Braymer established a single-season strikeout record in his second season at LSU-Eunice in 2015, punching out 138 batters in just less than 95 innings. He transferred to Auburn the following year and pitched well in multiple roles for the Tigers to earn an 18th-round selection by the Nationals in 2016. He broke out in his second full season, when he led Nats farmhands in ERA (2.28) and finished third in strikeouts (118) while reaching Double-A, and continued to pitch well in his return to the level in ’19 before a disappointing second-half showing at Triple-A Fresno.
Braymer struggled mightily in the Pacific Coast League, going 0-6 with a 7.20 ERA and 1.93 WHIP in 13 starts. He also allowed 18 home runs in just 60 innings (2.7 HR/9) and issued 5.3 walks-per-nine. The confidence that helped make Braymer effective in Double-A was absent during his Triple-A struggles as the left-hander pitched cautiously and nibbled with his three-pitch rather than attacking hitters. What’s more, left-handed hitters slashed .268/.316/.459 against Braymer last season after he had held them to a .174/.273/.231 line in 2018.
The good news is that Braymer’s stuff was largely the same, as he operated with a low 90s fastball, his usual 12-to-6 curveball and a changeup that was average at its best. The Nationals, who have long extolled Braymer’s mental toughness, expect him to bounce back in 2020, though it may require a full-time move to the bullpen for that to happen.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 50 | Overall: 40
Braymer established a single-season strikeout record in his second season at LSU-Eunice in 2015, punching out 138 batters in just fewer than 95 innings. He transferred from the junior college program to Auburn the following year, pitched well in multiple roles for the Tigers and then became the Nationals' 18th-round pick in June, signing for $100,000. As a pro, Braymer has continued to flex his versatility on the mound while succeeding in a host of roles. The left-hander was particularly impressive in 2018, leading Nats farmhands in ERA (2.28) and finishing third in strikeouts (118) while pitching in 28 games (11 starts) across two levels. In recognition of his season-long success, Braymer was named the Nationals co-pitcher of the year, sharing the honor with Wil Crowe.
Braymer showed last season that his stuff would play regardless of his role. The left-hander works with a 92-93 mph fastball and has bumped a few ticks higher in the past, albeit without much in the way of late movement. He complements his heater with an above-average curveball with 12-to-6 action that is lethal on left-handed hitters -- they batted just .174 against Braymer in '18 -- and a changeup gives him a distant third pitch.
The Nationals are quick to praise Braymer for having the mental toughness needed to successfully bounce between starting and relieving. As with some of the other pitchers in the system, he'll likely be deployed as a starter in 2019 to refine his secondary pitches and overall command. But given his proven effectiveness against lefties, Braymer is probably ticketed for a bullpen role.