Washington Nationals Winter Leagues: Richard Bleier Off To Strong Start In Dominican Republic

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In addition to the Arizona Fall League, there are other offseason leagues that are being played right now in Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic as part of the Caribbean Series. One of those players that is off to a good start in the Dominican Republic is left-handed pitching prospect, Richard Bleier. The Washington Nationals are a team that is loaded with strong pitching prospects, but Bleier is not even in the Nats’ top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.

The 28-year-old left-hander has only made three starts for Estrellas de Oriente in the Dominican League, but he has a 1.17 ERA in those games. He has a 1-1 record and has given up two earned runs (one home run), struck out five batters, and walked one over 15.1 innings. His best start out of those three games occurred on October 23 when he threw six innings of one-hit ball in a win over Gigantes del Cibao. That Gigantes team had Alexi Casilla and Matt Joyce in the lineup that night.

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During this past season, Bleier split time with the double-A Harrisburg Senators and the triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. After alternating between the two teams during the month of April, Bleier pitched for Harrisburg exclusively from May 5-July 22. In 16 games with the Senators (15 starts), he went 8-3 with a 2.45 ERA, struck out 40 batters, and walked nine while earning a trip to the Eastern League All-Star Game.

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On July 27, Bleier was promoted to Syracuse and picked up right where he left off from his time in double-A. In 12 games (11 starts) with the Chiefs, he went 6-2 with a 2.75 ERA, struck out 25 batters, and walked seven. Over his last eight starts of the season, the left-hander was 5-1 with a 2.70 ERA. One of those outings was a complete game shutout against the Pawtucket Red Sox on August 7 (six hits, two strikeouts, no walks).

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Back on December 13, the Nats signed Bleier to a minor league contract after he spent the 2014 season in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. While he doesn’t strike out many batters and tends to pitch to contact, Bleier is a name to keep an eye on going into next year as his combined ERA of 2.57 was over a run lower than his ERA with the double and triple-A affiliates in Toronto a season ago (3.98). He won’t be on the big league roster to start next season, but he is one of those prospects that deserves a little more attention than he is currently getting.