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Joan Adon's Curveball Raises His Ceiling



Joan Adon’s new curveball helped him earn a spot on the Nationals’ 40-man roster, and it could keep him in a starting role.

Adon, a 22-year-old righthander signed from the Dominican Republic in 2016, pitched between five and six innings in each of his first nine starts for High-A Wilmington. He posted an 11-strikeout game and crossed the 100-pitch threshold thanks to his late-breaking curveball giving him a new dimension.

“It’s just a continuation of what he was able to do last year in spring training and at the alternate site," Blue Rocks pitching coach Justin Lord said. "The command and consistency of his breaking ball have really been key for him.”

The 6-foot-2, 242-pound Adon reached Low-A in 2019, then he impressed further at last summer’s alternate training site in Fredericksburg, Va. In November, he was added to the 40-man roster.

“He maintains his plus velocity in the 94-96 (mph) range but also can reach the upper 90s band when he needs it,” Nationals farm director Mark Scialabba said. “His changeup continues to be a consistent offering, and he has the ability to use it for a ground ball or a swing and miss.”

Johnny DiPuglia, the Nationals' assistant general manager and vice president of international operations, said he clocked Adon’s fastball at 96 mph in the sixth inning of a recent game with Wilmington. Through 53 innings this season, Adon had recorded a 4.92 ERA with 57 strikeouts and 20 walks.

“Justin Lord has done a really good job with him,” DiPuglia said. “I thought he might become a reliever, but with this breaking ball he has now, I think he can start.”

Lord said Adon is reaping the benefits of taking what he does in drills to the bullpen and then taking that knowledge into games.

“He’s solidifying his delivery where it can be repetitive and consistent,” Lord said. “When you have a good foundation there, you have better command and better stuff. He’s a strong kid with a good arm. The stuff’s always been there, and he’s evolving as a pitcher.”

CAPITAL GAINS

Nick Wells, a 6-foot-5 lefthanded reliever from Battlefield High in Haymarket, Va., moved up to Triple-A Rochester after striking out 20 and posting a 2.12 ERA in 17 innings for Double-A Harrisburg.

“He has a good breaking ball, a fastball at 92 or 93 (mph) and an improving changeup,” Harrisburg manager Tripp Keister said of the 25-year-old. Wells was a third-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2014.

— Shortstop Luis Garcia, a 21-year-old who exhausted his rookie eligibility in 2020, excited team officials with the start to his season at Rochester. He won Triple-A East player of the week honors and led the Red Wings with 11 home runs while hitting .305/.371/.586 through 32 games.

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