WASHINGTON – The past season in the minors was a challenge for right-handed pitcher Jackson Rutledge, a first-round pick of the Nationals out of San Jacinto Junior College in Texas in 2019.
The Missouri native went on the Injured List twice and posted an overall ERA of 7.68 in 13 starts split among three different teams in the system.
Despite those challenges, Rutledge was assigned to Surprise in the Arizona Fall League.
He will be with several other Washington prospects and the manager for the Saguaros, who began play October 13, is Mario Lisson – who had the same job with Single-A Fredericksburg in Virginia this past season.
Rutledge made two starts in 2021 for the Florida Complex League team, seven for low Single-A Fredericksburg, and four for high Single-A Wilmington in Delaware.
Overall, he was 1-6 with a WHIP of 1.65. Rutledge fanned 41 batters in 36.1 innings combined - with 20 walks.
“Jackson will continue to get reps and innings in the fall league,” assistant general manager, player development Mark Scialabba told Federal Baseball on October 12.
Jackson Rutledge, limited to 36.1 @MiLB innings by shoulder and blister issues this summer, is about to get rolling in the Fall League.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) October 15, 2021
The @Nationals' No. 3 prospect takes the hill for the Saguaros: https://t.co/LMfbZbhvYg pic.twitter.com/uBG6zwl4W4
“He will be facing top prospects every day. Physically, he is a very good place; he finished the year strong in Fredericksburg. His slider is really coming along and he is starting to repeat his delivery.”
Rutledge advanced as high as low Single-A Hagerstown in 2019. He was one of many players who lost reps when the minor league was called off in 2020 due to the pandemic.
“There are a lot of big-time guys there and you get to watch them and see how they do things,” he told Federal Baseball of his work during Spring Training in February.
“I am just getting my body ready,” Rutledge added. “I feel great right now and I feel ready for the season to get going. I have been throwing a lot, getting my arm ready and throwing off the mound. I am lifting three days a week. My body feels great. I hope to be able to throw a lot of innings this year.”
Rutledge went four innings in his 2021 AFL debut on Friday night, giving up six hits, a walk, and four earned runs, while striking out five.