Jackson Rutledge shined in his last appearance of the Arizona Fall League season.
Saturday night’s Arizona Fall League Championship Game didn’t go the Surprise Saguaros way, falling 6-0 to the Mesa Solar Sox. For the Nationals, it was a bittersweet performance, with prospects Jackson Cluff and Drew Millas going a combined 0-7, with three strikeouts.
But it wasn’t just them that were shut down at the plate. No one on the Saguaros could find an answer for the Solar Sox’s pitching, mustering just one hit and a walk.
Even though all eyes were on the Solar Sox’s pitching, Nationals’ pitching prospect Jackson Rutledge made his presence felt. He entered the game in the top of the third, down 4-0. He struck out the first four batters he faced before allowing a walk. He finished the night allowing two runs while walking four, and striking out seven in 3 1/3 innings.
From the get-go, Rutledge was able to locate his pitches, with his secondary offerings setting up his heater, which sat at 95 mph and topped out at 98 mph. Known for his heater, it was his slider that was his bread and butter. Five of his seven strikeouts came via the slider, all swinging.
After starting strong, Rutledge ran into some trouble in the fourth. He walked two batters and gave up an RBI single before getting out of the jam. To start the night, Rutledge attacked the zone with ease, but as his outing went on, he started leaving the zone in an attempt to get the opposing batters to chase. This in turn led to his four walks. But when he threw his pitches in the zone, Rutledge was untouchable.
During the 2021 Minor League season, Rutledge battled multiple injuries and when healthy, he struggled with command. He finished the season with an 8.67 ERA in 36 1/3 innings between Rookie ball, low A, and high A.
Last night was a glimpse of what the Nationals expected when they drafted him number 19 overall in 2019.