We begin with the No. 10 Nats prospect: right-hander Jake Irvin.
Irvin, 21, was selected in the fourth round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft out of Oklahoma. He is 6-foot-6, 225 lbs., and got to pitch in 11 games, starting seven, for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals and the short-season Single-A Auburn Doubledays.
In those 11 games, he did well, going 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA in 20 2/3 innings, allowing 16 hits and striking out 15 batters. Irvin throws a fastball, slider and changeup.
Baseball America national writer Carlos Collazo said in his write-up that Irvin has stuff that is “more ordinary than overwhelming,” but has the ability repeat his delivery and is a “solid strike thrower.”
And after spending pitching assets the last couple of offseasons to acquire starting position players, the Nats built up their depth with a host of hurlers in June.
In the draft the Nationals ended up “going really heavy on the pitching,” Collazo said. “I think they have done a really good job in supplementing the pitching depth in the system. We have a number of pitchers in our top 10.”
Irvin was the Friday starter for the Sooners, going 6-2 with a 2.85 ERA in 15 starts in his senior season. When Irvin won the series opener, Oklahoma won 11 of 12 series. The Minnesota Twins selected Irvin - a native of Bloomington, Minn. - in the 37th round of the 2015 MLB draft. But Irvin went to college and then later signed with the Nats. He went 12-2 in 26 regular season starts over his last two years with the Sooners.
“Irvin is a guy who had a really good career with Oklahoma, improved every year, has an impressive track record in the Big 12,” Collazo said. “He’s got a really big frame. He gets his fastball up into the mid-90s, solid breaking ball, a solid changeup that he didn’t throw that frequently, but the reports I got back from that pitch from pro scouts that have seen him, they liked it. They think it could be a solid pitch for him in the future.”
Collazo said Irvin may not display the flash of some of the higher-profile players right now, but believes he has the ability to move up the chain and become a consistent contributor.
“I think Irvin is a guy who maybe won’t have the ceiling of a (Mason) Denaburg or a (Tim) Cate as a lefty with kind of an out pitch curveball,” Collazo said. “But he could be a guy who moves quickly, similar to what Wil Crowe has done. If he succeeds in that capacity he could be a very solid back-of-the-rotation-style starter for the Nationals moving forward.”