One power hitter that could make a nice move this year is Drew Ward. The high Single-A Potomac third baseman was able to play in the Arizona Fall League at the end of his 2015 campaign.
He got the chance to play twice a week as a taxi squad participant for the Salt River Rafters. That experience was huge for the 21-year-old, who rubbed elbows with top prospects and learned from their game-to-game routine.
“(That was) really good for him experience-wise being around a lot of good players,” said Nationals hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich. “He didn’t play every day. He’s always been a guy that played every day. That was good for him because he realizes how important timing is, the work you put in when you know you are not playing. How you go about your business watching how other guys go about their business.
“You always feel a little uncomfortable when you go to a surrounding you are not used to. Just watching him, he’s grown up a lot since instructs. I told him I couldn’t be more pleased with how he’s progressed.”
Gingrich said Ward is still growing physically and his power at the plate will grow as he gets more and more at-bats. Gingrich noticed on his visits with Ward and watching him play in Arizona that the Oklahoma native is starting from a better base in the box and is able to generate power from a solid pre-swing setup.
“He’s still (21) years old growing into his body and developing that man strength that we talk about,” Gingrich said. “He’s finally in a consistent position, his hands are in a nice, strong position. That’s the biggest thing we worked on in instructs, and he took that over to the fall league and worked with (manager) Tripp Keister and (hitting coach) Jason Camilli. I’m really happy where he’s at now. He has confidence now.”
Gingrich told Drew to not worry about results while he was with Salt River, but worry about maintaining a consistent approach. That repeated approach will pay big dividends if he can take that and translate it into 500-plus at-bats this coming season.
The 6-foot-3, 215-lb. Ward is a left-hitting power hitter who slashed .249/.327/.349 with 19 doubles, two triples, six homers and 47 RBIs over 111 games for Potomac. He had 31 at-bats in 12 games for Salt River.
“It’s hard when you don’t play every day and then you come in off the bench and try to play twice a week,” Gingrich said. “I keep telling him I’m not worried about the results, what he hits for average-wise right now. The thing about that I’m more concerned about and happy and pleased with is the hitting position he’s getting to. Because when he goes into next year and starts to play every day, he’s going to start to see the results that he wants. It was really good for him for the learning aspect of the game.”