Nationals Arm Race

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

First Look; Nats top 10 rounds of 2013 Draftees

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Meet Jake Johansen, the Nats 2nd round 2013 pick. Photo via DBU website

A quick glance on our high-end draftees from 2013 draft.  As with other posts, I’ll put in the Keith Law and Baseball America ranking after the player name where appropriate (though as we’ll see, Keith’s top 100 quickly runs out of names).

Two other blogs are doing a far more in-depth look at these picks than I am here; definitely see Ryan Kelley‘s fantastic scouting reports on each pick at BaseballNewsHound.com and see Ryan Sullivan‘s excellent draft day blog coverage at NatsGM.com for more and better in-sight than what I’ve got here.  Plus Tom Schad at MLB.com has posted nice per-player summaries for all the Nats picks.   I’m just looking for a quick hit observation on our new guys.

  • Rnd #1/#28 overall: In what would have been the Nats first round pick, the Cardinals selected Rob Kaminsky, a prep RHP from New Jersey.   However at that point in the draft high-end prep lefty Ian Clarkin, pre-draft top-10 pick LHP Sean Manaea from Indiana State University and highly-regarded Arkansas RHP Ryne Stanek (another guy who was seen as an upper-end 1st rounder earlier this year with fantastic stuff) were still on the board.   Don’t you think the Nats wouldn’t have minded a shot at Manaea or Stanek at above-slot and then punted on below-slot guys the rest of the way (kinda what they did in 2012 with Lucas Giolito and a senior-heavy first 10 rounds)?  Both Manaea and Stanek dropped just in the past few weeks because of short-term injuries and both seem like steals at the end of the 1st round.  Man I would have liked to see one of these two guys added to the farm system. Was this worth the Rafael Soriano signing?
  • Rnd #2/#68 overall: Jake Johansen, RHP from Dallas Baptist University.  Keith Law ranked #63, Baseball America ranked #180.  This is a classic Mike Rizzo pick; a big guy (6’6″) with a big arm (98-100mph on the fastball, sustained through out the game).  Its almost like they’re trying to replace Alex Meyer in the farm system.  Johansen’s college numbers leave something to be desired: 5.40 era this season, a career ERA > 6.00.  Some have pointed out he has a very high BABIP on the year and that his conference is a hitter’s paradise; fair counter points).  For a guy who throws so hard, he had surprisingly few Ks this year (75 Ks in 88 1/3 innings).   His size and profile seems to trend towards an automatic reliever, but the Nats profile him as a starter.  You can’t teach velocity right?  The Nats execs are already on record saying that they’re drafting the tools and they believe they can coach him up.  FederalBaseball has a nice writeup on him with good quotes and the Nats press release on the pick too.  Masn’s Byron Kerr‘s write-up is here.  Already some pundits questioning the pick (HardBallTalk).  My thought?  I would have liked to have drafted a polished guy with our highest pick, not a project.  6/8/13 update: already signed for slot value.  Wow that was fast.  Clearly smells like a pre-draft deal here.
  • Rnd #3/#105 Overall: Drew Ward, prep SS/3B from Oklahoma.  BA #88.  Prep 3B who’s graduating a year early and with an Oklahoma commitment.    I don’t think he graduated HS a year early so he could get to college; he’ll sign.  Nice FederalBaseball writeup about him.  Keith Law isn’t a fan.
  • Rnd #4/#136 Overall: Nicholas “Nic” Pivetta, RHP  from a New Mexico Juco.   BA #155.  The MLB scouting reports say he’s an upper 90s fastball in short spurts and may be headed for the bullpen.  Sounds like a Rizzo pick to me.  Are you sure we’re not drafting for need at the MLB level right now?  :-).  All signs point to reliever.  Maybe we’re so happy with our High-A rotation right now that we’re just focusing on relivers who can go straight to AA and matriculate up the ranks with our current set of starters?
  • Rnd #5/#166 Overall: Austin Voth, RHP from University of Washington.  BA #260.  Seems like an over draft, might be a signability pick, though Voth fits the profile of a good K/9 guy.  He was the University of Washington’s friday starter, he was 2nd in the Pac-12 in strikeouts to #1 overall pick Mark Appel and had pretty good stats for a sub-.500 college team.
  • Rnd #6/#196 Overall: Cody Gunter 3B/RHP from Texas Juco.   BA #249.  Could be another reliever, but likely was drafted to play the field.  MLB.com’s writeup on him is here.
  • Rnd #7/#226 Overall: James Yezzo, 1B from UDelaware.  BA #290.  You usually don’t like to draft 1B-only guys on NL teams, especially ones who are only 6’0″, but Yezzo clubbed his way to the CAA player of the year honor and hit .410 with power in a 3-big conference with some good baseball.
  • Rnd #8/#256 Overall: David Napoli, LHP from Tulane.   Not BA ranked.  A weekend senior starter for Tulane with a great BA against for one probable reason; he seems wild as heck.  33 walks in 66 innings and FOURTEEN Hbps this year.  He had a fantastic batting average against (.176) and was even better in H/9 against (5.32 hits per 9, 2nd in the NCAA this year), but that’s easier to do when you’re all over the plate.  Looks like a loogy to me; undersized (5’10″ 180lb) and ok stuff (threw 87 in HS, reportedly can hit 93-94 in short stints).  We’ll see.
  • Rnd #9/#286 Overall: Jake Joyce, RHP from Virginia Tech.  Not BA ranked.  A prototypical round 6-9 pick; college senior, little leverage, will sign for below slot to save cash.  Per the MLB.com story on him, a nats executive knows the family and made the recommendation.  95 out of the pen for Va Tech; you just hope that a reliever in college is going to be successful in the pros.
  • Rnd #10/#316 Overall: Brennan Middleton, SS from Tulane.  Say hello to Auburn’s starting SS this year.

