Notes: Nats offer Marrero advice

Notes: Nats offer Marrero advice

ATLANTA -- It's been a little over 24 hours since Washington made outfielder Chris Marrero its first pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

That feeling is a familiar one around the Nationals' clubhouse, as the team's last three No. 1 picks -- pitchers Chad Cordero (2003) and Bill Bray (2004) and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (2005) -- are currently contributing to the parent club. No other club can claim such excellence with its first picks.

"They're good at picking their No. 1s, I guess," said Zimmerman. "And they're not afraid to throw them in there. If they're going to take you that high, they're going to want a return right away."

So far, Washington management has not been disappointed. Cordero was an All-Star in 2005, when he led the Majors with a franchise-record 47 saves, including an National League-leading 22 in games decided by one run. Last season, following a Sept. 1 callup, Zimmerman hit .397 in 20 games, and so far in 2006, he is tied for first among rookies with nine home runs and is second with 34 RBIs. Bray, who was called up on June 2, earned a win in his Major League debut in Milwaukee, requiring only one pitch.

The one thing Cordero, Zimmerman, and Bray have in common is they all went to college for at least three years -- Cordero went to Cal State Fullerton, Zimmerman attended Virginia and Bray studied at William and Mary -- something from which they all admitted they benefitted.

While none of the three was suggesting that Marrero was making the wrong move by going directly to the pros, they each had a similar piece of advice for him once he gets there.

"Just work hard," said Zimmerman, who played a total of 67 Minor League games -- four with Savannah of the Class A South Atlantic League and 63 at Double-A Harrisburg. "They don't feel obligated to pull No. 1 picks up. Me, Chad and Bill aren't up here just because they drafted us No. 1. We worked to get here. What it comes down to is your work ethic and how you play the game. If you play hard and work and really want to get here you can get here."

"Just keep working hard and do the things that have gotten him to the point he's at so far," added Bray, who jumped three classes in 2005 after spending six games at Brevard County in the Class A Florida State League in 2004. "The biggest thing is that he continues to believe that what got him here is what is going to get him to the big leagues."

Cordero, who starred in the 2003 College World Series in June and debuted for Montreal in Florida that Aug. 30, made it unanimous as far as proclaiming the benefits of hard work, adding that time is of the essence.

"Sign as quick as possible if signing is what he wants to do and get his career started," said the Nats closer, a veteran of 19 games at Brevard County. "Don't worry about the signing bonus and all that stuff. Up here is where you want to be and the sooner you get your career started the better it's going to be."

A perfect 10: Left fielder Alfonso Soriano continues to wield a powerful stick at the top of the order. With his fourth-inning homer off Atlanta's Horacio Ramirez on Tuesday night, Soriano has now homered in 10 consecutive series.

That puts him in select company in franchise history. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only Vladimir Guerrero, who homered in 12 consecutive series from June 15-July 23, 2001, homered in more consecutive series than Soriano.

In addition, Soriano, who has already recorded 21 homers and stolen 13 bases, reached a rare "triple-double," recording his 10th outfield assist Monday night.

To show how rare that is, only Ichiro (15 homers, 33 steals, 10 assists) and New York Met Cliff Floyd (34, 12, 15) performed that feat last year.

Come Hill or high water: While injury cost Shawn Hill the 2005 season, injuries have given him a chance to show his wares in 2006.

Hill, who saw limited action with Montreal in 2004 (1-2, 16.00 ERA in three starts), missed all of 2005 after an injury to the elbow ligament injury that required Tommy John surgery.

With injuries decimating the Nationals' staff, Hill, Washington's sixth-round pick in the 2000 draft has gotten a second chance and has not disappointed. He is 0-1, but has pitched to a solid 2.77 ERA (four earned runs in 13 innings).

On deck: Lefties face off when Washington's Mike O'Connor (2-3, 3.25) meets Philadelphia's Eude Brito (0-1, 13.50) in the opener of a four-game set at RFK on Thursday night, to begin an 11-game homestand, the Nats' longest of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 ET.

Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.