Washington Nationals Minor Leagues: Players Of The Week (5/11-5/17)

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Syracuse Chiefs (16-21)

 Hitter Of The Week: C Steven LeRud (.304, 5 HR, 10 RBI’s)

In January, the Washington Nationals signed the 30-year old catcher to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. With the Chiefs, LeRud has split time with another non-roster invitee, Dan Butler, who used to be in the Red Sox organization. This week, LeRud, the former Phillie, had an excellent week for Syracuse.

In four games, LeRud had seven hits, a home run and six RBI’s. Out of those four games, he had three hits in two of those games. This month, he is hitting .481 with two home runs and eight RBI’s. On May 14, against his former team, the Gwinnett Braves, he went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run and four RBI’s.

Last season, with Gwinnett, he hit .250 with four home runs and 19 RBI’s. He hit .444 in eight games with the Nationals this spring and drove in two runs.

 Honorable Mention: CF Matt den Dekker (.224, 0 HR, 10 RBI’s)

Before the season began, the Nationals acquired den Dekker from the Mets in exchange for lefty Jerry Blevins. After hitting only .200 with the Chiefs in April, he has raised that average to .250 in the month of May. This week, den Dekker had five hits and drove in a run. He has also recorded at least one hit in five of his last six games.

Last year, down at the Mets triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas, he hit .334 with eight home runs and 46 RBI’s. However, the Pacific Coast League has a reputation of being more favorable for the hitters. However, what den Dekker lacks in average, he does have the ten RBI’s and he is third on the team in stolen bases with five. I’m interested to see what the 27-year old will do the rest of the season in the International League.

 Pitcher Of The Week: SP Taylor Hill (3-1, 4.14 ERA)

While Hill has the highest ERA of any starting pitcher on Syracuse’s staff, he had a very good start against the Gwinnett Braves on May 14. The 26-year-old right-hander went eight innings, gave up one run on five hits, struck out four, and walked no one. Out of the 101 pitches he threw, 68 were for strikes. Keep in mind, Hill went eight innings or more in a game three times last season.

This season, opposing hitters have hit .285 against him. Coming into that outing, he had given up six runs in two of his last four starts. In the start prior to the one against Gwinnett, he gave up three homers to the Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays). He is not one to strike out many hitters, but maybe this start is the beginning of a streak that gets that ERA back down.

 Honorable Mention: SP Matthew Spann (1-0, 0.00)

The reason that Spann makes the slideshow this week was that he was the starter that made the spot start on Friday when A.J. Cole was supposed to pitch. Spann made the jump from high-A Potomac to make the start in this one. He was 0-4 with a 4.66 ERA in five starts with the Potomac Nats, but he put up great numbers against the Columbus Clippers (Cleveland Indians) on Friday.

He went six innings, gave up no runs on two hits, struck out four, and walked two on 92 pitches in the win. While the 25th round pick of the Rays in the 2010 MLB Draft had a high ERA in high-A, one thing to remember is he did give Potomac innings. Counting Friday, he has gone six innings in his last three starts and at least five innings in all six. His 29 innings at Potomac are third on the team behind Wander Suero and Nick Pivetta.

Next: Double-A