Tim Cate "made big strides" over summer as he prepares for 2021

Here is a quick update on left-hander Tim Cate. The 2018 second-rounder is rated as the No. 8 overall Nationals prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com.

Nats pitching coordinator Brad Holman said Cate is not afraid to go after hitters and he believes this will help him as his career moves along. Cate went 7-4 with 3.31 ERA in 13 starts in 2019, striking out 66 over 73 1/3 innings. Holman liked the advancement he saw in Cate this summer at the alternate camp in Fredericksburg, Va., despite having the entire minor league season canceled due to concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Tim-Cate-Delivers-Potomac-Sidebar.jpg"Cate is another guy that made big strides from Fredericksburg and on into instructional league," Holman said. "He can pitch. He appears to pay attention to what hitters are trying to do to him. He likes to pitch inside, which we are really, really excited about promoting - not only with Tim Cate but all of our pitchers - and making sure that they understand the need to be aggressive in attacking hitters.

Cate focused on his mechanics in 2019 spring training. But he said his signature pitch, a hammer curveball, was not hard for him to pick up.

"Tim can spin a curveball well above average," Holman said. "His changeup and two-seamer have really come along. He was able to get the ball sinking arm side where he used to have a little issue cutting the ball. He would kind of cut it on accident glove side. He learned how to make that ball go the other way now.

"He makes pitches and does the little things well. He asked really, really good questions. Tim is one of those guys who as a pitching coach he keeps you on your toes because he challenges you. He always wants to get better. He's constantly asking questions but they are good questions. It's like, 'yeah, this guy really wants to get better.'

* Nothing has been set in stone, but I predict that current Fredericksburg manager Tripp Keister will stay at high Single-A and move on to the Wilmington Blue Rocks. His offseason home is in Delaware, after all, and he has been a top manager in the Nats system for years. That move would pave the way for Mario Lisson to be the manager for low Single-A Fredericksburg.

Starting in 2020, Rocket Wheeler was set to manage Rookie-level Gulf Coast Nationals. With Randy Knorr heading to the major league club as the first base coach, that leaves a managerial vacancy at Triple-A Rochester. The Nats have several candidates with experience that could take on the role, including Brian Daubach and Matt LeCroy. The organization keeps these moves close to the vest, but an announcement could be coming very soon as the teams get organized for a potential 2021 season.

* Talking logistics for the minor leagues with the two new teams in 2021, the mileage between Rochester and Harrisburg is only 263 miles by car. It will take Nats personnel a little over four hours to traverse between the two cities. And what is cool is the route takes the driver through Williamsport, Pa., the home of the Little League World Series.

It's only 90 to 100 miles from Harrisburg to Wilmington, depending on if you take the northern route, which would have more interstate travel, or the central route, which would take you through Lancaster County, one of our family's favorite places to visit. Check out Verdant View Farm.

And then you come to a point where Wilmington, D.C. and Fredericksburg are all pretty much on the Interstate 95 corridor. This makes life a lot easier for player and coordinator movement. No more flights to New Orleans or Fresno necessary.

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