The Washington Nationals will welcome their first wave of September call-ups on Saturday morning, summoning catcher Sandy Leon, outfielder Eury Perez and left-hander John Lannan from Triple-A Syracuse and adding them to the major league roster.
Veteran utility man Mark DeRosa will also be activated from the disabled list on Saturday and once the Triple-A season ends, the Nationals plan to add outfielder Corey Brown as well as a pitcher, which is expected to be right-handed reliever Christian Garcia.
“We’re not in the situation where we’re going to bring guys up to take a look at players like we have in the past,” said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. “The players that we bring up are going to be players that can help us in real games and for a playoff run.”
Lannan will not pitch immediately, as he made his final minor league start of the season on Thursday night, but manager Davey Johnson said the team will keep him on schedule with his bullpen sessions and, perhaps, use him in a game out of the bullpen until Stephen Strasburg is shut down. When that day comes, Lannan will slide into the Nationals’ rotation.
Lannan finished his minor league season with a flourish, throwing back-to-back complete game shutouts for the Chiefs.
“It’s great,” said Johnson. “He’s had a great attitude down there and come up and really been excited about coming up and helping us win. He’s done that twice and thrown great games. I think his arm and his head and everything is in the right spot.
“There was never going to be any doubt of who was going to be the guy that came in to replace Stras, so there have been all kinds of other guys available, but that’s how high we are on John.”
Leon, who hit .322 in the minor leagues this season and .250 in 10 games at the major league level (sandwiched around a high-ankle sprain that occurred in the first major league game of his career), will be used as a third catcher to give Johnson another bat off the bench and not have to worry about burning his backup catcher as a pinch hitter.
And Perez, one of the Nationals’ well-regarded center field prospects, will likely be used primarily as a pinch runner. In 127 games this season across Double-A and Triple-A, Perez stole 51 bases. He made a strong impression during spring training and he’s hit .314 with a .344 on-base percentage this season.
“Eury’s an impressive guy,” Rizzo said. “He’s a guy that really came on the radar screen two years ago in the winter leagues … and he hasn’t taken a step backaward. He’s moving forward. He’s developing at a great pace. The player development system has done a great job with him. He’s got some exciting skills and a right-handed bat that we view as somebody that can really help us in the future.”
Brown and Garcia will finish out the Triple-A season, which ends on Sept. 3, and then join the Nationals for the remainder of the season. Brown, who’s been called up twice before this season, had three hits, including a double and a home run in nine games at the big league level. In Triple-A, Brown has hit .285 with 23 home runs, 22 doubles and nine triples and was named a post-season International League All-Star.
Garcia, a two-time Tommy John survivor and one time Yankees farmhand, has been one of the most raved about minor leaguers in the team’s system. In 50 1/3 innings across Double-A and Triple-A this season, Garcia has a 0.89 ERA and since being promoted to Triple-A he’s thrown 30 1/3 innings with a 0.59 ERA.
– In other roster news, catcher Jhonatan Solano does not look to be a call-up. Johnson said he hasn’t gotten a ton of playing time since going down with a left oblique strain and he’ll head to Viera, Fla., for instructional league and be on the ready in case there is an injury at the major league level.
Chien-Ming Wang has one more minor league start to make before he is expected to rejoin the Nationals, though it’s unclear what his role (if any) will be when he arrives.
Lucas Giolito, the Nationals’ first-round pick from the 2012 draft, underwent Tommy John surgery Friday in Los Angeles. The surgery was performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum.