Aug 152011
 


I’ve been honest about my distaste for the draft, but following an offline suggestion, I’m creating a post for folks to comment on what might happen tonight. For the first time since ’08, the pressure to sign the #1 pick overall is off, which is just as well because there are still hard feelings from that hot August night when the Nats didn’t sign Aaron Crow.

From what I can gather, the Nats should sign at least four of their top five picks, with Matt Purke being the wildcard. For the purposes of fodder, here’s a little link-o-rama of the beat guys’ thoughts (as I go to virtual press, Bill Ladson, et al):

Mark Zuckerman — Deadline day for draft picks to sign

Ben Goessling — For Nationals, annual dance with Boras ends tonight

Adam Kilgore — Nationals hoping to finish off a meaningful draft

Jun 062011
 

No, that’s not a misplaced slug. That’s the intended headline.

With the First-Year Player Draft tonight, tomorrow, and Wednesday, I realize there’s high interest (and high intrigue for the first time since 2009), but it’s not on my part. But I want to give folks a place to discuss it, hence the post.

As I’ve stated before, I’m not a draft guru. It just doesn’t interest me to speculate on who “we” might get so much as I like to follow who “we’ve” got. As a buddy of mine put it, it’s hard for MLB to manufacture the excitement of the NFL or NBA drafts because you’re pretty much going on the opinions of perhaps a dozen people; there’s simply not the same level of coverage for the segment that folks covet the most: high-ceiling high school ballplayers.

I’ll do my best to cover the draft after the fact, but the timing his year couldn’t be worse: Right as the Potomac Nationals are about to embark on 14-day homestand. My apologies in advance to those I may have disappointed, but I think I’ve been fairly consistent in my stance.

Discuss away… but be civil!

Apr 262011
 

Another guest column from our resident “draftnik,” Marcus Wyche, who earlier this year gave us some Top 5′s for the Nats’ top two picks of the 2011 draft at #6 and #23. Without further ado…

By Marcus Wyche
This is just speculation: A lot can (and will) change between now and the draft. In fact, I looked back at my first article and only two of the players I had in my Top 5 for pick number 6 made the top ten of this mock article (YIKES). Nevertheless, here is my early guess at the Top 10 picks of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA
This is the same organization that said they’d have taken Jameson Taillon number 1 if they had the first overall pick last year. While they did pick up three high-ceiling pitchers in last year’s draft, all three will take a while to develop and the Pirate rotation needs help now. Cole can be up to the big club in the next year or so and help stabilize the rotation.
Stats (this and those that follow, as of 4/25/2011): 2.78 ERA 0.88 WHIP 9.59 K/9

2. Seattle Mariners: Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice University
Dustin Ackley, Anthony Rendon and Jutsin Smoak could make for a nice infield for years to come. Rendon’s bat is great and the Mariners can use the help on offense. It won’t take long for the Mariners to make this pick.
Stats: .350 AVG 1.105 OPS .491 wOBA

3. Arizona Diamondbacks: Danny Hultzen, LHP, UVA
While it’d be a nice story if the Bethesda native gets drafted by one of the local teams, I don’t see him getting past Arizona. Hultzen’s stock has risen tremendously this year and I can’t see his stock getting any higher by staying in school so he shouldn’t be a tough sign. He’s a lefty with a lower 90s fastball, great command and really knows how to pitch.
Stats: 1.31 ERA .87 WHIP 13.63 K/9

4. Baltimore Orioles: Dylan Bundy RHP, Owasso HS
With all their young studs leaving the minors and pitching in the majors currently, there isn’t much room left in their ML rotation for another College guy who is quick to the majors. I think they take the best HS pitcher available here and draft Bundy to be a part of the next wave of talent for the Orioles. Stats were unavailable as we went to virtual press, but here’s a great scouting report from the folks at Orioles Nation.

