The Washington Nationals’ decision to cancel their workouts on Monday, when there was a delay in getting coronavirus testing results over the weekend, got all the headlines, but the team also announced they would be hosting a second Spring Training group at their High-A affiliate’s brand new ballpark in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
“The FredNats have built a wonderful new ballpark which will host our affiliate in the future,” Assistant GM of Player Development Mark Scialabba said in a statement released on Twitter.
“It will serve as an outstanding facility to help our players continue their development and prepare them to potentially join our major league club.”
The Washington Nationals have partnered with the Fredericksburg Nationals to host Alternate Training Camp for 2020 Summer Camp at New Fredericksburg Ballpark. pic.twitter.com/7TgV1hm95L— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 6, 2020
A number of the Nationals’ top prospects were included in the 60-Man Player Pool for the 2020 MLB season, and the plan, under the rules set up by Major League Baseball for their 60-game campaign, is to set up Alternate Training Sites where players not included on a particular team’s active roster will continue to work out and stay sharp for when and if it’s necessary for the club to call them up.
“They’re going to have their first workout this afternoon,” GM Mike Rizzo explained when he spoke on a Zoom conference call yesterday.
“I think there’s currently 14-15 players there currently, and as we get closer to the regular season here in D.C. there will be more players joining them in Fredericksburg.
“Beyond today’s workouts, there will be morning workouts, kind of on the same schedules that we have here in D.C.”
Rizzo was asked if it will, obviously, be mostly the younger players in the 60-Player Pool who will be at the alternate site in VA?
“I would describe it as — in a regular Spring Training we make cuts during the season and send them to the minor leagues, but always with the opportunity to reach down and grab them if we need them at the big league level. I think that’s what you’re looking at here. As we get closer to our 30-man roster and Opening Day, obviously, we’re going to send people out to Fredericksburg. But all those people are going to be important in our 2020 regular season, and we’re going to keep those people razor-sharp down there with our great player development staff down there and some really good players that you will see here in D.C. during the regular season.”
While some of the prospects are in Nationals Park, it’s giving manager Davey Martinez and his staff a chance to get a closer look at some of the younger players in the organization.
“We get to put eyes on them,” Martinez said, “... we get them back on the field, so we don’t lose their development. But yet, with that being said, and I talked to them all, I said, ‘We’re in a different situation right now. Anything can happen. You guys need to be ready to knock the door down and come up here and help us. You’re here because we feel like one day you’re going to pitch in the big leagues, it could be one day sooner than later, but you need to get yourself ready and you need to start learning what really matters most in the big leagues, and that’s consistency, and routine.’
“Just watching those guys,” he added, “those guys are — I watched [2019 1st Round pick] Jackson [Rutledge] throw — obviously I didn’t see [2020 1st Round pick] Cade [Cavalli] throw, he arrived today, so I’m looking forward to watching him pitch in some of these sim games that we’re going to play, but these guys to me — they’re really close.
“And like I said, the biggest thing for me is for them to learn how to throw strike one consistently and we’ll go from there.”