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10/06/2006 3:06 PM ET
Nationals name Kory Casto as 2006 Minor League Player of the Year and Zechry Zinicola as 2006 Minor League Pitcher of theYear
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The Washington Nationals today named outfielder Kory Casto as Minor League Player of the Year and righthander Zechry Zinicola as Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Nationals Assistant General Manager/Director of Player Personnel Bob Boone and Director of Player Development Andy Dunn made the joint announcement.

Casto was a mid-season and year-end Eastern League All-Star for Double-A Harrisburg, batting .272 with 24 doubles, 20 home runs, 80 RBI and 84 runs scored in 140 games. He earned EL Rookie of the Year honors, as voted on by league managers, coaches, sportswriters and radio/television broadcasters. The 24-year-old, who was drafted by the Nationals/Expos in the third round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, was selected by Baseball America in August as having the best strike zone judgment in the league.

The left-handed hitting Casto tied for third in the EL with a .379 on-base percentage. He also ranked third in RBI, second in runs scored, and was tied for the league lead with 81 walks. The Salem, OR native tied two others for the organization lead with his 20 homers, a total that tied him for fifth in the EL. He earned EL Player of the Month honors for June, when he batted .344 (32-for-93) with seven homers and 29 RBI in 25 games.

Casto also won last year's Nationals Minor League Player of the Year award, batting .290 with 36 doubles, 22 homers and 90 RBI for Single-A Potomac.

Zinicola went a combined 4-1 with 12 saves and a 1.65 ERA in 27 games with Harrisburg, Single-A Potomac and short-season Single-A Vermont after being drafted in the sixth round in June out of Arizona State University. The 21-year-old posted four saves and 10 strikeouts in 9.0 scoreless innings with Vermont before a July 15 promotion to Potomac. He went 3-0 with three saves and a 1.98 ERA (3 ER/13.2 IP) in nine appearances with Washington's Carolina League affiliate before making the jump to Harrisburg on August 9. Zinicola went 1-1 with five saves and a 2.70 ERA (3 ER/10.0 IP) as a Senator to close out his first pro season.

In all, Zinicola struck out 31 and allowed just 28 hits in 32.2 pro innings after going 2-3 with six saves and a 3.95 ERA in 23 appearances this past season as a junior at Arizona State.

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