In the first of our series of unheralded prospects I chose to put the spotlight on Mark Washington. I met Mark via Instagram. He had seen the pictures I was taking at Spring Training at the back fields of some pitchers and had wondered if I took any of him. Unfortunately, I had not arrived in time to get pictures of all the pitchers. He told me when he’d probably be pitching again so I made sure to be there on time. Fortunately, I met him in person the day before he was scheduled to pitch while I was taking more pictures. It was during these few days that I looked up more about Washington and became intrigued with him as a prospect.
Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Mark Washington went to college at Lehigh University. After his junior year he was drafted by the Dodgers in the 2017 draft in the 25th round. During college he had some up and down seasons but with a projectable frame (he’s 6’7″) he fits the Dodgers profile of drafting with a vision towards development. During college his fastball sat in the low-90’s with some mid-90’s moments.
After being drafted the Dodgers sent Washington to the rookie league in Arizona. Like with most pitchers, the Dodgers brought Mark along slowly as he only threw 25.1 innings in his first year of professional baseball. In his nine appearances, three of them were starts. He ended up giving up around the same amount of hits per inning and same with the strikeouts. One noteworthy statistic was that he only walked one batter every five innings.
Mark Washington got a late start in 2018 due to some cold sensitivity to his pitching hand. He talks about it in the interview below with Steve Douglas. He finally started the season in mid-June with the Ogden Raptors and pitched will enough to get promoted to the Great Lakes Loons after a month and a half. Overall, his combined ERA was 3.15 but the walk rate went up. Still is was a season where he was able to gain a promotion while pitching exclusively out of the bullpen.
The 2019 season again brought a late start for Washington as he didn’t make his first appearance until mid-June, again. In 39.1 innings with the Loons he only gave up 23 hits with 43 strikeouts while getting his first professional save. The walks were still one per every two innings but he only gave up one home run. Baseball Essential had a nice writeup early in the season where it spoke of his approach to pitching out of the bullpen.
What Comes Next
Mark Washington throws a mix of a mid-90s fastball, a changeup and a slider. His 2019 numbers with the Loons means his next stop should be the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes whenever the season starts. The two keys for him are health and lowering the walk rate while maintaining all the other good numbers. Like for so many players, 2020 is a big year for Washington to make some jumps through a couple of levels. This slow start to the season could hold him back a bit. My thought was he’d start the season with the Quakes then advance to Tulsa sometime around July. Let’ hope the season can start at some point so players like Mark can show that they deserve to keep moving up through the system.