Washington Nationals Prospect Spotlight: Jake Irvin
Washington Nationals 20th ranked prospect, Jake Irvin, has impressed in his Spring Training action thus far. The 26-year-old is two years removed from Tommy John Surgery and is proving to be a future piece of the Nationals' pitching staff.
Irvin had an impressive outing versus the New York Mets, showing his high-90s fastball over two innings. Jake possesses an ultra-simple delivery that is repeatable due to his injury history. His outing against the Mets was nasty and showed a glimpse of what he could provide to the Nationals. Irvin made the Mets' number one prospect, Francisco Alvarez, look sloppy at the plate.
Irvin has been a starting pitcher for the entirety of his time in the Nationals organization. Like recent draft picks Cade Cavalli and Jake Bennett, Irvin played his college ball at the University of Oklahoma. Jake had a solid career in Norman, winning 18 games with a 3.49 ERA over 219.1 innings over three seasons, according to soonersports.com.
The Nationals selected Jake in the fourth round of the 2018 MLB Draft. He got off to a fast start following the draft, recording a 1.74 ERA in his first 20 innings of professional baseball, according to baseball-reference.com. His solid run continued into 2019, posting a 3.79 ERA over 128 innings pitched at the A level. The injury bug got to Irvin in 2020, as he needed Tommy John surgery to repair his pitching elbow. This was unfortunate timing for Jake as he was performing well in his first two professional seasons.
Irvin did not return to game action until the 2022 minor league season due to the lengthy recovery from his surgery. Irvin returned to his former self and possibly more, pitching 103.1 innings with a 3.83 ERA and averaging 9.3 K/9. His mechanics look refined, and his fastball is coasting in the upper-90s. He has gained velocity post-Tommy John due to using his lower body in his delivery.
Irvin is 26 years old, a bit old for a prospect, so I would fully anticipate seeing him in D.C. this season. Due to the likes of Mackenzie Gore, Josiah Gray, and Cade Cavalli, it may be tough to find games for Irvin to start pitching. A bullpen role could be in store for Jake in D.C. Although he hasn't had much experience out of the 'pen, his fastball was keeping up with the Mets closer, Edwin Diaz, during his March 4 appearance.
Irvin also led all pitchers in the swing-and-miss category, with eight recorded. The next-best pitcher recorded five. His performance opened some eyes in the organization and among fans for what Irvin could be for the Nationals, possibly a long reliever or closer role.
Again, fully anticipate seeing Jake Irvin in a Washington Nationals uniform this season. He likely will begin the season in the minor leagues, but the 26-year-old is attempting to board the plane to D.C. If he continues to pitch as he has, coach Davey Martinez could be forced to carry Irvin as the Nationals' long reliever.