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07/05/07 7:12 PM ET

Nats agree to deal with '07 top pick

Bowden: Detwiler could possibly make debut this year

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals agreed to terms with left-hander Ross Detwiler, the sixth overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, on Thursday. Detwiler will get a $2.15 million signing bonus.

Detwiler will be in Washington to officially sign his contract and participate in various on- and off-field activities with the Nationals before Friday night's game against the Brewers.

Detwiler will then report to Viera, Fla., on Saturday to begin his professional career with the Gulf Coast Nationals. After two starts there, Detwiler is expected to be promoted to Class A Potomac. If he is successful, general manager Jim Bowden didn't rule out promoting Detwiler to Double-A Harrisburg by August and then the big leagues by September.

"We could see him before September. It's a possibility that we see him next year," Bowden said. "The good news is that he signed. He has a much better chance to make it than the players who haven't signed. We are going to get him ready to go and see where the year takes him."

Detwiler becomes the highest selection from the 2007 First-Year Player Draft to agree to terms. Detwiler did not return phone messages.

Detwiler, 21, is a power pitcher. He has a plus-fastball, curveball and changeup, and he can command both sides of the plate. His fastball is clocked between 90-95 mph. Detwiler was dominant this past season, posting a 2.22 ERA in 14 appearances, while striking out 110 batters in 89 innings for Missouri State.

The Nationals' front office took notice of Detwiler in 2006. He earned All-Missouri Valley Conference honorable mention accolades after going 7-4 with a 2.81 ERA in 14 starts. Detwiler later earned All-MVC Tournament team honors.

Following the 2006 campaign, Detwiler pitched for Falmouth of the Cape Cod League. He allowed just two runs with 14 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings over two starts.

Detwiler also pitched for Team USA last summer, going 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in five games (two starts) to help the club win the International University Sports Federation tournament title in Havana, Cuba. He had 20 strikeouts in 18 innings for Team USA.

But what impressed the Nationals is the way Detwiler handled the elements this season. On April 14, he pitched in 35-degree weather with a strong wind blowing. He gave up one run in seven innings, while striking out 10.

Manager Manny Acta said he is looking forward to managing Detwiler in the future. Detwiler has a chance to become the third player to be drafted by the Nationals/Expos and make it to the big leagues in the same season. Closer Chad Cordero and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman are the two players who have that distinction.

"I can't wait to see him and get him started in our plans," the skipper said. "He is going to go down and get in shape and get stretched out. Our scouting department thinks he is good enough to get here fast."

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