Nats prospect Brady House settles in at third base


PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — In the Washington Nationals’ 6-3 loss to the Mets on Sunday, Brady House hustled out to the infield as a defensive replacement for Michael Chavis in the sixth inning. He stopped at the infield grass near shortstop, took one warm-up throw, then walked toward his new home on the field as if he suddenly realized he was in the wrong spot.

As expected, House — drafted as a high school shortstop in 2021 — has officially been moved to third base. House said last year that he wanted to stick at shortstop but because of his build — he’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds already — the Nationals envisioned him playing at the hot corner. House said Sunday morning that he hasn’t played third base consistently in 10 years.

“The biggest adjustment for me has just been knowing that I have time,” House said. “At shortstop, obviously, (you can) work through the ball and all that stuff. At third base, it’s more of like … the ball tends to get on you quicker. So just figuring that out and working on that.”

His first test in Sunday’s game was a fairly easy one — a pop fly in foul territory. After ranging into foul ground, he checked to see if he had room, called off his teammates and settled under it for the first out.

That catch was the only defensive play he made in an otherwise uneventful spring training game for House. He drew a five-pitch walk in his lone at-bat in the ninth and later scored on a fielding error.

“It was an awesome experience, especially watching (Max) Scherzer and (Josiah) Gray go off,” House said afterward. “It was good getting in and getting my first at-bat in there and getting comfortable.”

House’s second year of development will be an important one. He was seen as one of their top prospects a year ago, but with an influx of new talent via the draft and trades, House has dropped on many baseball sites’ prospect rankings.

That’s partially because House only played in 45 games last year. He didn’t play after June 13 last year as he dealt with a back injury. He also tested positive for coronavirus earlier in the season. But House arrived early at the team’s facility in January and feels healthy.

“You gotta do what you gotta do if something’s going on with your body,” House said. “You gotta listen to it. You just can’t ignore it. If you ignore something like that, then it’s only gonna make it worse in the long run so taking care of it is a priority for sure.”

Here’s what else to know from Nationals spring training:

Josiah Gray debuts a new pitch

Josiah Gray threw just nine pitches in his first outing of spring training Sunday, but five of them were cutters. Gray added the pitch to his arsenal this offseason and the Mets certainly noticed it.

Ahead 0-1 against Mark Canha, Josiah Gray threw one that Canha fouled off into the seats. Gray noticed that Canha looked at the scoreboard perplexed. Three pitches later, Gray struck him out with that same pitch. Gray said spring training can present a tough balance — working on pitches while also not giving too much away, especially to a division rival.

“It’s a battle of the two: You don’t want to show every weapon, but also you gotta do it now so you’re not catching up in April,” Gray said. “I’m sure (Canha’s) going back reporting to the dugout, ‘Hey, he’s got a cutter now.’ Next outing, when I face them in spring training, they’re obviously gonna have a little bit more intel. And then in the game in April when we play them, obviously know that it’s there. It’s kind of like the battle of the two, but you have to get outs.”

Bench coach Tim Bogar — who served as the manager for the split-squad game — said he liked what he saw from the pitch and believes it could be effective, especially against lefties.

Matt Adams and shift changes

Matt Adams, who spent last season playing independent ball in Kansas City, agreed to a minor league deal in hopes of extending his career. And he might have a better shot this year as a lefty with no shift.

Matt Adams hit a grounder off Max Scherzer in between first and second base in his first at-bat Sunday. The second baseman dove, but the ball got past his outstretched glove. There was no one behind him but the right fielder. Adams had a single off his former teammate. A few years ago, that might not have been the case.

“Yeah, I mean there’s been a lot (of times) in my career where I square a ball up like that, take a few hard steps out of the box and look up and either the third baseman or the second baseman is standing in shallow right field and his line drive right at him,” Adams said. “So to see it go through like that, put together good (at-bat) off a guy like Max early in spring — it was pretty good.”

‘In high school, you can hit anything’

Elijah Green played 12 games in the Florida Complex League after the Nationals drafted him with the fifth overall pick last July. Green said it was a good experience, especially as he dealt with the struggles of facing better pitchers. The good? Green finished batting .302. The bad? He struck out 21 times, something he wanted to focus on improving this offseason.

“In high school, you can hit anything,” Green said. “But in pro ball, you have to pick your hot zones and just be very picky as a hitter, but also be aggressive when it’s in that zone.”

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