Jake Irvin Always Willing To Adapt
Whether he’s meeting new people or pitching in extreme weather conditions, Jake Irvin relishes the opportunity.
A fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma in 2018, Irvin expects to complete his degree in human resources management this fall. His father is in that profession, and Irvin sees himself as a “people person.” The 6-foot-6, 225-pound righthander also doesn’t mind the cold weather he faced growing up in Bloomington, Minn., or the heat he has battled in the Big 12 or in spring training.
“Since high school, I’ve been conditioned to throw in cold weather,” Irvin said. “Being able to adapt—whether it’s the cold or the Florida weather—is something you have to do. Over time, you just get used to it.”
Now in his first full season of pro ball with low Class A Hagerstown, the 22-year-old Irvin is learning how to prepare to pitch every fifth day, He’s 5-7, 4.63 in 89.1 innings after a six-start stretch in which he has lasted six innings three times and five innings the other three times.
“As the season has gone on, we’ve managed to get more comfortable with the routine,” Irvin said. “Last year, I mostly pitched two innings at a time in very controlled starts that felt more like relief appearances. This year, I’m continuing to refine the small things we’ve been working on.”
One way Irvin has improved this year is through the use of his changeup.
“I’ve worked a lot on the changeup in throwing programs and in the games, and it’s developing really well,” Irvin said. “Seeing results on that has been really nice.”
Irvin also throws a four-seam fastball, sinker and curveball. Suns pitching coach Mack Jenkins said Irvin is pitching more off his fastball and that he can throw his plus curveball “early in the count or when he’s behind in the count.”
Though Irvin’s numbers haven’t been as impressive as his 1-0, 1.74 showing in 20.2 innings last season between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and short-season Auburn, he has made tweaks to his mechanics that have given him a stronger core.
“I think his delivery is much better than when we left spring training,” Jenkins said. “He’s staying behind the ball and getting more extension."
— Righthander Ryan Tapani, another Minnesota native and son of 143-game major league winner Kevin Tapani, was promoted from Hagerstown to high Class A Potomac after going 2-4, 3.79 with 73 strikeouts in 61.2 innings with the Suns.
"He’s gained 3-4 miles per hour on his fastball, his spin rate has increased, his breaking ball is sharper and his changeup has become better,” Jenkins said of Tapani, the Nationals' 21st-round pick out of Creighton in 2018.
— The Nationals’ latest international signing class includes 16-year-old Venezuelan righthander Andry Lara, who signed for $1.25 million. Lara’s fastball has touched 96 mph.