5. Kansas City Royals: George Springer, CF, UConn
We’ve all heard about how great the Royals system currently is. They’ve gotten to be so strong not just by paying over-slot money but also by picking players with higher ceilings than most players around them. It’s a risk, but it’s worked out well for the Royals lately. Springer has one of the highest ceilings in the draft and should be able to contribute during the same timeframe as the rest of their current top prospects. B. Starling is another possibility here.
Stats: .359 AVG 1.091 OPS .473 wOBA

6. Washington Nationals: Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech
Bradley and Hultzen are the two best LHPs in this draft. Bradley has command of his pitches and isn’t afraid to pitch inside. Roy Clark likely has a ton of information on him from his connections in Georgia. Bradley would slot nicely in between Strasburg and Zimmermann. The pick just makes a lot of sense. If everything works out we could have a homegrown rotation of Strasburg, Zimmermann, Detwiler, Solis and Bradley by 2013.
Link: http://baseballbeginnings.com/2011/03/22/jed-bradley-report
Stats: 2.98 ERA 1.16 11.64 K/9

7. Arizona Diamondbacks: Jackie Bradley, CF, USC
This pick is unprotected to AZ, so the ‘Backs have to draft a relatively easy sign here. Bradley isn’t a senior but at this spot he shouldn’t be a tough sign and could one day be a good tandem in the outfield with Upton. He’s had a tough season this year which was just ended last week by injury but he’s proven over the last two years that he can perform. Arizona and Nats could make for a trivia answer by picking two Bradleys in a row in the first round.
Stats: .259 AVG .829 OPS .367 wOBA

8. Cleveland Indians: Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt
Cleveland has done a great job over the years of developing pitchers. They get another one to develop here in Gray who has great power stuff.
Stats: 2.00 ERA 1.11 WHIP 10.69 K/9

9. Chicago Cubs: Matt Barnes, RHP, UConn
Power right handed pitcher who will be able to handle the cold-weather games that come with being a pitcher on the “North Coast.”
Stats: 0.92 ERA .73 WHIP 7.69 K/9

10. San Diego Padres: Trevor Bauer RHP, UCLA
Statistically, he’s probably the best pitcher in the draft, but GMs will be worried about his pitch counts. However, it’s highly unlikely those worries drop him out of the top 10, as San Diego will be ecstatic to get him here.
Stats: 1.42 ERA .80 WHIP 13.83 K/9

Our system can still use some more quality pitchers. Bradley, Barnes, Gray and Bauer are guys we should pay close attention to when looking at future Nationals. All of them are quality pitchers who’d instantly be a Top 3 prospect in our system next year. If Springer is available, it’d be interesting but I think the pitcher is a safer pick here in comparison to Springer. I am a Jackie Bradley supporter still but #6 is too early to choose him with the players that will still be on the board. The fans screaming for more bats in our system? Don’t worry: We have two more picks in the first round and I think at least one of them will be used on a bat.
All stats taken from http://www.collegesplits.com/data.html

Jan 262011
 

Picking up where we left off yesterday, guest columnist Marcus Wyche breaks down the Top 5 candidates for the Nationals second first-round pick at #23 overall. Without further ado…

By Marcus Wyche

As I mentioned yesterday, while Rizzo has been favoring big-body, power-arm pitchers, he’s also shown a tendency to hedge his bets by taking a risk pick along with a safe bet. With the #23 pick, I’m envisioning a bit of a gamble.

