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Confident Erick Fedde impresses in return to Nationals’ rotation: “He wasn’t afraid of anybody tonight.” - Davey Martinez

Erick Fedde, the top pitching prospect in the Washington Nationals’ organization, impressed in his return to the majors.

San Diego Padres v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Davey Martinez told reporters he liked what he saw from Erick Fedde in Grapefruit League action this Spring.

“I love his demeanor, I really do,” Washington’s first-year skipper said after watching the top Nationals’ pitching prospect throw in West Palm Beach, FL.

“He’s a quiet kid, but yet he’s very competitive. The first thing he said when I asked him what he thought his strengths were was that he loves to compete. That’s always good.”

In spite of his struggles last season, and the fact that his first major league run ended when he suffered a flexor mass strain, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo remained positive about what the future held for the 2014 1st Round pick when he talked about Fedde in an interview on MLB Network Radio this winter.

Fedde is a guy that we think is going to be a really good mid-to-upper rotation guy in the very, very near future,” Rizzo said last December.

“He’s got some big-league time under his belt and I think that will help him.”

San Diego Padres v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

“We thought that he took another step in his progress last year, and he’s a guy that we think is right on the cusp of being a very valuable commodity for us in the big leagues,” Rizzo said when he talked about the starting depth in the organization at the Winter Meetings.

Fedde was (1-1) with a 4.35 ERA, a 3.23 FIP, 13 walks (2.83 BB/9), 42 Ks (9.15 K/9), and a .280 batting average against in 41 13 innings at Triple-A Syracuse before he was called up to face the Padres in the finale with San Diego in D.C. on Thursday afternoon.

Rizzo offered a scouting report on the Nationals’ 2014 1st Round pick during his weekly appearance on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies before Fedde returned to the big league rotation.

“He’s a hard-throwing right-hander,” Rizzo told the Junkies. “He’s got a great attitude, he’s an attack-mode type of personality, his velocity is back to pre-Tommy John surgery levels, he pitches anywhere from 94 to 96, he’ll touch 97, he’s got a slider, a curve, and a changeup, really refining his delivery and command and is pitching extremely well in Triple-A.”

Fedde’s fastball sat 94-95 in the first against the Padres, and he mixed in the changeup (88-90), curve (79) and a slider (88-ish) which he used to get three of his first five strikeouts in three scoreless.

After a scoreless, 1-2-3 fourth, in which he picked up his 6th K from 13 batters faced, Fedde had set 10 of 11 Padres down following Eric Hosmer’s one-out single in the first.

Fedde was up to 11 out of 12 when Freddy Galvis doubled to right-center with one down in the fifth, and the Padres’ shortstop scored from second one out later on an RBI single to right by San Diego’s No. 8 hitter, Manuel Margot, who drove in the first run of the game for either team, 1-0.

Eric Hosmer singled with one down in the sixth, connecting for his second hit of the game, and Fedde issued his first walk of the afternoon to Franchy Cordero to put two on with two out before Christian Villanueva lined a first-pitch change to right that Bryce Harper sprinted for but couldn’t quite catch. Two runs scored as it bounced off Harper’s glove, and it was 3-0 Padres. That was it for Fedde.

Erick Fedde’s Line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 94 P, 57 S, 4/2 GO/FO.

San Diego took the series finale, 3-1, but Fedde impressed in his first outing of 2018.

“Really good,” Martinez said after the loss. “I like what I saw. Threw strikes. For the most part stayed ahead in counts and he did really well.”

“He wasn’t afraid of anybody tonight. He pounded the strike zone, had a good fastball, a good two-seamer, changeup was good, slider or curveball was good.

“He did well, really did. Kept us in the ballgame and did well.”

“My stuff felt really good,” Fedde told reporters. This is by far the most comfortable I’ve felt. This is definitely the start I was looking for, just the not the finish.”

“That last portion there, we had him for one more hitter, Villanueva,” Martinez explained when asked if he thought Fedde ran out of gas, “... and Harp tried to make a great play.

“Just couldn’t get there, so but he did really well.”

“I don’t know if I ran out of gas,” Fedde said. “I think they just put some good swings on it, and unfortunately things didn’t end up the way I’d hoped.”

After making a few starts last season, Fedde said he was much more comfortable on the mound in the majors this time out.

“I felt like today the game never got too quick for me,” he said.

“Just felt like much more in check of myself. I think that was the biggest thing. I think all my stuff was working really well today, so that helped.”

Though the Nationals’ top pitching prospect took the loss, he said it was a confidence boost.

“It’s huge,” Fedde admitted. “After this outing I feel like I can definitely compete at this level.

“It was nice, because I said last year, I didn’t have too many great outings, and this one was big just in the sense of just overall confidence.”

Will he get a shot, or was this just a fill-in outing after the doubleheader this past Saturday left them in need of a spot starter?

“We’re going to see,” Martinez said, “but he needs to start every five days, but he did great, and I’m sure you’re going to see Fedde here for many years.”