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Future is focus for Fredericksburg Nationals fans

Many jerseys of former Washington players are spotted at Single-A affiliate, though onlookers try to look ahead …

Mark Twain Prize Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – Lauren Stevens stayed until the final out here Sunday, then walked through gate to the parking lot as she proudly wore a Juan Soto Nationals jersey.

It was a Juan Soto City Connect jersey she owned for just a few days before the slugging right fielder was traded earlier this month to the San Diego Padres. She goes to several games at year at Nationals Park but Sunday was her first game this season in Fredericksburg.

And her thoughts on the Soto trade?

“Sad, but I am excited about the Fredericksburg Nats,” Stevens told Federal Baseball as she left with three other adults who are big baseball fans.

That is the approach these days for many fans of the Major League team – but that fandom is played out more dramatically at the minor league affiliates of Washington.

Spotted at the game here on Sunday were the Nationals jerseys of these former players: Max Scherzer, Daniel Murphy, and Ian Desmond.

Those fans certainly have long memories: Desmond and Murphy are now retired and were at Nationals Park in June when the No. 11 jersey of Ryan Zimmerman, their former teammate, was retired.

Scherzer, of course, was traded to the Dodgers last year and is now trying to help the Mets win a World Series title – much to the chagrin of Washington fans who watched the Atlanta Braves do the same last fall.

Fans of Fredericksburg can take solace in the slew of prospects being guided by manager Jake Lowery, who grew up in the Richmond area and was a standout catcher at JMU.

The low Single-A team boasts three former first-round picks on the roster: pitchers Jackson Rutledge and Mason Denaburg and infielder Brady House, who has been out since June with an injury.

Other prospects include outfielders T.J. White and James Wood.

White was drafted in the fifth round in 2021 by Washington while Wood came to the Nationals in the trade for Soto.

Wood is from Rockville, Maryland and played high school ball at St. John’s in DC before transferring to the noted IMG Academy in Florida.

His father is a former basketball standout at the University of Richmond.

After scoring 23 runs at home Friday night, Fredericksburg was held to just one hit on Sunday – one by Jared McKenzie in the seventh that the Down East second baseman Danyer Cueva couldn’t come up with.

The visiting Wood Ducks won 6-0 as prospect Wood was hitless in two trips before being replaced by pinch-hitter Jacob Young, also in the seventh.

Fredericksburg fell to 66-53 but still has eyes on the playoffs.

And Stevens, from Woodbridge, Virginia, hasn’t given up on the Nationals one hour north in Washington.

“I’m a Nats fan all the way,” she said.