December 12, 2009

An In-Speier-ed Pickup

H/T to MLB Trade Rumors for this minor AP item: The Nats signed former Rockies reliever Ryan Speier to a split minor league deal worth up to $425K. Speier is another reliever Rizzo should be familiar with from his time in the NL West. The 30 year old righty has solid career numbers, though he dealt with some injuries in 2009. He pitched better away from Coors (who doesn't?) but still has an impressive ability to keep the ball in the park. Assuming he's healthy he could probably replace Jason Bergmann as the designated right-handed reliever to face right-handed batters.

More important, Speier is a local guy, product of West Springfield High (Go Spartans!) and Radford University (Go Herpes!). Like former Nats SP "Irish Mike" O'Connor and current reliever Josh Wilkie, (George Washington University alums) Speier brings some much needed home cooking to the DC baseball scene. Major league baseball teams should have a lock on local talent. The Braves perfected the art of scouting Georgia and have reaped the rewards with players like Brian McCann and Jason Heyward.

The Nats have publicly committed to rebuilding scholastic and amateur baseball programs in Washington, DC and that's a great start, but you don't have to look any farther than franchise cornerstone Ryan Zimmerman to appreciate that Virginia has a thriving baseball culture that has produced players like David Wright, Mark Reynolds and the Upton brothers. The Braves, Mets and Orioles, through a combination of geographic proximity and minor league affiliations already have ties to baseball in Virginia. Signing a 30 year old reliever to a minor league deal isn't going to be the key that unlocks the Commonwealth's storehouse of baseball talent for the Nationals, but it's a start.

2 comments:

Sean Hogan said...

I probably shouldn't be this excited for a reliever signed to a MLC, but it's cool to have somebody from my high school on the Nats! Now if they can only chase Joe Saunders...

michael gilchrist said...

The Nats are gong to be a very young and talented team in a couple years, once the back to back #1 picks get a chance to develop.