Nats tap RHP Fedde with 18th overall pick
It just made too much sense. Scott Boras client. Tommy John surgery. Coached by Tim Chambers (Bryce Harper's former Junior College coach). High risk and high reward pick. I thought that the mock drafters that sent UNLV RHP Erick Fedde to the Nats were being lazy, since Lucas Giolito, Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke were all drafted when battling injuries (or battling the injury-prone tag). I didn't really buy into the hype until ESPN's Keith Law responded to my tweet this morning that the Fedde/Nats rumors were "based on actual intel." Before that confirmation, I hadn't seen any MLB Draft insiders refer to any sources inside the Nats organization, so naturally I was skeptical.
I've always been in favor of high ceiling over high floor in the draft, so Fedde was a solid option in my opinion. He wasn't seen as a contender to be the 1st overall pick like fellow Tommy John undergoer ECU RHP Jeff Hoffman, but was expected to be taken in the top 10. The Las Vegas native excelled in 2014, putting up a 1.76 ERA with a 9.69 K/9, 2.48 BB/9 and 3.90 K/BB. This was quite an uptick from his first two seasons at UNLV, where he combined to have a 3.77 ERA with a 7.20 K/9, 2.95 BB/9 and 2.44 K/BB, which are not standout numbers.
With only one year of peak performance to date and having undergone Tommy John surgery last month, why take the risk on Fedde? Projectability. Fedde gained 2014 draft helium when he hit the mid-to-upper 90's on his fastball last summer in the Cape Cod League. He hit as high as 97 mph this year and has the ability to add more velocity if he adds muscle; according to UNLV, he's 6'4" and 180 lbs, and many scouts have noted that 180 seems at least 5-10 lbs too generous there. Fedde mixes up his 91-94 mph fastball (peaks at 97) with a quality slider, developing changeup and good command. The real question mark is the changeup, as it really doesn't look like anything special. It's tough to be a 2 pitch starting pitcher, so Fedde isn't even a slam dunk to be a starting rotation guy even with 2 plus pitches and good command.
Tim Chambers said in an April interview that Fedde is the most competitive player he's ever coached, moreso than a certain 21 year old National that wears number 34. That doesn't really mean a whole lot, but I wanted to feed the narrative a little. Relatedly, Bryce Harper wanted Fedde to be a Nat as well:
You can follow the newest National @ErickFedde