Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats at #6 take … Alex Meyer? Or Trever Bauer?


Is Alex Meyers set to be our next 1st round draft pick? Photo:

The consensus view on the draft and the Nationals Mike Rizzo‘s draft proclivities seems to fall along two lines of thought:

  • The 2011 draft is heavy on good college arms.  And…
  • Rizzo likes college arms.

So, the odds are he’s taking a college arm at #6.  Lets look at the top college arms available.  These are in rough order of their probable draft position.  All these pitchers are either college juniors or draft-eligible sophomores.

1. Gerrit Cole, Ucla.  Some concerns about his performance this year are knocking him from a consensus 1-1 position to possibly sliding to 5th (if you believe Keith Law‘s mock draft; see below).  If he got to the Nats, it’d be a steal.  But it comes with some concerns.  As in, how does a guy hitting 100mph only have a 9 k/9 rate?  Strasburg had comparable stuff and was striking guys out at nearly twice that rate.

2. Danny Hultzen, Uva.  Most have him going #3 overall to Arizona, some think Pittsburgh is getting scared off both Cole and Anthony Renden and will take him as a value pick, fast to the majors.  Despite his being a local guy, I’m not sure I want him if I’m the Nats.  Lefty, solid pitcher, fast to the majors sure.  But there’s some stories about his training methods and inflexibility to take coaching that are red flags in my opinion (see Trevor Bauer).  There’s also stories about a meddlesome father out and about, though I’d have a hard time that would translate to the pro game.

3. Trevor Bauer, Ucla.  Ucla’s “other” starter is actually going before Cole on some draft boards.  This, I don’t get.  He’s good, and he has a strong arm, but his ridiculous preparation methods and mid-inning throwing is so unorthodox that it may spell doom to whatever organization has to deal with him.  If he’s already telling people “don’t draft me if you want to change my preparation” then how will he ever take constructive criticism or coaching?  To say nothing of the 150-160pitch outings he’s frequently had this season.  He does have a ridiculous 189 Ks in 127 innings this year.  Here’s one scouting report on Bauer for your perusal.

4. Alex Meyer, Kentucky. scouted and did an extensive report on Meyer, his stuff, and his outlook just this week, reviewing his Florida start.  Rizzo likes big body, power arms out of college and Meyer absolutely fits that bill.  Here’s a profile at  Here’s another at by Jonathan Mayo.  The major thing that scares me about Meyer is his sudden reversal of fortunes over his first two college seasons.  How does a guy have a 7+ era as a sophomore then suddenly start throwing lights out (2.94 era, 110ks in 101 innings) as a junior?  Who is the real Meyer?

5. Sonny Gray, Vanderbilt. Good stuff, good results, bad body.  Just as with pro quarterbacks, no GM likes to take a sub-6-foot right hander.  Most think he’s headed for the bullpen … if so how could you possibly draft him this high?  A top5 overall pitcher better have future Ace starter potential.

Anyone below this point isn’t going to get past the Nats, since Anthony Rendon probably goes 1st or 2nd and one of the big-time high school prospects (among them possibly Bundy, Starling or Archie Bradley) may go top 5 as well.  Of the arms below; if any of them fall to #23 we may snap them up despite really needing bats in the farm system.

  • Jed Bradley, Georgia Tech.  Good lefty, good league.  Some think he’s top3, others think he’s lasting til the teens.
  • Matt Barnes, UConn.  I’m sure he’s a great pitcher but playing in the Big East isn’t exactly like playing in the SEC.
  • Taylor Jungmann, UTexas.  Stock is falling.
  • John Stilson, Tamu.  lots of K/9 in a good league.  Unfortunately he just destroyed his shoulder and probably won’t even be drafted.  He’ll be lucky to recover from a SLAP tear.
  • Matthew Purke, TCU.  Has had injury concerns all year but has a top-5 talent arm.  I’d wonder if the Nats would roll the dice at #23 or possibly in the supplemental round on him.  Keith Law posted today (insider only) that his price tag won’t be worth what he has shown this year, and I’m guessing he returns to school for his junior year.  More likely he’ll play in the Cape, try to re-gain his mojo and earn his (likely) $6M demand.

Lots of draft pundits are putting the Nats onto Kentucky right-hander Alex Meyer at the #6 spot.  According to some reports, the Nationals were initially targeting him at #23, but a strong 2011 season has him shooting up the draft boards.  If not Meyer, a lot of other mock drafts have us on Trevor Bauer, which scares me for reasons mentioned above.

Here’s some good mock drafts to refer to:

Final thoughts

I think Meyer may end up being an overdraft, but its hard not to fall in love with a big body and a big arm.  You can’t teach MPH.  Bauer (as Passan says) may be Lincecum 2.0 and certainly has amazing k/9 rates this year, but i’d be afraid of his unconventionalism.  Videos of his mechanics aren’t that crazy, and he definitely has a great arm.  We’ll see if the Nats go this way or surprise everyone.

4 Responses to 'Nats at #6 take … Alex Meyer? Or Trever Bauer?'

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  1. Todd – today’s mock from Law had Starling at 6 and Meyer at 23. That would be a great result, in my book.


    3 Jun 11 at 8:43 pm

  2. Yeah, I just don’t think Rizzo is taking a HS guy with sign-ability issues that high. He just seems like a college-arm guy. Check out the first 30 picks or so from the last two drafts ( In 2010, he took a grand total of three HSers (counting Harper) in the first 30 rounds or so … and those other two were top round talent that slipped that he thought he could get a bargain on. Same thing in 2009 to a certain extent; one HS arm before the 27th round.

    Of course, if he did take Starling, the team could spread his bonus out over several years and they could shoot for another above-slot guy at 23 or 34. Hmm.

    But there’s this: everything about the construction of the team and the planning says to me that this team is building towards a major playoff push in 2013 … a HS guy like Starling isn’t going to be around til 2015. I think he’d rather find a polished college junior who could spend 2012 in the minors, then push for a spot in 2013.

    About Law; i like his analysis but i think he is purposely contrarian. To the point where he wants to be different because its his reputation. Of course, looking at his mock 3.0 if the first 5 picks go as he predicts then the Nats almost have no choice but to take Starling. Baltimore has a history of taking HS arms high. So does KC … though lately they’ve gone college b/c their HS drafting has been so bad. Everyone else thinks Hultzen is a lock to go #3 to Arizona at the worst. But yeah if Meyers was being considered at 6 and he slips to 23? Gra-vy.

    Todd Boss

    3 Jun 11 at 9:25 pm

  3. They are not taking Meyer. Taking Meyer at 6 would be an overdraft. Ideally, they would get him at 23. You know how I know that, because there is a chance he will still be there at 23.

    The top 6 players in the draft are: Cole, Rendon, Hultzen, Bundy, Starling, Bauer. The Nats will take which ever player is left at 6. When you are drafting that high, you take the best player available period. You will see Rizzo’s drafting philosophy play out at 23 and the sandwich pick.

    I actually think Hultzen will fall to them at 6, if Bauer convinced AZ he is a the guy by his pitching in the NCAA. Starling might end up being the best player in the draft, but it is going to take serious $ and a protracted Boras negotiation to prevent him from playing QB at Nebraska.


    6 Jun 11 at 1:02 pm

  4. Everyone’s comments have convinced me that this is a good draft already.

    Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

    7 Jun 11 at 8:59 am

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