Draft Review – Washington Nationals
Here’s my pick-by-pick analysis of the Washington Nationals’ 2009 draft, keeping in mind talent, draft value, and signability. The number before each player is the round in which they were picked, and their overall pick number is listed. Here’s the picks:
1. Stephen Strasburg, RHP, San Diego State, #1 overall: This was a no-brainer, as Strasburg had been the number one prospect in this draft for well over a year. He’s got the best stuff of any pitching prospect in recent memory, so this was a solid choice, though he’ll cost upwards of $20 million in all likelihood. DOB: 7/20/88.
1. Drew Storen, RHP, Stanford, #10 overall: Storen became a legitimate first round prospect as a draft-eligible sophomore at Stanford, showing plus command with above-average raw stuff. The fact that he was a reliever is a bit of a downer, and he wasn’t deserving of a top ten slot, but the Strasburg signability factor comes into play here. This is a defensible pick, and he signed quickly. His debut is going reasonably well, as he was jumped to the Sally League, where he’s struck out 11 in 8 innings without walking a batter. He needs to get better against lefties. DOB: 8/1/87. Signing bonus: $1.6 million.
2. Jeff Kobernus, 2B, California, #50 overall: Kobernus was edging up draft boards in the weeks before the draft, as his performance at Cal merited what most thought would be a second or third round selection. He’s got some pop, versatility, and some speed, making him a quality selection. I like this pick quite a bit. He signed on June 29, and he’s 0 for 8 so far in a pair of games with Vermont in the NYPL. DOB: 6/30/88. Signing bonus: $705,000.
3. Trevor Holder, RHP, Georgia, #81 overall: This was a shocking pick. Holder was a senior starter for the Bulldogs, but was hit hard despite some solid stuff. Most predicted him to go in the 7th-10th round range, so this was surprising. He signed for under slot, though, so I give them props for that. However, this was altogether puzzling, as Holder seems to have middle reliever written all over him. He signed on June 15 and threw 3 shutout innings in his only start for Vermont. DOB: 1/8/87. Signing bonus: $200,000.
4. A.J. Morris, RHP, Kansas State, #112 overall: Great pick here. Morris was expected to go as high as the second round, so getting a quality arm like his in the fourth was a coup. He throws a nice fastball/slider combo with plus command, though his workload was awful. Probably the worst workload I saw this year. He’s a year older than most juniors, but he should move fast through the system anyway as a potential number four starter. He just signed on July 3. DOB: 12/1/86. Signing bonus: $270,000.
5. Miguel Pena, LHP, La Joya HS (TX), #142 overall: This was also an overdraft to me, as most had Pena going in the 7th-10th round area at best. He’s a projectable lefty at 6’2’’/160, and you can tell from that line that he has room to fill out. He’s also considered signable, but he hasn’t signed yet, so we’ll see. Overall, a mediocre pick. DOB: 10/24/90. Commitment: San Jacinto JC (TX).
6. Michael Taylor, SS, Westminster Academy (FL), #172 overall: There was simply not much information on Taylor publicly available before the draft, so it was very surprising to see his name called this high on draft day. According to this story, Taylor had an impressive workout. Good workouts make draft position hard to gauge. Taylor signed quickly on June 15, and he’s yet to make his pro debut, though he’s on the GCL Nationals’ roster. DOB: 3/26/91. Signing bonus: $125,000.
7. Dean Weaver, RHP, Georgia, #202 overall: The Nationals went back to the Bulldogs for this pick, and this pick was much more sensible than the Holder pick. He’s a year younger, and he already seems to be in the role in which he’ll flourish, the bullpen. He’s got a solid fastball and solid offspeed stuff, making him a possible setup man in the future. He was expected to go a few rounds higher, and he has yet to sign. DOB: 5/17/88.
8. Roberto Perez, SS, Dorado Academy (PR), #232 overall: Perez is a unique Puerto Rican prospect in that he has a commitment to a large mainland baseball program. This makes his signability a little more questionable than most island draftees. However, his solid skillset and huge arm at short still made him an attractive prospect behind fellow Puerto Ricans Reymond Fuentes and Ruben Sierra, Jr. He has yet to sign, so we’ll see how this pick plays out. DOB: 4/4/91. Commitment: Oklahoma State.
