Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats 2018 Draft Class; Highlights of picks 11-40 and overall class review



Another  year in the books, and another 40 guys now potentially part of the Nats organization.  Ok well really more like 32-33 new guys; that’s about how many i’d expect to sign out of this class.

We reviewed the top 10 more in-depth in the previous post since, historically, the most likely eventual MLB impact players are all top-end draft picks.  Lets zip through the rest of the draft and do some quick commentary.

  • Round 11: Frankie Bartow, U Miami’s closer.  I like this as an 11th rounder, which in today’s draft system are the first time you can grab someone of note and have a decent shot at them.  Bartow has some career accolades (freshman all-american, finalist for collegiate closer of the year, etc).  Yes he’s a college closer and that’s all he’ll be, but I like this as an 11th rounder.
  • Round 12: Graham Lawson, also an 8th/9th inning guy for South Carolina.  Not as accomplished as Bartow, but similar role.
  • Round 13: Cody Wilson, a corner OF from FAU.  Good power this year (14 homers), good speed (nearly 20 SBs).  Not a bad 12th rounder.   College Junior though so he has some leverage but it doesn’t seem like he slipped really.
  • Round 14: Aaron Fletcher.  a Senior lefty starter from U Houston.  Um, this was Houston’s Friday starter, who pitched a 4-hit, 0 earned run gem in the CWS regional opener to beat Purdue.   Why wasn’t he picked up already?  College numbers look great for a good team in a decent conference, conference pitcher of the year in 2018.  Perhaps its because he doesn’t have massive K/9 numbers.  Nonetheless, I like this pick.
  • Round 15: Evan Lee, a two-way draft eligible sophomore player for Arkansas.  Lefty reliever and a corner OF.  This is a weird one; he doesn’t have great numbers on either side of the ball, but he was an absolute beast coming out of HS (all-american on every service, Gatorade player of the state, etc).  I wonder if this is an over slot candidate.
  • Round 16: Carson Teel, College Jr lefty starter from Oklahoma State.  Entered the weekend rotation mid-season, gave them 11 starts, including getting the Win over USF in last weekend’s regional.  Decent numbers on the season skewed by one bad outing against West Virginia.  Another value pick.
  • Round 17: Ridge Chapman, coll JR mid-week starter for South Carolina; looks like a guy with some inflation in his stats; his BAA is .189 on the year but his ERA is 4.95.   He’s a Juco transfer into South Carolina and his Juco numbers were pretty impressive; perhaps an area scout remembered him from 2017 (when he was drafted late but chose not to sign).
  • Round 18: Jacob Rhinesmith, Coll Jr center fielder from Western Kentucky (which, i’d like to point out, has completely ripped off the Nats Curly-W on their uniforms…).  14  homers, 13 SBs as a center fielder?  Another Juco transfer with very gaudy 2017 numbers.  Listed as 6’1″ 195, lefty.  Maybe he sticks in center?
  • Round 19: Zach Linginfelter, RHP coll Sophomore from Tennessee.  Was in relief most of the season, then put into the rotation towards the end of the year.  Pitched well in the SEC tourney.
  • Round 20: Onix Vega, a Juco C from Broward College.  Gotta have catchers for your short season teams.

Past Round 20, I’ll just note interesting guys; see the table above for the next 20 picks fully.  From here down honestly most guys are just one-and-done short-season players.

  • Round 21: Ryan Tapani, 5th year Sr RHP from Creighton.  Looks like Creighton’s Friday starter with pretty gaudy numbers (10-1, 2.38 ERA on the year).  Just named 3rd team All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.  Son of former MLB player Kevin Tapani, a former pitcher who had more than 350 major league starts in a 13 year career. Nice 21st rounder senior sign.
  • Round 26: Colin Morse, a senior RHP from Shenandoah University by way of … McLean HS.  A local kid.  He seemed like a weekend starter for Shenandoah the last three  years, and he had starts in all four years of his career.
  • Round 30 Trey Vickers, senior SS from Wichita State.  Basically a four year starter at SS for a good baseball program.  Not flashy, but I like the career accomplishment for a higher profile program.
  • Two late round picks (Rounds 34 and 40 picks Tyler Baca and Michael Menhart both seem to be related to Nationals front-office staff (respectively,  Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Baca and Pitching Coordinator Paul Menhart).
  • Round 37 pick Cole Wilcox is an interesting throw-away pick; he was projected as a 1st rounder prior to the draft and was even tied to the Nats in some mocks, but he had a $3M price tag and so once he fell out of the 1st round he was guaranteed to go to school.  He announced his intent to honor his commitment to University of Georgia even before the Nats picked him, where he’ll be a draft eligible sophomore in two years’ time.

