Nationals select RHP Jake Johansen 68th overall

It took almost five hours, but the Nationals finally got to the 68th overall selection. There were some quality names available (favorites of mine included LHP Kent Emanuel of North Carolina, RHP Bobby Wahl of Ole Miss, 3B Chad Pinder of Virginia Tech and RHP Alex Balog of San Francisco), but the Nats settled on Dallas Baptist University RHP Jake Johansen.

Johansen throws really, really hard. He can dial it up to 99 mph. Unfortunately, he has no refined secondary options and had a 7.84 K/9 against mediocre competition this season. He was on my radar for the fourth round in the Minor League Ball mock draft as a signability guy in round 3 or 4.

Baseball America placed Johansen at 182 overall on their top 500, noting that “for a guy who can dial up a 99 mph fastball, Johansen doesn’t make a huge impression on batters or scouts.” They go on to note that he’s got closer upside.

Keith Law is much kinder, putting him at #66 on his top 100. Law rates Johansen’s fastball as a 70 out of 80 and then has him between 35-45 in fastball movement, command, control, curveball, changeup and feel for pitching. Law opines that Johansen should start for at least a season in order to be forced to develop a decent secondary pitch and also expects for him to end up in the bullpen.

Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball put Johansen 195th on his top 500 and gave him a 30/55 present/potential rating. 

Prospect Digest noted that Johansen’s 2013 stats (5.53 ERA) look worse than they are due to a .373 BABIP, also pointing out his much more managable 3.81 FIP. They call him a potential 2 win player out of the bullpen.

Ginger Poulson of College Baseball Daily wrote in January that  “when his control is working for him he has the potential to be a serious asset to any bullpen,” also noting that his slider can be an excellent strikeout pitch when he has control of it.

The Nationals have replaced Henry Rodriguez with an inferior Henry Rodriguez by drafting Jake Johansen. Hopefully they see something they can tweak to improve a secondary option and his command so he can become a bullpen asset. I will wait until rounds 3-10 roll around to truly judge the pick, as the Nats could be trying to sign him under-slot to get an over-slot guy in round 3; for now, though, I’m very disappointed with the Nats taking a future reliever with major control issues and poor secondary pitches with their highest draft pick.

Per Baseball America, Johansen signed with the Nationals for the slot amount of $820,000.

3 comments

  1. I think I am missing where the "major control issues" tag is coming from. He only had a 2.76 BB/9 last year. That is FAR from a major issue. You pointed out the BABIP rate which I wouldn’t be shocked is contributed to by a subpar defense around him. I’m not saying this is a thrilling pick or anything like that but I also don’t think it is the second coming of Henry.

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  2. While Johansen improved his control this season, he had a 6.26 BB/9 in 2012 and 10.8 (!!!!) in 2011. I’m skeptical that he can keep his walk rate this low, but would be pleased if he did. He’s still learning to pitch and could benefit from new pitching coaches as well.Even if he turns into a top of the line closer, though, I think the Nats could have done better with pick #68.

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    1. I think, as you stated, a lot will depend on what they do in rounds 3-10. If this pick is simply a guy with high upside and low contract demands that allows more financial flexibility for the rest of the draft and they maxmize that oppurtunity it will be an acceptable pick. If not, then I agree they could have done better.It is an interesting trend that he has dropped almost 4 BB/9 in each of his last 3 season. Getting into pro ball, away from aliminum bats and the WAC could boost his performance significantly. The WAC is a very tough conference for pitchers similar to the PCL and Texas league in MILB.

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