The Nats lost 3-1 on Thursday evening, but it was still a productive night, as they added three solid prospects to the organization on Day 1 of the MLB draft. The addition of Daniel Murphy and the subtraction of Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann left the Nationals with back-to-back picks at #28 and #29, as well as pick #58.Read More
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In the first round, the Nats took a pitcher recovering from Tommy John surgery. In the second round, the Nats took a pitcher who had labrum surgery in 2012. It's easy to get drawn in by the narrative, "the Nats take all of the injured pitchers," but you're smarter than that! Yes, Andrew Suarez had labrum surgery in 2012. That was also 2 years ago, and he has since regained his velocity and feel for pitches. Labrum injuries are scary (as we've seen with Matt Purke), but it seems that the problem for pitchers who have labrum issues is getting their velocity and pitches back to form. For that reason, I'm not buying into Suarez as an injury reclamation type; there still is some reason to be concerned, but he's already gotten over the biggest hurdle.
Now that I've gotten off of my soapbox, what kind of pitcher is Suarez? He's a lefty from Miami who throws hard. That combination hasn't worked out for the Nats in recent years, has it? For some odd reason, Suarez noted that Gio Gonzalez was his role model in a 2011 interview with JaysProspects.com after being drafted in the 9th round.
Suarez gained 6-8 mph on his fastball between 2013 and 2014, generally sitting in the 91-94 range that he pitched in before labrum surgery, but also peaking at 96 at times. He pairs it with a dirty slider that sits around 82-85 and a changeup that is labeled as average now, but could become an above average pitch. While Suarez' velocity has been marked as somewehat erratic in 2014, he has thrown strikes with great consistency, with a miniscule 1.23 BB/9 to go with a respectable 7.14 K/9. A guy with a 5.8 K/BB rate and the ability to add more K's? Yes please. Suarez could stand to improve his command, as he's been surprisingly hittable given his good stuff and control.
I feel like Suarez provides the appropriate level of risk and upside that you like in your 2nd round picks, and am happy with his selection. He has a pretty high floor as a pitcher, with most of the risk being potential injuries. Suarez has a little bit of leverage with another year of eligibility remaining (and potentially 2, as he might be able to achieve a medical redshirt for his 2 and 1/3 innings pitched freshman season), but he still seems to be likely to sign given his past injuries.
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
Last week, I took a look at theNats' 2nd round pick, RHP Jake Johansen of Dallas Baptist University. I was not incredibly pleased with the idea of taking a guy with bad control issues with the team's first pick, figuring that he could have been there in the 3rd round or later as well. At least the Nats got him signed and ready to have his 99 mph fastball coached.
As of yesterday, Baseball America has reported the signings of Johansen, Gunter, Yezzo, Napoli, Joyce and Middleton. Currently, the Nationals' picks are $418,900 under budget (thanks to signing the five round 6-10 guys to under-slot deals). Voth should sign for around slot money, so I would expect for the Nats to offer Drew Ward around $800,000 and Nick Pivetta around $475,000, give or take a bit. The Nats have a chance at signing their top 25 picks (all college and junior college players besides Drew Ward).
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.Read More
This is not the most exciting year to be a follower of the Nationals' draft.
The 2013 MLB Draft kicks off on Thursday, June 6, but it will take a while to see the Nats' first pick; for the first time in their existence, the Nats don't own a first round pick (due to the signing of RHP Rafael Soriano), so their first pick (68th overall) will not be until the tail end of day 1.
I've been chosen (by first come-first serve virtue) to represent the Nats in this year's Minor League Ball mock draft that takes place this Saturday afternoon. One of the duties in being a mock scouting director is to write Mock Organization Diaries, so I figured it would be beneficial to Natstown to take a look at what I would do if I were in the shoes of Mike Rizzo and Kris Kline.Read More
This is not a great draft. There is no superstar player, a lack of top-end talent (or at least projectable top-end talent) and very few college bats worthy of first round selection. I generally am a fan of drafting college players over high schoolers, but this draft’s college talent basically all has flaws as big as the high school talent. I’m a little surprised in myself to see as many high school players on my list, but feel good about it.