[ed. note - “With interest in the Washington Nationals’ farm system at a high level, Federal Baseball has begun a series featuring the top 30 prospects in the system as of late last season, according to Baseball America. We will start with No. 30 and work our way to the top over the next few weeks, with one prospect highlighted each weekday.”]
WASHINGTON – Jackson Rutledge certainly salvaged his season in dramatic fashion on Nov. 20 in the championship game of the Arizona Fall League.
Pitching for Surprise, the right-hander fanned seven batters in 3.1 innings with a fastball in the high 90s, according to mlb.com.
“Rutledge showed both what makes him an intriguing pitching prospect and what he needs to work on during his outing,” wrote MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo.
“While he did give up a pair of runs in his 3 1/3 innings of work, he also struck out seven and the first six batters he retired were via the K. His electric fastball topped out around 98 mph and averaged over 95 mph. His mid-80s slider had a 69-percent whiff rate, but he walked four and only threw 38 of his 73 pitches for strikes. The stuff is all there; he just needs to keep refining his command.”
MLB.com listed Rutledge is one of the top eight players in the title game that was won by Mesa over Surprise.
The 6-foot-8 Rutledge dealt with shoulder tightness early last season with high Single-A Wilmington in the Washington system.
He was a first-round pick of the Nationals in 2019 and pitched that season for low Single-A Hagerstown.
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.
“He will be facing top prospects every day. Physically, he is in 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,” former farm director Mark Scialabba told Federal Baseball just before the Arizona Fall League began.
That statement proved true in the title game for the Missouri native.