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Washington Nationals: Winter League Updates - Yunesky Maya And Wilson Ramos Impress.

• Liga de Beisbol Dominicano Update: In his first five MLB starts following his signing with the Washington Nationals on July 31, 2010, 29-year-old Pinar del Rio, Cuba-born right-hander Yunesky Maya was (0-3) with a high 5.88 ERA, 30 H, 18 R (17 ER), 3 HR's and 11 walks allowed in 26.0 IP in which he recorded 12 K's. Maya had returned from a year off competitive baseball following his defection from Cuba and had made five starts in the Nats' system before he was called to the majors, throwing 21.1 innings at three levels of the Nationals' organization before making his Major League debut on September 7, 2010, and the pitcher Washington fans saw, a self-described "aggressive pitcher who pounds the strike zone and a guy that hits the corners with good command," struggled with his control and a high-80's-low-'90's fastball that looked like it would need to be expertly located. 

Instead of spending the winter adjusting to his new home in the nation's capital, Maya decided to pitch in the Dominican Winter League (or the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano) where he's now (3-0) after throwing a 6.0 inning, one-hit shutout last night against a Gigantes del Cibao roster featuring fringy major leaguers like Emmanuel Burriss, Wilson Betemit and Victor Diaz. With 5 K's in last night's win, (and 11 groundouts w/ just 2 flyouts) Maya's now K'd 20 in 4 starts and 19.0 IP in which he's post a 0.47 ERA. The only setback Maya's suffered so far was what Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore described in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Leftovers from the general manager meetings", as a "left hamstring strain" and only a "minor setback" which caused him to miss a few potential starts while he recovered, but he's made the last two starts without incident. 

• Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional Update:

The Washington Nationals flipped closer Matt Capps, who'd signed in D.C. after he was non-tendered by Pittsburgh last Winter, in a Non-Waiver Deadline deal with Minnesota for once-highly-regarded catcher Wilson Ramos, who'd struggled in 2010 at Triple-A Rochester, and whose rise in the Twins' system was blocked by Joe Mauer's presence behind the plate in the big leagues. Ramos proceeded to tear up the International League in Syracuse where he put up a .316/.341/.494 slash line in 20 games and 79 at bats with the Nats' affiliate in which he hit 3 doubles and 3 HR's before being called up to the majors where he hit in 14 of 52 at bats in 15 games with the Nationals. 

Ramos decided to spend his winter plying his trade in the Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional where the 23-year-old backstop was 1 for 4 last night with an RBI double in a 4-1 Tigres de Aragua win over the visiting Cardenales de Lara. The double was Ramos' sixth so far for the Tigres, to go along with 3 HR's, 13 RBI's, 8 walks (3 intentional) and 11 K's in 20 games and 78 at bats in which he has 26 hits and a .333/.395/.480 slash line so far.

The last next big thing behind the plate for the Nats, Jesus Flores, who's battling back from a series of injuries to his right shoulder, returned from a 17-day break in Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional action for which I've seen no explanation to go 2 for 4 with a double, RBI and run scored in a game this past Wednesday for the Navegantes de Magallanes, and Flores played again the next night though he was 0 for 3 at the plate. In 6 games and 22 at bats, Flores now has 6 hits, 2 doubles and 3 RBI's. 

(ed. note - "In case you missed the other big Winter League update of the week, here's my story on Danny Espinosa's hamate bone injury, which will require surgery, but should be fully healed by the start of Spring Training. And I noticed that Chris Marrero hasn't played since the injury to Espinosa was announced, he's been out of the lineup of the Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico's Leones de Ponce since the 22nd.")