Notes: Kasten keen on progress

Notes: Kasten keen on progress

NEW YORK -- Nationals team president Stan Kasten said recently that he is pleased with the progress the organization has made this year. He likes the way that rookies Jesus Flores and Matt Chico have developed behind the plate and on the mound, respectively, and the contributions veterans such as Ronnie Belliard and Dmitri Young have made to the club.

Kasten also pointed out Washington's Minor League system is now filled with quality arms, something that was non-existent two years ago. For example, Class A Vermont has three stud pitchers -- Adrian Alaniz, Glenn Gibson and Colton Willems -- who have ERAs under 3.00.

Kasten acknowledged that the focus now is to acquire bats, particularly at the higher Minor League levels.

"What a great year we've had in the rest of our system, bringing new guys in. ... The moving up of the players in our system and getting [them] closer to the Major Leagues. ... Ask around. It's very impressive with the arms we have accumulated," Kasten said. "We are making real progress, guys. We are getting closer and closer, and it's a very exciting part of our journey."

Asked how manager Manny Acta has done as manager of the Nationals, Kasten said, "I'm a big Manny fan. I was the day when we hired him and I've become a bigger fan since then. I can't say enough about him. I think it's pretty much universal, not just in our organization, but around baseball."

Trade deadline talk: Closer Chad Cordero continues to be linked to the Mets, but a baseball source said a trade is not likely to happen between New York and Washington because the talks revolve around outfielder Lastings Milledge, whom the Mets don't want to give up.

With Young and Belliard signed to extensions, an opposing executive believes the Nationals will stand pat before the deadline, but general manager Jim Bowden and members of his "think tank" are in the office trying to make deals. It's no secret that they are looking to improve the offense in the Major and Minor Leagues.

Kasten reminded the local media on Saturday that Washington can make deals after the July 31 non-waiver deadline. Last year, for example, the team traded infielder Marlon Anderson and right-hander Livan Hernandez for prospects in August.

Injury report: There is still no timetable as to when left-hander Micah Bowie will play in a Major League game. He had a simulated game on Friday in Florida and pitched two innings, but after he was finished, Bowie still had problems with his left hip.

Once he returns, Bowie most likely will go back to the bullpen.

Stat of the day: Young leads the Nationals with a .346 batting average with runners in scoring position.

Did you know: Entering Sunday's action, Washington has 17 come-from-behind wins this season.

Coming up: The Nationals have the day off on Monday, but have a three-game series with the Reds starting on Tuesday night. The last time these two teams met was back in late May, with the Nats taking three out of four games. In Game 1, Washington left-hander Matt Chico will face Cincinnati right-hander Kyle Lohse.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.