Ryan Brinley refining curveball, getting reps in AFL competition

Ryan Brinley had a very good season with high Single-A Potomac. The 23-year-old went 4-1 with a 1.37 ERA in 32 games with the P-Nats. He had 16 saves, 34 strikeouts and only seven walks.

The right-hander was promoted to Double-A Harrisburg on June 27 and appeared in eight games, going 0-2 with an 11.12 ERA while missing on a pair of save opportunities. He was transferred to Potomac on Aug. 1.

Brinley was so good this year at Potomac, he was rewarded with midseason and postseason Carolina League All-Star honors.

The Nationals selected Brinley to play in the Arizona Fall League for the Glendale Desert Dogs.

He has appeared in three games so far without allowing a run. In four innings, he has not allowed a hit or a walk, striking out four batters.

Nationals-Helmets-in-Rack-Sidebar.jpgBrinley earned the win Thursday in a 3-2 victory over Mesa, pitching two scoreless innings. Earlier last week, Brinley arrived in a bases-loaded two-out situation and recorded the final out without allowing a run.

Glendale pitching coach Sam Narron said Brinley needs repetition in this league to help him become consistent at the Double-A level. Brinley was a 27th-round selection out of Sam Houston State in 2015.

“He’s out here getting some reps in,” Narron said from Arizona. “He was a position player/pitcher in college. He needs to get in some good reps against high-caliber competition. He’s going to do just fine. It’s always tough to get innings out here for relievers because you have so many. He will get some quality work in for the next four weeks.”

So what is intriguing about Brinley? He has the stuff that gets everyone’s attention. Now they focus on his breaking pitches to make him a complete pitching product.

“You got to love the fastball,” Narron said. “It can be in the mid-90s (mph). He really just started learning how to throw a breaking ball last year in the instructional league. So this past full season was the first time he threw any kind of consistent curveball.

“He has really started to concentrate on that. It’s come a long way and has become a very solid offering for him. He is just going to continue to work on that. Getting reps as a pitcher is important to him at this point in his career.”

Having Brinley in the AFL is a sign as to how seriously the Nats consider him as a top notch reliever possibility for the future. With all the prospects available, Brinley gets this shot. His ability to play a position spot in college demonstrates his athletic ability and pedigree to be able to refine and implement new pitches.

Learning how to throw a curveball and get outs is not easy. Learning against top competition can make it a difficult task. So far, so good for Brinley. Narron will keep us up to date throughout the month and into November on Brinley’s progress.

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