Here are some more updates on pitchers who were working at the alternate camp site in Fredericksburg, Va., during the regular season. A few of them have moved over to the instructional league in West Palm Beach, Fla., for the next month.
This is third installment on pitchers who were working out in Fredericksburg. Top-rated prospects Cade Cavalli and Jackson Rutledge also were at the alternate site and have moved on to West Palm Beach.
Right-hander Joan Adon is in Florida at instructional league. Nationals minor league pitching coordinator Brad Holman said Adon has a couple of very good pitches that can show well against high-level competition. Holman said the focus for Adon has been fine-tuning his slider.
"Another guy with a mid-90s mph fastball, an exceptional changeup," Holman said. "His biggest growth development-wise has been his slider since he has been here. He has had that tendency to kind of short-arm his slider and wants to shape it with his delivery where he spins out towards first base. So now he's kind of working over his slider, kind of a full-arm type slider, where it's got depth and a late little short break to it, instead of a big, visible break. He's another one that is growing right before our eyes."
Left-hander Tim Cate is also in West Palm Beach for instructional league. Holman detailed how the Nats have worked with Cate on his cut fastball.
"He's another guy who is quietly going about his business and doing really, really well," Holman said. "He's always had a little bit of a cut to his fastball on the glove side. We've worked hard to get him the ability to get the ball to go the other way once and awhile, so he's worked on his sinker and his changeup. Both pitches now have an arm-side sinking action to them. He is also getting to the point where he throws the ball glove-side - it's not got the cutting effect any more.
"Though that cutting effect is effective, we just want him to do it by design as opposed to by accident. He's got a well above average curveball and just knows how to pitch. He's another guy, kind of like Paolo Espino, who instincts when he's out there. All of sudden, he will do something that you didn't expect and gets good results with it. He's another one that is growing up right before our eyes."
Left-hander Nick Wells, who played baseball at Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Va., pitched the last two months in Fredericksburg, and was in the 60-player pool. Holman has Wells adjusting his mechanics a touch to make all of his pitches look the same coming out of his hand.
"Nick's doing really well," Holman said during camp. "His initial issue probably early on was we were trying to get him to repeat his delivery, and we've made some subtle alterations with his delivery to help him stay in his lanes. He has a tendency to yank the ball a little bit. That's been minimized here as of late. He's in a good place also. Four-pitch guy. Just get him to repeat his delivery so he is throwing all of his pitches from the same slot. He's doing well with them."
Right-hander James Bourque came up to the Nats for a while, but finished the season on the injured list with a right elbow strain. While in Fredericksburg, Holman said the Nats concentrated on getting Bourque to command the strike zone.
"Just more strikes," Holman said. "Same thing that we talked about with Matt Cronin, where he has a wipeout curveball and the tendency is to try to feature that too early. As a result, you throw it out of the zone and hitters haven't respected your ability to throw it for a strike. The objective is get them in swing mode before you try to get them to chase out of the zone. Bourque has got a lot of arms and legs coming at you.
"He's got some funk in his delivery that can play to his advantage. But it also can be a hindrance sometimes because his body parts get away from him and strikes are little tougher from time to time. Just to make that a point of emphasis, where the ball is going. Where the ball is going shouldn't be sacrificed because of anything else."
Holman said right-hander Austen Williams is recovering at home from an elbow injury.