The last word on 2014 1st Round pick Erick Fedde before today came from Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo, who told MLB Network Radio hosts Casey Stern and Jim Bowden in a December 8th interview that the 21-year-old, who had Tommy John surgery right before he was drafted, was progressing well in his rehab.
"He's doing great," Rizzo said. "He's starting to throw. He'll be throwing off the mound in about three more weeks."
In an article by MLB.com's Bill Ladson tonight, Fedde told the Nationals beat reporter that he'd already progressed from throwing at a distance of 30 feet to 60 and now 90 feet, "... throwing the ball 50 times per session."
Fedde talks in the article about speaking to Stephen Strasburg and Lucas Giolito, both first-round picks by the Nats in '09 and '12, respectively, who've offered helpful advice about the recovery process since they've been through rehab from Tommy John surgery as well.
Fedde also said that he hoped to be back pitching in games by the middle of the 2015 campaign:
"'I'll work my way up. I hope to get some rehab starts. Hopefully, July time, we'll see what happens from there,' Fedde said. 'I want to be on the mound and be somewhat like my old self at some point of the year.'"
After undergoing the surgery and before having thrown a pitch as a professional, Fedde, the 18th overall pick last June, was ranked fourth overall in the Nats' organization by Baseball America, with BA's Aaron Fitt writing that the right-hander was a, "... a top-five-picks talent who slipped to No. 18," because of the elbow injury, which ended his junior season at UNLV after eleven starts in which he was (8-2) with a 1.76 ERA, 21 walks (2.46 BB/9) and 82 Ks (9.27 K/9) in 76 ⅔ IP.
Baseball Prospectus ranked Fedde 5th overall in the Nats' system.
MLB.com's organizational rankings put Fedde 4th overall, behind only Giolito and A.J. Cole among the Nationals' pitching prospects.
MinorLeagueBall.com's Nick Melotte had Fedde ranked 6th overall, behind Giolito, right-hander Reynaldo Lopez and Cole.
This past June, Nationals' Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Operations Kris Kline expressed his excitement with the Nats' top pick, telling reporters he'd walked away from previous scouting trips to see Fedde convinced they would have no shot at getting him because he looked like a "Top 5-type guy":
"Through the sixth inning he was still 95-98 [mph]," Kline said. "He doesn't throw anything straight. A lot of life, very heavy. Above-average slider, up to 88 and the makings and flashes of an above-average changeup. A lot of strikes. Very competitive guy. Looks a lot like, if you guys remember Jack McDowell, body-type, delivery, that type of thing with a little more fastball."
Will the Nationals' willingness to draft players with injury issues pay off again?
Fedde has a long way to go before we find out, but as Rizzo said on the night of the 2014 Draft, the Nats were excited about the selection and willingness to take the risk.
"We just felt, again," Rizzo explained, "the upside of this, a guy that we feel is going to be a front of the rotation-type of right-handed starter if the rehab goes well and if he returns to form, we felt that the risk at 18 in the draft was worth the possible reward."