Davey Martinez summed up Joan Adon’s struggles against the Pittsburgh Pirates this past weekend in PNC Park pretty succinctly when he talked in his post game press conference about the 23-year-old right-hander’s issues locating his pitches.
“Pure location,” was the problem Martinez said.
“His misses were bad, and then when he threw a strike they were right down the middle. He was missing spots pretty much all night.
“He got — the last inning and a half, he actually threw the ball where he was supposed to throw it and you saw the quick outs.”
“We’ve really got to get him to understand how to attack the strike zone on hitters and follow the game plan,” Martinez added.
Heading into start No. 3 of the 2022 campaign on Tuesday night, Martinez said he wanted Adon to focus on the last few outs he recorded against the Bucs as he worked to improve outing-to-outing.
“He’s got to learn how to slow things down when he gets into those situations where he gets a guy on base or two guys on base,” Martinez said.
“We’ve noticed that he speeds up quite a bit and his mechanics get a little flawed. So, it’s just for me and him — [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey has been talking to him about breathing a little bit more, taking some more time, talking to our catchers and tell him, ‘Hey, slow down a little bit.’ And I’ve told him, ‘Remember how you got — what you did when you had those good innings?’”
“Like the last outing,” Martinez continued.
“I talked to him about the last four outs, five outs that you got — and I said, ‘Let’s focus on those last four outs, because you were good, you were really good, and let’s go from there.’
“So hopefully today he comes out in the second game, and like I said, he attacks the strike zone. The biggest thing with him is to work ahead. When he works ahead, he’s pretty nasty.
“So, work ahead, get ahead in counts, and then we’ll go from there.”
Adon threw 88 of 57 pitches for strikes in 6 1⁄3 scoreless innings on the mound against the Arizona Diamondbacks on a cold Tuesday night in the nation’s capital, giving up three hits and two walks, and striking out five of the 24 batters he faced in a solid performance in an exciting 1-0 win for the Nationals.
Joan Adon’s Line: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 88 P, 57 S, 6/6 GO/FO.
“I think overall things went well for me because I was really, really focused out there,” Adon said after the game. “I was just a lot more confident out there, and I saw the weather, very cold, and a lot of times the hitters don’t want to swing when it’s in a cold climate, so I was just trying to take advantage of that and really pound the zone.”
It was an impressive outing for the rookie right-hander, whose numbers in the minors (4.29 ERA in 76 games, 42 starts, and 268 2⁄3 IP) since he joined the organization after signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2016, didn’t have him atop of the club’s prospect rankings for 2022, though he did end up No. 8 on MLB Pipeline’s top 10 for the Nationals this winter.
While he didn’t exactly light the baseball world on fire in the minors, Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo said on Wednesday morning he thought coming into 2022 Adon would make his way up, and return to the majors some point this season after he made his debut in Game 162 of 2021.
“He’s been on our radar for a long time,” Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies.
“And that’s the problem with these quote/unquote ‘prospect’ lists, you know what I mean,” he continued.
“We know these guys very well, he’s another product of our Latin American/international department, he’s got good size, good feel to pitch, and good stuff, and what kind of separated him over the last year or two is that his poise is great and he’s throwing a lot more strikes. Yesterday, was a big step forward for him, I think he threw like [65%] strikes, which is what we’re looking for out of him, because his stuff is really good, he’s pitching at 95-96 MPH with a good breaking ball and a changeup that’s in progress, and that’s the secret to these guys, get that third pitch working so he can go to it at any time, throw strikes, get ahead, let your defenders be on their toes and make plays for you, and you could see that yesterday.”
Rizzo did acknowledge that if Stephen Strasburg, Joe Ross, and Aníbal Sánchez were able to start the season in the rotation, Adon might not have made it onto the roster this spring, but he reiterated that the righty would have been up again at some point this summer.
“He was on my radar to be one of our rotation guys this year at some time during the season,” Rizzo said.
“Now that didn’t necessarily mean Opening Day, but we’re down three starting pitchers that we planned on this year with Sánchez, Stras, and Ross, so we’re kind of having to put guys into positions that they’re a little bit uncomfortable with, but we have to take into consideration the make-up of the player, and we felt that Adon, mentally, was certainly ready for it, and physically you could see him taking his steps forward each and every time.”