Paul Menhart respected inside Nationals’ system

May 6, 2019 GMT

There was a lot of emotion in the Nationals’ dugout when pitcher Aaron Barrett took the mound during a spring training game in late February.

And it could be memorable as well if Barrett makes it back to the majors with the Nationals due in part to his relationship with new pitching coach Paul Menhart.

Barrett has battled back from several injuries, including a broken arm in 2016, to pitch this season for Double-A Harrisburg.

He has worked during that time with Menhart, who was the minor league pitching coordinator for five seasons before he took over with the Nationals on Friday after Derek Lilliquist was fired.

“He has helped me a lot on the field but off the field, too,” Barrett said Saturday. “He was there when I was going through my trials when I broke my arm. He is just a great guy, someone you can talk to about anything.”

“When I first got drafted he was our Single-A (Potomac) pitching coach,” added Barrett, drafted in 2010 out of the University of Mississippi. “Everyone raved how about good Paul was as a person and pitching coach. This was a long time coming. He is one of the best we have.”

Barrett pitched out of the bullpen in a combined 90 games with the Nationals in 2014 and 2015. Through Sunday, he had a 2.77 ERA with seven saves with Harrisburg this season.

One of the top pitching prospects for the Nationals is right-handed starter Wil Crowe, 24, who is also with Harrisburg.

“Paul has helped me so much,” Crowe said. “He is a great mentor for me.”