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Washington Nationals news & notes: Joey Meneses 420; Tres Barrera gets start; Mike Rizzo on Jackson Rutledge

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability on the road in Atlanta...

Meneses 420:

Joey Meneses’s 420-foot, go-ahead, two-run home run on Wednesday came off of the bat at 106.7 MPH (exit velocity) ... and it was just his third-hardest hit ball of the game, behind a 108.5 MPH single and a 107.5 MPH groundout. Meneses’s 2 for 4 game was his 17th multi-hit game in his first 43 games in the majors after making his MLB debut back on August 2nd ...(say it with me) after 10 seasons in the minors and playing internationally.

“I’ve been working my whole life to get to this point and have success at the big league level,” Meneses said, as quoted by MASN’s Paul Mancado after the Nationals’ one win in the three-game series in Truist Park. “It’s very satisfying to finally get here and being able do what I’ve been doing.”

“I can’t say enough about what Joey’s been doing for us since he’s been here,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said in his post game press conference.

“He’s been hitting balls, doubles, homers, getting on base, [and] playing good defense.”

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The home run was Meneses’s 10th in his 43 games in the big leagues and his 30th overall in 2022, after he hit 20 in 96 games at Triple-A Rochester in the Nationals’ system before he was called up. Martinez was asked if he thought the 30-year-old rookie could be a 30-HR guy if given an opportunity in the majors?

“I can see Meneses doing a lot of things,” the fifth-year manager said. “I won’t put any numbers on him, but this guy can hit a lot of doubles, he’s starting to understand what balls he really does hit hard, and he stays in the middle of the field for the most part. He has good at-bats, you know, I love watching him hit because he puts together some good at-bats.”

Barrera’s Turn:

Wednesday was the 21st of September.

Tres Barrera was called up back on September 1st.

His start in the series finale in Atlanta was his first appearance since he came up to the majors again.

“I wanted to give him and [Josh] Palacios a day out there to play, and he did really well,” manager Davey Martinez said once his club salvaged a win after dropping the first two of three with the Braves, with Barrera going 2 for 4 at the plate, while adding a caught-stealing in a big moment late in the 3-2 win.

“[Tres] handled the pitching staff really well, got a couple hits, so just a testament to how he prepares and how he stays ready, gets an opportunity to play and he comes through.”

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Martinez talked earlier this month about his plans to get all three of his catchers starts behind the plate over the final weeks of the 2022 campaign, but it’s been Riley Adams and rookie Israel Pineda splitting time since Keibert Ruiz landed on the IL on September 9th.

“He was spot on today,” Martinez said of Barrera’s defensive work. “He was really good, and throwing that runner out was huge for us and got us out of an inning, so he played well today.”

And the two-hit game after 20 days on the bench?

“He works really hard every day, and he’s been working with [Hitting Coach] Darnell and Six [Assistant Hitting Coach Pat Roessler] about just staying in the middle of the field,” Martinez said.

“Those guys that come off the bench and only play once or twice a week, or whatever the case may be, their job is to not really go out there and try to hit homers, their job is to just get on base, do the little things right, and he did that today.”

Rutledge’s 2022 Run:

Ranked the 12th overall prospect in the Nationals’ system by MLB Pipeline’s scouts, 2019 1st Round pick Jackson Rutledge dealt with injuries in college and early in his pro career, but a strong showing this season (4.90 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 9.15 K/9, 2.68 BB/9, 0.65 HR/9 in 20 starts & 97 13 IP for Class-A Fredericksburg) got him back on the radar of those following prospects in the organization as Washington’s reboot and youth movement continues.

Rutledge is likely still a ways away from making his MLB debut, but the 23-year-old, 6’8’’ starter definitely got more attention this season than he has in the first three years of his big league career, which unfortunately was interrupted by 2020’s COVID shutdown in the minor leagues.

Rutledge wrapped up his 2022 campaign with a strong second-half and an impressive start in the postseason for the FredNats, which saw him strike out six in eight strong:

So what did GM Mike Rizzo make of Rutledge’s growth in his third season as a pro?

“He’s been sidetracked a little bit with some injuries and that type of thing in his early career,” Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies on Wednesday morning.

“He came from — he has a young arm, he had not many innings under his belt, he’s a junior college pick for us ... and [he’s] a very tall, long-levered guy, which takes a little bit longer to develop those type of guys.

“But he’s got electric stuff, he’s got a big-time curveball, and a good fastball that has been up to 95-99 MPH, and like I said, he really came on in the end this year. The second-half of the year he’s been terrific, and that playoff game he threw a really nice game for us to get the win in the opening game of that series, which we ended up losing that series, but he pitched extremely well.”