I’m sure, based on comments in the previous thread, that some will think the results of the Nats 2014 draft will be overblown. Fair enough. Yes the draft is a crap shoot, especially after the first round. You can take that angle and tell your self that its not that big of a deal that the team blew its 2nd and 8th round picks.
But this fact remains: At the draft signing deadline for the 2014 rule-4 draft, out of 315 players taken in the first 10 rounds (and supplimentals), just six players were unsigned. And two of them belong to the Nats. This team is doing squat in the international market and, outside of a few marquee names, has a pretty thin farm system right now, and needed to get high-end talent out of this draft. But they didn’t.
Here’s my (glass is half empty) summary of the top 10 rounds for this team now:
- An over-slot starter coming off of Tommy John surgery (which doesn’t have a 100% recovery rate, lets remind ourselves) who may or may not have even been a top-15 talent (as he was paid) before he got hurt. Every draft pundit I saw had him in the late 20s factoring in his injury.
- Four college senior/throw away signings who all scream “org guy” and likely all wash out within a couple years.
- A massive over-slot HS catcher who, if everything goes *perfectly* for the kid’s development, we may see at the big league level 5 years from now.
- A Juco pitcher who so far is getting *hammered* in the rookie league.
- A 6th round pitcher from a middling college in a low-end division 1 league.
- A compensation pick in the middle of the 2nd round next year.
Wow. I’m overwhelmed with anticipation to see how our 2014 class turns out! To say that Mike Rizzo has gambled this entire draft on the future potential of Erick Fedde is an overstatement. Most scouting reports on him have his ceiling as a 3rd starter at best, not exactly the same as drafting a Tyler Kolek or a Carlos Rodon. If Fedde flames out or is converted to a reliever (as more and more it seems last year’s pick Jake Johansen will be doing thanks to his apparent inability to pitch more than 4 innings at a time without getting blasted), we’ll be talking about the “hole” this draft leaves in the system for some time.
Two of the other unsigned players from this draft are far more high visibility: the situation with Houston and Brady Aiken (and its fall-out consequences of costing them Jacob Nix and to a lesser extent 21st round pick Mac Marshall) is a huge problem for baseball. I agree with Keith Law wholeheartedly; the Astros reneged on a draft-day deal with arguable “findings” in the medicals, and that haggling cost them another pre-arranged deal with Nix. Both players have serious cases for a grievance; the Astros pulled back on verbal agreements that may end up being legally binding, AND both are high school kids who failed very high-profile professional negotiations, likely negating their NCAA eligibility/accepted scholarship offers to UCLA. Its a mess all around.
Personally, I hope both players file a grievance with the union and are declared free agents, free to negotiate with whoever they want. Certainly there will be another team that looks at Aiken’s medicals and has no problem giving him far more than the $6.5M bonus (approx) that was pulled back. I read an opinion yesterday that said he could get a 6yr/$20M deal given his capabilities. It highlights the grave need for a “player combine” similar to what the NFL does, where players showcase for scouts all together and get consistent medical advice that is available to all teams.
Sorry to sound so negative, but taking a high-profile/high-cost injury-risk pitcher for the 3rd time in 4 years (Giolito, Purke), missing on your 2nd rounder, and missing on the one potential “over slot” guy that you should have been saving your pennies for by drafting throw-away college seniors in rounds 5 through 9 is a failed draft for me. The Nats are going to have to get some “finds” out of this crew, or out of the rest of the class, to make up for these mistakes.