WASHINGTON – As a young boy, Brendan Collins attended several games at Nationals Park with his family.
He was a fan of Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer – both of whom have since gone elsewhere – and Collins was in the stands for a home playoff game in the Navy Yards neighborhood and his parents went to home playoff games in 2019.
Now the graduate of Sherwood High in Montgomery is in his first year in the minor leagues with low Single-A Fredericksburg, a farm team of the Nationals.
“I had heard from a few other teams and the Nats definitely showed a lot of interest,” Collins, 22, told Federal Baseball on Thursday of getting drafted by Washington in July.
“When they called it was awesome, because I grew up a Nats fan. My family is all Nats fans, my friends are Nats fans so it was a cool experience.”
Collins began his college career at Radford in southwest Virginia.
After attending a junior college in North Carolina, he pitched this past spring at Division I UNC Greensboro before he was drafted in the 17th round by the Nationals.
“I had a redshirt and a COVID redshirt left,” said Collins, who had two more years of college eligibility that he passed on to turn pro.
Sherwood is also the alma mater of Justin Maxwell, the former University of Maryland standout who played for the Nationals as an outfielder and broke in with Washington in 2007.
“I remember his first at-bat,” Collins said of Maxwell, whose first Major League homer was a grand slam for the Nationals.
Collins did not allow a run in two games and three innings in the Florida Complex League before he was promoted to Fredericksburg in late August.
“Playing up here in Fredericksburg is a big change from Florida, where they are no fans,” said Collins, who has been staying with a relative in Virginia.
“Up here we have a few thousand fans every night and our stadium is brand new so it is an awesome experience.”
His family has seen the team play in Fredericksburg and in Salisbury on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
In his fourth outing with the team, he took the loss on Wednesday as he gave up four runs while recording four outs against Lynchburg at home.
“I don’t think mechanics changed too much for me” from college, Collins said.
“It is small things like holding the runners better or being more deceptive to the plate. All of these hitters are obviously a lot better than the college level.”
The starting pitcher on Wednesday was Andry Lara, who was making his second start at the low Single-A level and gave up one earned runs in four innings.
“For his age, he stands out above the crowd,” Collins said of Lara, who turned 18 in January.
Another pitcher for Fredericksburg is Jackson Rutledge, a first-round pick of the Nationals in 2019 out of San Jacinto junior college in Texas.
“He has great stuff,” Collins said of Rutledge, who nonetheless has struggled with a WHIP of 1.72 in his first 12 starts this year across three levels.
Fredericksburg ends the season at home Sunday and later this month Collins will head to Florida with other 2021 draft picks to take part in Instructional League at West Palm Beach.
Collins was signed by Bobby Myrick, a long-time scout of the Nationals based in southeast Virginia.