Its notable that every single pick the Nats had between rounds 25 and 32 (8 straight rounds) were College seniors.  And then, they ripped of five straight HS draftees from rounds 33-37, including a guy who was projected to go in the first round (Wilcox) in the 37th.   It is almost as if the team got to round 33 and was like, “eh, we’re good, pick a bunch of prep kids as favors to executives or who we have no chance of signing.”

Summary of the Draft class:

  • 23 Arms, 18 Position players, which adds up to 41 since we have a 2-way guy in Evan Lee.
  • 16 College Juniors (or draft-eligible Sophomores)
  • 14 College Seniors with no leverage
  • 3 Juco guys
  • 7 High Schoolers, 6 of which are basically throw-away picks in the late rounds.

Of the 30 4-year college guys:

  • 8 from SEC teams
  • 1 from Pac12 teams
  • 2 from ACC teams
  • 1 from Big10 teams
  • 2 from Big12 teams
  • 5 from non-major conference but still big-time Baseball programs (FAU, Houston, Sam Houston State, UConn, Wichita State)
  • 11 from smaller/non division 1 programs

Not surprisingly, a huge take from the SEC, which proved this year they’re unrivaled in terms of college baseball power.

Geographic Locations of picks:

  • 6 from Florida, 4 from Georgia
  • 4 from California, another 2 from Arizona
  • 4 From Texas, another 2 from Oklahoma and 2 from Arkansas
  • 3 from Tennessee, 2 from South Carolina and 2 from Kentucky
  • 5 from the Midwest (Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska)
  • 4 from random remaining states: one each from Connecticut, Wisconsin, Oregon and Virginia.

that’s 36 of the 40 picks from these 5 general areas.  We know that Florida, Georgia and California are the three heaviest areas for providing baseball talent, but normally we see a big focus in the Texas/Oklahoma area with our drafts.  Not this year; one quarter came from the two southeastern states this year.


Here’s a table with all 40 picks.

RoundOverallNamePositionCol/HSCollege or CmtmState
127Denaburg, MasonRHP (Str)HSFloridaFL
265Cate, TimLHP (Str)Coll JrUconnCT
3101Schaller, ReidRHP (Rel)Coll SoVanderbiltTN
4131Irvin, JakeRHP (Str)Coll JrOklahomaOK
5161Canning, GageOFColl JrArizona StateAZ
6191Karp, AndrewRHP (Str)Coll SrFlorida StateFL
7221Day, ChandlerRHP (Rel)Coll JrVanderbiltTN
8251Cropley, TylerCColl SrIowaIA
9281Driskill, TannerRHP (Str)Coll SrLamarTX
10311Shaddy, Carson2BColl SrArkansasAR
11341Bartow, FrankieRHP (Rel)Coll JrMiamiFL
12371Lawson, GrahamRHP (Rel)Coll JrSouth CarolinaSC
13401Wilson, CodyOF (Corner)Coll JrFlorida Atlantic UFL
14431Fletcher, AaronLHP (Str)Coll SrHoustonTX
15461Lee, EvanLHP (rel)/OFColl SoArkansasAR
16491Teel, CarsonLHP (Str)Coll JrOklahoma StateOK
17521Chapman, RidgeRHP (Str)Coll JrSouth CarolinaSC
18551Rhinesmith, JacobOF (CF)Coll JrWestern KentuckyKY
19581Linginfelter, ZachRHP (rel)Coll SoTennesseeTN
20611Vega, OnixCJC J1Broward CollegeFL
21641Tapani, RyanRHP (Str)Coll SrCreightonNB
22671Daily, ColeSSColl JrNotre DameIN
23701Hamilton, ColeCJC J1Linn Benton CCOR
24731Marinconz, KyleSSColl JrCal Poly San Luis ObispoCA
25761Vann, ChrisLHP (Str)Coll SrMercerGA
26791Morse, ColinRHP (Str)Coll SrShenandoah VA
27821O'Connor, Pablo2BColl SrAzusa Pacific UniversityCA
28851Chisolm, Blake1BColl SrSam Houston StateTX
29881Pogue, ColtonSSColl SrPittsburg State UKS
30911Vickers, TreySSColl SrWichita StateKS
31941Quintana, JonathanOFColl SrBarry UFL
32971Maley, AlecRHP (Str)Coll SrKentuckyKY
331001Haney, JackCHSCedartown HSGA
341031Baca, TylerOFHSThe Linfield School (CA)CA
351061Binelas, Alex1BHSOak Creek HS (WI)WI
361091Blessie, BoRHPHSRobert E Lee HS (TX)TX
371121Wilcox, ColeRHPHSHeritage HS (GA)GA
381151Milacki, BobbyRHPColl JrArizona Christian UAZ
391181Nardi, AndrewLHPJC J2Moorpark Col (CA)CA
401211Menhart, MichaelRHPHSRichmond Hill HSGA

