On $2 Taco Tuesday, the Fredericksburg Nationals resumed a previously suspended game in the second inning and played a night cap in an unconventional double header. The Fred Nats prevailed in the first game, 7-5, thanks to a Paul Witt home run in the bottom of the 8th. In the second game, the Nats were able to walk off the Shorebirds after a Zion Pettigrew single scored Armando Cruz in extra innings.
House and Green Contribute
Big name Nationals prospects Brady House and Elijah Green each came into the resumption of the first game at 1-1 after their first inning hits back on April 22nd. I was able to watch them each bat 3 times in the first game as they both sat out the second game.
House batted clean-up while Green hit behind him in the 5-spot. The young third baseman came up for the first time today with 2 outs in the 3rd and struck out swinging on an off speed pitch. He struck out in his next appearance as well, looking a bit off-balance. His final at-bat of the day, however, was a single after a ground ball up the middle that was deflected by the pitcher. All told, Brady House was 2-4 on the game, albeit 1-3 on the day due to the strange resumption situation.
Elijah Green looked more impressive. His strikeout rate has always been a problem, but he looked quite comfortable at the plate in this game. His first pitch was a lazy blooper of a fly ball to shallow center field that required a diving catch by the center fielder to retire Green. His next at bat was a single to the shortstop, but he was saving his best moment for last. With 2 outs in the 7th and Brady House on first in a 5-4 game, Green drilled a deep fly ball that hung up in the air for a while before finding green near the warning track in center field. House came around to score while Green ended up on third with the game-tying RBI triple. After the resumption of the game, Green was 2-3 with a triple.
Sean Doolittle Sharp in Rehab Outing
The 36-year-old southpaw hasn’t pitched in the Majors since early last season and is currently in Fredericksburg on a rehab assignment. The two-time All Star got a 1-2-3 7th inning and looked quite sharp, mixing three pitches to keep hitters off balance. He got a swinging strikeout on a 78 MPH breaking ball while his fastball consistently sat at 91/92 MPH. All told he threw 15 pitches, with 10 of them being strikes. If Doolittle can maintain that fastball velocity while mixing in multiple pitches, he can still be a productive MLB reliever.
Jake Bennett Continues Low-A Dominance
Jake Bennett, the Nationals second round pick last season, entered the game with a 1.98 ERA over 36.1 innings in 8 starts. The Oklahoma native had a 45 strikeout to 8 walk ratio. The lefty sits around 91 with his fastball and is known to throw strikes and command the zone. Coming into this season, it’s well known that he primarily works with a fastball/change combo and that’s what was working tonight. Bennett went 5.2 innings in the second game as the starter and struck out 9 while walking zero. He allowed only one run on four total hits, bringing his ERA down to a dazzling 1.93.
With the amount of collegiate experience and how he’s dominated this level, it’s perhaps a little confounding he hasn’t been promoted yet. But never fear, there’s no need to rush his development as he continues to hone his craft and maybe develop a third plus pitch. Besides, it’s only a matter of time before he makes his way to Wilmington for High A ball. While many might think his ceiling is at the back of a rotation, don’t underestimate his ability to command the strike zone and paint corners. He very well could develop into a middle of the rotation arm with the stuff he has from the left side and his ability to place pitches where he wants.