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09/20/2005 4:54 PM ET
Nationals name Kory Casto and Michael O'Connor as Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year
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The Washington Nationals today named third baseman Kory Casto and former-George Washington University left-handed pitcher Michael O'Connor their Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year. Nationals Player Development Director Adam Wogan made the announcement.

"As an organization, we are very proud of the seasons Kory and Mike produced in 2005," said Wogan. "Kory excelled defensively in just his second full season at third base, while making great strides offensively. Mike showed tremendous improvement from the beginning of the season to the end. And as good as they were this season, we anticipate better days ahead for both players in the not-too-distant future."

Casto, 23, batted .290 (145-for-500) with 36 doubles, four triples, 22 home runs, 90 RBI, 86 walks, a .394 on-base percentage and a .510 slugging percentage in 135 games for Potomac of the Single-A Carolina League. Casto led the P-Nationals in home runs and RBI, and ranked among Carolina League leaders in hits (third with 145), runs (third with 86), doubles (tied for fifth) and RBI (fifth).

The franchise's third-round selection in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Portland (signed by Doug McMillan), Casto posted a pair of 10-plus game hitting streaks, and incredibly, doubled at least once in 11 consecutive games from May 15-29. For his efforts, he earned a spot on both the mid- and post-season Carolina League all-star teams, and was named the best defensive third baseman in a poll of Carolina League managers. In three professional seasons, Casto is a .277 career hitter with 42 home runs and 206 RBI in 330 games.

O'Connor went 10-11 with a 3.54 ERA (66 ER/167.2 IP) in 26 starts for Potomac this season to earn the citation. For the season, O'Connor limited opposing Carolina League batters to a .229 batting average, and ranked among C.L. leaders in wins (tied for sixth), strikeouts (second with 158), complete games (tied for first with two) and innings pitched (tied for first with 167.2). O'Connor, 25, led the Nationals minor league system in strikeouts and tied for first with 10 wins. His 3.54 ERA ranked fourth among Nationals farmhands.

A local product, O'Connor hails from Ellicott City, MD and attended Mt. St. Joe's (MD) High School, before moving on the George Washington University, where he ranks among the school's all-time leaders in saves (second) and strikeouts (eighth). Montreal's seventh-round selection in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft (signed by Alex Smith), O'Connor is 28-25 with a 3.66 ERA (156 ER/383.1 IP) in four professional seasons, during which he has fanned 9.6 batters per 9.0 innings pitched (411 SO/383.1 IP). On April 27 vs. Wilmington, O'Connor fanned 15 in just 6.1 innings.

Both Casto and O'Connor will be present for ceremonies prior to Thursday's 4:35 p.m. contest vs. San Francisco.

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