WASHINGTON – This should have been the first full season of professional baseball for right-handed pitcher Jackson Rutledge, the number one pick of the Washington Nationals in 2019 out of San Jacinto junior college in Texas.
But with the minors called off due to the pandemic, the 21-year old native of Missouri was able to take part in the next best thing – or things.
He was part of the 60-player pool at the alternate site in Virginia this summer then took part in Instructional League in Florida in October.
“I think he had a huge development year,” assistant general manager, player development Mark Scialabba said.
“I think the biggest difference [is] it is team-oriented in Instructs,” Rutledge told Federal Baseball from Florida.
“In Fredericksburg, it was about getting yourself ready and getting ready for your (possible) call-up and do what you need to do.”
“Now we are having team meetings, we are talking about the game more,” he added. “With the intrasquad games, everyone stays and watches. We have had a lot of intrasquad games and sim games to help guys who were not in Fredericksburg to catch up.”
Rutledge planned to visit family in Missouri after instructs and then head back to West Palm Beach, where he has a condo.
He said working out there gives him a chance to be around older players, and that is a benefit.
Rutledge, after signing in 2019, made 10 starts at three different levels.
He ended up at low Single-A Hagerstown, where he had an ERA of 2.30 in six starts. Overall he is 2-0, 3.13 with a WHIP of 0.99 at the pro level.
“He stayed aggressive; he stayed aggressive with his delivery,” Scialabba said of Rutledge’s 2020 season. “He really improved in his ability to repeat his delivery.”