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Nats 2021 top 10 picks with ranks and thoughts

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Yes I know, this is the same picture i used yesterday. Might as well; it seems like the team has blown most of its draft pool on him.

Note: I have updated the Draft Tracker for the 2021 draft, both the master board and the 2021 draft notes boards).

I have more details about signing bonus calculus and player notes/twitter accounts on the 2021 worksheet, in case you’re wondering why I separate them.

By now, you’ve probably heard about our picks and read a ton of responses in the commentary. Nonetheless, here’s some thought and insight into our 2021 picks.

Using various pundit draft board rankings (listed at the bottom for reference), here’s how our picks were thought of before the draft.  Along with some commentary from me.

  • 1st Round/#11 overall: Brady House, SS/3B Winder Barrow HS (GA).   Law=11.  MLBPipeline=8.  BA=7.  Fangraphs=9.  ESPN=5. Prospects1500: 6

Thoughts: Discussed in a separate post here. Short version: great pick, great value for a guy who many pundits thought would go top 3-5. Based on where the pundits generally had House ranked, the Nats definitely seemed to get solid value even at the #11 spot in the draft.

  • 2nd round/#47 overall: Daylen Lile, OF Trinity HS (KY). Louisville commit. Law > 100.  MLBPipeline=80.  BA=62.  Fangraphs ~80.  ESPN=47. Prospects1500: 70.

Thoughts: MLB’s scouting reports describe him as a gap hitter, but his size (6’0″) makes you wonder if he can develop power. Despite his understated stature, he’s apparently limited to LF because of a lack of arm strength? A curious pick, especially since he was projected more like a 3rd rounder. Is this a value pick to save on bonus money? I can’t imagine so; a HS player in the 2nd round isn’t taking a discount. Also, not for nothing … another prep player. Is Mike Rizzo gearing up for a possible rebuild by going young in the draft? A completely typical Nats pick (Brendan Beck, rhp from Stanford) went just a few picks later, a famous guy who you would have thought was a shoe-in for the Nats. Based on the scouting ratings, it seems across the board that the Nats overpaid for this pick. I thought one scouting report in BA was especially prescient: “Lile’s profile has been one that teams prefer to send to college where he will have a chance to prove his hitting ability.”

  • 3rd Round/#82 overall: Branden Boissiere, an OF/1B from University of Arizona. Law > 100.  MLBPipeline=159.  BA=143.  Fangraphs >100 .  ESPN > 100. Prospects1500: 181

Thoughts: Seems like a slot-saver once again. Boissiere is 1B limited (listed as an OF but that was limited LF exposure early in his career). He can definitely hit though: slash line on the year: .369/.451/.506 but only 5 homers. Sweet swing, not a ton of power, Mark Grace comp. Another odd pick though in the grand scheme of things.

  • 4th round/#112 overall: Dustin Saenz, a LHP from Texas A&M. MLBPipeline=189.  BA=143.  Prospects1500: 136.

Thoughts: The scouting reports list him as TAMU’s swing man for most of his career but was a weekend starter this year. He had decent numbers on the season; in 14 starts a 4.27 ERA, 1.26 whip, 104/23 in 84ip. I like those K/IP numbers a lot, especially since he’s pitching in the SEC. He had a couple of rough outings this season against top SEC teams (Florida, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Arkansas all got to him), but he finished his SEC slate by pitching 8 innings of 2-hit ball against LSU. Scouting reports have him sitting low 90s and being undersized (5’11”). Seems like a bit of a slot saver yet again, but likely a decent lefty matchup reliever arm at the next level with deception. I’m beginning to wonder if the Nats promised Brady House … well, the house.

  • 5th Round/#143 overall: TJ White, a prep OF from Dorman HS (SC). MLBPipeline= n/r.  BA=360.  Prospects1500: 346

Thoughts: Is Mike Rizzo sick today? he’s taken three high school players in his first 5 rounds after taking just a handful of prep players in the top 10 rounds in the last decade. White is somewhat unknown, but is listed as having 70 power at BA, a switch hitter, and is an Indiana recruit. Corner OF limited apparently, making him the third positionally challenged player the team has taken. Is he underslot? Maybe; if he’s ranked in the mid 300s at best, that’s a 10th round player projection. If they offered him anywhere close to slot he may take it.

  • 6th round/#173 overall: Michael Kirian, LHP from Louisville. BA=274.  Prospects1500: 262

Thoughts: Rizzo’s second college arm … and likely his second lefty reliever. He was a reliever for most of his Louisville career, transitioned to the rotation this year and struggled. His 2021 stat line: 4.80 ERA, 1.41 whip, 75/28 K/BB in 69 IP. He seemed to be doing fine in the rotation, but then had 4 straight starts against UVA, Clemson, Duke and UNC where he got shelled each week, then got dumped from the rotation for the rest of the season. He’s huge though: 6’6″ and the scouting reports say he creates deception and odd angles. Great; a loogy. More and more i’m thinking these are all underslot guys to pay House.

  • 7th Round/#203 overall: Jacob Young, OF/2B from UFlorida. BA=354, Prospects1500: 200

Thoughts: A more slight guy (6’0″ and just 175) who played LF this year (to make way for the more “famous” Jud Fabian, but who is clearly a CF and also can play 2B. Listed as a speed guy with a solid hit tool, he started all 60 games for Florida this year and slashed .315/.385/.461 with 5 homers and 13/14 SBs. Not too bad; I mean, at least he had 5 homers. Per BA, he led the Gators in hits (80), doubles (16), runs (56) and stolen bases (13) this spring. Not a bad pick in the 7th round.

  • 8th round/#233 overall: Will Frizzell, 1B from Texas. BA=418, Prospects1500=211.

Thoughts: Well, Frizzell absolutely destroyed at the plate this year; his slash line was .343/.451/.686 with 19 homers in 56 games. Lefty hitting 1B who BA says is a poor defender and may have to DH in pro ball. Well, lets let him hit his way up before we worry about where he’s playing. Despite his power, he’s listed as a plus hitter as well, so maybe the team has someone to push Drew Mendoza now. An excellent senior sign in the 8th round.

  • 9th round/#264 overall: Cole Quintanilla, RHP from Texas. BA=300.

Thoughts: College reliever for Texas, led their staff in ERA on the year with an excellent 1.35 era/0.83 whip. 42/11 K/BB in 40 innings (26 appearances). So he projects as a middle reliever. BA notes “Quintanilla is the typical fastball-slider reliever with a 91-95 mph average fastball and a plus low-80s slider.” TJ surgery in 2018 (wouldn’t be a Nats draft if we didn’t draft someone who had TJ), but no issues reported. Decent senior pick at this juncture, can’t complain especially since he likely signs for a fraction of slot.

  • 10th round/#274 overall: Darren Baker 2B from Cal Berkely. BA=187, Prospect1500=326

Thoughts: well, we drafted him in 2017, likely as a favor to Dusty Baker (who we summarily fired), and now we got him again in 2021. In the interim, he’s moved from SS to 2B. Lets see if its “third time’s a charm” about drafting a second baseman from UC Berkeley; we tried it in 2009 (2nd rounder Jeff Kobernus) and in 2012 (2nd rounder Tony Renda). Baker has almost no power (just 1 homer in 4 years in college) but has a ton of speed (top 10 in the nation in SBs) and is a plus defender at 2B. BA thinks he could play OF, but his arm is limited. Solid hitter (slashed .327/.402/.354). I suppose a 10th round senior sign who fills a spot of need (have you guys seen the 2B depth chart in the minors right now? Its MLFAs, NDFAs and 20th rounders).


top 10 picks Draft summary:

  • 7 hitters, 3 Arms (wow)
  • 3 prep, 7 college (wow)
  • Of the 3 arms, all three likely projecting as relievers
  • Of the 7 bats, two likely 1B, one CF, one 2B, two likely corner OF and House, who likely moves to 3B.

Conjecture on over/under slot needs in top 10 rounds

  • Players who are likely commanding over-slot: House
  • Players who are likely signing for slot: Lile, White, Young
  • Players who are likely under slot: Boissiere, Saenz, Kirian, Frizzell, Quintanilla, Baker.

Draft Board Rankings

Written by Todd Boss

July 13th, 2021 at 12:46 pm

2021 Draft coverage: Local draft-prospects to keep an eye on

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First draft of this post?  5/31/2018 when all-region posts started coming out and some Freshmen got noticed.

The College players are mostly drawn from my 2018 Local High School draft coverage, listing guys who were HS seniors in 2018 who went to 3-year programs and who are now draft eligible.

Major Local College Draft Prospects for 2021

  • Andrew Abbott, LHP UVA (via Halifax Co).  2019 Collegiate National team extended-roster selection.  Went undrafted in 2020 despite being ranked #116 by MLBpipeline.  2021 Friday starter for UVA, over Vasil and Savino.  Great start to 2021 season, rising fast.  Now projecting late 2nd round.
  • Sean Burke, RHP UMaryland; TJ in 2019, good start to 2020.  Two-pitch guy, analytics driven analysis.  2021 friday starter, tons of Ks but ERA inflated.  Per Law, hitting 97 this spring plus a 55-grade changeup, pushing him into top 50 ranks and mid-2nd rounder.
  • Zack Gelof, 3B, UVA by way of Rehoboth Beach, DE.  2nd team All American pre-2020 season.  2018 Delaware Gatorate POTY.  Ranked in the 30s, projecting as 2nd rounder by BA draft prep 2021.
  • Mike Vasil, RHP UVA via Mass HS.  Was projected 1st rounder, declined to be drafted to go to Virginia in 2018.  Backed up velocity in college, more command/control guy, falling on charts.  Saturday starter in 2021, still projecting 2nd/3rd rounder.

