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  • Writer's pictureJack Vita

Why Washington Nationals phenom Dj Herz was "surprised and confused" when Chicago Cubs traded him

From January 23, 2024 — Hot off an impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League, Washington Nationals pitching prospect Dj Herz visits the Jack Vita Show for a lively conversation about life in the minor leagues, his time in the Arizona Fall League, how he felt when he got traded by the Chicago Cubs, his love for fishing, his Christian faith, and much more!

The Cubs selected Herz out of Terry Sanford High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina in the eighth round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Herz wasted no time, finding immediate success while pitching in the Cubs' farm system. In his first full professional season, Herz posted a 3.31 ERA across 20 starts between High-A South Bend and Low-A Myrtle Beach. He was named the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Herz spent the 2023 season pitching at Double-A Tennessee. In the late summer, he was anticipating a promotion to Triple-A Iowa. When his phone rang on the day of the trade deadline, he had just awoken from a nap, and he thought his time had come. He was blindsided when he was informed that he had been traded along with shortstop prospect Kevin Made to the Washington Nationals, in exchange for third baseman Jeimer Candelario.

Herz pitched the remainder of the season for the Nationals' Double-A affiliate, Harrisburg, where he logged a 2.55 ERA over eight starts. Upon the conclusion of the minor league season, Herz received the opportunity to pitch in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Herz made five starts in the AFL, posting a 3.71 ERA while competing amongst some of baseball's best prospects. He was named a Fall Star, appearing in the Arizona Fall Stars Game.

Herz just turned 23 and is set to report to spring training in a matter of weeks. He hopes that 2024 is the year that he makes his big league debut. He is the no. 16 prospect in the Nationals' farm system, per MLB Pipeline.

Herz chats with Jack about his time pitching in the Fall League and living in Arizona. How did he enjoy the AFL and playing with and against prospects from other teams? Who did he become close with?

Herz reflects on his time in the Cubs organization. He discusses which prospects in the Cubs' farm system he was most impressed by, and which ones he has the highest hopes for, when they enter the big leagues.

Herz is a close friend of Jackson Ferris. Ferris was also a top pitching prospect in the Cubs' farm system, who recently was surprisingly traded. Herz discusses what wisdom and advice he shared with Ferris, after Ferris was dealt two weeks ago along with Zyhir Hope to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Michael Busch and Yency Almonte. Herz tells the story of when he got traded and how he reacted. Does he have a chip on his shoulder?

Herz talks about the minor league life, and what it's like competing with teammates for promotions, as each player tries to reach the next level.

Herz discusses life off-the-field, his love for fishing and golf, his puppies, CBS' Survivor and MTV's The Challenge. He also talks about his Christian faith and what role God plays in his life. Herz talks some NFL playoff football, and looks ahead to the coming year, which he hopes is the first of a long Major League career.

You can follow Dj on Twitter (@DavidjohnHerz) and Instagram (@dj_herz).

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