Detwiler Hopes to Continue Nats' Top-Pick Tradition

By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 7, 2007

To his left and to his right sat living embodiments of the opportunity that awaits Ross Detwiler, the sixth overall pick in this year's draft and newly signed Washington National. Joining Detwiler at a news conference before last night's game were third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and closer Chad Cordero, previous top picks who rose to the majors the same season in which they signed their first contracts.

"Seeing Ryan and Cordero make it up, you know it's possible," Detwiler said after posing for pictures with the two Nationals, all in their jerseys. "You just have to be focused."

One of General Manager Jim Bowden's main goals since draft day was signing Detwiler, a left-handed pitcher out of Missouri State. Detwiler will receive a $2.15 million signing bonus, though his contract did not include an invitation to next year's spring training. Bowden is sure he'll be invited, though. "There's a chance he might be called up in September," Bowden said.

That sentiment seemed to be the theme yesterday as Detwiler and his family became acquainted with RFK Stadium. "It's good to see him sign pretty quick," Cordero said. "The quicker you sign, the quicker you get up here, and this is really where you want to be."

According to several scouting reports, Detwiler's fastball ranges from 90 to 94 mph, as well as a curveball that hits between 78 and 81 mph. Detwiler also said he started working on a change-up over the past year and that it is "a work in progress."

The 6-foot-5 lefty went 4-5 with a 2.22 ERA in 14 starts for Missouri State this past season. In 89 innings pitched, Detwiler struck out 110 batters and opponents batted .198 against him.

Detwiler will report today to Viera, Fla., where Bowden said he will make two or three starts for the Gulf Coast League Nationals before being promoted to Class A Potomac. The plan, according to Bowden, is to have Detwiler in Class AA Harrisburg by August, leaving the door open for a September call-up to the big league club.

"I've been in his shoes, and Jim [Bowden] is not making anything up," Zimmerman said. "If you work hard and do what you need to do to get here, he's not afraid to call you up and let you do it here."

© 2007 The Washington Post Company