I didn't see him get flustered. He is going to need to do that...He showed me that poise, that character that I see in him. That puts him very high on the scale."

?'s For the DC Faithful...

Has Jordan Zimmermann earned a spot it in the Nationals' '09 rotation? 

If Shawn Hill's able to return...Zimmermann or Collin Balester?

Would you prefer to see both Zimmermann and Balester in the rotation? 

Is Jordan Zimmermann the next big thing in DC?

Links and Links and...

Steven from FJB participated in an NL East Saber-Friendly Live Chat with Sky Kalkman from Beyond the Boxscore and Amazin' Avenue's Eric Simon amongst others, which makes for a good read.

I participated in an email interview with Alex Remington of Chop - n -Change, an Atlanta Braves blog, entitled, "Five Questions: Washington Nationals 2009", which was posted last night, and where I make bold predictions like, "Rizzo will the next GM", "John Lannan will have a .500 season", and, "Willingham's the one who'll get dealt".