The Nationals trimmed their spring training roster by two more names this morning, sending down a pair of promising pitching prospects.
Left-hander Felipe Rivero was optioned to Class AA Harrisburg, while right-hander A.J. Cole (who isn’t on the club’s 40-man roster yet) was re-assigned to minor-league camp.
Both young pitchers impressed in their first big-league camp in Viera.
Cole, rated by Baseball America as the Nationals’ second-best prospect behind fellow right-hander Lucas Giolito, made three relief appearances totaling 6 2/3 innings without surrendering a run or walking a batter while striking out seven.
The 22-year-old, sent to the Athletics in Dec. 2011 as part of the Gio Gonzalez trade and then re-acquired a year later in the three-team deal that sent Michael Morse to the Mariners, re-established his place within the organization last season, going a combined 10-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 25 starts with Class A Potomac and Class AA Harrisburg. The 6-foot-4 hurler is likely to return to Harrisburg to open this season but could move quickly up the ladder.
Rivero was acquired from the Rays last month as part of the deal that also landed catcher Jose Lobaton. Touted by general manager Mike Rizzo, the 22-year-old made three appearances this spring, allowing two runs in four innings while also not issuing any walks.
Rivero went 9-7 with a 3.40 ERA in 25 games (23 starts) for Tampa Bay’s high-Class A affiliate last season. He’ll get a chance to move up to Class AA now.
Today’s moves leave the Nationals with 55 players in big-league camp, with 19 days until the season opens.