TOP FIVE FOR THE SECOND PICK AT #23 OVERALL

  1. Alex Meyer, RHP – Univ. of Kentucky
    Another big guy (6-8, 205) with a power arm. Based just upon stuff, he could be drafter much higher than #23 but he’s been inconsistent with control and he’d be a good pick at this spot.
    Learn More #1 (Video) | Learn More #2
  2. Archie Bradley, RHP – Broken Arrow H.S. (Oklahoma)
    Another great high school athlete that has already committed to play QB for Oklahoma. Based on potential, he could be drafted much higher than this but could also fall due to his commitment to Oklahoma. He’s a power arm from the right side with a big frame (6-4, 225). He’s already been clocked as high as 95 mph.
    Learn More #1 (Video) | Learn More #2
  3. Michael Kelly, RHP West Boca H.S. (Florida)
    High ceiling high school pitcher. Already sits in the low 90s. Also features a changeup and curve ball in his arsenal.
    Learn More #1 (Video) | Learn More #2
  4. Blake Swihart, C – Cleveland H.S. (New Mexico)
    Nationals have had some success lately developing and picking H.S. catchers. Derek Norris is the obvious name but Sandy Leon has done well so far, too. Swihart is a switch-hitting catcher with developing power and a good arm behind the plate.
    Learn More #1 (Video) | Learn More #2
  5. Travis Harrison, OF/IF – Tustin H.S. (California)
    Scouts argue on where to project him in the pros. I’ve seen him listed as an OF/3B/1B. No one doubts this guy’s power from the right side. He’s a high- risk, high-reward player in the first round but we lack young power prospects in our farm system and he’d be a great addition, no matter where he plays.
    Learn More #1 (Video) | Learn More #2

Other Names to Watch: Dillon Maples, RHP – Pinecrest H.S. (North Carolina) HS; Jack Armstrong, RHP – Vanderbilt; Charlie Tilson, OF – New Trier H.S. (Illinois); Noe Ramirez, RHP – Cal State Fullerton

My picks for the Nationals would be Jackie Bradley and Travis Harrison. Washington right now lacks a truly viable CF prospect aside from Eury Perez and we have few high-school power bats in our system. Bradley would be a safe pick with a solid ceiling attached to him and should be in the majors within a year or two of being drafted. Harrison will be more of a volatile prospect, and will take longer to develop, but I like his ceiling and he could add a legitimate H.S. corner IF prospect to our system.

More Links To Follow The MLB Draft

MLB Bonus Baby’s Mock Draft

Five Tool Talk’s Mock Draft

My MLB Draft’s Mock Draft

Minor League Ball’s Mock Draft #3

A Scout’s View

Prospect Junkies’ Mock Draft

Jan 252011
 

Today we have a guest column from Marcus Wyche, a student at George Mason University who’s been kind enough to take me up on my offer to write about the upcoming 2011 draft, which would otherwise get short shrift since I’m not a “draftnik.”  Today, Marcus breaks down the Top 5 candidates for the #6 pick. Tomorrow, we’ll see his Top 5 choices for the #23 pick. Without further ado…

By Marcus Wyche

Since we have two picks in the first round this year, I decided to do things a little differently. I’m going to list a Top 5 for our top two picks in the first round. I know, I know we have three first round picks but the last one is too far away to even guess. As a matter of fact, the players I’m listing for the second pick could be picked out of a draft-eligible hat and the odds are that the random guess is as good as mine.

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has been preaching athleticism, pitching, and defense since he took over the team in 2009. In his first two drafts, the Nationals have favored big-frame, power-arm pitchers and have also avoided the super toolsy outfielders with little on-field results. Washington has spent more on the draft than any other team in MLB the past two years; obviously due in large part to #1 overall picks Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.

Still, as the Nats continue rebuilding its farm system, I expect Washington to continue to spend a lot of money on the draft. A player’s “signability” should not be an issue. Nevertheless, I do believe Rizzo will also hedge his bets and pick one guy who is almost a sure thing to make it to the Majors (e.g. Sammy Solis, Drew Storen type) and another guy who is a high-risk/high-reward type(A.J. Cole).

TOP FIVE FOR THE FIRST PICK AT #6 OVERALL

Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, and Matt Purke are all but guaranteed to go in the top three. Even if one of them falls lower, I doubt they will fall to number six with Orioles and Royals still picking in front of the Nats. But if any of them do, expect that player to be chosen.

