Davey Martinez’s pregame press conference on Sunday was a long one, so we have two, count’em, two posts worth of stuff worth sharing.
Today’s half starts with Martinez discussing where all the Nationals’ prospects and minor leaguers are going to go when the minor league season actually gets going in May.
Minor League Ball 2021:
Some of the Nationals’ prospects are working out in West Palm Beach right now, while there are others at the alternate site in Fredericksburg, Virginia, but decisions will be made in the next few weeks as to where they’ll send them out once they start playing in the minors after COVID wiped out the 2020 minor league season. The prospects currently in Virginia played some games against other teams over the last few weeks as they ramp up towards a return to competitive MiLB action.
Martinez was asked particularly about the progress from the top pitching prospects in the system, Jackson Rutledge and Cade Cavalli.
“They played the Orioles, they’re pitching, we’re getting them stretched out,” Martinez said.
“I think they’re both up to about 4-5 innings, 75-85 pitches, and they’re doing well. They’re developing down there and the biggest thing for us is we want them to throw strikes and throw strikes with all their pitches. And I think they are learning that right now. It’s about location and throwing strike one. They’re both developing, they’re getting a lot of work done. These are two guys that we’re very high on and eventually they’re both going to help us here at some point, so it’s good to know — I heard yesterday that our minor leagues are going to start soon, so they’ll go out and they’ll start pitching and facing teams regularly.”
Rutledge, 22, and the Nationals’ 1st Round pick in the 2019 Draft, pitched in the Gulf Coast, NY/Penn, and South Atlantic leagues in ‘19, but spent the summer of 2020 developing over in Fredericksburg without a minor league season last year.
Cavalli, 22, and the Nats’ 1st Round pick in 2020, didn’t pitch in competitive action last year, but threw in Fredericksburg, and he got work in Spring Training this time around, but soon he’ll head out to an affiliate for his first true minor league action.
Where the No. 1 (Cavalli) and No. 2 (Rutledge) prospects in the system on MLB Pipeline’s list of the organization’s top players will start their 2021 seasons is unclear as of now.
“We haven’t decided that yet,” Martinez said. “But as soon as we determine if we’re going to have our Double-A season start on time, Triple-A — I know our Triple-A season is starting on time.
“We got to get them out there and start facing other teams and really starting to compete.”
“It will be great to get those guys out there facing other teams.”
As the skipper said, the decisions, given everything that’s gone on in the last two years, are not easy ones.
“It’s definitely difficult,” Martinez acknowledged. “This is the reason why we sat down this winter and wanted to bring those guys to camp, to really get them going, to put eyes on them and get their development going, and then we’ll see where they’re at. It’s tough when you don’t have an A-ball, or High-A yet, but these guys will be start at either Triple-A or Double-A and we’ll see how they fare. But the biggest thing is that they’re getting all their work in, they’re developing and learning a lot about who they want to be, about how to pitch in the big leagues, and they understand the value there is to throw strikes. It doesn’t matter how hard you throw, you got to throw strikes.
“We preached that to them down there and they’ve been getting better at it.
“They’re working on their secondary pitches, and throwing those for strikes as well. They’re both doing well.”
Soto Hitting Off Tee:
Juan Soto, on the 10-Day IL with a left shoulder strain, is back in D.C. while the team is on the road, and Martinez provided an update on what the 22-year-old outfielder is doing as he’s out of action, then ran down the list of the other players who are currently on the IL, offering the latest information (as of Sunday morning).
“Juan actually hit off the tee yesterday,” Martinez said. “He felt fine. We’ll see how he feels today. He’ll have a day today to kind of recoup, do some other things, but hopefully we’ll get him back out there tomorrow, he’ll hit again tomorrow off the tee and we’ll see where he goes from there.”
As Soto explained when he spoke to reporters after landing on the IL, however, he wasn’t experiencing any pail while swinging the bat, though his shoulder did bother him when it came to throwing.
Moving on the other updates:
“[Wander] Suero is doing great,” Martinez said of the 29-year-old reliever who went on the IL on April 18th with a left oblique strain.
“He’s moving around pretty good. He did some throwing drills without throwing a baseball, just simulating his mechanics and stuff and he felt fine.
“[Stephen] Strasburg threw at 120 feet,” the manager said of the 32-year-old starter whose right shoulder landed him on the IL on April 18 as well (retroactive to 4/15).
“He’ll do that again tomorrow and we’ll see how that goes and then we’ll go from there.
“Will Harris and Jon Lester both are pitching today,” Martinez added, “so we’ll see how they fare this afternoon.”