Tomorrow’s Glimmers in Today’s West Palm

Today, my boy Nick and I snuck over to the Washington Nationals facility in West Palm Beach for one of life’s great pleasures, peeking in on the Baby Nats and the rehabbers who mingle with their group. Before we ever turned our eyes to the game, we spotted Tanner Rainey on the next field over, about to throw batting practice to a player in a plain long-sleeved red t-shirt in the SoFlo heat. As we approached, we lucked out because that player was none other than the Nats’ first rounder, Dylan Crews.

It wasn’t just me who was excited, but I remarked to my boy about how amazing it was to see how quiet it got among a group of about 20-25 players and coaches who looked on while Crews took his cuts. Rainey did not air it out at full velo, but it was great to see him on the mound just the same, even for only fifteen pitches. There were no moonshots, but hard contact was the norm – it was BP, after all. Crews took his hacks – indeed he was given many more of the pitches, but the best contact was an opposite field liner from Phil Glasser, the SS you saw in the lineup later today in the FCL game.

There was quite an assemblage of young Nats talent and watchful minor league eyes were milling about, though none I recognized, save for a smiling Carl Edwards Jr. who is rehabbing from an injury, and also throwing ‘live’ BP like Rainey.

We turned our attention to the last innings of today’s completing Florida Complex League game of a previously suspended game.

It’s hard to miss Jorgelys Mota, listed at 6’3 and looking a bit odd when shifted over to the hole at short. But I’d not seen him hit before, and so I was delighted to be there to watch his first FCL Home Run, over the left center field wall. Beyond the numbers of Mota that everyone is pointing out, one can appreciate that once he builds his lower body, he should have a lot more pop in him. It’s the flip side of seeing a developed product like Crews, who has a lower body of a tank and uses his leverage well.

Beyond the home run you saw in the FCL box score, I got to see Mota on defense burst after a pop-up to the left foul side and make what was at first an unrealistic play look simple when he caught up the necessary ground. I watched Brenner Cox uncork a big throw from right field, and Winder Diaz wave at a ball I would see Armando Cruz field effortlessly last year.

Those tidbits will have to do; other than to say that I saw Travis Sykora, and he is a very large animal, as Jayson Werth once called Clint Robinson. Sykora towers over everyone in such a way that I could not believe he was only 6’6. But shy as can be – I hope he is mean on the mound.

But when it was all done, and Nick was searching for Mota on the web in the car ride to the next stop, I was telling him, “you know, Mota was drafted as a shortstop…”  

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