BOWIE, MARYLAND – Harrisburg’s Drew Mendoza slapped hands with the third base coach, crossed home plate, and shook hands with teammate Aldrem Corredor, then gave a high-five to catcher Jakson Reetz.
Mendoza, drafted by the Nationals in the third round in 2019, had just smashed a home run here at Prince George’s Stadium in the first inning against Bowie right-hander Mike Baumann – one of the top prospects in the Baltimore Orioles’ system.
But Florida State product Mendoza wasn’t through, as he hit another three-run homer later in the game, a blast in the fifth inning against Cameron Bishop.
Even with the six-RBI night on Tuesday, Mendoza was only hitting .160 on the year after the 10-6 win against the Baysox. His average was down to .154 after going 0-for-2 at the Baysox on Wednesday. That fell to .143 after he went hitless on Thursday.
But the infielder, who spent time at the alternate site last year in Fredericksburg, VA with the Nationals, wasn’t the only Harrisburg player off to a slow start.
The Nationals got some encouraging news from lefty starter Tim Cate, who gave up just three hits in 5.1 innings on Wednesday at Bowie.
But he allowed four earned runs and four walks as his ERA stood at 5.92 after five starts as Harrisburg lost to the Baysox on Wednesday 4-0 in a game that was stopped due to rain in the seventh inning.
“Tim has had some mixed results in his first several starts and is working to improve his fastball command to get ahead and stay ahead of hitters,” Mark Scialabba, assistant general manager, player development, wrote to Federal Baseball on Friday.
“Once he starts repeating the strike zone more consistently, especially early in the count, he will start to have more success,” Scialabba noted.
One of the hits he gave up was a bloop single to Adley Rutschman, the catching prospect for the Orioles.
Harrisburg outfielder Cody Wilson, who made his Major League debut with the Nationals in April against the Braves, was hitting just .115 for Harrisburg.
But he was promoted on Wednesday to Triple-A Rochester along with pitcher Sterling Sharp, who was drafted by the Nationals then made his Major League debut as a Rule 5 pick of the Miami Marlins last year before being returned to Washington.
Sharp started for Rochester on Thursday and went 3.2 innings and didn’t figure in the decision as the Red Wings won 9-8 at home over Syracuse.
Richmond native and outfielder Alec Keller had three hits for Rochester to lift his average to .344 while third baseman Carter Kiebooom was at .208 after going 1-for-3.
Outfielder Rhett Wiseman, a second-round pick in 2015, was batting only .190 after going 1-for-2 as the DH on Thursday for Harrisburg.
Harrisburg lost 14 of its first 21 games after a 7-3 loss at Bowie on Thursday while Rochester was 6-15 before playing Friday.
Infielder Jackson Cluff, who was also at the alternate site last year, went on the 7-day Injured List on May 15 with Harrisburg. He was hitting just .100 in his first 30 at-bats this year after playing with Mendoza at Single-A Hagerstown in 2019.
Right-handed pitcher Andrew Lee, an 11th-round pick in 2015, was reinstated from the Injured List on Tuesday and pitched two innings of scoreless relief that night at Bowie. He did not allow a run in his first 7.1 innings of work this year.
“Andrew is in a pretty good place spot right now,” Scialabba noted Friday.
“After some time off he made a little mechanical tweak to get himself in a better position and was able to execute pitches more consistently in his last outing” Tuesday.