If the early returns prove to be any indication, 2017 will be a strong year for Erick Fedde. The right-hander, who is perhaps the most recognizable pitching prospect in the system, has gotten off to a fast start at Double-A Harrisburg, leaving hope that he will build on his early success.
Through his first two starts, Fedde has pitched 11 innings without allowing an earned run, and has allowed just one run overall. In that span, Fedde has struck out nine and walked three.
Fedde — whose third start will take place on Thursday after Harrisburg’s game against Hartford on Wednesday was postponed — entered the year in the spotlight. The former first-rounder assumed the mantle of top pitching prospect in the Nationals farm system after the trade that sent Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning to the White Sox for Adam Eaton, and he impressed during his time in major league spring training, which concluded with a five-inning shutout against the Mets on March 23.
While those factors make him a player to watch, there is much more to Fedde’s profile. The 2016 campaign represented his first full season after having Tommy John surgery in 2014, and he managed to make adjustments over the span of the year. Over his first 34 innings at High-A Potomac in 2016, Fedde had 6.62 ERA, but settled down quickly, and lowered that mark to 3.44 before being promoted to Harrisburg in August. Including his time in Harrisburg, he finished last season with a 3.12 ERA over 121 innings, while striking out 123 and walking 29.
The key for Fedde going forward is to continue to refine his three-pitch offering, which includes a fastball, slider, and a changeup. The changeup has perhaps the most room to improve, but it seems that he has made strides with the pitch over the course of his career.
Aside from continuing to develop his arsenal and maintain the command that has benefitted him throughout his career. Fedde will also need to stay healthy. Since returning from Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2015, he has proven to be fairly durable—logging 196 innings over 39 games (38 starts), with his only DL stint since the surgery occurring for a brief time last summer after an oblique injury.
In terms of pure talent, Fedde is arguably the most intriguing pitching prospect in the system, but the Nationals have a few other prospects—including Austin Voth and A.J. Cole—that are both closer to the majors and hold a spot on the 40-man roster. Those factors, combined with the fact that Fedde still has just 40 1/3 innings above A-ball, give the Nationals a chance to take their time in bringing him along.
For now, look for Fedde to continue to hone his skillset at Harrisburg. From there, he and the Nationals will hope that his success can translate to the higher levels.Tags: Erick Fedde, Nationals, Nats, Washington Nationals