Nats, Detwiler Seek a Prompt Delivery
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Ross Detwiler's left hand was tired, having repeated the same motion over and over on a recent afternoon. As the Washington Nationals' 2007 first-round draft pick, he had grown accustomed to having spectators' eyes zeroed in on him, but they had never been this close, this personal, before.
"Will you put the date on it?" asked a man in a white Nationals jersey and red team cap after Detwiler had autographed his baseball.
"Sure," Detwiler responded.
"I have a plan for this ball," the man said.
"Really?" Detwiler said, nonchalantly.
"I'm going to give it back to you," the man replied, "when you're in the Hall of Fame."
The man was just one of the 50 or so fans who waited in line outside Five Guys restaurant in Woodbridge for the 21-year-old southpaw's signature, yet he accurately captured the sentiment surrounding the young pitcher. Hurry up, Ross. We're waiting.
It is the message Detwiler has received since the day he signed his first professional contract -- from his bosses, from his future teammates, from fans. Detwiler has done his best to keep up with the rapid pace set for him by those who control his future, but his laid-back persona and childish grin act as a reminder that he is not far removed from the relatively carefree days of his youth.
Detwiler knows everyone else is ready for him to ascend to the big leagues and become the staff ace that scouts expect him to become. But he also knows he has to be ready before all the rest of that stuff can take place.
Flanked by former Washington Nationals first-round draft picks who had advanced to the major leagues the same season they were selected, Detwiler took a seat behind a rectangular table at RFK Stadium on July 6 and signed a contract that included a $2.15 million signing bonus.
During the news conference, closer Chad Cordero -- drafted and called up in 2003 -- mentioned how good it was to see Detwiler sign so quickly, telling the sixth overall choice in the 2007 draft that "this is where you want to be."
General Manager Jim Bowden spoke of the advanced track on which Detwiler would be placed: two or three starts for the Gulf Coast League Nationals, the same at Class A Potomac and a stay in Class AA Harrisburg in August, leaving the door open for a September call-up to the big league club.