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Nationals sign pitching prospects
"I'm very confident I can make this rotation," said Williams, who was 23-24 with a 4.03 ERA in parts of four big league seasons. "I know I have to work hard and come to spring training in shape and in the right frame of mind to make the team."
Williams once was one of the San Francisco Giants' most promising pitching prospects. The Honolulu native was the 39th pick in the 1999 draft and breezed through the Giants' minor leagues. At 21, he was in San Francisco's rotation.
He won 17 games between 2003 and 2004, but was traded to the Cubs in 2005 for LaTroy Hawkins. He was 6-8 with a 3.91 ERA with the Cubs in 2005, but he said he lost confidence after he was sent to the minors a month into the 2006 season.
Claussen debuted with the Yankees in 2003 but spent the last three seasons with Cincinnati Reds. He was 10-11 with a 4.21 ERA in 29 2005 starts with the Reds, but a shoulder injury limited him last year. He was 3-8 with a 6.19 ERA when his season ended in August with shoulder surgery.
He will start the season on the disabled list, but will make a pro-rated portion of a $650,000 salary if he pitches in the big leagues.
Right-hander Collin Balester topped the Nationals' list of prospects in Baseball America's annual rankings, which were released yesterday. The 20-year-old was 5-5 with a 4.71 ERA in 137 innings between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg last season.
Outfielder Chris Marrero, Washington's top draft pick in 2006, was ranked second, followed by right-hander Colton Willems, outfielder Kory Casto and shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez.
Lee Kuntz was named the Nationals' head athletic trainer yesterday.
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