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Nationals’ minor leaguer Tyler Eppler took winding path to Fredericksburg

The pitcher was drafted by the Pirates, played in Japan last season....

Pittsburgh Pirates Photo Day Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

WASHINGTON - It was a long and winding road that brought Tyler Eppler to the Washington Nationals – and now he hasn’t been able to pitch in a real game this season.

Drafted out of Sam Houston by the Pirates in 2014, he reached Triple-A in the Pittsburgh system four years later. He pitched in Japan last season and joined the Nationals prior to the 2020 campaign.

Now he has been spending this summer at the alternate site in Fredericksburg as part of the 60-player pool.

“He knows how to pitch. He has four average pitches. Recently we have incorporated the two-seam fastball,” Brad Holman, the pitching coordinator in player development, told Federal Baseball.

Eppler, 27, is 39-29, 3.82 in 111 games with 100 starts in the minor leagues, plus a mark of 9-12, 4.39 in 47 games with six starts overseas.

“He is a four-pitch guy – fastball, curveball, slider, changeup. Low 90s (with his fastball). He executes well,” Holman said. “He is a mature guy, he has some pitchability. He is someone that I hope we get back. We signed him as a free agent. I hope we are able to renew that. It’s tough to evaluate here. We have never really seen him in a real environment, so to speak.”

“Our games here consist of a hitter, pitcher, and catcher (sometimes). They are facing these (same) hitters here day in and day out. He has had some good days and bad days. He pitched (Friday) actually and went six innings – a solo homer by Jackson Cluff was the gist of the damage,” Holman added.

Cluff was drafted last year out of BYU by the Nationals and was an infielder last season for low Single-A Hagerstown in the South Atlantic League.

A Texas native, Eppler was invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player. He is no stranger to the Double-A Eastern League, as he pitched for Altoona in the Pirates’ system there for part of 2015 and 2016. Harrisburg is the affiliate of the Nationals in the same league.