Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

2018 Draft coverage; Mock Draft mania plus my projected top-5 and Nats picks


Casey Mize has been the consensus 1-1 for 2018 for most of the season. Photo

Casey Mize has been the consensus 1-1 for 2018 for most of the season. Photo

Mock Draft mania!  Since the draft is Monday i’ll publish this now to talk about it and talk about who we’d like to see the Nats pick.  I’ll keep adding mocks as they get published and update this post all the way til gametime.

First, here’s a preview of the names we’re talking about for the upper end of the first round.  This is an evolving list, with names who were prominently mentioned last fall falling by the way-side and helium guys rising up.  At publication, i’ve separated those who have fallen as indicated below.

College Upper 1st round names in the mix

  • Casey Mize RHP, Auburn. 2017 USA Nat’l team star, quickly rising to be the consensus 1-1 pick in 2018.
  • Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech.  Helium candidate in spring 2018
  • Alec Bohm, 3B Wichita State.  Helium guy with strong 2018.
  • Brady Singer RHP, Florida. Dominant in 2016 CWS. 2017 USA Nat’l team.
  • Nick Madrigal 2B, Oregon State: Golden spikes semi-finalist 2017 as sophomore. All-american as Soph. 2017 USA Nat’l team.
  • Jonathan India, 3B, Florida. another Helium guy in spring 2018; was always solid but now hitting .400 in the SEC

College Candidates who have fallen to mid-1st round status: basically i’d be happy with nearly any pick on this list dropping to the Nats at #27.

  • Logan Gilbert, RHP Stetson; top Cape Code league prospect 2017
  • Ryan Rolison, LHP from Ole Miss; #1 pitching prospect from Cape 2017 league.
  • Travis Swaggerty, CF, South Alabama; has not hit well in 2018, lowering stock slightly.
  • Tristan Beck, RHP Stanford.  solid starter who missed significant time with back injury.
  • Sean Hjelle, RHP Kentucky: huge guy (6’11”) who doesn’t throw hard, but it appears so b/c of his reach.
  • Griffin Conine OF, Duke. Jeff Conine‘s son. Exploded in Cape Cod League 2017, All-Cape 2017, named top prospect, but has fallen precipitously in 2018
  • Luken Baker, 1B TCU; more “famous” than draft prospect thanks to lack of defensive value.  Suffered broke leg Apr 2018 after an arm injury in 2017, lowering stock.
  • Seth Beer, 1B Clemson: another “famous” name in the draft; his OBP skills may push him to 1st round.
  • Jackson Kowar, RHP Florida; U-Florida’s saturday starter who has scuffled a bit this spring but still should be a 1st rounder.

High School

  • Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie HS, Melbourne, FL.  Mississippi State commit, highest spin rate ever recorded?  helium guy spring 2018, jumping up over many names to be first prep player taken.
  • Matt Liberatore LHP, Mountain Ridge (AZ) (Arizona commit).  18U team, Gold Medal game starter, but has had inconsistent spring 2018, not consistently showing 96-97.
  • Jared Kelenic OF, Waukesha (WI) (Louisville commit). 18U team.  Considered best prep hit tool in the class.
  • Nolan Gorman, 3B Sandra Day O’conner HS (AZ): (Arizona commit).  18U team.  best power bat in the class, struggling spring 2018 b/c of being walked all the time.
  • Cole Winn, RHP, Orange Lutheran HS (CA).  Mississippi State commit, helium guy spring 2018.

High School guys whose stock has fallen:

  • Brice Turang SS, Santiago (CA) (LSU commit). 18U team.  Questions on hit took spring 2018; polarizing player among scouts.
  • Ethan Hankins RHP, Forsyth Central (GA): (Vanderbilt commit). 18U team.  Shoulder injury has lowered his stock.
  • Kumar Rocker RHP, North Oconee (GA) (Vanderbilt commit). 18U team.  Has lost velocity this spring, lowering his stock.
  • Nander de Sedas, SS, Montverde FL (Florida State commit): great 2017 summer.

Here’s the Mock draft collection.  I’ve generally listed their top-5 and then who they project the Nats to take at #27 (if they project out that far).  I got the first Mock draft link here just after the end of the 2017 season, when the BA guys did a mock once we knew the draft order.  I’ll continue to add in mocks as they get published post-posting up until the draft.

