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Washington Nationals’ Oklahoma connection

With the selection of pitcher Jake Bennett, Nationals have more Sooners in the system …

2022 NCAA Division I Men’s Baseball Championship Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

WASHINGTON – One can never have enough Sooners.

That must be the thinking of the Nationals, who earlier this week selected another player from the baseball program at the University of Oklahoma.

Taken in the second round was lefty pitcher Jake Bennett, who was the Friday starter for the Sooners this season.

In 2020, the National took pitcher Cade Cavalli as their first-round pick out of Oklahoma and also selected catcher Brad Lindsly from the same program in the fourth round.

Before that, the Nationals drafted infielder Sheldon Neuse (in the 2nd Round in 2016) and pitcher Jake Irvin (in the 4th Round in 2018).

“The head coach there does a super job developing pitchers,” Nats’ Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Kris Kline said on the first night of this year’s draft, when asked about drafting the latest Oklahoma product.

“I think he works with a lot of big leaguers in the offseason, they come to him. Very bright guy, very knowledgeable, mechanics, delivery, things like that.”

MiLB: APR 07 Rochester Red Wings at Toledo Mud Hens Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“A lot of the ones we’ve taken if you’ve noticed, they have polish, their presence,” Assistant Director of Scouting Mark Baca added.

“This particular player [Bennett], he’ll show you just about everything, delivery, everything is clean, velocity, secondary stuff, but I think there’s a growth process that they go [through] at the school, with their coaching staff, ‘cause you have a coach in there that has developed some good players.”

Cavalli, one of the top prospects for Washington, has been with Triple-A Rochester this year while Lindsly is with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators.

“They’re going to get a professional type of kid that understands what routines are, understands what pitchability is, understands the work that it takes to put in. He’s like the poster child of our program. Came in as a freshman – body changed, delivery changed, makeup changed, command – everything you can think of from a pitcher, he did well in it. He’s going to be an innings eater in pro ball,” Oklahoma head coach Skip Johnson told reporters in Oklahoma about Bennett after he was drafted.

“He posted up every time, every outing all year long. I think there were maybe one or two guys all year that did that throughout the year. Every week he posted up and pitched once a week. That right there tells you he’s going to eat innings,” Johnson added. “He’s very routine-oriented, a lot like – I’m not saying he’s ever going to be Clayton Kershaw at all – but there are some similarities between what Clayton does and what Jake does. He’s stuck in his routines and he’s going to make sure he does those things diligently. Making sure he does his arm exercises the right way, making sure he does his running, making sure he does his lifting. He’s going to be really on top of all of those little things as a professional.”

2022 NCAA Division I Men’s Baseball Championship Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Cavalli is 4-3 with an ERA of 4.31 and a WHIP of 1.17 in 15 starts this season.

Dallas native Lindsly is batting .195 with five homers and 20 RBI in 149 at-bats this year for Harrisburg.

This reporter saw Bennett pitch in the Blacksburg Regional against host Virginia Tech in June. He went seven innings and allowed one earned run as Oklahoma won game 1.

The Sooners took the series in three games and eventually lost to Ole Miss in the championship series of the College World Series in Omaha.

Bennett last pitched June 25, going 6.1 innings against Ole Miss and taking the loss as he gave up three earned runs.