Washington Nationals: Keep an Eye on Xavier Cedeno in Spring Training

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

On Feb. 13, pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. For the Washington Nationals, one pitcher that folks should keep an eye on is Xavier Cedeno.

With the lack of lefty-relief in the bullpen, Cedeno could see a serious increase in responsibility this coming season. The Nationals did trade to acquire Jerry Blevins, but they are still somewhat depleted in the bullpen when it comes to lefty-relief. We’ve discussed the possibility of Sammy Solis getting a major league roster spot, but it’s likely he’ll be back in the minors to continue his development. Thus, Cedeno could see an important role coming out of the bullpen for Matt Williams.

In 2013, Cedeno was solid. He faced 23 batters over six innings and struck out six of them while giving up just one run. Opponents bat .227 against him with an on-base percentage of .261. This past winter, he played some ball down in Puerto Rico, and did well. He pitched 21.2 innings and finished with a 2.49 ERA. He struck out 36 batters, gave up just 11 hits and posted a phenomenal .83 WHIP.

Of the lefty’s that Mike Rizzo has cultivated in the minors, Cedeno could be one of the best currently at his disposal. Many thought highly of Ian Krol and Fernando Abad, both have moved on, and Cedeno has been viewed by some baseball scouting websites as an up and comer. For the Nationals, they better be right. It will be up to Blevins or Cedeno when Williams wants to pull a lefty out of the pen.

When the pitchers and catchers report in early February, make a note of Xavier Cedeno. He played a limited role last year for the Nationals, but he seems primed and ready to take a much bigger role as we head into 2014.

Brian Skinnell is a freelance sports writer for RantSports.com and contributor at Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter and add him to your network on Google.

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