WASHINGTON - Leif Strom was drafted by the Nationals in the 21st round in 2017 out of a community college in Washington (state), Amos Willingham went in the 17th round in 2019 out of Georgia Tech, and Gilberto Chu was signed out of Panama.
Despite not being big-time prospects, the three pitchers in Washington’s system did make history on Saturday as they combined for a 7-inning no-hitter for Fredericksburg in a 12-0 win over the visiting Salem Red Sox.
Chu lowered his ERA to 2.34 in 16 games, with two starts with Fredericksburg this season as he went three innings against Salem. He was the starter but didn’t come back after a rain delay.
“He came to Fredericksburg a little bit later in the season” than some, Brad Holman, the pitching coordinator in player development for Washington, told Federal Baseball on Sunday from his home in Kansas. “He competes his butt off; he is a three-pitch guy: fastball, curve and change. He trusts his stuff.”
Three Washington prospects -- Gilberto Chu, Amos Willingham and Leif Strom -- combined efforts to make history for Fredericksburg in Saturday's doubleheader opener.https://t.co/cKPuKNcj9o pic.twitter.com/GXQdi4zfrF— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) August 15, 2021
Holman said Chu recently was put in the starting rotation after solid work out of the bullpen.
Willingham has an ERA of 5.63 this season, which has been split between Wilmington at the high Single-A level and low Single-A Fredericksburg. He has pitched in 22 games, and has stellar ERA of 2.16 in his first 16 outings out of the bullpen for Fredericksburg while posting a record of 3-0.
Strom and Willingham both threw two innings in the no-hitter.
“He throws hard,” Holman said of Strom.
“He has been working hard with Pat Rice,” the pitching coach for Fredericksburg.
Holman gives a lot of credit to Rice, who pitched in seven major league games for Seattle in 1991.
The minor league club had a rough start to the season at 0-15 but has shown some positive signs of late with pitching and hitting.
The no-hitter won’t hurt morale.
“It’s going to give him confidence,” Holman said of Strom.
It was the fifth no-hitter in franchise history, dating back to the origins of 1978 in Alexandria, Virginia.
The last no-hitter by the franchise was by Matt Crownover in nine innings against Lynchburg in 2018.
The last seven-inning no-hitter by the franchise came in 1995 when Rich Pratt of Prince William blanked the Frederick Keys, then a farm team of the Orioles.
Fredericksburg was 32-57 going into its game at home Sunday night with Salem.
Holman On The Move
Holman spent the past few days at his home in the Wichita area.
He is headed out back on the road Monday, and plans to be in Akron this week to catch the Double-A Harrisburg Senators.
The Senators improved to 33-56 with an 11-5 win at home Sunday over New Hampshire as third baseman Jake Alu went 3 for 3, with a homer, while lefty pitcher Seth Romero got the start and allowed two runs in four innings.
Holman, a former pitcher for Seattle, filled in as the Triple-A pitching coach for Rochester for 12 games earlier this month.
Nationals Park Notes
As expected, there were a good number of fans of the Atlanta Braves here at Nationals Park on Sunday as Washington was swept in the three-game series.
The loudest cheer from the Atlanta fans came when Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley hit back-to-back homers in the fifth.
“At any point in time someone could go yard,” Riley told reporters. “It’s impressive. It just shows the depth. No matter the situation we are never out of it. It’s been a fun run.” ... There are still plenty of fans wearing jerseys of Max Scherzer and Trea Turner - in Washington red, of course. It may take some nerve for a fan to show up wearing the jersey of Scherzer or Turner in Dodger blue ... If there was any consolation for Nats fans, the storms that came through the area Saturday night reduced the awful August humidity that the region is used to. That didn’t stop the losing streak, which is up to seven in a row now - but one thing at a time.