According to Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com, two Washington Nationals players picked up post-season awards from the Dominican Winter League today. Right-handed starter, Yunesky Maya, was named the league’s Pitcher of the Year, and outfielder Eury Perez was named the leagues Rookie of the Year.
Maya, 29, signed with the Nationals last season after defecting from the Cuban national team. Maya breezed through the minors before having a rough debut month in Washington. In five starts the former Cuban all-star got tuned up, going 0-3 with a 5.88 ERA and just 4.15 K/9. Many in Nats Town pegged this up to rustiness, a result of Maya sitting out nearly a year from the time he defected from Cuba to the time he signed with the Nationals in late July.
According to Goessling, Maya went 4-2 with a 1.32 ERA in eight starts in the Dominican League while striking out 42 batters in 41 innings.
Hopefully this is a sign for both Maya and the Nationals that the rustiness has wore off and he will be ready to go for 2011. The Nats gave him a pretty big payday last summer when they signed him to a four-year $8 million dollar deal, so this is the hurlers chance to prove that the club didn’t just pay for hype.
Perez, 20, was just recently named by Baseball America as one of the clubs top ten prospects. A speedy outfielder, Perez projects to be a center fielder who can cover great ground with his wheels. A hitter in the mold of Juan PIerre, Perez batted .345 in the Dominican League over 37 games. While he has been able to hit for a high average throughout his professional career, his inability to get on base may keep him from ever batting leadoff, significantly diminishing his value. Perez had an OBP of .367 in the Winter League, which is a strong number, but when you bat as high as .345 it means you are not getting on base much outside of hits.
Perez posted just a 4.7 walk percentage in 131 games in A-Ball for the Nationals in 2010.