  1. Jackie Bradley, OF – USC
    Competing in the SEC, he managed a 1.061 OPS last year with a .368 BA and helped his team win the College World Series. He only had 13 HRs but even if his power doesn’t develop, he should still make it to the majors just based upon his defense in CF.
    Learn More #1 (Video) | Learn More #2
  2. George Springer, OF – UConn
    Has one of the highest ceilings in the draft. Has gone 45/50 in SB attempts in his college career with 34 HRs and a great arm. He has more than his fair share of strikeouts and his plate discipline will be put to the test against advanced competition. Potential five-tool talent.
    Learn More #1 (Video) | Learn More #2
  3. Taylor Jungmann, RHP – Univ. of Texas
    Big guy (6-6, 220), power arm — just the type of pitcher Rizzo likes. Struck out 129 batters, with a 1.08 WHIP and a 9.68 K/9 last year in the Big 12. His fastball sits in the low 90s but he’s been clocked in the 94-95 range as well. Also features a spike curve ball and changeup in his repertoire.
    Learn More #1 (Video) | Learn More #2
  4. Bubba Starling, OF/RHP – Gardner Edgerton H.S. (Kansas)
    He’s already committed to play QB at Nebraska, so it will definitely take an over-slot deal to sign him. Starling doesn’t have the showcase pedigree like some of the other talented two-way H.S. stars, but his ceiling is higher than any H.S. position player in the draft, making him an early first-round selection.
    Learn More #1 (Video) | Learn More #2
  5. Daniel Norris, LHP – Science Hill H.S. (Tennessee)
    Lefthanders with a plus fastball are not easy to come by, especially so young. Norris has been clocked as high as 96mph and generally pitches in the low 90s. He also has a changeup. Unfortunately, young pitching is very volatile and the Nationals don’t have the best track record developing H.S. starting pitchers. Brad Peacock has been the most successful thus far.
    Learn More #1 (Video) | Learn More #2

Other names to consider: Sonny Gray, RHP – Vanderbilt; Matt Barnes, RHP – UConn; Trevor Bauer, RHP – UCLA

Sep 272010
 

As you imagine, things are in a lull right now as we wait for the parent club to finish out the string. A few items of interest…

…Thankfully, we’re not in a mode of worrying whether or not the #1 overall pick is ours, which was the subject of discussion last year and the year before. That battle is between Baltimore and Seattle (hey, that rhymes!). Currently, Washington is in line for the 8th overall pick, two games “behind” Cleveland in the reverse standings, three games “behind” Kansas City, and four games “ahead” of the Chicago Cubs. Most of the teams in the #3 through #6 spots face winning clubs the rest of the way (#7 is a compensatory pick for the Diamondbacks failing to sign Barret Loux), the Nats and Cubs play contenders for some, also-rans on the final weekend. Thus, the order is not likely to change all that much.

…Former scout and current AOL Fanhouse writer Frankie Piliere has good things to say about Bryce Harper but what was more interesting was his take on A.J. Morris:

Nationals right-handed pitching prospect A.J. Morris was among the more impressive arms in camp for Washington, showing off a lively 91-94 mph fastball and a feel for a sharp slider at 82-84 mph. He has the look of an effective late-inning arm for Nationals in the near future.

….Baseball America’s been churning out its Top 20 lists for each league. Thus far, they’ve done the Arizona Fall League, the Gulf Coast League, and the Appalachian League and no Nationals have appeared. The New York-Penn League is on the docket for tomorrow, the Sally League on Thursday. If/when any Nationals are named or discussed, I’ll pass along what they have to say.

…Finally, as frequent commenter Mark L noted, the Washington Nationals have yet to name its Minor-League Batter and Pitcher of the Year, but it appears that Tyler Moore will be the former. The latter may be a little less of a slam-dunk. Danny Rosenbaum makes the case with the lowest ERA in the system, but our money is on Tom Milone, the leader in wins (12) and strikeouts (155) and innings pitched (158).