The honors kept coming for lefthander Ben Braymer, who made the Arizona Fall League’s all-star showcase game about two months after being named the Nationals’ co-minor league pitcher of the year.
Braymer, an 18th-round pick in 2016 who signed for $100,000, grew up in Baton Rouge and eventually accomplished one of his goals by pitching in the Southeastern Conference at Auburn. Then this year, the 24-year-old has fulfilled achievements he wasn’t even thinking about.
On a day when the Nationals’ instructional league team practiced at Marlins Park, Braymer and righthander Wil Crowe found out that they were the system’s co-pitchers of the year, as chosen by the organization.
“We had a meeting before practice, and I had to put on my cleats so I walked up right as Tommy Shields announced it,” Braymer said. “I didn’t even know why everyone was looking at me. It really came as a big surprise.”
The field coordinator’s news may have stunned Braymer, but farm director Mark Scialabba said there is plenty to like about the pitcher’s development
“He commanded his fastball well with downhill plane and is continuing to learn how to use all four quadrants of the zone,” Scialabba said. “His curveball has swing-and-miss potential with late downer action. His changeup continues to evolve, and he’s showing the ability to utilize it as another weapon to add to his repertoire, mainly against righthanded hitters.”
Braymer began the season as a piggyback reliever for low Class A Hagerstown, usually pitching between three and five innings. He moved to high Class A Potomac in May and at both stops he recorded a 2.28 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 28 games (11 starts). He struck out 118 and walked 34 in 114.2 innings.
“He succeeded throughout the season, adapting to each opportunity, and he made the necessary adjustments to help carry a significant workload for his team,” Scialabba said.
Braymer worked exclusively in the bullpen for Salt River in the AFL. He was a starter in college at both Louisiana State-Eunice JC and at Auburn, but the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Braymer has grown accustomed to the bullpen.
“I’d say at first I definitely preferred starting because I knew what I had to do to get prepared,” Braymer said. “But really I enjoy both, to be honest. It was just a matter of my understanding how to get my work in the right way. I learned how to condense my starter routine, and that’s been good for me.”