Washington Nationals: What To Take From Friday's Spring Opener

By Nick Comando
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

This spring, storylines for the Washington Nationals will most likely be pretty scarce, as there are very few jobs that need to be won, and most of the Nationals’ roster is set. However, it is always fun to watch spring games when a team like Washington has such expansive minor league pitching depth, which was on full display Friday against the New York Mets, which the Nationals came back to defeat, 5-4.

Taylor Jordan started things off for the Nationals and looked as though he did not skip a beat since being shut down for the 2013 season and breaking his ankle during the offseason. His fastball was crisp, had some good sink on it, and he was able to move it around the zone nicely. One thing that really stood out was the deception Jordan has to his delivery. Jordan is able to develop a lot of deception with that delivery with the movement of his hands, which inhibits the batter from getting a good look at the ball until it leaves his hand. Sure, Jordan allowed a couple hits, but he looked strong in his first spring competition.

Another pitcher that impressed was the one who followed Jordan, and his name is A.J. Cole. Cole and Jordan share a similar motion, with Cole’s being a tad bit slower and more deliberate. Cole hit 90-91 on his fastball and looked more than capable of getting major league hitters out though, in fairness he nor Jordan faced many major league hitters in their outings. Cole seems to have some serious confidence in his offspeed stuff as well, as he got a strikeout on a high, 81 MPH changeup on a 2-2 pitch. Cole also seems to have a solid curveball that does need some seasoning, but it seems like it will definitely play in the Majors should Cole make the team.

Another name I was interested in seeing pitch was Aaron Barrett, who was impressive closing for Double-A Harrisburg in 2013. Barrett is a big bodied reliever who seems like he will be more than capable of getting major league outs at some point in the future. Barrett sports a fastball that seemed to top out at about 91 and a breaking ball in the low to mid 80s, both of which are made better by his delivery. Barrett’s motion reminds me  a lot of Tyler Clippard with how Barrett seems to set his hands more than once combined with a funky delivery that makes it hard to see the ball out of his hand.

The Nationals have a plethora of young talent, and it will be fascinating to watch who discerns themselves as a front-runner for the major league roster, or the first to be called up in place of an injury.

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