Lesser Local College draft eligibles w/ Local Ties

  • Nic Kent, 2B/SS UVA; solid hitter, not as much power, good SB.  Fringe SS, likely 2B professionally.
  • Wes Clarke, C South Carolina (via LCA/Forest va): former Evoshield top-team player, moved to 1B at South Carolina, projecting 4th-5th round.
  • Max Costes, 1B UMaryland; 2021 preseason 1st team All American, huge 2020 stats.
  • Stephen Schoch, RHP (closer) UVA.  3rd team pre-season AA.

Top DC/MD/VA Local Prep players for 2021

  • Jackson Merrill, SS Severna Park HS, MD.  Fast riser 2021 spring, rocketing into 3rd round discussion.  Kentucky commit.  Ends up going 27th overall!
  • James Wood, OF IMG Academy (FL) by way of Olney, MD.  6’7″ committed to Mississippi State, could be top 15 guy.  2021 near a BA top 10 guy.  But struggling in 2021 spring, hitting near .200 and likely sending him to college.
  • James Triantos, RHP/SS Madison HS: great 2-way player, 92 on the mound, power bat showed at WWBA.  Undersized, commit to UNC. Not getting much scouting love b/c of size and lack of high end single tool.  Reclassified from 2022 to 2021, Madison’s Ace 2021.  PBR top recruit 2021, now getting 2nd round buzz in BA’s top 500.
  • Peter Heubeck, RHP from Gilman HS in Baltimore.  Wake Forest commit, getting top-100 buzz late in the spring 2021.
  • Brandon Clarke, LHP from Rock Ridge HS.  PBR Virginia top 10 for 2021 class mid 2019.  Dirtbags summer team.  had TJ to miss most of 2020.  Alabama commit, up to 96-97 spring 2021 and in BA top 50.  Big-time riser, possibly 1st rounder.  PBR top recruit 2021.  BA rankings dropping badly June 2021
  • Kyle Robinson, RHP from Marshall.  Texas Tech commit.  PBR top recruit 2021.  Likely ranked too low to go in top few rounds, seems bound for college.

Other DC/MD/VA Local Prep players for 2021

  • Elijah Lambrose, OF from Stafford,  All 5D region as a sophomore in 2019.  NovaNine top 100 for 2019 as sophomore.  1st team VHSL All-5A in 2019 as sophomore.  PBR 2019 Futures game invitee.  South Carolina commit, PBR top recruit 2021.
  • Casey Cook, SS/RHP from Freedom-South Riding.  NovaNine top 100 for 2019 as sophomore, early commit to  UNC.  PBR Virginia top 10 for 2021 class mid 2019.  Mariucci Starts summer team.  PBR top recruit 2021.
  • Wyatt Shenkman, RHP Riverside HS.  Early commit to ECU, PBR top recruit 2021.
  • Colin Tuft, Madison C, early commit to UVA.  PBR top  recruit 2021.
  • Nick Lottchea, OF Westfield; full time starter as a freshman.  All 6D region as a sophomore.  NovaNine top 100 for 2019 as sophomore.  2nd team VHSL All-6A in 2019 as sophomore.
  • Josh Goodrich, C TC Williams.  2nd team all Class 6 Occoquon Region in 2018 as a freshman.  Team Aces summer team.
  • Danny Salisbury, 1B Annandale.   2nd team all Class 6 Occoquon Region in 2018 as a freshman.  2nd team All 6C as sophomore in 2019.
  • Jacob Orr, MIF Thomas Johnson (Frederick).  At 2018 PG Junior Nationals.  Team Elite summer team, early commit to Maryland.
  • Nathan Knowles, RHP Yorktown.   All 6D region as a sophomore.  NovaNine top 100 for 2019 as sophomore.  PBR 2019 Futures game invitee
  • Nick Guerra, 2B from Justice (formerly JEB Stuart): all 6C region as sophomore in 2019.  NovaNine top 100 for 2019 as sophomore
  • Dean Kampschror, OF from Justice.  all 6C region as sophomore in 2019.  NovaNine top 100 for 2019 as sophomore
  • Nathan Williams, RHP from Forest Park.    all 6C region as sophomore in 2019.  NovaNine top 100 for 2019 as sophomore
  • Evan Smith, 2B from Briar Woods.  All 5C region as sophomore in 2019.  NovaNine top 100 for 2019 as sophomore.  2nd team VHSL All-5A in 2019 as sophomore
  • Devon Zavacky, OF from Paul VI.  VISAA Division I all-state in 2019 as sophomore.
  • Caleb McAlister, OF from Stafford,  All 5D region as a sophomore in 2019.  NovaNine top 100 for 2019 as sophomore
  • Mike Shanahan, DH from Massaponax.  All 5D region as a sophomore in 2019.
  • Kevin Mackmin, 2B from Westfield.  NovaNine top 100 for 2019 as sophomore.
  • Ryan Cuadros, OF from Lake Braddock.  PBR 2019 Futures game invitee
  • J.T. Carter, C from Fredericksburg Christian.  PBR 2019 Futures game invitee

Extended DC/MD/VA Prep players (outside DC Area) on the radar.

  •  T.R. (Timothy) Williams, RHP from Page County (the State Class 2 champs) is the State 2-A POTY as a *freshman*.  2nd team USA Today all-state as a Freshman in 2018.  Member of the US U15 National team that competed in Panama in 2018.  Early commit to Virginia Tech (despite interest from Vanderbilt, Auburn, UVA).  Region 2B POTY in 2019 as sophomore.  1st team VHSL all-2A in 2019 as sophomore
  • Jay Woolfolk, RHP/C, SS from Benedictine HS (Midlothian).  VISAA Division I all-state in 2019 as sophomore.  PBR Virginia class of 2021 #1 ranked player mid 2019.  BA #36 for 2021 class nationwide in Sept 2019
  • Griffin O’Ferrall, SS from St. Christophers (Richmond): VISAA Division I all-state in 2019 as sophomore
  • Ethan Ott, RHP/util from Greenbriar Christian (Chesapeake).  VISAA Division II all-state in 2019 as sophomore.  2019 All-tidewater as a sophomore.
  • Bryce Post, SS from Warren County HS.  All Region 3B 1st team 2019 as sophomore.  2nd team VHSL all-3A in 2019 as sophomore
  • Hunter Powell, Util from William Monroe HS.  All Region 3B 1st team 2019 as sophomore.
  • Sam Slevin, OF from Cox HS (Virginia Beach).  1st team VHSL All-6A in 2019 as sophomore.  1st team all-Tidewater 2019 as sophomore.
  • Fenwick Trimble, Util from Cox HS (Virginia Beach).  2nd team VHSL All-6A in 2019 as sophomore.
  • Christian Martin, DH Amherst County HS.  1st team VHSL all-4A in 2019 as sophomore
  • Bryce Suters, OF Broadway HS.  1st team VHSL all-3A in 2019 as sophomore
  • Matthew Buchanan, RHP Lebanon HS.    1st team VHSL all-2A in 2019 as sophomore
  • Matt Arnold, 3B Chatham HS.    1st team VHSL all-2A in 2019 as sophomore
  • Kolby Barnes, C Galax HS.  1st team VHSL all-aA in 2019 as sophomore
  • Carter Keith, OF Auburn HS.  1st team VHSL all-aA in 2019 as sophomore

Sources used

Written by Todd Boss

July 12th, 2021 at 12:04 pm

Posted in Draft,Local Baseball

2021 Draft coverage; Overview of top Draft prospects

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This is a review of the marquee names that have been in discussion for the top-end of the 1st round for the 2021 draft.  Since (especially high schoolers) guys constantly are moving up or down draft boards, each section is divided into two areas: those 4-5 names really in talks to go 1-1 overall (“1-1” means 1st round, 1st overall) and then those who have fallen to “just” being 1st or 2nd rounders.

First draft of this post was in July of 2018, when several 1st rounders didn’t sign and thus became 2021 eligible.

