The Washington Times - December 20, 2011, 10:54AM

Amidst a flurry of minor league moves Tuesday morning, the Nationals announced they were extending major league spring training invitations to three of their non-40-man players: right-hander Rafael Martin, catcher Sandy Leon and outfielder Corey Brown.

For Martin, the invitation to major league camp is a monumental step. Six years ago, Martin was working for a storm drain construction company in California, playing baseball once a week and beer league softball on the weekends. Becoming a professional pitcher was not just an impossibility, it wasn’t even a thought. Until one trip to Mexico changed all of that. He put together a nice season as the closer at Double-A in 2011 (1.77 ERA) and a solid performance in the Arizona Fall League. You can read more about Martin’s incredible path to the Nationals here.

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Leon’s invitation gives the Nationals at least five different catchers in major league camp after they added Jhonatan Solano and Derek Norris to the 40-man roster earlier this offseason to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. Leon is considered by many to be the best pure receiver in the organization and his defensive skills are raved about from coaches and pitchers alike. He hit .251 with a .312 on-base percentage and .362 slugging percentage in 2011 with Single-A Potomac.

Brown was taken off the Nationals 40-man roster earlier this offseason after an injury-marred first season in the organization. Brown, who came to the Nationals with Henry Rodriguez as a part of the Josh Willingham trade with Oakland, struggled with an ankle injury in spring training and had a tough time finding his rhythm at Triple-A last year. He ultimately began to put things together toward the end of the season, finishing the Triple-A season with a .235 average, .326 OBP but .402 slugging percentage with 14 home runs. He earned himself a September call-up but had just three at-bats before he was sidelined for the remainder of the season with a staph infection in his right knee.