Nationals sign three pitchers to minor league deal

nationals90_image_thumbnailThe National continue to make the bolstering of their starting pitching an utmost priority this winter, signing three pitchers to low-risk minor league deals. The Nationals reached deals with right-hander Ross Ohlendorf and left-handers Sean West and Brandon Mann, according to reports from Baseball America and FOX Sports.

The three, save for Ohlendorf, have little major league experience and are unproven. But filling minor league spots with arms, particularly two left-handed ones, could prove to be helpful insurance policy for injuries and help provide depth to a position depleted by trades.

Ohlendorf, 30, pitched for the San Diego Padres last season and struggled, dealing with a shoulder injury and notching a 7.77 ERA in 48 2/3 innings with nine starts and four relief appearances. He spent most of the season in the minors of the Boston Red Sox and Pirates organization.

The 6-foot-4 right-hander made his major league debut with the New York Yankees and spent four seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, putting up solid numbers as a part of their rotation of those seasons. In 2009, he punched up a 3.92 ERA for the Pirates and a 11-10 record over 176 2/3 innings and a 4.07 ERA and a 1-3 recover over 108 1/3 innings the following year. Ohlendorf was picked in the fourth round of the 2004 draft out of Princeton. The Nationals have had success with former Pirates pitchers — Zach Duke, Sean Burnett, Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny — thanks, in part, to their connection with current  Nationals pitching coordinator Spin Williams, a former longtime Pirates coach.

West, 26, has spent his entire career with the Miami Marlins who drafted him 44th overall in 2005. The 6-foot-8 left-hander has dealt with numerous injuries, from his back to his elbow to his knee, and reached the majors in 2009. He made 20 starts that season and notched a 4.79 ERA but threw only 9 1/3 innings in 2010. He spent 2011 in the Marlins Class AAA affiliate and didn’t pitch last season. 

Mann, 28, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2002 and hasn’t yet reached the majors. The 6-foot-2 left-handed starter has been mostly in the Rays organization before spending time in the Los Angeles Dodgers minor leagues in 2010, pitching in the independent leagues and for the Yokohama Bay Stars in Japan from 2011 to 2012. He has a 4.52 ERA in his professional baseball career, and hasn’t reached higher than Class AA. According to FOX Sports, Mann has an invitation to big league camp in spring training.

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