Nationals Believe Mooneyham Is Worth The Wait





VIERA, Fla.—Lefthander Brett Mooneyham knows the full experience of minor league baseball is just around the corner.

Invited to the Nationals' accelerated development camp, the former Stanford southpaw is on track to move to full-season ball in 2013, one year after his selection in the third round of the draft.

Mooneyham went 2-2, 2.55 with 29 strikeouts and 16 walks in 42 innings for short-season Auburn last summer, giving him a taste of the rigors of minor league bus travel.

Even that was a world removed from college, where the Stanford baseball team traveled by plane to all of its out-of-state Pacific-12 Conference destinations.

"I'll probably have about the same number of innings as I did last year when you add it all up, but the travel might be a lot more taxing," Mooneyham said. "At least they have sleeper buses in low-A and high-A."

As far as the on-field grind goes, the 23-year-old son of former major league righthander Bill Mooneyham says, "Wherever they send me, pitching is pitching. You have to be able to locate your fastball and know everyone's strengths and weaknesses."

The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Mooneyham will try this season to carry over the approach that helped him finish last season 1-0, 1.69 in his final three starts.

"My fastball command got better, especially throwing inside," he said.

Mooneyham's breaking ball is technically a slider, but it's close enough to a curve that some catchers put down two fingers and some put down three.

Washington liked Mooneyham so much that they drafted him twice, the first time in the 38th round in 2011, after he missed the season because he needed surgery when he sliced his left middle finger on a can of beans.

Still, he left an impression on scouting director Kris Kline, who has said that Mooneyham shags flyballs "like he could play center field."

Mooneyham came back strong as a redshirt junior and showed why he was one of the most sought-after players in the 2008 high school class. That year, he was a 15th-round pick of the Padres out of high school in Atwater, Calif., despite his commitment to the Cardinal.

CAPITAL GAINS

• The Nationals planned to let righthander Christian Garcia throw multiple innings in his spring training appearances so that he will be ready to start or relieve, as needed.

• Righthanded reliever Cole Kimball, 27, told reporters he feels "100 percent" healthy after rehabbing from rotator cuff surgery and pitching 15 innings in the Arizona Fall League.