The 20-year-old starter dealt with a shoulder issue that prevented him from enjoying most of his 2019 campaign. Baseball America Nats correspondent Lacy Lusk agrees this is an important year coming up for Denaburg. The right-hander is locked in as Baseball America’s No. 8 prospect in its latest Nationals Top 10.
No. 8 Mason Denaburg
“The shoulder held him back this past year,” Lusk said. “The (scouting notes) said that he was healthy, but the way he was pitching it was pretty clear that he wasn’t. Then he had a little bit of a minor procedure and he should be back for spring training fine. We will see if he is a different guy if he is returned to health this coming year.”
The Merritt Island, Fla., product pitched in seven Rookie-level Gulf Coast League games, starting four. He threw 20 1/3 innings, going 1-1 with a 7.52 ERA. He allowed 23 hits, striking out 19 and walking 14.
As they would with any pitcher coming back from any type of injury, the Nats will be cautious in building Denaburg’s stamina. Lusk says the club will give him innings, but will watch him carefully.
“If they can get just good results,” Lusk said of Denaburg’s innings this season, “it doesn’t have to be a huge workload. If he can do that then that would be a big step forward for him this year.”
Denaburg had to rehab in February and March last year. In those spring workouts, then Nationals pitching coordinator Paul Menhart had him work on just three pitches - fastball, curveball and changeup - to keep it simple.
“He’s got an advanced everything for that age,” said Menhart, now the Nats pitching coach. “He’s the full-packaged kid. This personal experience in professional baseball is so new to him. So, we are taking it slow. He asks very upper-level questions often, and it’s encouraging.”
Now Denaburg is older and wiser. He’s gone through this before. But this time, he would like to take the next step and get through a full season.