22 Responses to 'Nats 2018 Draft Class; Highlights of picks 11-40 and overall class review'

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  1. The Nats picked lots of juniors. It’s an interesting gamble . If you have more eligibility, you can roll the dice on improving your slot.

    On the other hand, if you are a high achiever and slot lower, you go from being able to get 100K and start a pro career with a great organization to possibly being a college senior and with no negotiating leverage, and walk away with 5K when your college major was athletics to begin with. I wonder if this is part of the Nats pitch this year…


    7 Jun 18 at 11:52 am

  2. Juniors drafted beyond the first couple of rounds, yeah, they could go back and hope to improve their positions, but unless you’re a star talent who has underperformed because of injury or whatever, it’s unlikely. Then when you’re drafted as a senior, you’ve got no bargaining position whatsoever. I thought Nick Banks might go back when he fell to the Nats in the 4th, but he didn’t.

    We do have a recent example of someone who spurned the Nats coming up this weekend. Andrew Suarez of the Giants was the Nats’ 2d rounder in 2014. The Nats failed to sign him and 9th rounder Austin Byler (who fell through the top 10 rounds the next year). Not signing Suarez seemed like a real SNAFU and really reduced the value of that draft. Fedde may be the only major-leaguer the Nats get out of the guys they signed that year. (McKenzie Mills has stalled with the Phils.) (Byler got popped for PEDs in the minors and is already in an indy league.)


    7 Jun 18 at 2:01 pm

  3. Suarez is an interesting story – so he used another year of his life, got drafted in essentially the same place, got the same bonus, and made the majors but did so a year later than he might have with the Nats.

    And yes, Byler believed the hype, spurned the offer, went back and got burned.

    Montes De Oca has a slightly higher slot value where he was drafted in 2018, but wonder what the nats offered him to sign last year.

    All things considered, take the money unless you have real reason to think you will skyrocket.


    7 Jun 18 at 2:09 pm

  4. There was some scuttlebutt when Montes de Oca dropped out of the top 10 round last year that he might be difficult to sign. We here at Arms Race Central were convinced that they’d be able to easily cover him with the $$$ they’d save paying Romero underslot because he had no school to go back to and thus no bargaining power. (And the underslot they should have paid Freeman and Raquet.) Oops! But will Montes de Oca turn out any better than Klobosits, the other Killer Whale they did sign from the SEC? We’ll see.


    7 Jun 18 at 2:18 pm

  5. Thanks Todd.

    It should be noted anything past Round 10 gets a max of $100,000 unless you have something left from the first 10 rounds.

    Mark L

    7 Jun 18 at 4:32 pm

  6. $100k or $125? I thought they bumped it up a little.

