In his first exposure above Double-A ball, 22-year-old Washington Nationals' prospect Joe Ross went (2-1) in three starts for the Nats in June posting a 2.66 ERA, a 1.09 FIP, two walks (0.89 BB/9) and 23 Ks (10.18 K/9) in 20 ⅓ innings, over which he held opposing hitters to a combined .244/.263/.295 line.
When Stephen Strasburg returned from a DL stint, however, Ross was optioned out, but only after making a strong impression on everyone in the nation's capital, including manager Matt Williams.
"I think he came up here with expectation to do well in his own brain and he did that," Williams told reporters after the move was announced.
"The way he went about his business was like a professional. He made his starts and he worked hard in between them to be prepared and he pitched really well for us, so all of those things make us open our eyes and say, 'Huh, this very young gentleman has got a real bright future in this game.' He did really well."
Williams was asked then if he had any message for Ross when he informed him of the decision to send him down to Triple-A instead of Double-A where the 2011 1st Round pick started the season after he was acquired in the three-team trade with the San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays this winter.
"Just to continue to do what he's doing," Williams said. "He came from Double-A and came up to the big leagues and pitched well, he's now going to go to Triple-A and experience that part of his progression against some veteran guys that have been around and understand their swings, and continue to stay ready.
"We never know in this game what may happen, so we have to make sure that he continues to progress and do what he needs to do in case he gets that call again.
"But it's never easy for a player to be told, especially after having success like that, that they're not going to be here, but he understands where we're at and he'll be ready if he's called upon again."
Ross went down to Triple-A Syracuse and made five starts, going (3-1) with a 2.19 ERA, a 3.85 FIP, seven walks (2.55 BB/9) and 15 Ks (5.47 K/9) in 24 ⅔ innings before another opportunity presented itself.
The Nationals were able to work around Stephen Strasburg's latest DL stint with the All-Star Break last week, but they needed a starter for tonight's game against the New York Mets and they reached down to Triple-A for Ross.
"He stepped in his first start and acted as if he’d been here before," Williams told reporters, including NatsInsider.com's Chase Hughes, in announcing that Ross would get the call yesterday.
"And then, of course, his other two starts were even better," Williams said.
"We have a comfort level that he can come up here and do what he can do to help us win that particular game that he pitches. He’s been pitching very well and there is no indication that it would be otherwise when he gets back here."
The Nationals made the move official this afternoon. Joe Ross vs Jacob deGrom at 7:05 PM EDT in D.C.:
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