WASHINGTON – It seems like a long time ago that there was minor-league baseball in Woodbridge, Virginia.
But it was just September 2019 that the Nationals’ farm team took the field, then packed up their equipment for a move to Fredericksburg that was supposed to take place this year.
But with the pandemic calling off this year’s minor league season, the last vestiges of the Carolina League in the Washington system is the Potomac Nationals of 2019.
That team was managed by Tripp Keister and featured right-handed pitcher Steven Fuentes, who earlier this year was added to the Nationals’ 40-Man roster.
Fuentes, now 23, went 1-1 with an ERA of 0.53 in eight games out of the bullpen in 2019 for Potomac before he was promoted to Double-A Harrisburg in early May.
The native of Panama pitched in 15 games, with 11 starts, and was 5-4 with an ERA of 2.69 for the Senators.
This past year, the right-hander was part of the 60-player pool in Fredericksburg before he was added to the 40-Man roster.
“I saw him in Instructional League. He kind of has a pretty good sinker and changeup,” Justin Lord, who was slated to be the Single-A Fredericksburg pitching coach this year, told Federal Baseball just a few hours after the move was official in October.
“He has a chance to get (his infielders) to make plays on those balls in play. He can get two outs [with] one pitch with a runner on first base,” Lord said of his sinker.
“He has a good professional approach to what he is doing.”
Fuentes has pitched in 126 games with 29 starts in the minors.
Another member of the 2019 team at Potomac was Cole Freeman, an infielder who took part in the Carolina League All-Star Game that year at Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick, Maryland.
Freeman contributed to the North Division win over the South, as did Potomac teammate Nick Banks – who hit a late homer in the game and was the MVP.
“That was pretty exciting,” Freeman said of the showcase of top prospects.
Freeman, a fourth-round pick in 2017 out of LSU by the Nationals, hit .311 in 123 games with Potomac in ‘19 while Banks batted .271 in 69 games before he was promoted to Harrisburg.
Both players are eligible to be taken by other clubs in the Rule 5 Draft which takes place at the end of this week’s virtual Winter Meetings, this coming Thursday (December 10th).
Other members of Potomac in 2019 were pitchers Andrew Isther (0.73 ERA in 16 games out of the bullpen) and Andrew Lee (3.45 in 16 games, with 11 starts), catcher Jakson Reetz (.253) and first baseman Aldrem Corredor, who hit .283 with 89 RBI in just 127 games.
Reetz and Corredor were also named to the Carolina League All-Star Game that year.
The pitching coach for Potomac in 2019 was Sam Narron, who was slated to have that role at Harrisburg this year.
The P-Nats were 70-67 in regular-season play in 2019 and finished 11.5 games back of first-place Wilmington.