  • Baseball America (John Manuel) 2018 Mock Draft v1.0 dated 10/6/17: Singer, Hankins, Turang, de Sedas, Gorman.  Nats taking prep RHP Slade Cecconi from a FL HS who can hit 97 with 3 pitches.
  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) 2018 Mock Draft v1.0 dated 5/11/18: (behind a pay wall)
  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) 2018 Mock Draft v2.0 dated 5/18/18: (behind a pay wall)
  • Baseball Draft Report (Rob Ozga) 2018 Mock Draft v1.0 dated 10/7/17: Gilbert, Madrigal, Singer, Hankins, Rolison.  Nats taking LHP Konnor Pilkington from Mississippi State, a 2017 USA Nat’l team member.
  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis) 2018 Early Mock Draft dated 12/5/17: Singer, Hankins, Liberatore, de Sedas, Turang.  Only projected top 10 so no Nats pick.
  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis) 2018 Mock Draft dated 5/11/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, Singer.   Nats taking prep RHP Cole Wilcox, RHP, Heritage HS (Ringgold, Ga.)
  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis) 2018 Mock Draft dated 5/24/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.   Has Nats on Mason Denaburg, a prep RHP from Florida (with a Florida commit) who is someone i hadn’t heard of prior to seeing it in print  here.  He was projected higher until shut down with biceps tendinitis; this could be a classic Nats move of taking a top-10 talent later in the 1st thanks to a slight injury issue.
  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis) 2018 Final Mock Draft dated 6/4/18: Mize, Bart, Madrigal, Singer, India.  Still has Nats on Denaburg.
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo): 2018 Early Mock Draft dated 12/5/17:  Singer, de Sedas, Hankins, Kowar, Madrigal.  Only projected top 10 so no Nats pick.
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo): 2018 Mock Draft projection dated 4/30/18:  Mize, Singer, Madrigal, Bohm, Stewart.  has Nats on Xavier Edwards, SS, North Broward Prep (Coconut Creek, Fla.), an undersized but good prospect with a strong Vanderbilt commitment.
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo): 2018 Mock Draft projection dated 5/17/18:  Mize, Bart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.  Has Nats on Denaburg.
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo): 2018 Mock Draft projection dated 5/31/18:  Mize, Bart, Madrigal, Singer, India.  Nats again on Denaburg.
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo) 2018 Final Mock Draft dated 6/4/18: Mize, Bart, Madrigal, Singer, India.  now has Nats on Xavier Edwards, a prep SS from Florida.
  • Fangraphs (Eric Longenhagen/Kiley McDaniel): 2018 Mock Draft v1.0 dated 4/19/18: Mize, Bohm, Madrigal, Swaggerty, Kelenic.  Only projected top 10, but notes that Washington wants a “quick moving” college pitcher (just like every year) and is tied to either Tristan Beck or Sean Hjelle.
  • Fangraphs (Eric Longenhagen/Kiley McDaniel): 2018 Mock Draft v2.0 dated 5/15/18: Mize, Bart, Bohn, Madrigal, Singer.  Also has Nats on Denaburg.
  • Fangraphs (Eric Longenhagen/Kiley McDaniel): 2018 Mock Draft v3.0 dated 6/1/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.  Now has Nats on Wilcox.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/ (Benjamin Chase) Mock draft v1.0 4/30/18: Mize, Bohm, Libratadore, Kelenic, Madrigal.  Has the Nats on Mike Vasil, a HS RHP pitcher from a Boston, MA high school  (with a commit to UVA/Virginia) with some possible arm issues so could be following their pattern of buying low in injured guys.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/ (Benjamin ChaseMock draft v2.0 5/7/18: Mize, Madrigal, Bohm, Winn, Libratadore.  Has Nats on de Sedas, which would fit the Nats’ predilection of taking “famous” names.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/ (Benjamin ChaseMock draft v3.0 5/15/18: Mize, Bart, India, Bohm, Singer.  Also has Nats on Denaburg.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/ (Benjamin ChaseMock draft v4.0 5/21/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, Singer.   Has Nats now on Wilcox instead of Denaburg now.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/ (Benjamin ChaseMock draft v5.1 5/28/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.  Has Nats back on Denaburg.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/ (Benjamin ChaseMock draft v6.2 6/4/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.  Same top 5 as last few iterations.  Has Nats back on Wilcox.
  • ESPN/Keith Law Mock draft v1.0 5/2/18: Mize, Singer, Bohm, Bart, Madrigal.  Has the Nats taking a prep RHP named J.T. Ginn from Mississippi, or perhaps taking one of the more “famous” prep arms if they fall (Hankins, Turang).
  • ESPN/Keith Law Mock draft v2.0 5/17/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, Singer.  Has the Nats on Rocker, or perhaps one of the other prep guys who are “famous” but who are falling this spring, looking for value.
  • ESPN/Keith Law Mock draft v3.0 5/31/18: Mize, Winn, Bart, Singer, Madrigal.  Has the Nats on Denaburg.
  • ESPN/Keith Law Mock draft v4.0 6/4/18: Bart, Winn, Mize, Singer, Madrigal.  Still has the Nats on Denaburg.
  • Sporting News Mock Draft v1.0 5/17/18: Mize, Libratadore, Singer, Madrigal, Stewart.  Has the Nats taking Seth Beer, which I wouldn’t be totally against.
  • (Ryan Phillips) Mock Draft v1.0 5/17/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, Singer (same as Law).  Only projects top 10, so no Nats pick.
  • (Ryan PhillipsMock Draft v2.0 5/30/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, Singer (same as his first mock).  Has Nats on Wilcox.
  • (Ryan PhillipsMock Draft v3.0 6/3/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, Singer (same as his first two mocks).  Has Nats on Ethan Hankins now.
  • (Brian Sakowski) Mock Draft v1.0: 4/20/18: Mize, Kelenic, Madrigal, McClanahan, Hankins.  has Nats on Grayson Rodriguez, prep RHP from Texas HS.
  • (Brian Sakowski) Mock Draft v2.0: 5/10/18: Mize, Stewart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.  Nats on Kumar Rocker as well; I’d love this pick if it happened.
  • (Brian Sakowski) Mock Draft v3.0 5/24/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, Singer.  Nats on Jackson Kowar, RHP weekend starter for Florida.  Um, if Kowar makes it here, i’d be ecstatic and it’d be a great pick.
  • (Brian Sakowski) Mock Draft v4.0 6/4/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.  Nats on Denaburg.
  • Prospect Digest (Joseph Werner) Mock Draft 6/4/18: Mize, Liberatore, Madrigal, McClanahan, Stewart.  Nats picking Stanford’s Tristan Beck.

