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Nationals' Jake Bennett Adapts To A Pro Routine

Six-foot-6 lefthander Jake Bennett has been at the Nationals’ training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., for several camps, paving the way for a professional debut in full-season ball.

“I’m really excited for the new experience,” Bennett said. “It’s going to be different going every five or six days, but I’m adapting and getting used to it. It’s been good to start out with bullpens every third day.”

Bennett, a second-round pick in 2022, signed for more than $1.7 million after an all-Big 12 Conference season for College World Series runner-up Oklahoma. He was with the Nationals' Florida Complex League team last summer for the end of their season but wasn’t on the active roster.

Bennett also has been to instructional league, strength camp and early minor league camp.

The Nationals have long liked Bennett’s athleticism and repeatable delivery. They originally drafted him in the 39th round in 2019 out of Bixby (Okla.) High. He instead went to Oklahoma, where he went 10-4, 3.69 with 133 strikeouts and 22 walks in 117 innings in his final season.

Listed at 234 pounds, Bennett has been working on getting stronger and improving his slider and sinker to lefthanded batters. He has a plus changeup that neutralizes righthanded hitters at 82-85 mph, and his fastball has some deception and is typically in the 91-94 range.

The 22-year-old Bennett was a high school and college teammate of righthander Cade Cavalli, who made his MLB debut with Washington last August. Cavalli, two years ahead of Bennett in school, was a first-round pick in 2020, but he’s not the only professional who Bennett turns to for advice.

Bennett’s uncle Billy Parese was an infielder in the Blue Jays organization. One of Bennett’s mentors is George Frazier, who had a 10-year major league career as a relief pitcher.

“I started working with George Frazier in the eighth grade,” Bennett said. “He’s been extremely helpful. I can call and pick his brain about baseball or about anything else going on in my life.”


—- Righthander Gerardo Carrillo was among the non-roster invitees to major league camp. He regained fastball velocity late last season at Double-A Harrisburg after returning from a shoulder injury. He’ll be looking to build on that finish this spring.

— High-A Wilmington named Liz Welch as the franchise’s fourth general manager. Welch has been with the Blue Rocks for more than six years. “She’s a hard worker, she understands player development, and she’ll do everything she can to make sure we have a great facility to develop and teach the next generation of Nationals’ stars,” farm director De Jon Watson said.

Jace Jung Bobleveygetty

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