Nationals express interest in Astros' Oswalt

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oswalt sitting.jpgBill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the Nationals have expressed interest in trading for Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt, who requested a trade last week.

The Nats are off to their best start since 2005 with a 22-22 record, but that might not be enough to attract the 32-year-old Oswalt.  He’s aiming to hook up with a contender and try for a World Series ring, and his no-trade clause will allow him to pick and choose from a variety of interested teams.  It would be a shock if he’s traded before the end of May (or even June) and plenty of other contending clubs are expected to dial the number of Nats GM Mike Rizzo before this saga is through.

That said, it does make some sense.  Stephen Strasburg is shooting his way through the Nationals’ farm system and it would be fantastic to have a stand-up veteran like Oswalt in the clubhouse to keep the kid grounded and focused. 

Oswalt has a lousy 2-6 record this season through nine starts despite an ERA of 2.66 and a WHIP of 1.07.  He has also fanned 60 batters in 61 innings for the Astros, who are in last place in the NL Central.

Braves’ prospect Ronald Acuna wins AFL MVP, helps clinch AFL Championship Game

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The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.

At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.

Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.

From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.

Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.