Washington Nationals: Ben Braymer now firmly on the prospect radar

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SURPRISE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: AFL East All-Star, Ben Braymer #43 (C) of the Washington Nationals stands in the dugout before the Arizona Fall League All Star Game at Surprise Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SURPRISE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: AFL East All-Star, Ben Braymer #43 (C) of the Washington Nationals stands in the dugout before the Arizona Fall League All Star Game at Surprise Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Despite not having too much pitching depth in the minor leagues, the Washington Nationals may have one to keep an eye on in Ben Braymer.

While the Washington Nationals currently have a solid farm system, it’s lacking in starting pitching. Left-hander Ben Braymer is hoping to change that after an impressive 2018 season that’s firmly put him on the prospect radar.

Braymer was named the Nationals co-Minor League Pitcher of the Year back in September along with Wil Crowe. He then went on the participate in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, earning All-Star honors while down there, finishing off a fantastic season.

Between Single-A and High-A, Braymer finished the year with a 9-3 record, as well as a 2.28 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 114.2 innings. That kind of season should have him popping up on various prospect lists heading into 2019.

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Initially, he got his promotion to High-A as a long reliever but ended up making 11 starts for the Potomac Nationals, perhaps giving him a chance to stick in the rotation long-term. As a starter, he pitched to a 2.43 ERA for the P-Nats as hitters could only hit .217 against him before switching back to the bullpen to close the season and through the AFL as well.

Braymer doesn’t necessarily possess the same raw stuff as other prospects down in the minor leagues. His fastball sits in the low 90s and won’t blow anyone away, but he has a plus curveball that has been his primary offspeed pitch while developing a changeup as well to complete his arsenal.

But where the left-hander makes up for this is his ability to command all of his pitches and keep hitters off balance. It didn’t start out that way, as in his first season with the organization in 2016, he had a 5.95 BB/9, but in 2018 he sported a stellar 2.67 BB/9 between Hagerstown and Potomac.

His command is now certainly something that he prides himself on now and is arguably the biggest reason for his breakout. Before the season, he talked to Byron Kerr of MASN Sports about how he thinks it’s the key to his game as a pitcher.

"“I mixed up all my pitches in different counts. Just throw strikes and mix it up, just be you. Everything starts with fastball command. Once you are able to command your fastball in and out, up and down, that’s when you can throw your other pitches in there – changeups in fastball counts, curveballs for outs or curveballs for strikes early in the count. I think, for me, it’s just mixing it up and keeping guys off balance and trusting what I have.”"

After his impressive year, Braymer will likely begin next season back in High-A with the P-Nats in the rotation again. Then if he proves that he can build off of 2018, he could make it up to Double-A with the Harrisburg Senators by the end of the season.

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Ben Braymer will certainly be a name to keep an eye on in the Washington Nationals system next season. If he can keep making strides command-wise, then we could easily see him in the big leagues within the next few years.

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