WASHINGTON - The professional baseball career of Sam Narron, as a player and coach, has taken him around the United States – from the Appalachian League to the Florida State to the California League to places in between.
But one place the former Major League pitcher has not been to is Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and what was formerly known as the Eastern League.
“I have driven past it on I-81,” Narron told Federal Baseball last week from the Nationals’ Alternate Site in Fredericksburg. “I have driven through it on my way to Auburn when I started my coaching career. That is about the extent I know about Harrisburg.
“We do have a chance to see some really good pitchers.”
If all goes well, Narron will head to Harrisburg in a few weeks as the team’s pitching coach as the Senators are slated to open the season May 4 at Somerset in New Jersey.
“That’s the plan right now. I am here to do what they want me to do. As of right now, the alternate site is sometimes to run until around May 4, the first part of May. Then we will break and go our separate ways. I will go to Harrisburg,” Narron said. “I am very excited.
“It is always nice to visit a new place. It is one league I have never been in. I know very little about it.”
The Harrisburg manager will be Tripp Keister and the hitting coach will be Brian Rupp.
“This will be my third season working with Tripp, the last two at Potomac,” Narron said. “We have a good rapport. There is not a whole lot of planning out in Spring Training.
“As it gets closer I am sure we will be in the conversation. Hopefully, it will be a nice, smooth transition.”
While rosters have not been set, Narron figures to have several top pitching prospects at his disposal this season in Double-A.
He got to see several top arms in Spring Training last month before making the transition to the Alternate Site.
Some of the pitchers he saw in West Palm Beach were Cade Cavalli, Jackson Rutledge, Matt Cronin, Todd Peterson, and Cole Henry.
“Cavalli, Rutledge, Cronin, Peterson, Henry, they were able to get in a few big league games early,” said Narron, who pitched for Texas in the majors in 2004.
“Peterson did well enough he stuck around for the entirety of big league camp. He pitched out of the bullpen.”
“Cade and Jackson were tremendous throughout the camp,” Narron said. “It was a great experience for them. They did wonderfully. They really learned a lot from watching. It was a great experience for them” to be around Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and other veterans.
Peterson was drafted out of LSU in 2019 by the Nationals in the seventh round.
“He got to play a half-season when he was drafted. Of course, he didn’t get to play last year,” Narron said. “The first time I saw him was at Instructional League in 2020. When I got to see him he was flashing some real good fastballs up to 98. He was coming right at guys and flashing sliders. He really showed a good mentality for pitching out of the bullpen.
“He has a special fastball you like to see. He is at the alternate site with us right now and doing well,” Narron said.
Another pitcher Narron has been impressed with is Cole Henry, a second-round pick out of LSU last year in the truncated draft.
“Cole was a 2020 draft. He had zero pro baseball under his belt when I got to see him in Instructional League. He has a chance to be a special talent,” said Narron, adding that Henry throws comfortably in the 94 to 96 range with some good secondary pitchers. “We were fortunate to get him when we did. He has a chance to move quickly.”
Narron played in high school in North Carolina, was drafted out of East Carolina by Texas in the 15th round in 2002 and pitched in one game for the Rangers two years later. He began his minor league career in Pulaski, Virginia in 2002 and ended up with Nashville in the Milwaukee system in 2011.
He was slated to be the Harrisburg pitching coach in 2020 before the season was called off.