WASHINGTON – Thanks in part to the pandemic, high school and college baseball across that country shut down in March.
One fallout of that was the Major League draft was limited to five rounds this past summer – after lasting 40 rounds in 2019.
But the Nationals signed some non-drafted free agents who likely would have been chosen fairly high in a normal year.
One of them is right-handed pitcher Zachary Brzykcy, who turned down a chance to play at Virginia Tech as a senior in order to sign with Washington this past summer.
“He is a great athlete first and foremost. You look at the guy and he screams big league pitcher,” Sam Narron, who was slated to be the Double-A Harrisburg coach in 2020, told Federal Baseball.
Both Narron and Brzykcy live in North Carolina.
Narron pitched in the majors for the Texas Rangers in 2004; he made the drive of about 90 minutes to workout with the Virginia Tech product a few times this summer.
Now both are in Florida with the Instructional League team with the Nationals.
“He is big, tall, strong kid. Then you watch him throw and it makes it that much more impressive. I first saw a video of him at Virginia Tech and he already had a great arm but the command was lacking,” Narron said. “He took it upon himself this summer to hone in on that. He has made great strides. He brought that with him to Instructional League.”
“It is his first time in a pro environment with all of these eyes looking at him. Sometimes it can make a young pitcher a little nervous and try to do more than they are capable of. Zach had not done that at all. He has gone about his business the right way and it showed when he is on the mound. When he has been throwing a bullpen it has been fun to watch.”
Brzykcy, 21, grew up near Hickory, North Carolina and played three years for the Hokies at Virginia Tech. Narron, 39, played at East Carolina before turning pro and has lived in North Carolina most of his life.
“I just kind of went over and monitored him and saw him throw,” Narron said. “I had a little tidbit here and there. The way COVID was I didn’t get over there as much as I would like. The time in between – man, Zach did a lot on his own. He has built from there and has really done great things.”
Brzykcy told Federal Baseball that the unknown of college baseball due to the pandemic figured in his decision to sign with the Nationals. He was scouted by Bobby Myrick, who lives in Colonial Heights, Virginia and has been with Washington for nearly a decade.
“Obviously my family was really happy,” said Brzykcy, who had three saves for Virginia Tech in 2019 and then pitched in seven games out of the bullpen in the short 2020 season.
“I am happy I will be playing baseball instead of sitting at home.”
Another NDFA in Florida is infielder Quade Tomlin, signed out of a Virginia high school; and infielder Jake Boone, who turned down his senior year at Princeton to sign with Washington. He is the son, grandson and great-grandson of former big leaguers.