9. Taylor Jordan, RHP, Brevard CC (FL), #262 overall: I immediately liked this pick, as Jordan was one of the more interesting JUCO prospects. Having been picked by the Reds in the 18th round in 2007, he was always a prospect, but he missed a year for unknown reasons before re-taking the mound this spring. He pitched very well on a weak team, showing a nice sinker/slider combo with room to grow. He’ll need some work, but this was a great pick in terms of talent and signability, though they might have been able to get him a round or three later. Jordan signed on June 15, and he’s thrown 5 shutout innings in the GCL with 5 strikeouts and only a hit and walk allowed so far. DOB: 1/17/89. Signing bonus: $99,500.
10. Paul Applebee, LHP, UC Riverside, #292 overall: I wasn’t too impressed with this pick, but it’s fair in terms of draft value. Your normal college lefty, Applebee didn’t ever flash anything close to a plus, or even average, fastball, but he has solid offspeed stuff, making him a candidate to be a future LOOGY. I don’t like to draft future LOOGYs this high, but he was always a candidate to go here. Applebee signed on July 3, and he’s yet to appear in a game. DOB: 5/17/88. Signing bonus: $95,000.
11. Justin Bloxom, OF, Kansas State, #322 overall: Bloxom was projected to go somewhere in this area as a typical hard-nosed college first baseman. The Nationals picked him as an outfielder with the goal to make him into a passable left fielder. He’s a switch-hitter with a Lyle Overbay-like swing, though with far less results. He was a solid hitter in college, though, and he signed quickly (June 15). Solid, though uninspiring, pick. DOB: 4/29/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.
12. Nathan Karns, RHP, Texas Tech, #352 overall: This was a pick I immediately identified as a potential steal if the Nationals were able to sign him. Karns has a plus fastball with a potentially devastating slider, but his mechanics are all screwed up, leading to some awful command. His pro body (6’5’’/225) is watched with extreme interest from scouts, but he fell this far due to the mechanics questions. He still hasn’t signed, and he’s currently pitching in the Texas Collegiate League, where he’s flashing his plus stuff and poor command. DOB: 11/25/87.
13. Pat Lehman, RHP, George Washington, #382 overall: Not a lot available on this kid, except the fact that he was a 41st rounder of the Twins a year ago and he has a large frame at 6’6’’/215. He was the Atlantic-10 Pitcher of the Year, though he didn’t strike out a batter an inning, and his workload was quite heavy. Still, this is an intriguing pick, and even though this is a bit earlier than I thought he’d go, Lehman could make things interesting. He signed on June 15, and he’s having a successful debut with Vermont, having thrown 7 innings, allowing only a run on 4 hits and a walk, striking out 6. DOB: 10/18/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
14. Naoya Washiya, OF, JC of the Desert (CA), #412 overall: Very interesting background story. Read about it here. However, I have to question drafting a guy this high who only hit .274 in junior college, especially considering no one thought he’d be drafted much higher than the 42nd round tag the Nationals put on him a year ago. However, he signed quickly on June 15, and he’s 1-for-16 so far in the GCL. DOB: 10/3/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.
15. Corey Davis, 1B, Coffee HS (GA), #442 overall: Davis is a huge kid at 6’3’’/258, and he undoubtedly carries with him the expectations of power hitting. He’s only committed to a junior college, so I’m wondering why he still hasn’t signed. I expect that they’ll eventually get it done, though Davis isn’t exactly an uber-talented prospect. DOB: 10/10/90. Commitment: Walters State CC.
16. Sean Nicol, SS, San Diego, #472 overall: Not a lot to see here, as I’m still trying to wrap my head around why the Nationals seemed to want Nicol so much. He improved his hitting quite a bit in college, and his approach is pretty good, but his fielding has been pretty bad. If his hitting improvement is legit, it could be a nice find, but he’s not really a shortstop. He was part of the group that signed on June 15, and he’s hitting a nice .313/.382/.375 through 48 ABs with Vermont. DOB: 9/25/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
17. Chad Jenkins, LHP, Cecil CC (MD), #502 overall: Jenkins is another former Nationals draftee that was re-drafted by them this year. Picked in the 44th round out of high school, Jenkins was expected to go somewhere near the 20th this year. He was mediocre stuff, but had great results at Cecil. He signed on June 23, and he’s thrown 5 innings in the GCL, allowing a couple of earned runs on 4 hits and 4 walks, striking out 7. DOB: 3/12/88. Signing bonus: $45,000.
