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Nationals' TJ White Shows Off Prodigious Power



At just 18 years old, switch-hitting outfielder TJ White has some of the most prodigious power in the Nationals' minor league camp this spring.

White needed just 53 at-bats in the Florida Complex League last summer to hit his first four professional home runs. He had four home runs in even fewer at-bats at the start of his first full minor league camp.

“Early in camp, he has really held his own against some older guys,” Nationals farm director De Jon Watson said. “He’s putting the baseball in play and has put together some quality at-bats.”

The Nationals selected the 6-foot-2, 210-pound White in the fifth round of the 2021 draft—11 days before he turned 18. He signed for $400,000 instead of attending Indiana. White had starred at Dorman High in Roebuck, S.C..

White was originally a righthanded batter until, at age 6, he wanted to emulate then-Braves outfielder Jason Heyward and try batting lefthanded, too. He stuck with switch-hitting for about four years and then went back to it as a teenager. Eventually, he developed into a power threat from both sides.

In his Rookie-level stint last summer, White hit .283/.356/.547. He showed 65-grade power, good baserunning skills and an average arm. He fit in nicely in a lineup that included fellow prep picks Brady House and Daylen Lile.

Between his work in the FCL, instructional league, minor league minicamp and minor league spring training, White has made progress in the field as well. He played both corner outfield spots this spring.

“He’s showing better outfield play and really improving all around,” Watson said.

First base could be another option for White in the future, but for now he’s a corner outfielder with a middle-of-the-order bat.

“He’s going to be a corner player, but there’s some electricity in his bat,” Nationals vice president of scouting operations Kris Kline said last summer. “It may take a little longer to develop, but I don’t think he’s that far away.”

CAPITAL GAINS

— Righthander Jake Irvin, who missed last season after having Tommy John surgery in October 2020, has also impressed Watson.

“He’s healthy, repeating his delivery and flashing three plus pitches,” Watson said.

Irvin, a fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma in 2018, has comfortably thrown his fastball at 95-97 mph this spring. He also has a power, slurve-like curveball and a changeup.

— As a surprise from manager Dave Martinez, second baseman Darren Baker was called up from minor league camp to play in a major league spring training game against the Astros and their manager Dusty Baker, his father and a former Nationals manager. The Bakers exchanged lineup cards before a game in which Darren singled and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in a 3-2 Washington win.

“Just to have a moment like today is awesome,” said Darren, a 10th-round pick in 2021 who played his college ball at California.

Ricky Tiedemann (Mike Janes Four Seam Images)

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