The Nationals continue their connection to Las Vegas with the selection of right-hander Erick Fedde in last June’s draft. Bryce Harper (hometown) and Matt Williams (UNLV) have obvious connections to the entertainment capital of the world. (More on baseball and Las Vegas later).
Fedde is a 21-year-old, 6-foot-4, 180-lb. starting pitcher out of the UNLV. He went 8-2 with a 1.76 ERA in 11 starts. He had two shutouts and 82 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings.
He had Tommy John surgery in June. Fedde has already started his throwing program and is reportedly expecting to pitch in games by midseason.
Baseball America has Fedde as a top-five Nats prospect.
No. 5: right-hander Erick Fedde
Baseball America editor-in-chief John Manuel said Fedde got high marks from Nationals brass when they scouted him prior to the draft.
“When (Nationals scouts) saw him late in the regular season just before he got hurt, they use a 2-to-8 scale, they had with a 7 fastball, a 7 slider and a 6 changeup,” Manuel explained. “They had him with three pluses and two double-plus pitches. (Nationals assistant general manager and vice president of scouting operations Kris Kline) could not stop gushing about Erick Fedde.”
Manuel said there are several reasons why Fedde is so good. One is the fact that he is a top-of-the-line athlete.
“He’s probably the best athlete they drafted this year,” Manuel said. “I saw him the year before with the college national team for USA Baseball. At that time, his forte was really locating an above-average fastball. But he had good control for a college pitcher and good fastball command, fastball was 91-93 mph. He really made a big jump his junior season.”
The next reason is Fedde’s stuff, which is extremely advanced for a collegiate player. Most of the time, pro pitching coaches get drafted talent and have to teach one or sometimes two other pitches. Fedde already has mastered a few before he even arrives in Viera, Fla.
“This is a guy that has a chance to pitch with three pitches that can miss bats at the big league level,” Manuel said. “That’s the kind of guy that can be a frontline starter, a playoff starter that can start two or three times in a playoff series.”
The final intangible is the pitcher’s makeup. Fedde certainly has the drive to be a big-time pitcher at the next level. His college coach, UNLV’s Tim Chambers (who also coached Bryce Harper at the College of Southern Nevada), believes Fedde will leave it all out on the field to earn a win for his team.
Manuel talked about World Series champion Madison Bumgarner, who doesn’t have three off-the-charts pitches. But Bumgarner knows how to pitch. He doesn’t wilt in pressure situations. And that’s one of the reasons he is so good.
“There’s that extra intangible. He has something inside him. His makeup. That’s the separator,” Manuel said of Bumgarner. “Erick Fedde profiles kind of like a Jordan Zimmermann or a Stephen Strasburg, like a front-of-the-rotation guy.”
Manuel said Fedde’s makeup will be tested in the next few years, but he certainly has the pitches to get guys out.
“It all remains to be seen for Fedde (where he ends up in the rotation),” Manuel said. “He hasn’t pitched in pro ball. How he reacts to failure, all that kind of stuff. Stuffwise, he’s not far off from Zimmermann and Strasburg. The stuff is that kind of stuff.
“I like Fedde. I know the Nationals are very strongly convicted in Fedde and quality of his stuff. I am excited to see what happens because this is a guy that has improved in a very short span of time.”