The Nationals’ accelerated development program has two weeks in the books in Florida. This week, I will have some updates of a few of the pitchers in the camp, starting with A.J. Cole, Taylor Jordan and Brad Meyers.
Right-hander Cole is making good progress in his first camp since being trading back to the Nationals from the Oakland A’s. The 21-year-old Cole had a rough start last season at Oakland’s high Single-A team, but then settled down at low Single-A and dominated again.
Sometimes, a new team can wonder if another squad implemented philosophies or mechanical suggestions that altered the pitcher’s delivery or approach in a year’s time. But Double-A Harrisburg pitching coach Paul Menhart believes Cole looks fine and has worked out some of things that bothered him last season.
“I think he looks pretty similar to when we first had him at Hagerstown,” Menhart said. “He was very, very good. I don’t see him far off from where he was back then.”
But the Nationals won’t know for sure until he pitches in an actual game. Cole is likely to have his first outing Wednesday in an intrasquad game. His side sessions have been very impressive.
“He has always been very mechanically sound from what I remember,” Menhart said.
But there have been slight changes to what was bothering Cole when he struggled early last season.
“There were some small adjustments made,” Menhart said.
Physically, at 6-foot-5 and 193 lbs., Cole is tall and slender, and has filled out just a little bit.
“He still has some growing to do,” Menhart said. “But I expect big things from this kid. He has that air about him, that confidence. You can just see it in his eyes.”
Right-hander Taylor Jordan, 24, was mentioned by Nationals director of player development Doug Harris as a player the team was high on and they were looking forward to seeing him pitch this season.
“Taylor really got after it this offseason,” Menhart said. “He came into this camp in unreal shape. He has got some size on him. He just looks like he is growing into a man. His couple of outings I have seen have looked really good.”
Jordan has an unorthodox throwing action that can be deceiving and makes hitters uncomfortable when they expect something else.
“He has a really good feel for commanding the baseball, he can make that thing sink and run,” Menhart said. “He has a nice slider that’s gives hitters fits. His change-up is definitely an above average pitch with the split action.”
Right-hander Brad Meyers is going through his rehab throwing program after missing all of last season with an injury while with the Yankees. He is still a ways away from seeing any type of competition.