UNLV right-handed pitcher Erick Fedde said Friday that he is thrilled about the opportunity he has in front of him with the Nationals and that he's pleased to be selected in the first round, despite undergoing ligament replacement surgery Tuesday.
"After Tommy John, I just was hoping going into the draft that I get selected hopefully in the first round still," Fedde said on a teleconference. "That was my expectation and hope, and I was lucky enough for that to happen."
When he initially found out he had to have Tommy John, he said it was "definitely a shock."
"It hit me pretty hard," Fedde said. "I was really upset about it. But I had a lot of people telling me it has been a very common procedure lately and the percentage of guys coming back has been so high I would be OK, just work hard in rehab. In terms of the draft, I realized I was probably going to take a hit in how high I was going to go. I am just ecstatic that the Nationals took me at 18th. I am just excited to be a part of the organization."
Fedde recounted when he hurt his elbow and how they decided to have surgery.
"I initially felt that I tore my UCL against New Mexico," Fedde said. "I believe it was about six weeks ago. In the game, I felt it in the seventh inning. I ended up finishing that inning before being pulled. At first I didn't believe (it). So we ended up taking two weeks off just trying to recover and then before I got the MRI to find out that the UCL was actually torn. That was the first initial (moment) when it hit me that it was actually torn. That is when I found out."
Fedde detailed the recovery process. It has yet to really begin because he just got out of the hospital.
"Surgery just happened three days ago," Fedde said. "Arm hurts a little, but it's not too bad. I am not too sure about the whole recovery process. I go back in on Thursday to get the cast and stitches out. I think it should be hopefully around a year, I am back on the mound.
"(I am) definitely going to take full advantage of the year I have to recover and try to get in the best, top physical shape as I can. If the weight comes, it is not a huge priority of mine. But I am sure I will put on a little bit here as time goes on."
Fedde went to Las Vegas High School with Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, and he grew up playing sports with his famous school-age teammate.
"That was really cool, especially for our family and friends, now close with their family, and now to be a part of the same organization is pretty cool," Fedde said. "Our families can share the experience together now."
"I think we played T-ball together back in the day, we played football together and then basketball in middle school," Fedde said. "Kind of just grew up in the same area, always playing sports together. High school, he started getting a lot of attention. Obviously, he's a great ball player. I saw him kind of explode onto the scene and he was getting a lot of attention. I guess two very different paths. I got to see him grow up and go through all this, took it so well and then was able to be the No. 1 overall pick.
"He is a busy guy. He is out there working hard to perform as well as he can for the Nationals, tough to stay in contact. He has been really nice as of late sending me a few messages saying 'Congrats,' and looks forward to playing with me hopefully in the future."
Fedde was asked to describe himself as a pitcher.
"I just like to see myself as a athletic, competitive pitcher, just attack with my stuff. Just expect to be competitive on the mound at all times," Fedde said.
Fedde throws a fastball, 92-96 mph and a slider, and he has worked diligently on refining his changeup. His college coach Tim Chambers had taught him to just throw his fastball and changeup for a time so he would be forced to practice the changeup. It worked.
"The changeup was a difference maker this year and probably the big number difference from my freshman and sophomore year," Fedde said. "It was a big focus going into the fall and into the spring and was able to get a lot of work in on it. Before the injury, I felt very comfortable with it. I think it can be a weapon here in the near future."
Fedde is a Scott Boras client and was asked if there would be any issues with him signing on time next month.
"I am not really too worried about the business process," Fedde said. "I know it will work out. I am just worried about getting healthy and going from there."