The Washington Nationals agreed Thursday to a trade that sent outfielder Josh Willingham to the Oakland A’s in exchange for right-handed relief pitcher Henry Rodriguez and outfielder Corey Brown.
Rodriguez, who signed with the A’s as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela, has one of the more explosive arms in baseball. In 2010, on average, his fastball was clocked at 98 mph and was clocked as high as 103 mph at times last year.
Rodriguez made his major league debut in September of 2009 and pitched in only three innings. However last year, in 2010, the flame-throwing right-hander appeared in 29 games. In 27.2 innings pitched, all in relief, Rodriguez posted a 4.55 ERA while allowing 25 hits and striking out 33.
The 23-year old righty does have closing experience, and with no distinguished or established closer on the Nationals roster going into 2011, Rodriguez could turn some heads with an overpowering fastball in Spring Training, and could even look to fill the closer role.
Pitching for AAA in 2010 he saved 11 games and is currently pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League where he has 5 saves in 17 appearances over 20 1/3 innings pitched.
Brown, the 25-year old outfielder, was the 59th pick in 2007. After dominating at AA Midland, he was promoted to AAA Sacramento and did not have the same success. Brown hit .320 in AA while a meager .193 at AAA.
Brown has decent power with could ability to hit the ball to the gaps, and above average speed. Combined in AA and AAA, Brown hit 15 home runs with 11 triples and 22 stolen bases. However, he struck out 129 times in 534 plate appearances.
Brown will likely start in AAA because of his lack of success after being promoted, however, could be called up during the year if he gets his stroke and the Nationals are lacking outfield production.