Southpaw Mooneyham showed stuff and potential at instructional league

One of the 2012 draft picks on the pitching side, left-hander Brett Mooneyham, showed well at instructional league the last few weeks.

The Nationals' third-round draft pick pitched in 10 games (nine starts) for short-season Single-A Auburn, going 2-2 with a 2.55 ERA, striking out 29 batters and walking 16. He allowed only three earned runs in his last three starts. That was a very good start for the 22-year-old, but instructional league provided another great opportunity to work on a couple of slight changes the coaches had in mind.

The 6-foot-5, 235-pound southpaw certainly showed his potential, noticed by high Single-A pitching coach Chris Michalak.

"He was impressive, impressive," Michalak said. "Brett is a hard worker, he has got the stuff, (especially) for a left-hander. He made a couple of adjustments, just getting used to our program. He is another kid that we are excited about because he does have the stuff. He is not afraid of contact and he will go right after you."

Michalak said a lot of pitchers try to pitch away from hitters thinking that contact is bad. He said that was easy to change in Mooneyham's game coming out of Stanford.

"That is the biggest thing for guys coming out of college," Michalak said. "With those composite bats, they are always pitching away from contact a lot of times because it is easier to put the barrel on the ball in those games.

"But getting them to pitch to contact with these wooden bats, making them realize if I put it where I want to and they swing, it is going to break. It is not going to be a base hit into the gap like it is in college."

Michalak said with those slight adjustments, Mooneyham gained a good deal of knowledge at instructional league that will help him next year in Single-A competition.

"He definitely can pitch to contact and go after guys," Michalak reiterated. "It was exciting to see him throw. The upside is there, it is definitely there."

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