College Upper 1st round names in the mix for 1-1

  • Jack Leiter, RHP Vanderbilt.  Was a top 2019 prep draftee but could not be bought out of Vandy commitment (for a reported $4.5M !).  His age puts him in the 2021 draft class.  Son of Al Leiter.  Top of the 1st round pedigree.   A little undersized, but very polished, will be a fast mover to majors.  Opened 2021 college season on fire; his stuff is MLB ready right now.  20 nohit innings, clearly the Ace of Vandy’s staff over Rocker.  By mid april consensus 1-1.
  • Kumar Rocker, RHP Vanderbilt.  Lost draft stock after being projected upper 1st rounder in 2018, but quickly gained it back.  Vanderbilt weekend starter in 2019, threw 19-K no-hitter in 2019 CWS super regionals.  2019 Collegiate National team extended roster as Freshman.   Consensus 1-1 pick for much of the draft analysis season ahead of 2021 draft.  2021 season has been dominant, but Leiter’s better.  Still one of the best 1-2 pitching punches seen in the college game since Cole-Bauer at UCLA.
  • Henry Davis, C, Louisville.  Fast riser with his 2021 season and the demand for top-end college catchers.
  • College Candidates who have fallen out of  1-1 contention
  • Matt McLean: 2B/SS UCLA.  Failed to sign as 25th overall pick in 2018, all-star at Cape in 2019, was exploding out of the gate in 2020 before season cancelled.  2021 struggling, costing him draft stock badly.  Likely moving to 2B in pros, hurting his value.
  • Gunnar Hoglund, RHP Ole Miss.  Failed to sign as supp-1st rounder in 2018.  Started 2020 strong, 3-plus pitches.  2021 now might be 3rd best college starter in draft and upper 1st round pedigree.  TJ surgery, out of top 5 consideration.
  • Jud Fabian, OF Florida.  Was Prep class of 2019, enrolled early and started for Florida in his age 18 season.  Crushed in 2019 Cape despite youth.  True CF with power, could be a big time prospect.  Some slight issues with swing and results in 2021, dropping him slightly.
  • Adrian del Castillo, C Miami. Fantastic pure  hitter with power and more walks than Ks in college Was not projecting to stay at C because of defensive concerns, but significant off-season work with Salvador Perez has improved the perception of his long-term viability behind the plate and vaulted him into the top-5 consideration.
  • Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest.  Huge velocity 100mph, fast riser with 2021 performance.
  • Nander de Sedas, SS, Florida State.  Lost 2018 draft stock, went to school.  Two-way player for FSU, starter at 2B/SS and also closer on the mound.  2021 struggling, not in 1st round conversation.
  • Max Ferguson, 2B Tennessee.  rapid riser after great fall season.
  • Colton Cowser, OF Sam Houston State.  2019 Collegiate National team extended roster as Freshman.
  • Alex Binelas, 3B, Louisville.  14  homers as a freshman.
  • Jadan Hill, RHP LSU.  Big hard thrower, was in LSU’s bullpen early 2020.  Best stuff of class, upper 90s, four plus pitches.  Lots will be driven by 2021 season.  April 2021 blew out elbow against Vandy, TJ surgery, dropping him in the 1st round likely.
  • Rodney Boone, RHP UCSB.  3rd team NCWBA AA as freshman after going 8-0.
  • Doug Nikhazy, LHP/OF Ole Miss.  2019 Collegiate National team extended roster as Freshman.
  • Mason Pelio, RHP Boston College.  2019 Collegiate National team extended roster as Freshman.
  • Steven Hajjar, LHP Michigan.  Missed 2019 with ACL injury, significant upside.
  • Kier Meredith, OF Clemson.
  • Adam Hackenberg, C Clemson by way of VA HS.  Best ranked VA player in 2018 prep class, went to school.  Awful 2021, likely not a draft candidate.

High School Upper 1st round names in the mix for 1-1

  • Jordan Lawlar, SS Jesuit Prep College (TX).  Polished complete player.  Vanderbilt commit.  Jan 2021 has jumped to the head of the line of prep prospects, nearly to 1-1 potential.  Might not go 1-1, but may end up being best prospect in draft.  Older HS kid, turns 19 before draft.
  • Marcelo Mayer, SS Eastlake, Chula Vista (CA); USC commit.  Lefty at the plate, will stay at SS.  Always solid defensively, has really improved his stock and jumped the two presumed top-end SS in the class (House and Watson) and is now considered top 5 potential as of Jan 2021.
  • Kahlil Watson, SS Wake Forest HS (NC).  helium guy late 2020, great bat speed,  high ceiling.  NC State commit.
  • Brady House 3B/SS Winder-Barrow HS (GA).   Big guy, OBP machine.  #1 ranked player in prep class mid 2020.  Tennessee commit.  Only 2nd team preseason AA.  Falling?  2021 rising up again.

High School guys whose stock has fallen:

  • Braylon Bishop, OF Arkansas (AR) HS.  5-tool player, long-known prospect.  Arkansas commit.
  • Jackson Jobe, RHP, Oklahoma City OK: Law calls him best prep pitcher in draft.
  • Christian Little, RHP Christian Brothers HS (St. Louis MO).  Vanderbilt commit.
  • Luke Leto, SS/RHP Portage (MI) Central.  2-way player, LSU commit.
  • Tyree Reed, OF (corner) American Canyon (CA) HS.   Oregon State commit.
  • Maddux Bruns, LHP UMS-Wright Prep, Mobile (AL).  Helium guy summer 2020, Mississippi State commit.
  • Noah Smith, SS Marist HS (IL).  Louisville commit
  • Benny Montgomery, OF Red Land HS (PA).  UVA commit
  • Cody Schrier, OF JSierra, San Clemente (CA).  UCLA commit
  • Izaac Pacheco SS/3B Friendswood (TX).  Texas A&M commit

Sources used to create this list

Written by Todd Boss

July 12th, 2021 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Draft

Nats land House in the 1st!

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House surprisingly falls to Nats at #11

Every year I meticulously follow mock drafts, collect them, analyze them. And then every year the mocks seem to get thrown out the window once the draft starts, resulting in some shocking results. The Nats have been the beneficiaries of this in the past (see the Anthony Rendon draft), but for the past number of years they’ve mostly stayed true to form and picked a player that they were well known to be interested in. This is partly because Mike Rizzo has a very specific draft strategy/player development strategy in the draft (heavily focusing on college pitchers), partly because the Nats are not afraid to deal with players who are tied to Scott Boras as an advisor, and partly because the Nats seem to like “famous” players that suddenly start falling in the draft.

So, 2021 was no different. There were several shocks above the Nats, with players curiously rising (Frank Mozzicato and Sam Bachman) and players curiously falling (Khalil Watson and Ty Madden). And at #11, bucking practically every prediction made this spring, the Nats did NOT draft a pitcher and went with Brady House.

House was, in the early parts of 2020, an early prediction to go 1-1 in the 2021 draft class thanks to his standout performances on the showcase circuit. He’s a Georgia prep kid, an early commit to Tennessee, and he was a nationally known prospect well before he got to his senior season. As often happens with the more “famous” prospects, the shine wore off on House as he had some hiccups in the 2020 summer wood-bat circuits. However, he performed more than adequately in the spring 2021 season.

We saw this “prospect fatigue” with Kumar Rocker as well; how does he slip from also being a 1-1 candidate all the way to #10? People look for flaws in these famous prospects, not strengths, and when Rocker (for example) wasn’t as dominant as he normally can be in the CWS (pitching on short rest, mind you), suddenly there’s “concerns” and scouting departments end up outsmarting themselves. This is precisely how the Nats got Rendon in 2011 … and now its how we got House in 2021.

House was projected in multiple final mock drafts to go as high as #3. He’s a big kid 6’3″ with incredible power, the defensive chops to start at SS (even if we think he moves to 3B), and can also hit 96 on the mound. A great comp for him might very well be a Nolan Arenado; a guy with an amazing arm, a former SS who has become a perennial gold glover at 3B, and who has prodigious power.

Suffice it to say; I like this pick. Yes he’s a prep kid, meaning he’s of no real immediate help, but based on our 2021 team and the turnover we likely face this coming off-season, we may be entering a rebuilding phase anyway, and House could be part of a crew that helps kick-start the franchise in a few years.

Yes, we drafted a projected 3B when our current #1 prospect (Carter Kieboom) is also a 3B; it does not matter. You do not draft for need in MLB; you draft best player available and deal with positional flexibility later on. If we are somehow faced with the prospect of having both Kieboom and House pushing to product at the MLB level in a few years? We deal with it then, through a position change (3B to 2B, or keep House at SS, or move someone to a corner OF) or a trade.

Verdict: great pick, happy to have nabbed a great talent in the 1st round.

Written by Todd Boss

July 12th, 2021 at 10:19 am

2021 Draft Coverage: Mock Draft Mania and current draft trends

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Jack Leiter has been in 1-1 consideration forever. Photo via sportsnet

We’re starting to get into draft season!

Here’s my current collection of Mock Drafts from leading pundits.  We usually see the first crazy-early mock just after the 2020 drafts, then again after the end of the 2020 season when the draft order is more or less determined, then it really starts to heat up in May.  Thanks to the draft moving back to July/All Star break, we will get a whole new batch as players finish up college seasons and start wood bat leagues/show cases.

I’ll keep adding to this list as Mocks come in and re-publish just before the draft with a final prediction.  In the mean time …


Here’s the Mock draft collection.  I’ve generally listed their top-5 and then who they project the Nats to take at #11 (if they project out that far).  this year I’m ordering them Chronologically as rec’d instead of grouping by pundit…. this should let us see kind of an evolution of the top of the draft.  Players are bolded the first time they’re mentioned, not again afterwards.