    I mostly follow this through profiles, and I think he Nats are
    Trying to uncover some diamonds in the rough by looking for guys with good tools, but who haven’t had a ton of exposure for some reason. Injury. Caught in between usage (swing guys, long guys). Positions ( played Cather or OF too, like Denaburg). It’s an interesting approach and I’m open to it. Let’s s see how it goes. Picking at the bottom of each round, like they have forever, widens considerably the variance on gear picks.

    So I like Denaburg, Schaller, and some of the other early guys. But as always, I think Rizzo’s team has done well enough feeding the big club that I’ll almost always give them the benefit of the doubt for a while.

    Romero on the bump tonight. Interesting.


    7 Jun 18 at 6:32 pm

  7. New CBA is $125k max for rounds 11-40; every penny over goes against your overall rounds 1-10 salary cap. nats bonus total for the 2018 class is 5,603,800, or 5,883,990 with the 5% cushion.

    Todd Boss

    7 Jun 18 at 9:06 pm

  8. — I stand by my take that overall, this wasn’t a great draft crop. Mize doesn’t have the power to be a #1 starter. Bart, Bohm, and India will probably be good MLB hitters, but maybe not significant stars. (Beer may be a better hitter than all of them but is severely position-limited.) Madrigal is a great “gamer” in college, but is he even a major-leaguer? No one even wanted to touch Singer, supposedly the second-best college arm. Murray and Swaggerty may be little better than the Nats’ 5th-rounder, Gage Canning. All of this said, Juan Soto may be better than anyone in this draft . . . and he’s already in the majors.

    — I’m not thrilled by the Nats’ draft class. It’s not hard to look at it and see absolutely no major leaguers in it. The Nats really went boom-or-bust with the 1st and 3d picks, I guess since they didn’t think much of the quality of the established folks available, either. Not sure about Cate (2d) at all; Fletcher (14th) may be as good or better.

    — I liked Irvin (4th), Canning (5th), Karp (6th), and the reach for Day (7th). None is guaranteed to click, but all seemed worth the risk where they were taken. It’s possible that Irvin or Karp turns out to be the best pitcher from this arms draft crop.

    — Of the later picks, I like the potential of OFs Wilson (13th) and Rhinesmith (18th) and LHP Fletcher (14th). Something about SS Marinconz (24th) also intrigues me. But very, very, very few guys from those levels of the draft generally make it very far.

    — For the second draft in a row, the Nats made almost no investment, in terms of higher picks, in position players. I understand their need for arms, as they haven’t gotten much out of their recent draftees and Latin signees. They consider themselves much better stocked with position players with Soto, Robles, Kieboom, Garcia, and Antuna. But are they really so well stocked that they can go two straight drafts with possibly getting no truly viable position players?


    8 Jun 18 at 10:23 am

  9. I keep ignoring Carson Shaddy (10th), who is an interesting player. He hit .315 across four years at an SEC school, slugging .620 as a SR, although he did K at almost 24%. He played C, CF, 3B, and 2B, amazing utility. He’s from a baseball family, as his dad made it to AAA. He’s a redshirt senior, so the clock will be ticking fast on him.


    8 Jun 18 at 10:41 am

  10. This is a hell of a draft on paper. I don’t need to read a pundits analysis, just show me who they sign and plug ‘em in!


    8 Jun 18 at 11:24 am

  11. Totally disagree. I’d give it about a C+. They’ve got a lot riding on how good Denaburg turns out to be, and that may not be known for a few years. If Denaburg can’t make the majors, this draft likely is a significant bust. I think Cate has a limited ceiling, and they went out on a limb with Schaller, who profiles as more of a reliever anyway.


    8 Jun 18 at 11:31 am

  12. Its tough to really make an impact these days w/o a top 10 draft pick or a slew of extra picks.

    From what I read about the draft; its strength was at the very top in terms of college arms (which we saw with Mize going 1-1 and a slew of good arms following soon after), and then it was quite deep in prep arms. So the Nats, drafting late, did end up with a stellar prep arm, so they took advantage there.

    My take on the draft: Denaburg sounds good, I liked Cate, I liked Irvin and Karp as weekend starters for good teams in big conferences. Same for Fletcher and Teel. Linginfelter might be an over-slot 19th rounder if they can spare some money. I like the immediate impact possibilities of the 3-4 reliever-only guys they took, especially the big arm guys. And with the exception of Canning I don’t think they drafted a single position player who i’d count on making even High-A. It is what it is; this was a pitcher draft.

