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Nats plan to call up Ross from AA for Saturday start

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Nats plan to call up Ross from AA for Saturday start

Updated at 6:30 p.m.

Right-hander Joe Ross, one of the players acquired in last winter's complex trade that most notably will bring shortstop Trea Turner to the Nationals next week, will be promoted from Class AA Harrisburg and start Saturday's game against the Cubs, manager Matt Williams announced.

Ross, 22, isn't currently on the Nationals' 40-man roster, but he can have his contract purchased, with the organization clearing a spot for him by transferring one of several injured players (Craig Stammen, Jayson Werth, Reed Johnson, Nate McLouth) from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. Another player will have to come off the 25-man active roster in exchange for Ross.

Though the Nationals have starting candidates with experience at both Class AAA Syracuse and the big leagues — right-handers A.J. Cole and Taylor Hill both are currently on the major-league roster — they will instead turn to the promising (if inexperienced) Ross to make his debut Saturday.

"We're excited to see him, having come from a different organization," Williams said. "He's pitched very well, though. He's commanded the zone and done everything that's asked of him. So he's going to get a chance."

Ross is 2-2 with a 2.81 ERA in nine starts at Harrisburg, striking out 54 batters while walking 12 in 51 1/3 innings. He was already on schedule to start Saturday against Trenton.

A first-round pick of the Padres in 2011, Ross was part of December's complex, 3-team trade that saw the Nationals send outfielder Steven Souza Jr. to the Rays while also acquiring a player to be named later from San Diego. That player, prized shortstop prospect Turner, will finally be eligible to be dealt June 13.

The 6-foot-4 Ross is the younger brother of Padres right-hander Tyson Ross, who beat the Nationals at Petco Park last month.

"I think he was a guy that we thought that would be quick through the minor leagues for us," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "But this has accelerated his development even a little faster than I thought he would."

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Nationals introduce first round pick Jackson Rutledge, who is ready to work

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Nationals introduce first round pick Jackson Rutledge, who is ready to work

WASHINGTON -- Jackson Rutledge may still be years away from the majors, but as the Nationals' 2019 first round pick toured the team's ballpark for the first time on Monday, he sure looked the part as a big leaguer.

At 6-foot-8, Rutledge towers over everyone currently on the Nationals' roster. He's got prototypical pitcher size with a fastball that reaches triple digits.

Like any pitcher recently drafted, no matter the round, there is a good chance Nationals fans will not hear Rutledge's name again for quite some time, if they hear it again at all.

In the previous eight years, the team used their first pick in the draft on a pitcher six times. Only two of them - Lucas Giolito and Erick Fedde - have pitched in a Nationals uniform, and only Fedde is currently on their roster.

Rutledge, 20, will begin his journey with the Gulf Coast League Nationals. He heads there on Friday, hoping it will not be long before he is back in Washington.

"This is my first time in D.C.," Rutledge said. "Amazing stadium."

Rutledge signed his first contract with the Nationals on Monday and passed a physical in the morning. In the afternoon, he walked around the clubhouse and on the field during batting practice, introducing himself to manager Davey Martinez and players who could be his future teammates.

Rutledge has said in various interviews since being drafted earlier this month that he looks forward to playing with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, the Nationals' three ace starters. 

This was his first glimpse at them in-person.

"Meeting all the big league guys was really cool," he said. "I just want to be one of those guys that has that success."

If there was any impression Rutledge left on Monday, beyond his height, it was his eagerness to learn. He cited several of his mentors over the years, former big leaguers like Andy Benes who coached him in summer ball and Woody Williams, an assistant coach at San Jacinto Community College. He mentioned Tom Arrington, head coach at San Jacinto, and his attention to detail.

Rutledge even had praise for Ross Detwiler, a former Nationals pitcher whom they took in the first round of the 2007 MLB Draft. He explained how Detwiler taught him a changeup grip during an offseason workout that he has continued to use.

Those are the people, he says, who helped him arrive at this unexpected place in his life as a first-round draft pick.

"If you asked me a year and a half ago where I would be, I probably wouldn't say the first round. It worked out really well because of how hard I worked," Rutledge said.

His college numbers were certainly impressive. Rutledge held a 0.87 ERA with 134 strikeouts in 13 starts. As a freshman at Arkansas before transferring, he posted a 3.45 ERA in 12 starts.

Rutledge is now looking forward to taking the next steps in his development. He said working on his curveball and changeup will be the focus while he's in the GCL. He wants to add weight and muscle to prepare for next year, his first full pro season. 

Assuming he does someday return to Washington as a big league pitcher, Rutledge said to expect a guy who likes to work fast but without a lot of emotion.

"When things are going well, I really feel in control of the game. I feel like I'm setting the game at my own pace and hitters feel uncomfortable because of that," he said. 

"I'm not a guy that's going to get up and start yelling and give energy like that, I'm more of a consistent kind of flat body language sort of guy."

Nationals fans will hope to get to know him better someday. For now, it's down to the minors to learn the ropes as a prospect.

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Victor Robles wins first career Play of the Week award

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Victor Robles wins first career Play of the Week award

For the first time in his young Major League career, Nationals rookie outfielder Victor Robles was honored with a Play of the Week award.

Thanks to his lightning speed and fearless playing style, it probably won’t be his last.

Tuesday night in Chicago, Robles found himself chasing down a Leury Garcia rocket to left-center off a Patrick Corbin breaking ball.

Robles, who had been playing Garcia in right-center, covered nearly 90 feet to make the catch, reaching a top speed of 29.9 feet per second. 

As a reference, 30.0 feet per second is considered elite. So, yeah, Robles was running pretty fast here.

The catch was so impressive it brought fans to their feet, showering Robles with a standing ovation. As a reminder, the game was being played in Chicago, not Washington, so for opposing fans to cheer it had to be a pretty special play.

Major League Baseball clearly agreed, awarding Robles for the effort.

Robles is just the second National to win the award, following Anthony Rendon late last month.

The rookie outfielder is enjoying an up-and-down season at the plate, slashing .234/.303/.402 with nine home runs and nine stolen bases.

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