Nats prospect watch: Braymer fine-tunes changeup in big league camp

Nationals pitching coordinator Brad Holman said left-hander Ben Braymer had been focusing on his mechanics with his changeup at spring training before the shutdown.

The 25-year-old out of Auburn started 26 games and tossed 139 innings last season. The MLB Pipeline No. 22 Nats prospect, Braymer made one start in spring training and worked in three games.

No. 22 Ben Braymer

“He’s doing good. Obviously, he’s been in major league camp the entire spring,” Holman said of Braymer. “He knows how to pitch. He’s another guy, kind of like Tim Cate, that had tendency to pull that arm side pitch back into the zone. So he’s really been practicing mostly with the changeup on being able to keep that ball on the arm side so hitters don’t get comfortable. Because if you yank that arm side pitch into the zone, hitters have a tendency to kind of lean on it a little bit because they’re acclimated to you just using one side of the plate.

“When he gets to where he is staying in that arm side lane and able to utilize that outer third of the plate, especially to righties, then I think that’s his biggest obstacle.”

Braymer-AFL-sidebar.jpgI spoke to Braymer (Twitter: @B_Braymer) in November after a season that saw him make 13 starts at Triple-A Fresno, allowing only one run in two of his final four starts. That is where Holman worked one-on-one with Braymer on refining the changeup with a grip alteration.

“He’s really a hard worker, practices a lot,” Holman said. “He’s got clarity. He knows what he wants to accomplish. He’s another guy that’s got four average pitches, so it’s just a matter of learning how to harness that and get creative in the way he sequences and how to get hitters out is something that he is had the opportunity to practice a lot of here. I know he was in Fresno, too, last year. He started off a little slow and then finished pretty well. He kind of figured some things out.”

And now with the strength of a 40-man roster spot, Holman likes what he sees from Braymer for 2020, seeing a pitcher who is not afraid to delve deep into the mental side of the game to get that edge that can make him better than other pitchers. Braymer was optioned to Fresno on March 14.

“He’s just an open book,” Holman said. “He wants to be helped and asks a lot of questions, which is kind of uncharacteristic of today’s youth. He’s one that seeks it out moreso than most.”

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