baseball

FredNats’ newcomers are adjusting to professional baseball

Brandon Boissiere reported to his first day of work at 3 p.m. and didn’t leave the office until nearly midnight.

For Boissiere and fellow Washington Nationals 2021 draft picks Jaden Fein and Jacob Young, a series-opening loss at Delmarva’s Perdue Stadium last Tuesday marked both their FredNats débuts and the start of their professional baseball careers.

“It’s weird to think that it’s finally my job,” said Boissiere, Washington’s third-round pick. “But honestly, there’s nothing I’d rather do.”

Now, the trio must learn on the job after joining Fredericksburg with just three weeks remaining in the Low-A season.

With this year’s draft pushed back a month, the Nationals opted to send several of their newest prospects to a minicamp in West Palm Beach, Fla. Others were assigned to the organization’s complex league affiliate, the FCL Nationals.

On Tuesday, three more draftees arrived in Fredericksburg after spending time in Florida: left–handed pitcher Dustin Saenz (the Nationals’ fourth-round pick), right-hander Cole Quintanilla (ninth round) and infielder Darren Baker (10th round).

In Florida, Boissiere, Fein and Young rose early (to beat the Sunshine State’s near-daily torrential afternoon downpours) and set about shaking off the rust that accumulated during a three-month layoff following the conclusion of the college baseball season. A hitter’s timing is particularly prone to corrosion.

Not seeing live pitching, everything speeds up on you at first,” said Young, an outfielder who has just one hit in his first 20 pro at-bats. “You have to slow the game down, slow your heart rate down.”

The Nationals’ minicamp revolved around a daily routine: 10 minutes of throwing, cage work, defensive drills and plenty of baserunning to rebuild endurance. Draftees worked their way up to playing full games before receiving their assignments to Fredericksburg.

After warming up in balmy Florida, Fein didn’t expect the minor leagues to be so, well, chill.

“Just the level of calmness in the clubhouse,” he said. “College baseball everything is so uptight and maybe not as loose. But here, since we’re playing every single day, every single guy has a positive attitude walking into the clubhouse.”

While all three players described a seamless transition to pro ball, they’re still adjusting to professional pitching. Entering this week’s series against the Carolina Mudcats, the trio is a combined 6 for 56 at the plate (an .089 batting average).

“As I’ve told people, it’s like facing a Friday night [college] starter every night,” Boissiere said. “The competition is definitely better, but we’re all professionals here so we know we’re here for a reason.”

According to Nationals assistant general manager for player development Mark Scialabba, that reason is simple: to gain experience and begin working toward a promotion up the minor-league ladder.

“We just want them to play,” Scialabba said. “Our scouts do a great job identifying talent. Now they need to go out and show us who they are as baseball players.”

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