WASHINGTON — These players may not be able the parent club anytime soon, but Washington Nationals fans should rejoice that there are some very good arms in the deepest depths of the organizations.
The rookie level Gulf Coast League Nationals pitched not one, but two combined no-hitters on Sunday, twirling 14 unscathed frames on both ends of a doubleheader vs. the Gulf Coast League Marlins.
The pitcher who set the tone for the GCL Nats is their 21st ranked prospect Joan Baez (no, not that Joan Baez), who was making a rehab start, working his way back from an undisclosed injury suffered from the Potomac Nationals.
Baez pitched six untouchable innings, striking out seven with one hit batter and one walk. Through four appearances at the level, he now has a 1.47 ERA through 18 1/3 innings and will likely get the call back to Potomac.
He gave way to Jose Jiminez, who pitched just one inning, walking the first batter before inducing a double play and ending the game on a flyout. In the minor leagues, doubleheaders are played back-to-back and are shortened to two seven-inning games to account for the roster constraints.
Game two was started by Jared Johnson, who pitched four unhittable innings, striking out two and walking one. He was relieved by Gilberto Chu, who allowed one baserunner on a throwing error. Chu struck out four, including each of the last two GCL Marlins batters.
Besides Baez, the other three Nats pitchers are southpaws, which brings added value to the organization.
While talent mismatches are common at the lower levels of professional baseball, it is still a rare feat to be untouchable. Doing that twice, particularly on the same day, is mathematically incalculable. Just for reference, these were the first and second no-hitters of the Gulf Coast League season.
Congratulations to these four young arms–may they stay healthy and learn to pitch from the bullpen.