After missing nearly three months at Double-A Harrisburg with an oblique injury, 24-year-old righthander Sterling Sharp was back on his game in the Arizona Fall League.
Sharp went 2-1, 1.50 in six starts for Surprise before taking the loss as a reliever in the AFL title game. He struck out 24 in 24 innings and had a 0.92 WHIP. Much of his success has come from the sinker he learned by watching a video of then-Nationals reliever Blake Treinen.
“I watched it right before my first spring training. Ever since then, it’s been my go-to,” Sharp said. “I had kind of messed with a two-seamer in college, but his is a one-seam grip with more depth and run side-to-side.”
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Sharp grew up in Southfield, Mich., and gives back to his community. He has a Sharpest Player of the Year program for 12-18-year-olds.
“We take three African-American baseball players in Detroit based on their answers to why they think they deserve the money for the scholarship,” Sharp said. “It will go toward the team fees for their summer-ball team, and we’ll give them a gift card to get new batting gloves, shoes, cleats—anything.”
Sharp was a 22nd-round pick out of Division II Drury (Mo.) in 2016. He also played college baseball at Eastern Michigan and Darton State (Ga.) JC. He’s a standout athlete who played four years of high school basketball. Sharp had basketball offers from Division I Ball State and Oakland but chose to focus on baseball.
Growing up, Sharp picked up an interest in baseball from his older brother Fred, who eventually played in college at Bowling Green.
“My first position was shortstop, and I was scared to start pitching because I would hit people,” Sharp said. “My mom convinced me to try pitching, and now here we are.”
Sharp went 5-3, 3.99 with 45 strikeouts in 49.2 innings at Harrisburg this year. In addition to the sinker, he throws a changeup, slider, cutter and four-seamer.
His fastball is usually 89-93 mph. “I might be able to get a ‘4’ if I grunt and yell a little bit,” he said.
— Righthander Niomar Gomez was among the prospects who stood out during instructional league. “He’s a fearless competitor with a great mound presence,” farm director Mark Scialabba said. “His curve continues to improve, and he changes speeds effectively.” The 21-year-old from Venezuela has a mid-90s fastball and struck out 66 in 56 innings at short-season Auburn this season.
— The high Class A Fredericksburg, Va., team decided to stick with its nickname after its move from Woodbridge, Va., where the club was nicknamed the Nationals. The Fredericksburg Nationals name—or Fred Nats for short—was unveiled on Twitter in a GIF that also mentioned possibilities such as Bayonets, Fire Ants and Turkey Vultures.