VIERA, Fla. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Nationals camp, it was No. 4 prospect Erick Fedde. The Nationals took Fedde with the No. 18 overall
VIERA, Fla. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Nationals camp, it was No. 4 prospect Erick Fedde.
The Nationals took Fedde with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2014 Draft out of UNLV despite the fact the right-hander had Tommy John surgery that May. He returned to the mound ahead of schedule, in mid-June 2015, making 14 starts across two levels.
MLBPipeline.com: With more distance from your Tommy John surgery, a lot of people feel you're poised to have a breakout year. How excited are you to show everyone, both inside and outside of the organization, what you're capable of? I'm sure it was tough, but how much do you think going through all of this is going to help you as an overall, complete pitcher?
• Nationals' farm features stars, depth
Fedde: This is my first real Spring Training. Last year, I was rehabbing pretty much the whole time. Now I'm really finally starting to feel like my old self. I'm excited to get out there, prove myself and prove that the pick was worthy, I guess you could say. I guess if we're looking at the positives of it, I got a whole year of experiencing pro ball and learning the ropes. Last year, I got to start in short-season with a full year of pro ball experience under my belt, which was kind of cool. I got to learn the ways of the organization and got to work with the coaches for a year before I stepped on the mound.
MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports
MLBPipeline.com: You returned to the mound a bit ahead of schedule, but I would imagine from your vantage point, it seemed to take forever?
Fedde: Oh, yeah, it was the longest time of my life, especially the six months of not throwing. That took forever. I've been playing my whole life and to be told to sit down and relax and just do your shoulder program, it was kind of tough. Now that I look back at it, the year seems like it went kind of quickly, but I'm glad to be back out there.
MLBPipeline.com: This is an organization with a track record of bringing guys back from Tommy John surgery. Did that give you a little more comfort knowing the other guys who have come back from this with the Nationals?
Fedde: Definitely, especially on Draft day. When I first got down here, I was rooming with Lucas Giolito. He talked me through it. He had just gone through it. It was great, getting to be friends with him. Other guys here have been very helpful and the program seems to be working well. I'm happy with where I'm at.
MLBPipeline.com: You went to high school with Bryce Harper. Tell me about his catching skills? Could he have made it behind the plate?
Fedde: I only got to throw to him for one year, our sophomore year of high school. It was fun. I wasn't quite the pitcher I am now, but he definitely helped me out behind the plate. He had a cannon behind there, so no one really stole on us. I think he had the ability to play as a big league catcher, but I think he's doing just fine.
MLBPipeline.com: People talk about California and Florida a lot in terms of places where a lot of players come from, but it seems like Las Vegas has produced some pretty serious players, from Harper to Joey Gallo and Kris Bryant. What was it like playing in Vegas?
Fedde: Growing up in the area, there was always good competition, a lot of nationally ranked club teams. You'd look at some of those teams and there was like five first rounders on some of the teams we played with. You have good weather year-round. I've never had to throw in snow during the offseason. Going to UNLV, a lot of the guys from there, we all just rallied together and went there, which was fun. For not being that big of a town, it's a cool place to see a lot of guys come from and be successful.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow @JonathanMayo on Twitter.