Balester to make Major League debut

Balester to make Major League debut

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have decided that right-hander Collin Balester will skip his scheduled start for Triple-A Columbus on Sunday and make his Major League debut against the Marlins on Tuesday.

"It's awesome. He is gong to have an opportunity up here. Hopefully, he is going to do well," said Nationals left-hander John Lannan, who is a good friend of Balester's. "It's a long time coming. He has worked hard. It will be good to see him up here."

Balester, who will replace Shawn Hill in the rotation, received the news about making his Major League debut on Saturday afternoon. He's been highly touted since being drafted by the Expos in the fourth round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft.

This year, Balester proved he deserved the promotion by going 9-3 with a 4.00 ERA for Columbus. He struck out 64 batters in 78 2/3 innings while walking just 23 batters.

"He is a great pitcher," said right-hander Steven Shell, who played with Balester in Columbus. "He is a power pitcher. He has a great fastball. He's a good kid."

Unlike right-handers Tyler Clippard and Garrett Mock, Balester is expected to stay in the Major Leagues for a while because of the right forearm injury to Hill.

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