  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) Way too Early 2021 Mock, 6/12/20: Kumar Rocker, Jack Leiter, Brady House, Adrian Del Castillo, Matt McLain
  • Prospects365 (Mason McRae) 2021 Mock draft v1.0 6/25/20: Rocker, Leiter, Jud FabianLuke Leto, McLain
  • Prospects365 (Mason McRae) 2021 Mock draft v2.0 9/4/20: Rocker, Fabian, Leiter, Del Castillo, Jaden Hill
  • Prospects365 (Ian Smith) 2021 Mock Draft 1.0 11/9/20: Rocker, Leiter, Jordan Lawlar, Hill, Fabian.  Nats take James Wood, prep OF from IMG Academy in Fla.
  • BA (Collazo) v1.0 Draft 1/4/21: (missed it)
  • BA (Collazo) v2.0 draft 3/29/21Jordan Lawlar, Rocker, Leiter, Marcello Mayer, Del Castillo.  Nats take House.
  • MLBPipeline (Callis/Mayo) Apr 2021 mock draft 4/26/21: Leiter, Lawlar, Rocker, Mayer, House.  Nats take Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS (Okla.).
  • BA (Collazo) v3.0 Mock draft 4/28/21: Leiter, Lawlar, Mayer, Rocker, House.  Nats also take Jobe.
  • MLBpipeline (Callis): May 2021 mock 5/6/21: Lawlar, Leiter, Mayer, Rocker, House.  Nats at 11 take Jobe.
  • CollegeBaseballDaily May 2021 mock 5/12/21: Rocker, Leiter, Lawlar, Kahlil Wilson, Mayer.
  • MLBpipeline (Mayo) May 2021 mock 5/20/21: Mayer, Lawlar, Davis, House, Leiter.  Nats take Ty Madden, RHP Friday night starter from UTexas.
  • BA (Collazo): v4.0 Mock Draft 5/24/21: Lawlar, Mayer, House, Leiter, Davis.  Nats take Jobe.
  • ESPN/McDaniel Mock 1.0 5/25/21: Lawlar, Leiter, Mayer, Rocker, Davis.  Nats take Jobe.

My thoughts on the top of the draft, based on what we’re seeing.

  • Three of the names that have been projected in the top 5 have been there since the beginning (Kumar Rocker, Jack Leiter, Brady House).
  • Very early in the spring HS season, two prep HS short stops in Jordan Lawlar and Marcello Mayer started getting mentioned as top5 guys … and now several mocks are thinking they go 1-2.
  • Rocker and Leiter’s starts are hyper overanalyzed each week; Leiter missed a start and suddenly the next mock dumped him out of the top5.
  • I really like Leiter; if you’ve seen him pitch, he looks like he could be in a MLB rotation right now.  Rocker is impressive, but has been really inconsistent and I could see him slipping.
  • College catchers who can hit go high; see Adley RutschmannHenry Davis fits that boat and is a safe pick for a team that has been burned in the past by either a prep kid or a pitcher.  He’s going to go high.

My current prediction on the top5 (which excludes any bonus money shenanigan picks that we’re hearing Baltimore may pursue) would basically include the 5-6 names just high lighted here, in some order.

What about the Nats at 11?

Well, its pretty notable that a number of the Mock drafts all have the Nats taking the same kid: prep arm Jackson Jobe. Yes, another pitcher. And a HS one at that. Echos of the failure we saw in our ability to capitalize on Lucas Giolito, or the ridiculosly bad luck of the Mason Denaburg pick.

I’ve seen a couple outlier mocks here and there; i’ve seen Ty Madden mentioned (#2 Texas’ friday night starter) and Sam Bachman (Miami of Ohio’s big arm). Both are safer than a prep arm … but both also might be gone by #11 based on these projections. I’d like either honestly; i like college track records.

Notably … nobody has them on a bat. I know this will irritate some who read this (ahem KW), but there’s no point fighting it. If it wasn’t clear by now, this team focuses on pitchers in the draft and then uses them like currency to acquire bats later on. So, be prepared for another pitcher-heavy draft in July.

Written by Todd Boss

June 4th, 2021 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Draft

Fangraphs/Longenhagen Nats top prospect list drops

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Rutledge gets the #1 nod from Fangraphs. Photo via BA

The last of the “major” pundits has released their Nats prospect ranking lists for the 2021 season, with Fangraph’s lead prospect writer Eric Longenhagen teaming with Tess Taruskin to release their top 22 Nats prospects for 2021.

Why 22 prospects, instead of 10 or 20 or some other round number? Fangraphs drives their rankings via a “Future Value” metric, so the deeper your system is, the more prospects you will have on their list. The cutoff is a “35+ FV,” which projects as something between a 4-A career guy and a bench role player. Yes, you may immediately draw some conclusions about the depth of our system by the number who reached that plateau; by way of comparison a “good” farm system in Tampa had no fewer than 62 players make their 2021 fangraphs list by using the same 35+ cutoff.

So, yeah, we have some work to do… but we already knew that since every macro ranking of our system done this year has us dead last as a system.

Anyway, here’s the Fangraphs list, with some commentary about how these rankings fare side-by-side with other pundits.

Fangraphs 2021 rankLast NameFirst NamePositionAcquisition
1RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)2019 1st
2CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)2020 1st
3AntunaYaselSS2016 IFA
4LaraAndryRHP (Starter)2019 IFA
5De La RosaJeremyOF (corner)2018 IFA
6RomeroSethLHP (Starter)2017 1st
7CroninMattLHP (reliever)2019 4th
8HenryColeRHP (Starter)2020 2nd
9PinedaIsraelC2016 IFA
10CateTimLHP (Starter)2018 2nd
11InfanteSamuelSS2020 2nd supp
12CruzArmandoSS2020 IFA
13AdonJoanRHP (Starter)2016 IFA
14MendozaDrew3B2019 3rd
15DenaburgMasonRHP (Starter)2018 1st
16QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)2019 IFA
17CluffJacksonSS2019 6th
18PowellHoldenRHP (Reliever)2020 3rd
19BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)2020 NDFA
20BarreraTresC2016 6th
21SchallerReidRHP (Starter)2018 3rd
22PetersonToddRHP (starter)2019 7th

Commentary in rough order of list:

  • FG went with Rutledge over Cavalli for #1. At the end of the prospect season, these two basically split the #1 overall spot among major pundits, with FG, ESPN, and BleacherReport going with Rutledge #1, while BA, Keith Law, and MLBpipeline all went with Cavalli.
  • They’re now high rankers on De La Rosa, putting him at #5 in the system. It sounds like the projection for him is basically a lesser version of Juan Soto; lefty power hitting corner outfielder.
  • They have Romero still high, at #6, but added no intelligence as to why he did not appear in spring training 2021. Still projects two 60-grade pitches, but his fastball has fallen out of favor and they have him with 40-command. That’s a reliever, and not necessarily a good one, at best.
  • One of the reasons FG is high man on both De La Rosa and Romero is because they’re well lower on Cole Henry than anyone else, having him 8th. It sounds to me like they think he’s heading into relief, much like the guy ranked just above him Matt Cronin.
  • They’re well above anyone else on Israel Pineda, and i’m not really sure why. In the middle of last season, the same evaluator ranked him #16. What’s substantively changed since August?
  • He’s pumping the brakes on Armando Cruz, ranking him at #12 where a number of the major evaluators already have him 5-7 range.
  • He’s put Denaburg all the way down to #15, noting that his pro career/injury record now puts him nearly below non-prospects. Great 1st rounder guys!
  • He’s got Zach Brzykcy, a NDFA $20k signing from last summer, in the top 20 of our system. I suppose that does say something about our system depth, but Longenhagen does note that Bryzcky is one of a handful of NDFAs who have impressed and would have been legitimate draft picks with a longer draft. 2-pitch, pure reliever.
  • Last man in the rankings is Todd Peterson, mr coming out of nowhere for this team, who hung around Spring Training longer than most of our 1st round multi-million dollar prospects. He’s projecting as middle relief, with 2 good pitches, decent velocity and excellent deception in his delivery.

Nowhere in this list are a handful of characters that are well regarded on other lists. That includes Daniel Marte, Tyler Dyson, Jake Irvin (likely b/c he’s missing all of 2021 with a TJ), Ben Braymer, Viandel Pena ….

And of course Steven Fuentes is missing … who only just got a call-up…. to the majors … which is kind of the whole damn point of being a prospect? It does make me question what these guys are really looking for … if you project some 2-pitch guy as a possible middle reliever in the major leagues, then flat out don’t rank a starter who actually DOES make the majors … at age 23 … then what are we ranking/evaluating on? I’m not discounting prospect evaluation work entirely by any means (to head off some of my frequent commenters who are bound to pick up on this and disclaim all prospect rankers), but I do sense there’s a specific blind side in these evaluators when it comes to certain kinds of players. Fuentes (and Ben Braymer) fit right into that gap; a starter who doesn’t project as a stud, guys who get by on command/control instead of velocity. Maybe that’s the point; maybe guys like Fuentes/Braymer are such a “dime a dozen” kind of 4-A players that they specifically never get ranked … but if you have a prospect catcher ranked in the teens who does not ever project to make the majors, wouldn’t by definition you have a guy who IS capable of making the majors (whether its as a long-man, or a middle reliever, or the backup 2nd baseman) ranked higher? A theoretical question.

Check-in on Traded-away Prospect Arms

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Dunning now in the Texas rotation. Photo via mlb.com

The Nats are well-known for their heavy emphasis on pitching in drafts, and then for using said pitching depth as “currency” to acquire talent to build their roster. The team has traded away more than 20 prospect pitchers in the last 5 years, ranging from recent MLB debutants to rookie-league wild-cards.

I thought I’d be interesting to check in with some of the arms we’ve moved over the past few years.

Part of me does this as a “wouldn’t it be nice if we had kept them…” motive, since not all of these trades were really ones I would have made. But nearly all of these trades contributed in one way or another to the 2019 title … so I have to temper my criticism. In the end, you’d rather have a title than a prospect. But, choices have been made over the years and some of those choices look better or worse in retrospect.

These are listed in order of MLB impact of the traded away talent, not chronologically (this list does not include all the MLB arms we traded away in the 2018 missing the playoff purge; this is mostly about trading away prospects).

