Accelerated camp attempts to emulate big league feel

Single-A Hagerstown manager Patrick Anderson told me how the Nationals’ accelerated development program is moving along, and what they are focusing on in the second week. You can read an earlier interview with Anderson here.

“We have a lot of coaches with the players now, every staff is there,” Anderson said. “The Double-A and Triple-A staffs are up with the big league team. A few of the coaches come up for certain drills with the outfield and base running.

“High-A, low-A, short-season and Dominican staffs are with the accelerated groups. Some of the Double-A and Triple-A coaches and rovers double up some days and come back to also coach the accelerated development camp.”

Anderson catches himself smiling sometimes when he sees most of his roster from the Rookie level Gulf Coast Nationals, who won their league title, working and going through their paces in the accelerated program.

“It is kind of like a neat bond that we have, as soon as I saw those kids,” Anderson said. “No one can ever take that away from us. It is a pretty cool thing. To see the look on their kids faces when I see them for the very first time (since the championship) it is pretty special.

“Every time I turn around, I see (Hector) Silvestre, (Rafael) Batista and Drew Ward. All you have to do is nod at them. They nod at me. We just know what we have been through. It is unbelievable. It is such a special little bond. Everyone has that with their own players throughout the whole year but last year with those kids was really neat. Hopefully those kids will be able to come up (to Hagerstown) and see what they look like under the lights.”

Anderson said the focus this year is to maintain an aggressive attitude on the practice field and in games, and pick up where they left off last season. Four Nationals affiliates made it to the postseason in 2013.

“A lot of teams made it to the playoffs, so there is a lot of positive things. Don’t fix what is not broken, just increase it a little more so you can challenge yourself.”

Anderson sees the kids working hard each day, and the prospects also see how the big league players conduct themselves. They want to emulate each move.

“When you see our staff communicate to the players, no matter how tired they are or what goes on, you see the intent of these players the way they verbally and non-verbally respond,” Anderson noticed. “They are ready to get after it. They are hungry. It is early on, but these kids, talk about buying in. They saw the results from last year and they keep seeing the process. They believe in what our big leagues are doing.

“When they all talk about how (manager) Matt Williams and the staff are regimented on what they need to do, our minor leaguers see it, we did a lot of that in the minor leagues, it pushes you even more. Let’s get quality work in, move on and do something else. Get in and out. It is on point, (all about the) attention to detail.”

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