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Nationals confirm deal

Here's the club's release:

The Washington Nationals today acquired 22 year-old outfielder Lastings Milledge from the New York Mets in exchange for outfielder Ryan Church and catcher Brian Schneider. Nationals Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden made the announcement.


"This trade continues our plan of acquiring young players primarily via trade or the amateur draft," said Bowden. "All of our top evaluators, including Mike Rizzo, Bob Boone, Dana Brown , Manny Acta and myself, believe that Lastings Milledge can develop into a middle-of-the-order bat."

Milledge is a career .257 hitter (90-for-350) with 16 doubles, 11 home runs and 51 RBI in portions of two big league seasons (2006 and 2007) with the Mets. In 59 games with New York (NL) last season, he batted .272 (50-for-184) with nine doubles, seven homers, 29 RBI and a .341 on-base percentage.

He is reunited with Nationals manager Manny Acta , who was the Mets' third-base coach during Milledge's big league debut season in 2006, when he was also the youngest player in the National League.

Milledge, whose lightening-fast bat speed is considered among the best in baseball, was rated among the top prospects in baseball prior to debuting with the Mets in 2006.

Following the 2005 campaign, Milledge was rated the No. 2 and No. 3 prospect in the Double-A Eastern League and the Single-A Florida State League, respectively, after combining to hit .318 with 32 doubles, eight home runs, 46 RBI and 29 stolen bases in 110 games for Binghamton and Port St. Lucie. That summer, despite debuting at Double-A at the age of just 20, he batted .337 with 17 doubles in 48 Eastern League contests.

Milledge's reputation throughout baseball, however, was cemented long before 2005. According to Baseball America , he entered 2005 rated as the No. 11 prospect in baseball according to the publication's annual Top 100 prospects list. Milledge was also cited as the No. 1 prospect in the Mets' system entering both the 2005 and '06 campaigns.

Milledge was the Mets' top selection (12th overall) in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft out of Lakewood Ranch (FL) High. After signing late in the summer of 2003 and playing in only seven pro games, Milledge blasted 15 home runs and swiped 25 bases in '04, his first complete professional season, to garner the Mets prestigious Sterling Rookie of the Year Award, which annually recognizes the top first-year player in the Mets' minor league system.

Rated by Baseball America in 2001 as the top 16 year-old in the United States , Milledge comes from a baseball family, as his father (Tony Sr.) and brothers (Anthony and Tony Jr.) each played baseball professionally. He has also gained valuable international exposure during the International Baseball Federations World Junior (2002) and World Youth (2001) championships, as well as at the Little League World Series (his Florida team finished 2nd in the 1997 tournament in Williamsport ).

The 31 year-old Schneider hit .235 with six home runs and 54 RBI in 129 games for the Nationals last season. Drafted by the Expos in 1995, he was the longest tenured member of the organization.

Church, 29, batted .272 with 15 home runs and 70 RBI in a career-best 144 games with Washington last season.

"I wish Brian, Ryan and their families the very best in New York ," said Bowden. "On behalf of the entire organization, I'd like to thank both players for their numerous on- and off-field contributions to the Washington , DC community and the Nationals."

By Barry Svrluga  |  November 30, 2007; 3:00 PM ET
 
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