Washington Nationals Minor Leagues: Players Of The Week (4/27-5/3)
By Ricky Keeler
Syracuse Chiefs (10-14)
Hitter Of The Week: SS Jason Martinson (.275, 4 HR, 10 RBI’s)
This week, the Chiefs offense put up 24 runs over the course of six games, but they had a tough time scoring runs at the beginning of the week before sweeping the Columbus Clippers (Cleveland Indians). As usual, Martinson continues to be one of the Chiefs best offensive hitters at the plate.
This week, he collected six hits, including two home runs. He leads the team in homers and is tied for second in the International League behind Chris Colabello and Matt Davidson. Plus, the 26-year old shortstop still leads the team in hits with 22, four ahead of fellow shortstop Emmanuel Burriss.
Honorable Mention: OF Tony Gwynn Jr. (.192, 1 HR, 5 RBI’s)
Yes, the 32-year old outfielder does not have the average that you would like to see early on. However, Gwynn was one of the key offensive players during the team’s sweep of Columbus. In three games, he went 6-for-12 with a home run and four RBI’s. His breakout game of the week came on Saturday when he hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning to give the Chiefs the lead.
After Nick Swisher tied the game in the top of the ninth with a home run, Gwynn Jr. would produce a walk-off single in the bottom half of the inning to get Syracuse the win. With Michael Taylor now with the Nationals again , this will give Gwynn Jr. the opportunity to get more playing time and further his development. Despite the low batting average, he is tied with Ian Stewart (who homered this week) for third on the team in hits (17).
Pitcher Of The Week: SP Richard Bleier (1-1, 2.45 ERA)
You have to give Bleier, the sixth round pick of the Texas Rangers in the 2008 MLB Draft, a lot of credit. He received the start in place of A.J. Cole last Tuesday due to Cole being called up to the big leagues. On three days rest, he went six innings against a very good lineup in Pawtucket, gave up one run on six hits, struck out three, and walked none in a win.
This season, Bleier has appeared in five games (three starts) and has not given up more than two earned runs in any outing and has walked just one batter. Last season, the left-hander was with the Blue Jays organization, mainly pitching in double-A. He went 6-5 in 34 games (five starts) with a 3.93 ERA. As for Cole, he will be back on the mound tonight when the Chiefs begin a series against the Norfolk Tides (Baltimore Orioles).
Honorable Mention: RP Rich Hill (2-1, 0.82)
Hill is the honorable mention for the second time in three weeks, but for good reason. The more Hill continues to produce, the more likely Washington could call him up should an injury occur to one of the lefties. Hill threw 4.1 innings in three appearances this week out of the bullpen and did not give up a single earned run. He struck out nine batters and walked two.
This season, Hill has 19 strikeouts in 11 appearances out of the ‘pen. Those 19 K’s are three more than any other Chief (Scott McGregor has 16). While Hill is a veteran trying to make one more good impression, this is a player that the team can rely on in the early stages to get the tough lefties out in some big spots.