Fall instructional league workouts are completed for 2020. Now these Nationals prospects head home or get ready to play winter ball.
It was interesting to hear updates on how the first professional experience was for a pair of teenagers. Infielders Quade Tomlin and Sammy Infante got their first taste of pro ball for the last month at the Nats spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Quade Tomlin is only 18, but he is no stranger to the Nationals, and being around professional ballplayers and coaches, because his dad is Randy Tomlin, a pitching coach in the Nats system from 2007-2011 and currently a coach at Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg, Va.
“He is a young high school kid with ... baseball knowledge background because of his family,” said Nats hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich. “I’ve known him since he was a little kid, when I was coaching with his dad. He is very baseball savvy knowledge-wise. He has a lot of things that are very good for an 18-year-old.”
Gingrich said the 6-foot-1, 185-lb., Tomlin has all the baseball and physical tools and just needs to grow into his body a bit to take that next step.
“The biggest thing for him is getting his man muscles,” Gingrich said. “Getting strength to kind of quicken up the bat. He had a little bit of a longer swing, so we are in the process of shortening down the swing. With that process happening, he also ends up using his lower half better. It’s kind of funny how they all kind of go hand-in-hand.
“With him, shortening down the path is also helping his lower half get better. He’s got nice actions with his swing. He’s got nice actions in the field. His is just the learning process of an 18-year-old kid coming from high school and learning what pro ball is about.”
Quade played shortstop and second base at Liberty Christian Academy and had committed to play baseball for Liberty University before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Nats.
“The next couple of years it will be fun to watch the growth because he has a nice frame already,” Gingrich said. “He’s just a wiry kid. The more he gets in the weight program that we have for our guys, the stronger he is going to get.”
Second-round draft selection Sammy Infante demonstrated in Florida his ability to hit. The Monsignor Pace High School product made the 65-mile drive up the coast from his home to his first introduction to pro ball, and Gingrich saw why the Nats used a draft pick on the talented infielder.
“He has got some hitting ability,” Gingrich said. “He has a very quick bat. I like that. He doesn’t know the process of getting himself in position (yet). He knows more about how to hit and what he’s trying to do. He is another one that is kind of in the learning process of what it is to become a pro, learning the things that you got to do, where to be on time. There’s more to the game than just hitting.”
And that other stuff for Infante is learning what it will take to be a professional ballplayer day in and day out. This is not just something to do after school. This is a full-time commitment. The transition for high school players is more difficult than a player that has spent any time at a four-year institution of higher learning.
“He got a lot of information while he was down here,” Gingrich said. “All of that stuff is very good for him to get a head start so (he’s not overwhelmed) in spring training like, ‘This is what we do every day? And we do it for six months of the year?’ It was good for him to get the taste of what it is kind of like to be a pro.
“Other things you have to take advantage of. Turn in your uniform to the clubhouse guys, washing their clothes, you can shower after the workout. Some things you wouldn’t even think about that you have to coach him up on. It’s OK to go into the training room. They are there to help keep you on the field, even you have bumps and bruises. All of these things you forget when you have been with someone who has been in the system for four or five years. Now you have a couple of 18-year-old high school kids who haven’t done it.”
The next step is to get these teenagers onto an actual minor league team and playing in real games, so they can build at-bats and opportunities on defense, which will be invaluable to their growth in the system. Games are the best way for them to learn and especially to figure out how to overcome adversity.
* I have been told that the Nats No. 21 prospect, right-hander Jake Irvin, underwent successful Tommy John surgery last week. The former Oklahoma starter had elbow issues this summer. He will begin rehab soon and return to playing late in 2021.