By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 28, 2007
Outfielder Justin Maxwell and left-hander John Lannan, who began the year at Class A but ended up in the big leagues, were named yesterday as the Washington Nationals' minor league player and pitcher of the year, respectively.
Maxwell, 23, is a native of Olney who was drafted by the Nationals in the fourth round in 2005 following an injury-plagued career at the University of Maryland. He combined to hit .281 with 25 doubles, 27 homers, 83 RBI and 35 stolen bases in a season that began at low-Class A Hagerstown and included a midseason promotion to high-Class A Potomac. In 20 major league at-bats, he's hitting .250 with two homers -- the first a grand slam, the second off New York Mets veteran Tom Glavine.
"It's definitely meaningful," Maxwell said of the award by phone yesterday. "It gives me motivation headed into next season."
Lannan, who turned 23 yesterday, rocketed through the Nationals' system, going 12-3 with a 2.31 ERA -- best among Washington farmhands -- at Potomac, Class AA Harrisburg and Class AAA Columbus. In six major league starts in July and August, he went 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA, twice pitching seven innings and allowing one earned run.
Those seasons have outlined next year's goals for both players: make the major league team out of spring training.
"That's all I want right now," Lannan said.Pitching Phenomena
The final start of the season for left-hander Matt Chico will bring the last chance for the Nationals to become a statistical oddity. Washington has employed 26 pitchers this season -- including 13 starters -- yet no one has more than Jon Rauch's eight wins.
Moreover, no one has more than Chico's nine losses. Thus, should Chico get a win or a no-decision tomorrow in Philadelphia and Rauch not pick up two wins in relief, the Nationals will finish with neither a 10-game winner nor a 10-game loser. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that has never happened in a full season; it happened only in 1981 and '94, seasons shortened by labor strife.