Notes from a few minor league games I took in this week at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, Delaware:
The Washington Nationals took right-hander Erick Fedde in the first round in 2014 shortly after the UNLV pitcher had Tommy John surgery, which took him out of contention for a possible top-10 selection. He started for the Potomac Nationals on Sunday and showed two above-average pitches, but lacked the third weapon he needs to profile as a big-league starter.
Fedde is lean and athletic, coming from a slot a little under three-quarters, starting on the third-base side of the rubber but staying on line to the plate. His fastball was 92-96 with plus life, generating ground balls but few swings and misses. The slider was his best pitch, 81-85 mph, sharp with big tilt, his weapon of choice to get a swing-and-miss from a right-handed batter. His changeup was well below average, however -- like a mediocre fastball at 86-88 mph without great action -- and left-handed batters looked too comfortable in the box, even when they fell behind in the count, because he couldn't miss their bats enough and didn't try to come inside with the fastball.
Fedde's arm is very quick and I could imagine he'd sit in the mid-90s in a shorter relief role, which is where he'll have to go if he can't develop the changeup (or another pitch) to get left-handed batters out. It is still less than 10 months since his return and less than two years since the surgery itself, so he still has quite a bit of time in which to develop, but it's clear what he needs to do to become a legitimate prospect as a starter.