  • Lucas Giolito; Traded to Chicago White Sox (along with Lopez and Dunning) for Adam Eaton in 2016. Eaton gave the team 4 injury-filled years and a combined 2.7 bWAR. Giolito is now the #1 starter for the White Sox and was an all-star in 2019, but it took him several years and multiple mechanical changes to get there.
  • Jesus Luzardo: traded to Oakland in 2017 (along with Treinen and Neuse) to acquire Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. Luzardo rose to be one of the best prospects in the game ahead of the 2020 season, now Oakland’s #2 starter as a 23yr old. Madson and Doolittle served as valuable back-end bullpen pieces, though Madson did not make it to our title-winning season and Doolittle lost his closer job by 2019 and is pitching elsewhere. This is the kind of trade i wish we made less of; you should be able to grow relievers from your farm system, not trade away future #2 projected starters for a combined 3 seasons of varying production.
  • Dane Dunning was the 3rd of 3 ranked prospects in the 2016 Chicago/Eaton trade. He hovered in the top prospects list for several years, had TJ surgery, debuted with some success in late 2020 for the White Sox, then was flipped to Texas in 2020 for Lance Lynn, and is now featuring in the 2021 Texas rotation as their 5th starter.
  • Taylor Hearn: was the 2nd of 2 prospects in the 2016 Pittsburgh/Melancon trade. He was subsequently flipped by Pittsburgh in 2018 for Keone Kela, and debuted for Texas in late 2019. Since, he has been an 7th/8th inning reliever for Texas with some effectiveness.
  • Austin Adams, traded to Seattle in 2019 for Nick Wells after we DFA’d him. Pitched effectively for Seattle’s bullpen in 2019, then traded to San Diego in Aug 2020 for a package of players. Pitching in middle relief for San Diego in 2021. Wells has done basically nothing for this team, while Adams has at least continued to pitch in the majors and does beg the question … why couldn’t he do for us what he has managed to do for Seattle and San Diego?

Summary: well, you’d have a pretty nice start to a rotation right now with Giolito/Luzardo/Dunning. But it took years to get there for these guys: these were players who were traded 4-5 years ago. And the guys we got in return (Eaton, Doolittle) were key parts of the 2019 title team.

Minor league arms traded in last 5 years still in minors:

  • Reynaldo Lopez was the 2nd ranked of 3 prospects in the 2016 Chicago/Eaton trade; he was a full time rotation starter in 2018 and 2019 for Chicago, but got beaten out for the rotation in 2021 and is in AAA. Interesting how many thought Lopez was the “prize” of that trade … now he’s like 7th on their rotation depth chart.
  • Wil Crowe: traded to Pittsburgh (along with Eddy Yean) for Josh Bell. Crowe made the opening day 2021 roster for Pittsburgh, but was optioned after one poor outing. Likely projecting as a 4-A type starter, and future analysis of this trade will have to remember that Pittsburgh was in a salary dump mode when evaluating whatever Crowe and Yean become.
  • Jefry Rodriguez, traded (along with Johnson and Monasterio) to Cleveland for Yan Gomes in 2018. Pitched for a couple months in the Cleveland rotation in 2019, hit free agency in 2021, signed MLFA with Washington in 2021, likely in AAA. Probably safe to say the Nats are coming out on top of this move.
  • Taylor Guilbeau: traded to Seattle for Roenis Elias in 2019. Pitched for Seattle MLB middle relief in 2019 and 2020, DFA’d and outrighted in Feb 2021. Elias got lit up, got hurt and was essentially useless for us.
  • Trevor Gott; traded to San Francisco in 2019 for cash after we DFA’d him; he pitched for SF’s bullpen for two years, was DFA’d and outrighted in Feb 2021. Once again, like with Adams … how is it that Gott couldn’t break our crummy 2019 bullpen but then pitched effectively for another organization immediately upon his exit from Washington? its like Blake Treinen all over again.
  • Pedro Avila was traded to San Diego for Derek Norris in 2016; he rose in the ranks and debuted briefly for San Diego in 2019, then was subsequently DFA’d and outrighted; he remains in their minor league system and projects for AAA in 2021. Norris was originally drafted by DC, and they wanted to get him back. But he only lasted another 3 months with the team, getting released in spring training 2017 before catching on with Tampa for one more season.
  • Aaron Fletcher: traded to Seattle for Hunter Strickland in 2019. Likely in AAA in 2021. Strickland … wasn’t good for Seattle in 2019 and he wasn’t good for us either.
  • Mario Sanchez: traded to Philadelphia for Jimmy Cordero in 2016. Hit MLFA in 2018, came back to Washington, projected AA in 2021. Cordero was crummy for us, then got DFA’d, selected and was gone.
  • Yohanse Morel, traded (along with Gutierrez and Perkins) to Kansas City for Kelvin Herrera in 2018. Likely in High-A in 2021.
  • Kyle Johnston: traded to Toronto for Daniel Hudson in 2019. Likely in High-A in 2021. Hudson closed out game 7 of the 2019 World Series; enough said.
  • Tyler Watson, traded to Minnesota for Brandon Kintzler in 2017. Likley in High-A in 2021. Knitzler was (possibly) scapegoated in the infamous clubhouse blowup mid 2018 and was dumped for pennies on the dollar in 2018.
  • Ryan McMahon; traded to Minnesota for Ryne Harper in 2020; Likely in Low-A in 2021. Harper has really yet to do much, so this is a show-me trade.
  • Eddy Yean; traded to Pittsburgh (along with Crowe) in 2020; projected to pitch in GCL or Low-A in 2021.

Summary: I see several really good moves here, a couple that didn’t work out as well for the Nats, and some that are preliminary. About what you expect when you’re trading prospect arms.

Minor League Arms traded in the last 5 years who are now apparently out of baseball.

  • McKenzie Mills: traded to Philadelphia for Howie Kendrick in 2017. Struggled in AA in 2019 for Philadelphia, released in big Minor league purge in June 2020 and out of baseball. This was a prime example of the Nats selling high on a guy; Mills blew that summer, going 12-3 for the 2017 season, then never replicated that success and was out of baseball two years later. Odd that the team didn’t try to pick him back up after his 2019 release.
  • Jeffrey Rosa; traded to Tampa Bay for Enny Romero in 2017. Struggled for Tampa’s GCL team in 2018 and was released.
  • Mick VanVossen, traded to Chicago WS for Ryan Raburn. struggled in high-A in 2017, likely released that off-season (he has no stats since 2017).
  • Felipe Rivero, traded to Pittsburgh (along with Hearn) in 2016 for Mark Melancon. Changed his name to Felipe Vazquez, replaced Melancon as Pittsburgh’s closer and was dominant, a 2-time all-star in 2018 and 2019. However, he was arrested on child sex abuse charges at the end of the 2019 season and faces multiple felonies in multiple states. As much as I hated this trade at the time (we gave up two solid players for yet another veteran closer since our team for reasons inexplicable cannot home grow closers ourselves), I think we’re all happy to have dodged a bullet w/r/t what Rivero/Vazquez became.

Did I miss anyone?

Who is the Best HS player the Nats have ever drafted?

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Would you believe that A.J. Cole is the best prep draft prospect ever for the Nats in the Rizzo era? Read on. Photo AP

A comment about Mason Denaburg in the last thread, with MarkL wondering/speculating on whether our 2018 1st overall pick may possibly pitch in 2021, made me think, yet again, about the folly of drafting high school arms (or HS players in general) and then made me wonder..

Who is the best HS player we’ve ever drafted?

By “best” I mean possible one of two things:
1. Most successful for our team or for someone else, since (as we’ll see) we’ve had a tendency to trade prospects before they matriculate.
2. Most successful for the Nationals themselves.

So, we’ll answer both.

I’ll also divide this into the “Rizzo” era and the pre-Rizzo era, since you can almost count on one hand the total number of HS players Mike Rizzo has drafted since taking over in mid 2009, whereas the Jim Bowden regime was quite heavily skewed towards HS players.

Using the Draft Tracker as a reference, here are your nominees for best ever HS draftee by the Washington Nationals, moving backwards in time (note; i’m omitting some HS draftees like 20th round signees who happened to sign and subsequently flame out; this mostly is a value play of top-5 round picks plus other notables we over-paid).

