7/18: Just One Thing

In an effort to write more than I have been, I decided to try at least putting together “Just One Thing” about each game I cover. It might be about a particular play, an at-bat, or a guy’s walk-up song. Whatever piques my interest that game. We’ll see how long this lasts.

There was very little to like about Thursday night’s 4-0 loss to the Portland Sea Dogs. Aaron Fletcher throwing a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the ninth during his Double-A debut qualifies as one of the few bright spots.

Drafted a little over a year ago in the 14th round by the Nationals, the southpaw has been a very fast riser in the system. Fletcher began the year in Hagerstown throwing 28 innings in 15 appearances with a 0,68 WHIP and 1.61 ERA before earning a promotion to Potomac at the end of May. He continued to impress with the P-Nats increasing his strikeouts per nine innings while lowering his ERA in 12 games before being bumped once more up the chain.

Fletcher’s quick ascent has been so meteoric that Thursday night’s appearance was the first time Harrisburg manager Matt LeCroy saw the lefty pitch. While LeCroy was with the upper-level guys during spring training, Fletcher was with his future Hagerstown Suns teammates on the backfields.

“I liked that he came in and went after the hitters,” LeCroy said. “It’s good to get him in on a low leverage spot, but for the first time at a different level, he was amped up pretty good.”

The promotions for the University of Houston product in his first professional season have been unusual for the Nationals. Even for college players, Washington tends to be conservative with their placement and how fast they move guys through the system.

Take Taylor Guilbeau and Andrew Lee as examples. The pair were drafted in the 10th and 11th rounds of the 2015 draft from Alabama and Tennessee respectively. Three full seasons before Fletcher was drafted, yet both Guilbeau and Lee repeated Hagerstown or Potomac multiple years before finally landing in Harrisburg in 2019.

That has clearly not been the case for Fletcher who has shown enough at his previous stops to earn a crack at Double-A this season.

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