Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Washington Nationals have promoted their entire starting outfield from low-Class A Hagerstown - including Chris Marrero, last year’s first-round draft pick - to high-Class A Potomac in a move that underscores those players’ speedy development.

Marrero, Justin Maxwell and Mike Daniel (along with first baseman Brett McMillan) all were informed yesterday they will be called up after impressive starts to the season.

“It’s not so much that we moved them. They moved themselves,” said Bob Boone, the Nationals’ director of player development. “We just felt they were ready to handle that next little step.

Marrero, rated the second-best prospect in Washington’s farm system behind Class AA right-hander Collin Balester, had 13 homers , 52 RBI and a .289 average at Hagerstown. Maxwell, drafted in 2005 out of Maryland, has 14 homers, 40 RBI and a .300 average. Daniel, another 2005 draft pick, is hitting .297 with seven homers and 37 RBI, while McMillan is hitting .271 with five homers and 21 RBI.

Boone believes the players’ speedy progress can be attributed in part to their time playing in the Nationals’ accelerated spring training program this year.

“I think that really helped their advancement,” he said. “They showed us in spring training they could handle that level of competition.”

Extra bases

Three injured Washington pitchers will begin minor league rehab assignments Friday. John Patterson (right arm nerve irritation) will start for Potomac, Jason Bergmann (right elbow inflammation) will start for Class AAA Columbus and Jerome Williams (right shoulder strain) will start for Class AA Harrisburg. All will throw three innings or 50 pitches, whichever comes first.

The Nationals came to terms with 17 of last week’s draft picks, including second-rounder Jake Smolinski (an infielder who was taken 70th overall). Among those also signing were right-hander Phillip Dean (seventh round), outfielder Mark Gildea (ninth round) and left-hander Patrick McCoy (10th round).

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