Mock draft posters from 2017 who didn’t seem to do one this year.:

  • D1Baseball (Frankie Piliere)
  • (Chris Crawford/Jason Crawford)
  • (John Sickels)
  • (Jay Jaffe), now with Fangraphs, so probably not doing prospect work anymore.
  • CBSsports (Mike Axisa)

Todd Boss’ Mock draft top-5 prediction?

My top 5: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.   It seems like most all the pundits have arrived at this as a top 5 and it seems to make sense.

ACTUAL DRAFT Results (added after the draft): top 5 went Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, India.  First four no surprise … India at #5 a surprise.  So was Kyler Murray at #9 to Oakland … that came out of nowhere.

Who are the Nats going to take at #27:  Mason Denaburg

Its really, really difficult to project to the 27th pick; you just have no idea who will be there.  Just consider the 2011 draft; the Nats sat at the #6 spot and figured they’d have zero shot at Anthony Rendon, who for most of his college career was considered a 1-1 guy.  Suddenly Rendon has a slight injury, the first few teams pass on him … and he falls into the Nat’s lap.

Historically, Mike Rizzo drafts college guys.  And historically, he drafts college arms up high.  However, most of the mocks above have the Nats taking prep arms in the first.

The clear “word on the street” out of the Nats camp this year is prep arm.  Why?  I have no idea.  How many high school arms have you ever seen Mike Rizzo draft at the top of the draft?  How about in the top 10 rounds altogether?   I’ll give you the answer to the latter question: Three: Rizzo has drafted exactly three prep arms in the top 10 rounds in the entirety of his Nats career, dating to 2009.  Jesus LuzardoLucas Giolito and A.J. Cole.   That’s it.  Cole was under the prior bonus rules, when they threw 1st round money at him in the 4th.  Giolito was a case where he dropped precipitously thanks to an arm injury and the Nats snagged him mid 1st (which kind of fits the Denaburg projection this year) … and Luzardo was a 3rd rounder with 1st round talent but a TJ surgery on his resume who they got great value on.  So why would anyone think Rizzo is going to pick a prep arm unless its a Giolito situation where a top-5 projected guy suddenly falls?

