The Nationals wrapped up their fall instructional league camp last week in West Palm Beach, Fla. Sixty-five players and more than 30 coaches, coordinators and training staff took part in the five-week workout.
Assistant general manager of player development Mark Scialabba spoke about how the camp worked:
“It was a great camp. Obviously, very thankful that we had support from ownership to allow us to have this camp. It was really crucial for all these players to get on the field. We brought close to 65 players to start and then tapered off as the camp went on. We had players come down from the alternate site. The first 10-12 days was to get everybody acclimated back to a full work day. There was a lot of coaching and mentoring along the way. It was great for a lot of these players to be on a mound and be on an actual infield and get out there with nine guys playing defense, get a lot for the reps in the cage.”
With all the rain in South Florida in October, how did you get all the baseball activities you wanted in for each player?
“We spent a lot of time early on in the cage due to weather issues. We had seven inches of rain the first 10 days. We had to improvise and continue to be creative, spent a lot of time in that cage working on reps and working on things that can make us better. Our coaches were outstanding throughout the process with all the challenges with all the protocols. Overall, I thought it was a great camp.”
The roster was filled with players that were in Fredericksburg, Va., as part of the 60-player pool this summer. How did they blend with the other prospects?
“The intention for them was to continue. Obviously, they are a big part of the future here and we wanted to have them continue getting some innings just to keep their schedule going and it also gave them an opportunity to play against another team. We were playing against the Marlins. The opportunity to go out and actually play someone else really fired those guys up and they got a few more outings under their belt.”
This summer was the first opportunity for 2020 first-round selection Cade Cavalli. He went almost straight from Oklahoma to summer workouts. How did he do?
“For Cade especially, this gave him an opportunity to come to the complex for the first time. Be around his new teammates, meet other players in his draft class, meet all the other players in the organization that were down there early on. Kind of learn more about what it is being a National. Those are important steps in the orientation process. He had a situation where he was drafted and went right to the big-league stadium to be part of a summer camp and then going right to an alternate site to be part of that camp. We felt like getting him to instructs, the rest of the players and that group did a nice job of getting a few games under their belt against other teams.
“Then Yasel Antuna and Joan Adon are heading down to the Dominican Republic to hopefully play winter ball. It was really good for them early on and then about halfway through a lot of them just finished up and finished up really strong, actually.”
You had 12 games scheduled against the Marlins in October. How did you get time for starters like Cavalli in those games?
“The games are real. You are playing to win, but also the priority is to develop players. There’s only one person that can start so you are going to have maybe four starters pitching a game. Only one guy starts the game and the other guys are coming out of the ‘pen, hopefully in a clean inning, as we try to do for most of these younger pitchers to start an inning so they aren’t really coming in in the middle. You try to play the games straight up. At times, there’s restrictions on pitch counts and things. For a lot of these guys, this was the first time and the only time that they get to play against another team, so try to make it as real as can be.”