The top pitching prospect of the Washington Nationals, Erick Fedde gave fans this weekend a glimpse of his potential. How good is he?
Although he is not ready to take an active role now with the big club, Fedde’s three innings of shutout baseball against most of the Mets regulars was a site to see.
His breaking pitches were brilliant, but his fastball missed targets and—even at a whopping 95 on the radar gun—is not ready yet for the show. But, he is close.
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Ranked second in the organization by MLB.com, Fedde is No. 60 overall in baseball on their top 100 list. His fastball and slider grade out as his best pitches—60 on the 20-80 scale—with his changeup rated at 50. In addition, they list his control at 55 along with his overall score.
Not the stuff of Walter Johnson, but fine in his own right.
Where Fedde showed his greatest strength was the slider and change. He threw them with authority, earning a variety of swings and misses. That is how he excelled last year at High-A Potomac in 17 starts. With the P-Nats, he struck out 95 in 91 innings while walking 19.
Control helps, but Carolina League hitters managed a .244 batting average against Fedde. He struggled with control when promoted to Double-A Harrisburg, walking 10 in 29 innings, allowing 33 hits. Two years after Tommy John surgery, he had a fantastic 2016.
His slider is his best pitch. When it works, balls are hit on the ground. Fedde—despite the high strikeout totals now—will be a contact pitcher when he stays in the majors for good. He comes across as someone who will master the art of pitching in the big leagues and not be only a thrower.
MLB.com scouts his ceiling to be a No. 2 pitcher in a rotation. What the Nats hope for is a guy who can get outs and eat innings. When he can trust that fastball in the strike zone, the combination with the slider will give him two extraordinary weapons.
Primarily a low-90s guy with the fastball, he can hit 94 and above when he digs deep. There is enough life on the slider and change to baffle hitters. When he is ready, he will be good.
The question then is when will he be? Fedde will start the year at Harrisburg and will throw the bulk of his innings there. If he can establish his fastball, there might be a stop at Triple-A Syracuse before a September call to DC.
The better he pitches, the higher the chances other teams will want him in trades. Washington hung on to him this past winter. They would be wise to do the same this summer.