Normally, i’d firmly in the camp that the Nats will follow their typical pattern here for later 1st round picks: college arm.  I like the mocks that project guys like Beck or Hjelle, or any one of several solid college arms who might drop down because of a crummy regional performance.  Ole Miss’ Ryan Rolison fits the bill here as a guy who might be available at 27, as does Jackson Kowar.

What about one of the famous “bats” in this draft?  Namely, Seth Beer or Luken Baker or Griffen Conine?  All seem like no-position/defensive liability sluggers, which may end up being tweeners between Late 1st round and mid 2nd round … so they’d be reaches for the Nats in the 1st but gone by our 2nd round pick.


Actual Nats #27 Pick (added after the draft): Mason Denaburg.  For the second year in a row, the Nats tip their hand and have their first round pick predicted by every major pundit.

11 Responses to '2018 Draft coverage; Mock Draft mania plus my projected top-5 and Nats picks'

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  1. Todd – nice write up. I’ve given up my paywall subscriptions so it’s good to know who some of them are saying.

    Here’s some random observations: In the top picks, I think there is a real chance Singer drops out of the top 10 and who knows how far. Just doesn’t seem like he’s been anything special the last few years. Is see some of these hotshot prep guys going very early, like Wynn, Liberatore, etc.

    For our pick, I’d like them to concentrate on pitching again, since we are so barren (imo). And I’d like them to go outside the box a bit. A bunch of these guys seems like either middling LHP types or the dime a dozen prep righties, so I’d pass. The ones that stand out to me are Rocker – love the different body type but if he’s lost velo, I’d tread carefully unless I knew why; Denaburg – his command and secondary stuff impressed me but i’ll Bet he’s gone by their pick; Wilcox – for similar reasons, and Hjelle – if harnessed, he could be formidable (but it’s high risk).

    I’d also like to see them add quality pitching in later rounds too.


    1 Jun 18 at 5:17 pm

  2. I agree with the guru comments that the Nats need a “quick moving” college arm. If they had some projectable MLB starters in the mid-to-upper minors, they might have the luxury of developing a HS arm. But beyond Fedde and Crowe, they’ve got nuttin’ above Hags, and I’m not sure I completely believe in any of the starters there. (And of course they utterly flushed their #1 pick in 2017; don’t get me started on that. They got tremendously lucky that Crowe fell to them in the 2d.)

    So . . . I’m looking at Kowar (probably wishful thinking), Beck (better be right on him since he’s senior age [junior status] and would need to move up quickly, like Crowe), Rolison, or Hjelle. I will be disappointed if the Nats go with a HS arm, all the more so an injured one like Denaburg. They can’t wait for someone with a 2023-24 ETA.

    As for the big boppers, I’d leap all over Beer if he’s there when the Nats pick in the 2d, or Baker if he’s there for the Nats in the 3d. You have to think that at least one from among Beer, Baker, and Conine is going to make it big; my guess would be Beer, who has the best plate discipline among the three. If I were the Nats, I’d actually be tempted to take Beer in the 1st, but they need starting pitching more than hitters right now.


    2 Jun 18 at 8:51 am

  3. With the big club, I’m pretty PO’d with how lethargic the Nats have been in the first two games in ATL. There’s been no sense of urgency whatsoever, no spark. The Braves and their fans are fired up, while the Nats have barely even showed up. Yes, it’s the beginning of June, and there’s still a long way to go. But at least look like you’re trying.

    I still don’t think the Braves have enough pitching to hold up for the long haul. The Nats just happened to catch their two best starters to open the series. The Phils have the pitching, at least the starters, but not the hitting. The Mets have already squandered their great start and have the injuries mounting. The Nats had a great May overall and should be getting most of their weapons back soon. Kendrick was a significant loss, as he would have been a terrific bench piece going forward. (The injury also complicates the plan of him being the 2019 bridge at 2B to someone like Carter Kieboom, if the Nats let Murph walk.)


