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08/07/2006 12:57 PM ET
Nationals acquire pitching prospects Garrett Mock and Matt Chico from Diamondbacks in exchange for Livan Hernandez
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The Washington Nationals today acquired a pair of 23 year-old starting pitchers, righthander Garrett Mock and lefthander Matt Chico, from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for right-handed pitcher Livan Hernandez. Nationals Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden made the announcement.

Mock (117) and Chico (112) ranked first and second, respectively, in the Diamondbacks' minor league system in strikeouts at the time of the trade.

"I'd like to thank Livan Hernandez for the many contributions he made to this organization during his four years with the club," said Bowden. "Ultimately, the opportunity to acquire two young starting pitchers is consistent with the organization's goal to build toward long-term success."

The 6-foot-4, 215 lbs. Mock entered 2006 rated as the Diamondbacks' No. 7 prospect, per Baseball America, after going 14-7 with a 4.18 ERA (81 ER/174.1 IP) in 28 starts for Single-A Lancaster last season despite pitching in the California League, which is arguably minor league baseball's highest-scoring circuit due to a combination of dry climates, high elevations and small ballparks. Mock's 160 strikeouts (8.3 per 9.0 innings) led all Arizona minor leaguers in 2005. Using Mock's top-flight performance in his first full pro campaign as its guide, Baseball America rated Mock as the second-ranked pitching prospect in Arizona's system.

Mock, a University of Houston product, is currently 4-8 with a 4.95 ERA (72 ER/131.0 IP) in 23 starts for Tennessee of the Double-A Southern League, where he worked at least 7.0 shut-out innings four times this season, and tallied a pair of 10-strikeout efforts (June 29 at Carolina and May 19 at Carolina). Mock's 117 strikeouts on the season, which currently rank fourth in the Southern League, have helped him post a stellar 3.3/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio for his three-year career.

At the time of the trade, the 23 year-old Chico was 7-2 with a 2.22 ERA in 13 starts for Tennessee, where he posted a .211 batting average against. He allowed three earned runs or less in each of his 13 starts at the Double-A level this season, and went 6-0 with a 1.87 ERA in his seven most-recent Double-A assignments. Chico, who also enjoyed a 10-start stint with Lancaster of the Single-A California League earlier this season, is 10-6 with a 2.81 ERA (41 ER/131.1 IP) in 23 starts in 2006. Chico ranked among Arizona minor leaguers in strikeouts (second with 112) and ERA (fourth at 2.81) upon being acquired by Washington.

Chico is 36-31 with a 3.75 ERA (215 ER/515.1 IP) in 96 games (90 starts) in three pro seasons, during which he has averaged 8.2 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched. Chico was Boston's second-round selection out of high school, but elected not to sign. Following a 2004 campaign in which he won 11 games and fanned 8.9 per 9.0 innings pitched, Chico was rated by Baseball Weekly as the top pitching prospect in the Diamondbacks' minor-league system, and the top pitching prospect in the Single-A Midwest League by Baseball America.

Both Mock (2004) and Chico (2003) were tabbed by Arizona as third-round selections in drafts run by Nationals Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo, who last month ended a seven-year tenure in Arizona's scouting department, the last five of which he served as Director of Scouting.

Both pitchers will report to Harrisburg of the Double-A Eastern League.

Hernandez, 31, went 9-8 with a 5.34 ERA in 24 starts for Washington in 2006.

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