18. Marcus Stroman, SS, Patchogue-Medford HS (NY), #532 overall: Stroman came onto my radar screen as a two-way prospect with a smallish body. Despite scouts’ overall impression that he’s a better prospect as a pitcher, the Nationals appeased Stroman by picking him as a shortstop, though it’s doubtful he’ll sign. He’s got some plus tools (speed, fielding), but I doubt his hitting ability. Don’t expect him to sign, though it’s possible that some August 17 wrangling might get him in the system. This marks the transition to the organizational and unsignable player territory. The following writeups will only be done for notable players. DOB: 5/1/91. Commitment: Duke.
19. Frank Corolla, RHP, Houston, #562 overall: Not much to say here except that Corolla failed his physical and had his contract voided after agreeing with the other June 15 signees. Ouch. DOB: 3/22/88.
20. Jack Walker, 3B, Concordia (IL), #592 overall: I have to admit Walker wasn’t on my radar screen at all. He signed on June 15, and he’s hitting .289/.438/.368 in 38 ABs for Vermont. DOB: 2/12/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
21. Mitchell Clegg, LHP, UMass, #622 overall: Clegg should have gone higher, so I’ll give him a brief mention. He’s got a big body (6’4’’/225), though he’s older and has some mediocre stuff. However, he could grow into a nice LOOGY, maybe even a normal middle reliever. He was an easy sign on June 15, and he’s had a nice pro debut with Vermont, as he’s being stretched out as a starter. DOB: 12/22/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
22. Danny Rosenbaum, LHP, Xavier, #652 overall: Rosenbaum was projected to go in the teens, and though he doesn’t have a big pro body (6’1’’/205), he should make it by on his solid, though underwhelming, stuff for awhile. He signed on June 17, and he’s been hit around hard in the GCL so far. DOB: 10/10/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
23. Kyle Breault, SS, Northville HS (MI), #682 overall: Breault was a relative unknown, so I’ll leave this alone. He signed on June 24, and he’s 0-3 with 3 strikeouts in his only GCL appearance. Seems overmatched to me. DOB: 10/5/90. Signing bonus: Unknown.
24. Dustin Crane, RHP, Snead State CC (AL), #712 overall: I really liked this pick, so I might as well say it. Crane is a bit old for a JUCO, but his arm is undeniable despite being a couple years removed from Tommy John surgery. Solid pick for signability, draft position, and talent. He signed on June 15, and he’s been hit around in the GCL in 4 innings. DOB: 8/13/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
25. Matt Ridings, RHP, Western Kentucky, #742 overall: Nothing to add except the fact that he’s a college junior who hasn’t signed, and therefore I don’t expect him to sign. DOB: 10/17/87.
26. Gianison Boekhoudt, SS, Carroll HS (TX), #772 overall: One of the stranger names I’ve come across. Signed on June 15 and has yet to debut in the GCL. Was a prep catcher. DOB: 10/15/89. Signing bonus: Unknown.
27. Brandon King, RHP, Martinsburg HS (WV), #802 overall: Very rarely does a 27th-rounder get a huge bonus. Even more rarely do they get that bonus so quickly after the draft. However, King got both. A big kid (6’3’’/210) with a live arm, King’s stock came on strong late, and his workout with the Nationals probably earned him his money. He signed on June 29, and he’s yet to appear on a roster. DOB: 11/14/90. Signing bonus: $250,000.
28. Matt Swynenberg, RHP, Black Hawk JC (IA), #832 overall: Nothing to add. Signed around June 24, has a pro body (6’5’’/185), and has pitched well in a pair of GCL performances. DOB: 2/16/89. Signing bonus: Unknown.
29. Evan Bronson, LHP, Trinity (TX), #862 overall: Was drafted in the 36th round by the Brewers a year ago, but didn’t sign. Was expected to go somewhere around the 20th round. Signed on June 15 and has dominated the NYPL. DOB: 2/13/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
30. Rob Wort, RHP, Jefferson JC (MO), #892 overall: Wort had a legit college commitment to Missouri State, but signed with the Nationals almost immediately on June 15. His debut in the GCL hasn’t gone too well. DOB: 2/7/89. Signing bonus: Unknown.
