The Nationals have longed stressed starting pitching at the Major League level.
And now they hope the formula works with younger hurlers in the minor league system.
The Nationals improved to 2-0 in Instructional League play on Wednesday as four pitchers combined for a 5-0 shutout of the Miami Marlins. Washington opened play Tuesday with a 4-3 victory, also over the Marlins.
This time starter Jackson Rutledge, a first-round pick in 2019 out of San Jacinto College in Texas, went the first three innings.
Steven Fuentes then took over and went three scoreless frames for the Nationals.
“[Rutledge] commanded his FB well today, pitched down in the zone and elevated effectively,” Justin Lord, the pitching coach for the game for the Nats, wrote to Federal Baseball. “He also threw some sharp sliders.”
Rutledge gave up two hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
Evan Lee pitched the seventh and Jackson Tetreault went the last two innings to nail down the win. Tetreault reached Double-A Harrisburg last year after he was drafted in 2017 out of a junior college in Florida in the seventh round.
Rutledge made 10 starts at three levels in 2019 and advanced as high as low Single-A Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League.
He was part of the Nationals’ 60-player pool this summer in Virginia.
He was in Spring Training and got to watch veterans such as Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg before things shut down.
“I went down early, got used to being in the facility every day and throwing outside, which was nice,” Rutledge told Federal Baseball this summer. “It was pretty exciting to watch and learn how they go about their business. I didn’t want to bother them while they got their work in. I think the thing that stood out was the focus they had. They kind of did it in a different way. They were very focused on every single pitch in the bullpen. Their movement and consistency was as good as it would be in the middle of a game.”
Fuentes, from Panama, reached the Double-A level with Harrisburg in 2019.
Lee was drafted in the 15th round out of Arkansas in 2018 and pitched in 12 games with three starts in 2019 at short-season Auburn.