Following Monday afternoon’s game, an 8-4 victory against the Cardinals, the Washington Nationals cut nine players from their Spring roster. This trims the number of players in camp to 45, including two who’ll start the season on the disabled list (Chris Marrero and Cole Kimball).
Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke were among those affected by the day’s decisions, though neither came as much of a surprise. Both players were drafted last June and have yet to make their professional debuts aside from brief stints in the Arizona Fall League. They were in camp because they had signed Major League contracts after being drafted. Contractually they had to be with the team. They each looked impressive in their limited game action but there were never any expectations that they’d compete for a spot on the 25-man roster at the end of the month. Both have been assigned to High-A Potomac to begin the season.
Carlos Rivero was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. The third baseman (though he’s played more games at shortstop in his minor league career) was unimpressive in 6 games this Spring, going hitless in 10 at bats. Outfielders Corey Brown and Xavier Paul, infielder Jarrett Hoffpauir, catcher Sandy Leon, and right-handers Rafael Martin and Austin Bibens-Dirkx were also assigned to minor league camp. Many of them will likely find themselves at Triple-A as well.
According to accounts by both Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider and MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, Davey Johnson and his coaching staff came away very impressed with Brown. At the plate he went 7 for 17 (.412) with a home run and a double. He was also impressive in the field defensively, making a number of nice plays (including a diving catch to rob Matt Holliday of a hit during Monday’s game).
Brown’s expected to begin the season in Triple-A, where he struggled to a .235/.326/.402 line with 14 HR and 39 RBI in 462 plate appearances. Offensively it was the worst season to date for the former 1st Round Draft Pick (2007, Oakland). If he can rebound and get off to a strong start in 2012, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Brown see some time in Washington at some point during the season.