The Washington Nationals today added depth to their starting rotation by agreeing to terms with 25 year-old right-handed pitcher Jerome Williams on a one-year contract. The Nationals also agreed to terms on a minor-league contract with left-handed pitcher Brandon Claussen. Nationals Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden made the announcements.
Williams is 23-24 with a 4.03 ERA in 70 games (65 starts) spanning portions of four big league seasons with San Francisco and Chicago (NL). A former first-round selection (39th overall) in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, Williams broke onto the scene with San Francisco in 2003, as he went 7-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 21 starts to help the Giants claim the NL West crown. Williams followed that success in 2004 by going 10-7 with a 4.24 ERA in his first full season in the big leagues. Williams pocketed those 10 wins at the age of 22, and thus became the youngest Giants pitcher to record a double-digit win total since Pete Falcone in 1975. Williams was rated by Baseball America as the Giants' No. 3 prospect entering 2003.
Claussen, 27, will be in Nationals' big league camp while continuing to rehab from Aug. 14, 2006 surgery, which debrided the left shoulder and repaired a small tear in the rotator cuff. Claussen is 16-27 with a 5.04 ERA in 58 big league starts spanning four seasons with Cincinnati and New York (AL). His finest campaign came in 2005, when he went 10-11 with a 4.21 ERA in 29 starts for the Reds. That season, Claussen allowed three earned runs or less in 21 of 29 assignments, and was the only starting pitcher for whom the 73-89 Reds posted a winning record (Cincinnati finished 15-14 in Claussen's starts). At one time regarded as one of baseball's top pitching prospects, Claussen entered the 2003 season rated as the Yankees' top pitching prospect according to Baseball America.