  • 2020: Samuel Infante, SS/3B from Florida: too early to tell obviously, but the reaction in the Natmosphere was mixed to begin with. We’ll see.
  • 2018: Mason Denaburg, RHP from Florida. $3M signing bonus for getting selected 27th overall in the 1st round. Has been plagued by injury since his arrival, and his limited stats have not been promising. What is even more indicting about this selection is the fact that the next three arms drafted who signed ( Shane McClanahan, Jackson Kowar and UVA’s Daniel Lynch) were all college arms (like what the Nats normally draft this high), are all now considered top-100 prospects, and had all reached AA by the end of 2019. Opportunities lost.
  • 2016: Carter Kieboom, SS from Georgia. Held the #1 Nats prospect label for years, but has struggled in two call-ups now that have the team looking at 3B candidates in free agency, a pretty severe indictment of what they think they have in Kieboom right now.
  • 2016: Jesus Luzardo, LHP from Florida. Traded as the centerpiece prospect of the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madsen acquisition in 2017, then became a top-10 prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2019 season. Pitched in Oakland’s rotation as a 22yr old in 2020 with league average results, projecting to be a #2 lefty starter. It was a lot to give up for relievers (at the time I was “ok” with the trade, but did note that it would look pretty lopsided if Luzardo turned into precisely what he’s projecting to become), but flags fly forever and Doolittle was an integral part of this team for a while.
  • 2015: Blake Perkins, OF from Arizona. Traded to Kansas City as part of a prospect group to acquire Kelvin Herrera, has a career .236 minor league BA as a glove-first CF.
  • 2015: Tyler Watson LHP from Arizona. 34th rounder paid like a 4th rounder that year. Traded to Minnesota to acquire Brandon Knitzler as part of the great mid-season bullpen construction job in 2017. Pitched all of 2019 in High-A’s rotation with decent results, likely in AA in 2021. Knitzler of course ran himself out of town in mid 2018, so the team didn’t get a ton to show for this trade.
  • 2014: Jakson Reetz, C from Nebraska. Has passed through three Rule-5 drafts now and was part of the 60-man extended roster in 2020. He stepped up his power and his offense in 2019 in High-A; is he turning a corner? Re-signed as a MLFA this off-season to do his 8th pro season in our farm system.
  • 2014: McKenzie Mills LHP from Georgia. This 18th rounder blew up in the spring of 2017, dominating Low-A and getting flipped to Philadelphia to acquire Howie Kendrick. His 2018 was solid in High-A, but he struggled with the jump to AA and got released in the minor league purge of June 2020. I wonder if he’s worth a MLFA flier in 2021 for someone.
  • 2013: Drew Ward, 3B from Oklahoma. 3rd rounder who was good enough to get promoted year after year, but not to escape “org player” role. Released in the 2020 player purge.
  • 2013: Travis Ott, LHP from Pennsylvania. showed some promise in his 2nd pro season in Short-A as a 19yr old, enough so to be the secondary piece in the huge 3-team trade that netted the team Trea Turner and Joe Ross. (more on that later when we talk about Souza). He continued to pitch well in Tampa’s org, but then curiously was moved to the bullpen in 2018 and then was stuck on the restricted list in apr 2019, where he presumably remains today. No idea what happened here.
  • 2012: Lucas Giolito RHP from California. Perhaps the most controversial candidate on this list. He had TJ surgery the year he was drafted, recovered, raced through the minors and debuted for the team as a 21yr old in June of 2016. His Minor league career looked too good to be true. But, in MLB 21 innings that year he pitched to an ugly 6.75 ERA, an even worse 8.21 FIP … and then got flipped in the off-season as the centerpiece to acquire Adam Eaton from the White Sox. I hated the move when it happened. There were rumors about how the Nats talent evaluators thought that Giolito had “plateaued” or that somehow he wasn’t someone they could work with. And, to be fair, it took a full year of awfulness in the majors for the White Sox before Giolito modified his mechanics and turned into a pretty good starter. His last two seasons have been ERA+ of 134 and 128 respectively, and he’s gotten down-ballot Cy Young voting. Did the Nats give up on him too early? Yes. Did we get equivalent value in return from Eaton? No …. but it wasn’t entirely Eaton’s fault. Who could have known that Eaton would blow out his knee, which would blow out his defensive value, which was a huge reason he was such a WAR darling prior to his trade? Does the 2019 WS title make every move between 2015 and Nov 2019 worth it regardless of the transaction? Most would argue yes. Flags fly forever.
  • 2012: Hayden Jennings, OF from Louisiana; a 6th rounder that year, he lasted just two years in the system and never got out of the GCL. Seemed like a quick release frankly; I wonder if there was some off-the-field issues.
  • 2010: A.J. Cole RHP from Florida. Just could never cut it as a starter for this team, with spot start appearances across 4 MLB seasons for the Nats. Finally flipped for cash after his DFA ahead of the 2018 season when he ran out of options and the team ran out of patience. He’s bounced around since, pitching for the Yankees bullpen in 2018, getting claimed off waivers by Cleveland for 2019, then signing on as a FA for Toronto in 2020, each time putting up decent numbers as an 8th/9th inning non-closer type. Why he could never do this for us is … a mystery. Certainly we could use a competent reliever right now.
  • 2010: Robbie Ray, LHP from Arizona. A 12th rounder given 2nd round money, Ray was the centerpiece prospect in the Doug Fister 2013 trade (which shocked the baseball world and made the Nats look like a genius), then was flipped again to Arizona ahead of the 2014 season. From there he turned into a solid starter, putting up huge K/9 numbers but featuring as a guy who struggled to get through 6 innings thanks to elevated pitch counts. He’s a FA this off-season and could be a decent 4th starter for someone.
  • 2010: Bryce Harper: you could technically count Harper here since he was a HS-aged player in Juco, but it isn’t like selecting him 1-1 was any great piece of decision making on the Nats part. He was destined to be a 1st overall pick from the moment he appeared on the cover of SI as a 16-yr old.

So, in the Rizzo Era, I’d say that the most successful HS drafted player for us or any other team is clearly Lucas Giolito (even though Ray has more career bWAR), with Luzardo projecting right now perhaps as having the capabilities of supplanting him in the future.

The most successful HS drafted player for the Nats? Only three have even played a game for the Nats: Cole, Giolito and Kieboom. Read that sentence again; in a decade of drafting, just three prep-players have ever suited up for this team. I guess you’d have to say Cole has the most impact for the Nationals themselves at this point, with high hopes for Kieboom going forward.


Rizzo was named the GM in August of 2009, so technically the 2009 and prior drafts were not on his resume (yes he was involved in the 2009 draft, but it was still Jim Bowden‘s show) You can see the effect that Rizzo had on draft strategy, because prior to 2010, the team was much more apt to draft prep players. We’ll run through them below.

  • 2009: Michael Taylor, SS from Florida. Quickly converted to OF, where he was a fantastic defender who hung around for years as 4th OF for the team. Finally non-tendered this past off-season, and he’s heading to Kansas City for the 2021 season. Some were sorry to see him go; if his arb salary hadn’t inflated so much, maybe he’d still be here.
  • 2009: Roberto Perez SS from Puerto Rico. Played three minor league seasons and (in my opinion) got a quick release after a stint in 2011 at Short-A.
  • 2008: Destin Hood, OF from Alabama. The 2nd round pick played out the string in our org, then bounced around for four more years as a MLFA. In his “make or break” year as a 23yr old in AA he slashed .224/.278/.327 and his fate was sealed. Eventually got some MLB time with Miami.
  • 2008: Graham Hicks, LHP from Florida; never got out of low-A, flipped in the Gorzelanny deal, out of baseball by age 22.
  • 2008: Adrien Neito, C from Florida. Had a great-looking season in High-A as a 23rd old, then the team left him unprotected in Rule-5 and he got plucked by the White Sox. I went back and looked at my analysis of the 2013 rule-5 draft and discovered that the team was sitting at 39/40 and really didn’t have the room to protect someone like Nieto, who was considered a long-shot to get taken despite going to the AFL that year. Nonetheless, after spending all of 2014 on the 25-man roster, he was went back down and never re-appeared. He has bounced around as a MLFA ever since and is still active today.
  • 2008: J.P. Ramirez, OF from Texas. Ramirez played out his 6-years with the Nats, then jumped to indy and eventually Mexican league ball.

In 2007 alone, Bowden drafted no less than 8 prep players in the top 10 rounds. Did any of them pan out?

  • 2007 Michael Burgess OF from Florida. He was beginning to blossom in 2010 as a 21 yr old, making it to AA and playing in the AFL, so he was used as the centerpiece prospect to get Gorzelanny. He didn’t do much afterwards, bouncing around orgs and eventually going to indy ball.
  • 2007: Jake Smolinkski 3B from Illinois. Very quickly became a solid prospect, succeeding in Low-A as a 19yr old and became the centerpiece prospect sent that off-season to acquire Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen. Interestingly, he washed out of the Miami org as a MLFA, caught on with Texas and had several years as a MLB utility player with Texas and Oakland after that.
  • 2007: Steven Souza, OF from Washington State: a middling prospect for years, he started to show some serious pop as a 23yr old in High-A, culminating with a blow-up season in AAA as a 25 year old that allowed the Nats to pull off perhaps their greatest ever trade heist; packing Souza with Travis Ott and interjecting themselves into a trade between Tampa and San Diego to fleece San Diego out of two first round picks in Trea Turner and Joe Ross. Souza had his best season in 2017 for Tampa, a 3.5 win team, but has struggled with injuries
  • 2007: Derek Norris, C from Kansas. 5 seasons, 5 promotions for Norris in our system, before he was included as perhaps the 3rd piece of 4 in the Gio Gonzalez trade. Once he got to Oakland though, he blew up and had several solid seasons, even making the 2014 all star team. But he declined quickly, got moved to San Diego, then the nats re-acquired him back for Luis Avila … only to DFA him a few weeks later.
  • 2007: Josh Smoker, LHP from Georgia. Played out his string with the team without ever getting out of A-ball, then made it into the Mets’ bullpen in 2016 and 2017, where he put up below replacement level numbers.
  • 2007: Jack McGeary, LHP from Massachusetts. Paid like a mid-1st rounder in the days before bonus slots, McGeary seemed like a potential steal. Unfortunately, he just could not compete, suffering injuries multiple times. Mercifully taken in the minor league rule-5 draft by his hometown team Boston in 2013, he didn’t do much better there, eventually washing out of indy ball in 2014 as a 25-yr old.
  • 2007; PJ Dean, RHP from Texas. Looked awesome in Short-A as a 19yr old, throwing 10 starts with a 1.97 ERA. Was the lead prospect in the Willingham/Olsen trade that off-season… then, nothing. I have no idea what happened to the guy; he never played another game of baseball for the Marlins or anyone. Does anyone have any idea what happened to him?
  • 2007: Patrick McCoy LHP from Arizona; struggled as a starter early, moved to the pen, played out his string with the Nats as an org guy, signed on as a MLFA with Detroit and got a call-up where he put nearly 2.5 runners on base and was waived. Bounced around after that, never made the majors again.

