May 14, 2011
Early Saturday morning, the Nationals decided to designate RHP Brian Broderick for assignment and replace him in the bullpen with RHP Cole Kimball from AAA Syracuse. Broderick, 24, was a Rule V draft choice from the St. Louis Cardinals back in December. In 11 appearances this season with the Nationals, he allowed 16 hits in 12 1/3 innings with a 6.57 ERA, walking three and striking out four batters. As a Rule V selection, he must first clear waivers and be offered back to the Cardinals before the Nationals could send him to Syracuse. Broderick’s numbers are not pretty, but he showed flashes of talent and did produce an extremely impressive 60% ground ball rate. I would be surprised if a team did not claim Broderick (perhaps the Nationals can work a trade) and I would be shocked if the Cardinals did not welcome him back as they have had a myriad of injuries with their pitchers this season.
Cole Kimball, 25, was ranked the 7th best National’s prospect by Baseball America during the off-season, possessing a fastball that he throws up to 97 mph, a devastating splitter, and a decent but inconsistent curveball. He was a 12th round pick out of the Centenary in 2006 as the top collegiate arm available in New Jersey, possessing the reputation as a power arm and a thrower rather than a pitcher. I should briefly pause and give credit to the National’s minor league development staff on a job well done: Kimball was a later round draft pick with potential that the National’s developed into a power reliever with back of the bullpen quality stuff and moxie. Kimball began his professional career as a starter, but was permanently moved to the bullpen two seasons ago and has thrived ever since. In the past two years, Kimball is 9-1 with a 1.85 ERA and 23 saves in 69 appearances between AAA Syracuse, AA Harrisburg and High-A Potomac. This season, Kimball has not allowed a run in 13 2/3 innings with AAA Syracuse, striking out 14 while walking 8.
This move can only be seen as a positive in my eyes. Broderick possesses a major league quality arm but will likely never be more than an extra guy in the bullpen or, in a perfect world, as a 5th starter, while Kimball projects as a late inning reliever on a successful club. Kimball was pitching so well in Syracuse that he forced the Nationals to bring him to Washington, placing the Nationals in the difficult position of choosing between Broderick and Henry Rodriguez for the last slot in the bullpen. While Broderick has slightly better numbers, Rodriguez was acquired in the Josh Willingham trade with Oakland, possesses a fastball near 100mph, and has late-inning reliever potential. Both Broderick and Rodriguez are likely to be claimed but Rodriguez has the greater potential ceiling, thus the Nationals decided Broderick was the one to go. Another excellent decision by the organization, and a nice statement to the depth the Nationals are developing in their minor league system.
Overall Grade…. Solid B+
“Tip of the Fedora” -> Goes out to Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com. Mark runs an excellent site and was kind enough to add NatsGM to his Natosphere this week. Much appreciated Mark, thank you.
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