Signed by Washington out of the Dominican Republic for $50K in July of 2016, right-hander Joan Adon started out at High-A in the Nationals’ system this season, and he made jumps to Double-A Harrisburg and then to the club’s top affiliate, Triple-A Rochester, over the course of the year, before he was called up to start the regular season finale in the nation’s capital.
Adon, 23, posted a 4.97 ERA in 17 starts and 87 innings at High-A, a 6.43 ERA in three starts and 14 IP at Double-A, and struck out seven batters over four scoreless in his Triple-A debut, giving up two hits and three walks before he was called up to make his final start of the year in Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park.
In 5 1⁄3 IP against the Boston Red Sox, Adon struck out nine of the 24 batters he faced, and gave up six hits, three walks, and two earned runs.
He threw a four-seam fastball, which averaged 95 MPH, for 50 of 94 pitches (53%), getting two swinging strikes and 12 called strikes with the pitch, which got up to 97.3 MPH, and he mixed in a slider (37%), recording ten swinging and six called strikes with it, while throwing a changeup six times, and a sinker once.
Joan Adon, Dirty 83mph Breaking Ball.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 3, 2021
8th K thru 4. pic.twitter.com/ypvAyOmIc8
Alex Avila, who announced his intention to retire at the end of the season with a few weeks left on the schedule, got the start in the finale, and the veteran catcher said Adon was really impressive in the outing.
“From the get-go he had ice in his veins really,” Avila told reporters in his post game Zoom call. “We spoke briefly prior to the game just to get a feel for what he does, and talking to [pitching coach Jim] Hickey who had spoken with the guys that have seen him in the minor leagues pitch, just so that I have an idea going out there, and he seemed really confident, really calm. And you can always kind of tell a little bit too how the bullpen goes prior to the game, and his bullpen was great, and he seemed very comfortable, and he took that right into the game, and early on we ran into some trouble with guys on base, and he just beared down and made his pitches, and he looked fantastic, had tremendous poise all game.”
“Adon came in and was lights out,” manager Davey Martinez said. “He pitched really well, so that’s encouraging.
“And I loved his attitude, I love the way he came in and did his thing today.
“At the end, he did get a little bit tired, but you’ve got to understand, it was his first time, big crowd, but he looked great and he didn’t let crowd affect him, he went out there and did his thing, and his stuff was really, really good.
“I’m looking forward to him coming to Spring Training, getting ready, and see where he’s at next year.”
Adon said that he didn’t let the fact that he was facing a Red Sox’ lineup that was fighting to get into the postseason, or doing so in front of a larger-than-he’s-used-to crowd, intimidate him.
Joan Adon, Filthy 84mph Breaking Ball. pic.twitter.com/RkQujBuf6Z— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 3, 2021
“It was more excitement than anything,” Adon explained. “I told myself from the beginning that I was going to pound the zone, throw a lot of strikes, and it didn’t matter if it was Barry Bonds hitting, I wanted to throw strikes and pound the zone.”
It did, he said, hit him at one point where he was and what he was doing.
“When I came out of the dugout for the first time to warm up and I just looked around at all the fans, and the stadium and I said, ‘Wow, I’m finally here,’” Adon said.
He also acknowledged what it took to get there.
“Just the work habit, every day working hard, working hard,” Adon said.
“Never putting my head down, and just have that hunger to get to the big leagues, every day just have that desire to get up here.”
Getting to cap the season off with his MLB debut, Adon told reporters, definitely provided him with motivation going into the offseason and the 2022 campaign.
“It obviously gives me a lot of motivation to keep working hard,” he said, “... keep working hard in the offseason, and get ready for next season, and hopefully start the year with the team up here at the big league level.”
As for what he needs to work on going forward in his own estimation?
“My favorite pitch obviously is the [breaking ball],” Adon said.
“The one pitch I do want to work on a lot in the offseason is my changeup. I thought that throughout the season I lost the feel for the changeup at times, so I definitely want to work hard at developing that pitch better and more consistent and come back with a better feel for it.”