It is notable that Jim Bowden nearly signed more HS players between these last two years than Rizzo has done in a decade in charge. Just a completely different mind-set of drafting.

In 2006 it was more of the same: the first 6 players he picked were all HS players.

  • 2006: Chris Marrero, OF from Florida. Made his way up to the big club in 2011 as a 22yr old, never really made it back. Was the quintessential 4-A guy for years, profiling as a corner guy w/o great defensive skills but missing the big bat.
  • 2006: Stephen Englund, OF from Washington State. Seems like a huge scouting miss; he just could not hit pro pitching. Career minor league slash line of .188/.308/.252. Cut from Low-A in 2009 after starting the season 11-101 with 48 Ks.
  • 2006: Stephen King, 3B from Florida. Played for years in the low-minors as a light-hitting infielder, eventually leaving as a 6-yr FA. Got to AA twice, was never able to even hit .200 there.
  • 2006: Colten Willems, RHP from Florida. The 1st rounder was ok his first couple of years in pro ball, never could really compete above low-A, then abruptly retired at age 21 when he struggled upon getting demoted back to Hagerstown. A huge draft bust.
  • 2006: Sean Black, RHP from New Jersey. Drafted in the 2nd round, refused to sign. Went to Seton Hall, 7th round pick by the Yankees three years later. Was a solid starter up to AA, got flipped to Cincinnati and his career fizzled.
  • 2006: Glenn Gibson LHP from New York. Had a great pro debut in Short-A as a 19yrold, then was traded to the Rays to obtain Elijah Dukes. Tampa dumped him two seasons later, and the Nats picked him back up because they liked him enough to draft him in the first place.  He didn’t go much further and was released from affiliated ball in 2011 as a 23yr old.
  • 2006: Sam Brown, RHP from North Carolina. Did not sign, went to NC State, signed with Texas, then signed as a MLFA with the Nats in 2011 after his release. Pitched one year in the Hagerstown bullpen and was done.
  • 2006: Brad Peacock, RHP from Florida. A 41st round pick selected under the previous rules of “Draft and Follow.” He was drafted in June of 2006, but not signed until May 30th of 2007. It took him a while to get going professionally, but he blew up in 2011, rising from High-A to the majors with a sterling debut. This led to him being included in the player package to acquire Gonzalez from Oakland. After a year there, he was moved again to Houston in the Jed Lowrie move, and from there he flourished in a swingman role, winning a World Series there in 2017.

In 2005, just one top-10 round HS player drafted, but a few more signed on in the later rounds.

  • 2005: Ryan DeLaughter; OF from Texas. he never really succeeeded outside of complex ball, giving Short-A a try multiple times. Hooked on briefly with Milwaukee and indy league baseball as a 22yr old.
  • 2005: Deryck Johnson, CF from Florida; this 14th rounder played just one season in rookie ball, hit .185 and was cut.
  • 2005: Michael Watkins, RHP from Rhode Island. Pitched parts of two rookie league seasons and got cut.
  • 2005: Eduardo Pichardo, RHP from Florida. This 17th rounder threw 13.2 innings across two rookie league seasons and posted a stellar 20.41 ERA and was released.
  • 2005: Brad Clark, RHP from Florida. This 19th rounder got hurt, didn’t pitch until 2007, threw 5 1/3 total innings and got cut.
  • 2005: Ryan Butchter RHP from New Jersey: signed as a 33rd rounder, somehow survived two seasons with ERAs north of 7.00, then got traded after his third pro year for Matt Avery. Avery pitched one year of relief for our AA team and got cut. Meanwhile, Butchter hung on for years, finally debuting as a 27 yr old, and then as a 29yr old rookie excelled in the San Diego bullpen.

So, in the pre-Rizzo era, who’s the most accomplished HS drafted player for any team? Best candidates are Peacock, Norris, Souza, and Taylor. I’ll go out on a limb and say its Peacock.

For just the Nats? Has to be Taylor.

Rule-5 Analysis & Prediction for 2020

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Israel Pineda could be getting the call-up this week. Photo via milb.com

Welcome to the annual Rule 5 analysis post. Lets take a look at who is eligible, who might get protected and make some predictions. 

I suspect that the Rule-5 decisions are going to be somewhat anti-climactic this year. The team called up its two top ranked prospects from the 2017 draft class earlier this year (Seth Romero and Wil Crowe) and its top prospect from the 2016IFA class (Luis Garcia), eliminating some suspense on the decision. They also already did a roster-addition of one more famous name that we talked about at length last year (Steven Fuentes), taking him out of the running. In a “normal” season i’m not sure any of these players would have played, and we’d be talking about adding them to the roster this week.

So honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if nobody got protected this week. But there are a few interesting candidates that you could make an argument for. And the team has a ton of roster room; we only sit at 30/40 slots right now and we’re not buying 10 FAs this off-season.

As always, using the two indispensable Nationals resource sites Draft tracker and the Big Board, and then looking up candidate acquisitions made via trade, here’s some thoughts on who might merit protection.   Also incredibly useful is Roster Resource’s Nats Roster, which keeps track of options, rule-5 status and the like.

The quick Rule-5 rules for 2020; any 4-year college-aged draftee from 2017 or before who isn’t already on the 40-man roster is Rule-5 eligible this coming off season, and any high-school aged draftee/International Free Agent from 2016 or before is newly eligible this year, assuming they were at least 18 as of June 5th of that year.  There’s always a couple of guys who have specific birthdays that move them up or down one way or the other; i’ll depend on the Roster Resource rules and the Draft Tracker for exact details.


Group 1: Newly Eligible 2017 draft College Players this year worth consideration for protection:

  • Cole Freeman, 2017 4th rounder. Was not on the 2020 60-man roster, did not play in 2020, has not played above High-A. Not a candidate.
  • Alex Dunlap, 29th round catcher. Can never have too much catching, but he’s not a candidate.
  • Jackson Tetreault, 2017 7th rounder. I’ve always liked him; he forced a promotion to AA after a month in Potomac in 2019 but couldn’t cut it and got sent back down. Was not on the 2020 60-man roster, a telling sign to his future. Not a candidate, but hoping he can step up in 2021.
  • Alex Troop, 2017 9th rounder who has appeared in Low-A three years running. Good numbers, but not a candidate to get picked.
  • Trey Turner; 2017 10th rounder, middling stats in Short-A in 2019, sort of surprised he survived the 2020 minor league purge. Not a candidate.
  • Jackson Stoeckinger, 2017 12th rounder. Kind of a 5th starter/swing man lefty starter, never above Low-A. Not a candidate, but like Tetreault I like the potential here.
  • Leif Strom, 2017 21st rounder: another guy who I’m surprised survived the May 2020 purge. Has barely pitched since getting drafted, hast a career ERA in the 8s. Not a candidate.
  • Gabe Klobosits, 2017 36th rounder: cleaned up in 2017 right after getting drafted, got hurt in 2018, didn’t give up a run in low or high-A in 2019. Not a candidate to get drafted Rule-5, but is quickly becoming the best 30th or higher round pick we’ve ever had.
  • K.J. Harrison: a 2017 3rd round pick by Milwaukee flipped to us in the Gio Gonzalez trade. Decent hitting 1B, never above High-A, not on the 60-man, not a candidate.
  • Pearson McMahan, a 2014 4th round pick by Colorado that we picked up as a MLFA in mid 2019. I’m not clear on the rules here; is now a FA? does he fall under Rule-5 guidelines? Either way, not a candidate.
  • Jacob Condra-Bogan, a 32nd rounder in 2017 by Toronto who, I guess, didn’t sign, went to Indy ball, then signed as a FA in Jan 2018 with Kansas City, then got flipped to Washington in the Brian Goodwin trade. Pitched well in a middle-relief role in AA in 2019, perhaps the best profile of any guy in this section, but not on the 60-man roster. Barely a candidate, but could push his way into the conversation for bullpen arm going forward.

Group 1 Rule-5 Protection Candidates: Condra-Bogan, barely.


Group 2: Newly Eligible 2016 High School-age drafted players under consideration for protection

We have none. We picked two HS players in this draft who signed. One of them is Carter Kieboom, the other is Jesus Luzardo. Both 40-man active. Therefore there are no Group 2 candidates.


