The next hurler on the list of top 10 Nationals prospects from Baseball America got a chance to pitch in the big leagues last season, and although it probably didn’t go as well as he had hoped, the experience will be invaluable for him down the road.
No. 3 RHP Erick Fedde
“I think that’s a great point,” said Baseball America national writer Carlos Collazo. “I also think you can look at this season as one for Erick Fedde where you don’t need to look too much into the numbers. They put him in a tough spot. They worked him out of the bullpen a lot because of the major league bullpen questions. I think the team was really looking to use him in that role if they needed, but they went out and made some trades. So they then moved him back to his starting role that he’s used to.”
But Collazo does see this experience also helping Fedde adapt to different roles in the future as a starter or a reliever.
“I think it’s good for his development,” Collazo said. “(It’s tough) to just know how to pitch out of the bullpen, it’s always a lot different. You don’t have all the time that you normally have when you are starting to kind of get ready to get into your rhythm. He did have to deal with that.”
And despite all the moving around, Collazo noticed a big advancement for Fedde in one of the most important pitches for a pitcher to master at the minor league level.
“The biggest thing with Fedde this year is the development of his changeup,” Collazo said. “I know before this season, he was kind of a fastball/slider guy, two plus pitches right there. But I was talking to his Double-A manager, Matt LeCroy, who said he was really impressed with the steps he took to improve his changeup and even said at times his changeup was more of a go-to out pitch than his slider, which is really inconceivable before this year. You would never think that, but to have that kind of step forward with a third pitch really gives you something to look forward to with him starting. So I don’t think anyone needs to be too concerned whether he is a starter or a reliever. Him relieving (last) year was really more of an organizational need rather than an indictment of Fedde’s talents.”
Collazo reported that Fedde still has very good heat on his fastball after recovering from surgery.
“I think another big thing with him is he’s seen really no real drop in velocity since Tommy John surgery a few years ago,” he said. “So it seems like he is fully recovered from that. There are always going to be health questions with a Tommy John guy, but he’s done pretty much everything you’d want to see from him since then.”
Plus, this season could be huge for Fedde to earn a starting rotation with the Nationals, with the health status of Joe Ross, who will not be available until late in the campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery in July.