- The Washington Times - Monday, May 4, 2009

THE BUZZ

Tracking the Nationals’ news and trends from the past week:

The bullpen [DOWN]

Hanrahan, Tavarez, Kensing… it hasn’t really mattered who gets the ball

Ryan Zimmerman [UP]

Rewards self for new contract with career-best hitting streak

Shairon Martis [UP]

Forget that Zimmermann kid; this 22-year-old is 3-0 and tossed a complete game

Arriving late [DOWN]

Belliard follows in Dukes’ shoes, getting benched and fined in the process

STRASBURG WATCH

Your weekly update on San Diego State right-hander (and presumptive Nationals No. 1 draft pick) Stephen Strasburg:

As the end of the NCAA regular season approaches, Strasburg is just getting warmed up. In his latest dominant performance, the right-hander tossed eight scoreless innings Friday night in a 5-0 win at Santa Clara. Strasburg allowed three hits, walked two and struck out 12 in a 104-pitch performance that left the opponents raving.

“I haven’t seen anything like him in the college game,” Santa Clara coach Mark O’Brien said. “In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen anything like him in the big league level.”

Strasburg’s understated response: “I felt pretty strong.” The junior fireballer has one more home start left this weekend against Air Force, then a start at Utah before the Mountain West Conference tournament May 21-23.

Season stats: 10-0, 1.38 ERA, 78 1/3 innings, 48 hits, 15 walks, 147 strikeouts

MINOR LEAGUE WATCH

Chris Marrero knows this is a crucial year in his development. After missing much of last season with a broken ankle and seeing his stock within the organization fall a bit, the young slugger needs to rediscover his preinjury form and reach the upper levels of the Nationals’ farm system for the first time.

So far, so good. Marrero is off to a hot start at Class A Potomac, having reached base in his first 23 games while hitting .314 with three homers, seven doubles and 14 RBI. The question now is how soon Washington will promote the 20-year-old first baseman to Class AA Harrisburg. Club officials would prefer to let him dominate at his current level a little while longer, then perhaps make the move around the All-Star break.

That would keep Marrero on track for a September 2010 call-up.

Mark Zuckerman

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