The Nationals will move top pitching prospect Erick Fedde to the bullpen. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

PITTSBURGH — Erick Fedde, the top pitching prospect in the Washington Nationals organization, will work out of the bullpen this year, according to a person familiar with the situation. The Nationals still view Fedde as a front-line starter, but they feel they can control his innings better in relief while potentially having him fill a role in the major league bullpen at some point this season.

Fedde, 24, ascended the franchise’s prospect rankings this winter when the Nationals traded pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez — both considered more major league ready than Fedde at the time — in the deal for Adam Eaton. Internally, the Nationals believed Fedde’s trajectory had surpassed Giolito’s, which was one reason they made the deal. Fedde is pitching to a 3.16 ERA in seven starts for Class AA Harrisburg, and relies heavily on a fastball-slider arsenal, one the Nationals believe he can build on moving forward, but one that also fits a relief role.

Though Fedde will not immediately join the big league bullpen, the Nationals think he could be ready to do so this season. Their bullpen has floundered, and none of the young relievers in their system have shown enough to merit a big league call-up yet. Fedde would not, of course, be the whole solution to the Nationals’ relief trouble. But he could certainly help, while also saving his arm a few innings before the Nationals need him in the rotation.

Fedde has not relieved before but joins a long line of former starters now serving in relief roles. Sammy Solis and Blake Treinen both came up as starters.