First 10 round summary:

  • Four college RHP who mostly project to relievers
  • One college LHP who definitely projects as a reliever
  • Three college infielders; a 1B, a SS and a 3B.
  • One prep 3B who may be a tougher sign with a college commitment

So far, pretty typical Rizzo draft; college heavy with a focus on power arms destined for the bullpen.  Is there one big name in this list to get excited about?  Unfortunately not so far, but not having a 1st rounder and a crack at a big name (as described in the “possible 1st round missed” bullet point will leave a draft class wanting.

7 Responses to 'First Look; Nats top 10 rounds of 2013 Draftees'

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  1. I like the team taking a chance on an unpolished player like Johansen. I would obviously like it more if they had a pick prior to him but it is what it is at this point. The foundation at the major league level is in place for several years and taking a chance on a guy when you have a tiny bonus pool isn’t the worst thing. I also liked the Ward pick simply because they never go after high school bats. Was hoping to see another in the first 10 rounds but they quickly reverted back to typical Rizzo guys.

    Pdowdy

    8 Jun 13 at 11:45 am

  2. I dunno. I don’t mind a risk-reward project but prefer it later on in the draft, not your first pick. Alex Meyer was a 1st rounder and some thought he was a project but at least he had some accomplished stats his college career and he wasn’t the Nats first choice that year. But, you’re right w/r/t the bonus pool and what we can really do…

    Todd Boss

    9 Jun 13 at 7:21 am

  3. Another comment/observation that I’ve had over the past few years but which is emphasized even more now: do you ever notice how many players the nats draft from Texas and its surrounding states? Look at this year’s draftee schools: Dallas Baptist, Oklahoma HS, New Mexico Juco, Washington State, a Texas Juco, UDelaware, Tulane, Va Tech and Tulane again. That’s 4 of your first 5 picks basically from the same SouthWest swing. I can’t tell if this team just has more scouts working in that area or whether they’re better and commanding the draft war room. The trend continued early Day 3; our #11 pick? Rice University…

    Todd Boss

    9 Jun 13 at 7:27 am

  4. They also seem to go into The junior colleges in that area heavily. I believe day 3 produced another 7 or 8 from that area as well. It is definitely interesting how that area usually dominates our drafts.

    I agree they could have found a more polished player than Johansen with their first selection. It would not have shocked me if Johansen would have still been there in round 3 either. I was expecting him to sign for maybe 100k to 200k under slot to free up more money for other picks but that didn’t happen.

    Pdowdy

    9 Jun 13 at 10:39 am

  5. Well, was just thinking this: Detwiler and Zimmerman are club controled through 2015 (and both seem decent bets to extend). Strasburg under control through 2016, Gio even longer. So the team has a bit of time before really needing high end starters, and probably thinks at this point that they can get at least one MLB starter from their upper end stable of arms. Karns, Jordan, Demny, Ray, Solis, Schwartz, Cole, and Purke. That’s a lot of arms with some serious money allocated and you have to think at least a couple of them work out. So maybe the team is ok just looking at mid 90s guys to try to supplement the bullpen so they don’t have to spend $15M on a closer ever again?

    It still seems like he had a pre-draft agreement, given that he already signed. It seems to confirm the rumors we’re hearing about how drafts are conducted. Team A calls up player B and says, “If we draft you in 5 minutes will you sign for $dollar amount, yes or no; you have 30 seconds to decide.” If they say yes, boom they’re picked and signed and on the way. If not, move on to the next guy.

    I’m going to comment on the vast changes we’ve seen in the draft because of these dollar limits using local virginia players as examples. Its pretty interesting.

    Todd Boss

    10 Jun 13 at 10:02 am

  6. Not to be picky, but the Nats first round pick would have been #33, so they had no shot at Stanek.

    Mr. B

    10 Jun 13 at 10:34 pm

  7. Disagree. <a href="“>Here’s the final 2013 draft order. The last “regular” pick was #27 and the compensation picks started at #28. Therefore, had the Nats (with the best record in the league) kept their first round pick it would have been #28.

    Todd Boss

    11 Jun 13 at 6:59 am

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