31. J.J. Sferra, OF, UNLV, #922 overall: Small body, not much speed, not any power, not much ability in general. Signed on June 15 and has gone just 6-for-35 with Vermont. DOB: 12/16/85. Signing bonus: Unknown.
32. Kyle Morrison, RHP, Wagner, #952 overall: This could be a steal, as Morrison could have easily gone in the top ten rounds. He fell for unknown reasons, and the Nationals snapped him up in the third day. He’s got an average fastball and with some work on his slider, he can be either a possible middle reliever, even peaking as a setup man. Nice, nice pick, especially considering they signed him so quickly on June 15. He’s pitched fairly well in his debut with Vermont. DOB: 12/22/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
33. Nick DeSantiago, C, Hays HS (TX), #982 overall: Nothing to add here. Hasn’t signed yet, and I wouldn’t expect him to. DOB: 4/17/91. Commitment: Texas.
34. Shane McCatty, RHP, Oakland, #1012 overall: College senior organizational arm. Signed on June 29 and has had solid debut, though in the GCL. DOB: 5/18/87.
35. Jacob Morris, OF, Coppell HS (TX), #1042 overall: Morris is an unsignable player, but his tools are outstanding. He’s got plus tools in almost every category, though I’m wary of his hitting skills. He’s a switch-hitter with more issues from the left side, so maybe a coach can convince him to drop the lefty part of his game. Great pick from a talent and draft position perspective, but he’s completely unsignable. DOB: 12/19/90. Commitment: Arizona State.
36. Josh Miller, LHP, O’Connor HS (TX), #1072 overall: Nothing to add except the fact that he’s apparently unsignable. I don’t even know where he’s going. DOB: 1/7/91. Commitment: Unknown.
37. Josh Elander, C, Round Rock HS (TX), #1102 overall: Elander was expected to go much higher, but he fell due to worries about his college commitment and asking price. He’s got a big, big bat, and he also is more athletic than most catchers, leading some to wonder if he’ll end up in the outfield, though his arm is strong enough to be a pro catcher. He probably needs college refining, and he could re-emerge as a top prospect in three years. He won’t sign. DOB: 3/19/91. Commitment: TCU.
38. Chris Manno, LHP, Duke, #1132 overall: Manno should have gone much earlier, and he was in consideration for the top ten rounds quite easily as a lefty with good size and great deception. His fastball is below-average, but he couples it with a contrasting changeup that gets a lot of funny swings. He got picked so low that I think he goes back to Duke for his senior year. DOB: 11/4/88.
39. Kyle Martin, RHP, St. Michael’s Academy (TX), #1162 overall: Big kid at 6’7’’/185, but unrefined and unsignable, leading to his falling this far, though he wasn’t expected to go too much higher. Will easily benefit from college and won’t sign. DOB: 1/18/91. Commitment: Texas A&M.
40. Joseph Hughes, RHP, McMichael HS (NC), #1192 overall: Hughes should have gone much higher, probably in the teens, but his college commitment, asking price, and rawness scared teams off. This was simply a follow selection, and he won’t sign. Remember this name for 2011, though, as he’ll be a sophomore-eligible. DOB: 6/4/90. Commitment: East Carolina.
41. Dane Opel, OF, Edwardsville HS (IL), #1222 overall: Opel would have gone much higher without a strong college commitment, as he’s big (6’3’’/193) and strong at the plate. He won’t sign, as this was largely a ceremonial pick. DOB: 5/22/91. Commitment: Missouri.
42. Daniel Cropper, RHP, UNC Wilmington, #1252 overall: A draft-eligible sophomore, there’s no way Cropper signs, though he has a pro body at 6’4’’/200. Expect him to resurface a bit higher next year. DOB: 1/13/88.
43. Cohl Walla, RHP, Lake Travis HS (TX), #1282 overall: Another talented player, Walla was expected to go in the top ten rounds, but fell due to signability concerns with his college commitment. Interestingly enough, the Nationals called Walla’s name as a pitcher, where most teams easily preferred Walla’s pure athleticism in the outfield. He’s got a projectable body at 6’4’’/170, so either spot seems a possibility. There’s a good chance he’ll be a two-way player in college, so remember this name for 2012, even if he doesn’t put it all together. DOB: 7/20/90. Commitment: Texas.
