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Nats prospect Erick Fedde on his first full pro season and what's next

Nats prospect Erick Fedde on his first full pro season and what's next

Through his first seven starts of the 2016 season with Single-A Potomac, former Nationals first round pick Erick Fedde had a 6.62 ERA and opponents were getting on base against him at a .347 clip. From his next start on May 23 through his most recent one on Aug. 31 - a span of 16 outings - Fedde posted a 1.76 ERA and struck out 88 batters in 87 innings. 

That's a midseason turnaround that you just don't see often. His results became dramatically different and during this 16-start surge he's both spent time on the disabled list and been promoted to Double-A. Those changes would slow the roll of some, but not Fedde, who now enters this offseason as one of the fastest rising prospects in baseball.

The 23-year-old believes a conversation he had with Potomac pitching coach Franklin Bravo was a turning point in his 2016 season.

"I definitely had a big turnaround. I think the biggest thing was that I got really comfortable. Really early in the year I was trying to be the guy that struck out 12 every single game rather than just attacking hitters. I was trying to be extremely perfect. Bravo sat me down in Potomac and said 'you have great stuff, you've just gotta trust it.' Ever since then, I've pitched with more confidence and it's really paid off," Fedde said.

Though Fedde's approach has involved not focusing on strikeouts, the strikeouts have followed. In his last start he struck out 12 in six innings and had eight in his previous outing. He has 47 strikeouts in his last 43 innings going back seven starts.

Fedde credited his improving changeup as a big weapon against lefties, and also his slider. He called his slider a "real equalizer" and said he's comfortable throwing it when he's ahead or behind in counts.

Getting more confident with those pitches has helped Fedde adjust to Double-A where he's seen a new breed of hitters step in the box.

"It changes a lot. I have to keep hitters off balance. That's probably been the biggest thing. I used to be able to get ahead with fastballs, but now guys can hunt fastballs and crush them. You have to keep guys off balance and keep them off the fastball," he said.

"I've had a few starts where I got into a groove throwing a few fastballs where in High-A you get away with that, or in lower levels. They're making me pay for it. I think that's been the biggest difference. No matter what the situation, you need to be able to throw all pitches in any count."

Fedde could technically make one more start based on Harrisburg's schedule, but the team is likely to call it a year for him one week early. He's already pitched 121 innings, which is nearly double the 64 he logged in 2015. This was his first full season as a professional and they see no reason to push him further, especially as a veteran of Tommy John surgery.

Fedde is already speaking in terms of 2017 and sounds like someone who can't wait for it to arrive.

"This is my first full year and I'm definitely feeling the wear and tear of pro ball and a five-day rotation and all that. But another great thing, is to be able to get through it. It's great to go into next year knowing I can get through it. I'm excited for it," he said.

Fedde will not pitch in the Arizona Fall League, either. He said he'll next go to the instructional league in Florida.

"I'll get the bat in my hand a little more. I'll get used to that," he said.

The biggest goal for Fedde this offseason will be to gain weight. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, he's tall and lean. Having more meat on his bones could be helpful to take another step next year and log even more innings.

Fedde will work with his trainer since college, Dr. Robert Braden, in Las Vegas this winter to build strength and gain weight. He also has a personal chef, of sorts, to help out with his diet.

"My mom. She cooks for me a lot and has meals prepared for me like right before bed and stuff," he said.

Fedde is likely to participate in his first big league spring training this February, as Lucas Giolito did just a few months ago. That could set Fedde up for his own MLB debut some time in 2017. That's the goal for any prospect and Fedde certainly looks to be on the right track.

"I'll come back in shape and be ready for next season and make a push for the big leagues," he said.

[RELATED: Nats players share funniest, weirdest stories of fan heckling]


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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?


Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.


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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine


Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

SAN DIEGO — Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking drugs after packages containing a white powder believed to be cocaine were found at a home he rented in Southern California, officials said Monday.

The 46-year-old former Major League Baseball player was booked Friday on charges involving the possession, transport and sale of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $500,000, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Loaiza played for numerous teams between 1995 and 2008, starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates and concluding with his second stint with the Chicago White Sox. He had a 21-9 record with the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and started in the All-Star Game that year.


He also played one season for the Washington Nationals in 2005 — the team's inaugural season in D.C. after the franchise changed from the Montreal Expos. During his one season in Washington, Loaiza finished with a 12-10 record adn a 3.77 ERA over 34 games played that year.

It was not immediately known if Loaiza had hired a lawyer and the former player could not be reached to comment. He was being held Monday for lack of $200,000 bail pending a court appearance on Wednesday.

Loaiza's agent, John Boggs, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had no information about the arrest and that he has not spoken to Loaiza recently. He said that Loaiza had called his office early last week but Boggs was unavailable at the time.

"I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation," Boggs said in a text to the newspaper. "I don't know how he would get himself involved in this, so it's difficult to even comment on it."

Officers stopped Loaiza for a minor traffic infraction Friday after he left the home he started renting recently in the Pacific coast community of Imperial Beach, along the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities had the vehicle under surveillance on suspicion it was used for smuggling drugs.

When they searched the vehicle, they found a sophisticated compartment used to conceal contraband, authorities said. That led them to obtain a search warrant for Loaiza's rental home, where they found the packages of drugs, according to investigators.

The packages containing a white powder are still being tested but are believed to be cocaine, said San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Jason Vickery.

Loaiza was born in Tijuana, Mexico and was married for two years to the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. She filed for divorce shortly before she died in a plane crash in 2012.

The 43-year-old Rivera was known as the "Diva de la Banda" and died as her career was peaking. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, sold more than 15 million records, and moved into acting and reality television.

Loaiza sued the aircraft's owners in 2014 for wrongful death but her relatives accused him of trying to profit from her death. He denied the accusations and later retracted his lawsuit.

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report.