    2 Jun 18 at 9:01 am

  4. Wow, Kershaw made one start off the DL and is now back on it.


    2 Jun 18 at 9:06 am

  5. I don’t agree with your draft philosophy, KW. When the draft rolls around and the reports are written, we tend to forget that the vast majority of these guys never amount to anything. So it’s very hard. If you add the dimension that you want a college, which to the majors type, I think all you do is lower your chances of finding a guy who contributes in the majors. They should just take the best guy on their board.

    The consequence of trading all those pitching guys is that they’ll be paying up in the FA market for a few years.


    2 Jun 18 at 11:01 am

  6. I’d be glad to debate draft philosophy, but let’s acknowledge that it’s not “mine” alone. It’s also Rizzo’s, and Billy Beane’s, and that of quite a number of other GMs. Yes indeed, “the vast majority of these guys never amount to anything,” and the worst offenders in that category by far are high school pitchers. That’s why Rizzo has only taken three of them in the upper rounds during his decade with the Nats, as Todd chronicled, only one in the first round. So I’m not only predicting what Rizzo will do, I’m also stating why I think they need a college arm who can move quickly through the system. Again, that’s not an original statement from me; I’m just agreeing with the Fangraphs guys.

    If we’re talking about who I would actually pick, I’d be very tempted to skip the pitchers and go for a Beer. I think he’s the surest thing on the board at #27, even if he’s position-limited. But I also understand the strong case for trying to ID a college starter who can follow Crowe’s lead and finish his first full pro season in AA (assuming Crowe will be promoted soon). If they had hit on both Romero and Crowe last year, this area might not be such a need, but they didn’t, and it is. The only viable “prospect” starters they have with full-season teams right now are Fedde (AAA), Rodriguez (AA), Crowe (A+), and Raquet (A), and I’m not completely sold on J-Rod or Raquet. They have other young starters at Hags who have some promise, but none has stood out yet. I guess we’ll find out how much the Nats believe in them by how much of the top of the 2018 draft they devote to yet more arms.


    2 Jun 18 at 2:48 pm

  7. I put my 2 cents in the post about the surprise of hearing from practically everyone that nats are on HS arms. Maybe its because there’s just so many of them in this draft and t hey stand to get decent value.

    Like always, there seems like there’s going to be quality college friday starters from big schools with big accomplishments available at the end of the first; that’s what i’d take, that’s what I think they should take. Take a guy who can move up and be in the rotation when Gio’s contract ends and keep the train going that htey’ve so depleted in the last two years.

    Todd Boss

    2 Jun 18 at 3:04 pm

  8. So, I watched part of the LSU-Oregon State game last night. Zack Hess (LSU starter, from Lynchburg VA) struggled with his command like he had all year and was knocked out early … and I got to see Luke Heimlich for the first time live. And damn he looks like a pro starter. Dominating stuff. I wonder who is going to roll the dice on him.

    Todd Boss

    3 Jun 18 at 8:33 am

  9. I don’t know if the Nats would do this, but I would stay away from arms that fall from injury in the first round. Although the Nats have by reputation taken pitchers that fell, how well did Giolito and Fedde turned out? And Luzardo was a first round arm that dropped to third because of TJ. That is very, very different.

    Dane Dunning was a college starter who was drafted after Kieboom and has had a solid rise and no drama and as much trade value as Giolito.

    Which is why I would take a player with great power potential who has defensive versatility. Kieboom is the next top prospect of the system once Robles graduates and Soto is full time major league. The Nats system and indeed their team is comparatively short of offensive talent.

    I get the Romero draft; of a college starter arm that can move quickly (Perhaps we’ll see him at Auburn and then in the A leagues). But it’s hard to envision that at slot 27.

    To me, the international market is the place to sign the high end high school arms, and for a lot less money.


    4 Jun 18 at 6:14 am

  10. What i would bet on is the Nationals misdirecting the market to protect them for players who fall into the 20’s whom they may grab. The risk of grabbing a falling star for the right reasons is indeed often worth it.

    And Rizzo never shows his hand.


    4 Jun 18 at 6:15 am

  11. Beware the tournament flash. Drew van Orden was one, and he was quickly out of baseball.


    4 Jun 18 at 6:16 am

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