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02/10/2006 4:12 PM ET
Nationals agree to terms with five players on '06 Minor League contracts
Kelly, Denny, Ramirez get invitations to Spring Training
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
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The Washington Nationals today agreed to terms with outfielder Kenny Kelly, as well as right-handed pitchers Kyle Denney and Santiago Ramirez on 2006 minor-league contracts that include invitations to big league Spring Training. The club also agreed to terms on 2006 minor-league contracts with right-handed pitcher Beltran Perez and infielder Melvin Dorta. Nationals Farm Director Andy Dunn made the announcements.

Kelly, 27, appeared in a combined 17 games as a defensive replacement, pinch runner and pinch hitter last year with the Nationals after being claimed off waivers from Cincinnati July 20. The former University of Miami quarterback started the year at Triple-A Louisville, where he hit .326 in 61 games prior to having his contract purchased by the Reds. He appeared in 24 big league games overall, his first taste of major league action since playing a pair of contests with Tampa Bay in 2000. Kelly, who played in a combined 32 games with Triple-A New Orleans and Double-A Harrisburg in 2005, is a career .265 hitter in 850 minor league games. He was drafted by Tampa Bay in the second round of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft.

Denney, 28, is 47-30 with a 3.39 ERA in 131 minor league games (115 starts) over seven seasons. The Oklahoma native was limited to just nine starts with Cleveland's Triple-A Buffalo club in 2005 because of a skull fracture and concusion he suffered after taking a line drive off his head in a June 26 start vs. Durham. He made one rehab outing prior to the end of the season, tossing an inning for short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley on September 3 at Auburn. Denney enjoyed one stint at the big league level in 2004 as a September call-up with the Indians, going 1-2 with a 9.56 ERA in four starts.

Ramirez, 27, is 48-29 with a 3.32 ERA in 314 minor league games, all but 26 as a reliever. The nine-year pro appeared in 50 games (one start) last year for Kansas City's Triple-A Omaha squad, going 5-5 with 17 saves and a 5.21 ERA. In 2004, he posted 32 saves and 2.63 ERA in 55 appearances with Houston's Double-A Round Rock club. Ramirez, who is a native of Banoa, Dominican Republic, has 521 career strikeouts in 558.0 innings, an average of 8.4 K's per nine innings.

Perez, 24, went a combined 5-5 with a 3.36 ERA in 36 appearances (one start) with Los Angeles' Single-A Vero Beach and Double-A Jacksonville clubs. The Dominican native, who was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by Arizona in 1999, also combined to strike out 65 batters in 64.1 innings for an average of 9.1 punchouts per nine innings. Perez surrendered just one home run in 31.0 innings with Jacksonville after allowing three in 33.1 innings with Vero Beach. In seven pro seasons overall, none above the Double-A level, he is 38-38 with a 4.20 ERA in 185 games (86 starts).

Dorta, 24, has spent the last two seasons at Double-A Harrisburg after being acquired from the Red Sox prior to the 2004 season. In his only two Double-A campaigns, Dorta has fanned just 70 times in 634 at-bats, an average of one strikeout per 9.1 at-bats. The Venezuela native set career highs in 2005 with 103 hits, 16 doubles, 50 RBI, 22 steals and 56 runs scored in a career-best 121 games. He also hit 11 home runs after connecting for just four in his first six years of pro ball and none from 2002-04. Dorta, who played every position in the field except pitcher and catcher in 2005, is a career .255 hitter in 515 minor league games.

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