Group 3: Newly Eligible 2016 signed IFAs under consideration for protection:

  • Israel Pineda; 2016 IFA. On the 60-man roster for 2020, one of our best young Catching prospects. His stock faded a ton in 2019 when he hit a paltry .217 in Hagerstown. But he still got put on the 2020 extended roster, which means he got a ton of ABs against major league talent. A solid candidate to consider protecting, especially if other scouts got a look at him and he performed well.
  • Jose Sanchez, 2016 IFA SS who hit .182 between short- and Low-A in 2019. not a candidate.
  • Yasiel Antuna; 2016 IFA. one of the more polarizing prospects we have. He was a huge money bonus guy in 2016, getting a whopping $3.9M as a 16-yr old switch-hitting true SS. His state-side debut in 2017 was solid, he struggled in 2018 then missed half the season with injury when he had to have Tommy John surgery. This caused him to basically miss the entire 2019 season. The team added him to the 60-man roster for 2020, so he got reps with the MLB-quality players in Fredericksburg there. So what do you do? $3.9M is a sunk cost, but baseball team’s struggle to accept that sometimes, instead thinking that its an “investment” that needs to be protected. On the other hand, what are the odds that a 21-yr old (just turned a few weeks ago) who has basically not played since Aug of 2018 and has never played above low-A could possibly stick on a MLB roster for a full season? A candidate to protect.
  • Caldioli Sanfler: 2016 IFA as an older 18yr old. Not exactly a household name amongst Nats prospect watchers; he played CF in Auburn in 2019 and had decent numbers. Not a candidate.
  • Niomar Gomez: 2016IFA who struggled as a starter in short-A in 2019. but had great K/9 rates. Could be a future reliever candidate based on his swing-and-miss capabilities. But not a candidate for R5 protection now.
  • Joan Adon, 2016IFA who was pretty solid in 2019 as a starter for Hagerstown, enough so to get put on to the 60-man extended roster for 2020, which means the top brass got a long look at him as he threw to 4-A guys all summer. He’s one of a handful of decently-ranked prospects in our system (in the 10-20 range) that is eligible this year. Candidate to be protected.
  • Alfonso Hernandez, a 2016IFA now serving as a loogy in low/short A. Not a candidate.
  • Wilmer Perez 16IFA Catcher, played in Short-A in 2019 and hit .221. not a candidate.

Group 3 Rule-5 protection candidates: Pineda, Antuna, Adon


Group 4: Nats Drafted Rule-5 Eligible hold-overs of note: 2016 or prior college draftees still hanging out in the system, or 2015 and prior HS draftees. Unless there’s been an appreciable update worth noting, none of these guys are anything more than org guys at this point.

  • Nick Banks, 2016 4th rounder. No new news here; didn’t play in the 60-man roster, so the same decision holds based on his 2019 results. not a candidate.
  • Armond Upshaw, 2016 11th round.
  • Sterling Sharp: 2016 22nd rounder. As we now now, he was Rule-5 selected last year after I and many other pundits thought he should be protected, trashed the org on his way out, got returned, immediately put on the 60-man extended roster, and … well now what? Do you bother protecting him again? I don’t think you bother, and I don’t think he’s long for the organization. post-publishing update: pointed out by the astute Luke Erickson, thanks to Sharp’s outright, he’s no longer really eligible for rule-5 in that he can refuse the next DFA, so there’s no real point in mentioning him here.
  • Rhett Wiseman, 2015 3rd rounder
  • Ian Sagdal, 2015 16th rounder
  • Andrew Lee: 2015 11th rounder
  • Ryan Brinley, 2015 27th rounder
  • Andrew Istler, 2015 23rd rounder, trade bounty for Ryan Madsen. Still hanging around at the age of 28.
  • Jakson Reetz, 3rd round C from 2014. This will be his third time facing rule-5 draft, only now he’s coming from the 60-man roster. He’s entering his age 25 season, his 8th professionally with the Nats after signing out of HS. Has he progressed enough in the extended roster with MLB quality looks to merit protection? Maybe.
  • Nick Wells, a 2014 3rd rounder and our trade bounty for Austin Adams at the beginning of 2019. After barely pitching in 2019, he somehow found his way to the 2020 60-man roster. He’s never been above A-ball. I wonder if he made that Fredericksburg roster because … well because he lives in Haymarket. Anyway; doesn’t seem like a protection candidate.
  • Ronald Pena: 2012 16th round pick: the long-time Nats farmhand that has now re-signed twice on MLFA deals. He’s now 29, clearly is an org arm, has passed through Rule-5 drafts now multiple times. Not a candidate.

Group 4 Rule 5 Protection candidates: Reetz maybe, Wells maybe, Sharp possibly?

Group 5: IFAs: 2015 and older. Sometimes players in this group, because they often are signed at age 16, make fast progress even after their first year R5 eligible. Will this be the case in 2020?

  • Luis Reyes: 2013 IFA
  • Joan Baez 2014 IFA; pitched in both AA and AAA in 2019, really struggled in Fresno. Not put on the 60-man roster for 2020, so nothing has changed from an evaluation perspective. Not a candidate.
  • Telmito Agustin 2014 IFA
  • Gilbert Lara, 2014 IFA, received from Milwaukee in the Gio Gonzalez trade. 
  • Malvin Pena 2014 IFA
  • Aldrem Corredor, 2013 IFA who just turned 25. Undersized 1B in high-A with little power; not a candidate.
  • Omar Meregildo: 2015 IFA; yet to really impress at any level, hit .228 in High-A in 2019. not a candidate.
  • Gilberto Chu, 2015 IFA
  • Jhonathan German, 2015 IFA RHP closer who ascended 3 levels in 2019, ending the year in AA, then got a 2020 NRI. The team likes him, but not quite enough to put him on their extended 60-man roster. He doesn’t get a ton of prospect buzz, but could be a useful bullpen arm. I think he could get protected because he’s the kind of middle-bullpen arm that could be stashed away on some 2nd-tier team’s roster.
  • Felix Taveras, 2015 IFA
  • Tomas Alastre: 2015 IFA
  • Jhon Romero: 2015 IFA signing, trade bounty for Brandon Knitzler.
  • Manuel Geraldo, 2013 IFA we rule-5 drafted last off-season from San Francisco, Rule-5 eligible again. He’s yet to take the field for our franchise; hard to believe we’d protect him as a non-prospect. not a candidate.
  • Mario Sanchez, 2012IFA and subject to the interesting MLFA re-signing/Rule-5 eligibility issue last offseason. He’s still on the roster, still projected as a AAA pitcher. He just turned 26, was really excellent as a starter in AA in 2019, and as we speak he’s still listed as active with the Nats, so I suspect he’s R-5 eligible. But, curiously, he was NOT put on the 60-man for 2020. So, does the team view him as an org-guy? He’s a candidate to consider, but a lower-probability one for all the above reasons.

Group 5 Protection Candidates: German, Sanchez


Group 6: MLFAs for 2020: I think technically guys we’ve already talked about may qualify for this category. Mario Sanchez, Ronald Pena, technically a few others like Jakson Reetz who were briefly MLFAs then re-signed. So, no candidates for this group this year.

Post-2019 publishing, i’m adding a new section because  it seems like we’re going to see the following situation occur for the second time in recent memory.   Long time farmhand Mario Sanchez achieved minor league free agency at the end of the 2019 season, but apparently has been re-signed (his milb.com page lists the Nationals resigning him to a contract … but its dated in the future, 12/18/19, something i’ve never seen before).   But, if he’s re-signed as a MLFA with the team, then he has to be protected else he’d be subject to the draft.


So, who would I protect?

Summary of above:

Group 1: Condra-Bogan, barely.
Group 2: none
Group 3: Pineda, Antuna, Adon
Group 4: Reetz maybe, Wells maybe, Sharp possibly
Group 5: German, Sanchez
Group 6: none

I would protect:

  • Israel Pineda
  • Joan Adon

I would consider protecting, in order of likelihood:

  • Antuna
  • German
  • Sanchez
  • Reetz
  • all the others: Condra-Bogan, Wells, Sharp.

Here’s some other opinions in the Natmosphere on the same topic (i’ll add them as I see them):

  • Federal Baseball
  • TalkNats/SaoMagnifico: predicts Antuna, Pineda, probably not Adon
  • BaseballAmerica.com
  • mlb.com’s list of Rule-5 top30 prospects; None of our current top prospects is eligible; the highest MLB-ranked candidate for Rule-5 is #14 Pineda.

For a fun trip down memory lane, here’s the same Rule 5 Protection analysis post for 2019, 20182017201620152014201320122011, and 2010. This is one of the only recurring posts I have managed to do every year since I started writing.

By year, here’s who I predicted we’d add and who we did add.

Written by Todd Boss

November 18th, 2020 at 11:31 am

Nats finish with 11th pick next season

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A useless 3-game winning streak against another also-ran from the division ended up costing the Nats at least 5 spots in the 2021 draft.

Assuming that MLB does not do any chicanery with the 2021 draft order, the Nats stand to pick 11th overall, down from projecting to at worst 6th overall a week ago.

http://www.tankathon.com/mlb

Despite the drop, the 2021 draft projects to be a pretty solid draft, thanks to the 5-round draft done this year and the corresponding dozens of decent college prospects who were forced to return to school (and, for prep players, forced to actually attend school, some of which chose the juco route, making them immediately eligible for the draft).

We have some 2021 draft content in the works; a drop out of the top 10 probably costs the nats a shot at one of the more “famous” names in the draft (Kumar Rocker, Jack Leiter, Matt McClean, etc) it does bring into play one of many very solid players from a second tier of guys. Could we be looking at someone like LSU’s starter Jadan Hill or Ole Miss’ starter Gunnar Hogeland? Could a run on starters at the top of the 2021 draft force the Nats to actually take a position player? We’ll see.

Written by Todd Boss

September 28th, 2020 at 8:25 am