44. Hoby Milner, LHP, Paschal HS (TX), #1312 overall: Milner is yet another Texas prep that won’t be signed by the Nationals. He’s got an easy delivery with a strong college commitment added in, meaning his top five round talent was dropped this far. He won’t sign, but he should become an immediate part of his college pitching staff. DOB: 1/13/91. Commitment: Texas.
45. Michael Ratterree, SS, Memorial HS (TX), #1342 overall: Ratterree was definitely on my draft board on draft day, but I, like most teams, shied away due to that dreaded Rice commitment. He’s got a very solid prep bat, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him starting at second base next Spring for the Owls, though he could move to short after Rich Hague moves on to pro ball. He won’t sign, but he could have an immediate impact in college. DOB: 2/9/91. Commitment: Rice.
46. Seth Greene, RHP, Deep Run HS (VA), #1372 overall: All I know is that this is the son of former Major Leaguer Tommy Greene, making him an interesting name to follow for 2012. DOB: 8/16/91. Commitment: VMI.
47. Darius Rudoph, 2B, Snead State CC (AL), #1402 overall: Nothing to add here. DOB: 11/10/88.
48. Zach Dygert, C, Ball State, #1432 overall: A college junior that fell most likely due to his desire to finish school. DOB: 8/4/87.
49. Jose Sermo, OF, Ileana de Gracia HS (PR), #1462 overall: Nothing to add. DOB: 3/22/91.
50. Alvin Hines, OF, Pelham HS (AL), #1492 overall: Hines has a football scholarship to Samford, and I don’t expect him to sign. DOB: 1/21/91. Commitment: Samford (FB).
From what I said before: “I give them a B, only because of Strasburg. I like the picks of Kobernus, Weaver, Taylor Jordan, and Nathan Karns, and if they can sign a single guy that’s projected to go to school, their grade might be a bit higher. Guys like Marcus Stroman, Brandon King, Kyle Morrison, Jacob Morris, Josh Elander, Chris Manno, Cohl Walla, and Hoby Milner make this an interesting draft, but I’d be surprised if any of those guys sign.”
Surprisingly, they’ve already signed Brandon King and Kyle Morrison from the aforementioned group, though they haven’t been able to nail down Nathan Karns as of yet. If they were to do so, and if they are able to sign Strasburg, Miguel Pena, Dean Weaver, and Roberto Perez, I’d wholeheartedly give this draft a solid B, as they’ve added some solid talent. Strasburg is obviously the prize, but Storen has had a nice debut, and Jeff Kobernus and A.J. Morris are both legitimate prospects. I still question the Trevor Holder pick, and I wonder why they even gave him $200K. Dean Weaver deserves more than Holder, which might be his holdup. Pena will sign relatively soon, but I’m less sure about Perez, as his OSU commitment kind of turns around the assumption in most baseball circles that a drafted Puerto Rican prospect is a signed Puerto Rican prospect. Good for him. That might lead other Puerto Rican prospects to seek out mainland college commitments, not just for leverage, but for legitimate options.
Looking at some quick trends, it’s obvious that the Nationals leaned heavily on the state of Texas, though they won’t sign the majority of the prospects there. They’ve also leaned heavily towards college players in the early rounds, with very signable younger players mixed in, as I’m pretty sure they’re surprised by Pena’s holdout and Perez’ as well. They went to the University of Georgia pitching staff a pair of times, a trend that could be followed in upcoming years, as that team seems to put out one or two quality arms every year. I’m guessing the team is hoping they can get a LOOGY out of one of Paul Applebee, Chad Jenkins, Mitch Clegg, Danny Rosenbaum, and Evan Bronson. The Nationals’ lack of Major League bullpen arms seems to have come through into the draft process. Overall, though, I think the Nationals did a nice job of adding some talent with some upside, though they didn’t have the money to really think big, and that must be disheartening. However, Brandon King is a nice late-round sign, and little things like that can help build farm systems back into respectability.
FINAL GRADE: B.
Note: If you have information that either contradicts the information above or can add to it (such as signing bonus information), feel free to leave a comment or email me at email@example.com.