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Nationals promote pitching prospect Joe Ross

Ross will make his first start against the Cubs on Saturday.

A.J. Cole is demoted as the Nationals give Joe Ross an opportunity.
A.J. Cole is demoted as the Nationals give Joe Ross an opportunity.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Washington is prepared to give another pitching prospect an opportunity at the major league level. The Nationals optioned A.J. Cole to Triple-A Syracuse on Friday night, according to MASN's Dan Kolko, and in the corresponding roster move promoted prospect Joe Ross. Ross will make his first start on Saturday against the Cubs.

In order to create room on the roster, Washington moved Craig Stammen to the 60-day disabled list.

Ross, 22, was one of a pair of players the Nationals acquired in the three team deal that sent Steven Souza Jr. to Tampa Bay and Wil Myers to San Diego. ESPN's Keith Law named Ross the 63rd best prospect in baseball heading into the season with Baseball America also considering him to be a Top 100 talent (ranked 96).

Before being promoted, Ross had a notable amount of success with Double-A Harrisburg, posting a 2-2 record to complement a 2.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over 51.1 innings. In his nine 2015 starts, Ross allowed 46 hits while striking out 54 and only issuing 12 walks. Ross' ERA is good for tenth best in the Eastern League and his 54 strikeouts are tied for fourth.

Ross' best start of the season came at the end of April when he tossed seven shutout innings and struck out eight against Philadelphia's Double-A affiliate. In his last start on May 31, he allowed one run over seven innings of work.

Ross was initially selected in the first round of the 2011 draft and quickly worked his way through the Padres' minor league system. Before the Nationals acquired him, Baseball America named him San Diego's fourth best prospect.

Cole was initially promoted to give the Nationals a versatile long relief and spot starting option but only appeared in three games for the Nationals. He made one start and earned a save in 9.1 total innings. If Washington needs an additional arm, he may be the favorite to be promoted again. With Stephen Strasburg and Doug Fister on the disabled list, the Nationals have relied on their starting depth. Tanner Roark was slotted into the club's rotation but is not having a notable amount of success.

Since Ross does not have experience in Triple-A, his stay with the Nationals may not be lengthy. But if he has success, he could become the latest prospect to be promoted directly from Double-A to thrive.