    Todd Boss

    8 Jun 18 at 11:34 am

  13. I’ll add that even if they had taken my alternative slate of Kowar, Pilkington, and Beck, I still don’t know that I’d give the draft an A because I don’t know that there is a great talent among that group, either. It would have been a safer slate, with more likelihood that a couple of those guys would make the majors than the guys the Nats picked, but it is possible that Denaburg and Schaller have higher potential ceilings . . . as well as lower potential floors. I think there were a number of guys available who were better than Cate. He strikes me as a cost-saving underslot.


    8 Jun 18 at 11:38 am

  14. Just looking back at Cate’s stats to see if I’m missing anything. He did consistently have impressive K/9 numbers at 11+. Concerning, though, is that he got hit, in what is at best a third-tier league. He gave up essentially a hit an inning as a soph and Jr. In the same league, Aaron Fletcher had a significantly better WHIP every year, although he didn’t strike out nearly as many.

    Still, the Nats got Cate at #65, and had him at #62 on their board. Maybe they got him right where he should have been picked. I just have skepticism that he has a high ceiling.


    8 Jun 18 at 11:52 am

  15. KW – you and I will agree to disagree, and then others can revisit this stark difference of perspective in two years. That noted, my rationale is as follows:

    Over the past decade, those pitchers who have had success and sustained themselves up the Nationals’ chain have been primarily college products, the exceptions being highly highly rather high schoolers like Robbie Ray.

    And among the college products, the most success has consistently come from players emerging from major college programs, whether they performed, underperformed, or were rehabbing.

    Moreso than ever, the Nationals drafted pitchers out of major college programs. So that is the paper I am looking at.

    None of us are scouts. Scouts see the stuff, build, and character of Koda Glover in round 8 and Gabe Klobosits in Round 36. So we can’t see that and just completely and completely guess. But on paper, beyond the stats that some mound draftees have, one can learn a lot from where they are playing and what chances they have available to them. Cate, for example, beyond numbers, is known for intense focus on the mound. How do you measure that major league quality?

    Dunning was overlooked because he was at Florida. Maybe Day was at Vandy also.

    So when I see a draft loaded round 1-21 with major college pitching, for me, that’s good on paper. Now let’s see how they develop. To see someone like James Bourque, unimpressive in college and really coming on this year, gives hope to the development staff that the Nats have. But the only data we have to compare is the success of the 2016 draft so far, and the real success of the 2010 draft for pitching specifically. But 2010 was the old system and therefore a draft that could not be replicated.


    8 Jun 18 at 12:35 pm

  16. Fore, I think we’re singing a similar song to a different tune. I love major-college pitching. But the Nats didn’t draft a college starter from a top-tier conference until the 6th round. The crux of my hangup here is that they passed on quite a number of major-college pitchers. Now, I don’t know that they were “great” ones they passed on, as Todd has pointed out how many of them struggled in the regionals (and fell in the draft as a result). So I sorta understand the logic of gambling for higher ceilings. But it is a gamble.

    I would love it if they can find another Dunning, but I don’t think it’s Schaller. He surrendered a .290 avg. against. Maybe he has a big heater, but it’s getting hit. (Chandler Day had only a .202 avg. against.)

    I like that the Nats invested in some major-college pitching beyond the top three picks. But drafts nearly always ride on the top three, and there are no guarantees in that group. I’m not predicting they will fail, and I’m hoping they will succeed. But they’re all sort of lottery tickets.


    8 Jun 18 at 1:10 pm

  17. Whom they pass on does not account, over time, with the development capabilities of another organization. They have to decide who fits the Nats system.

    I thought the Rizzo explanation for why they drafted Denaburg was very instructive. They are aiming for high potential and that includes boom/bust talents. Why? Because the Nats are aiming to win championships. A back end starter will never make it here, and needs can be met by trade and by free agency by trading promising low minors players like Tyler Watson, Ott, and Mills.

    They see Denaburg as frontline, and saw the UF starter as a mid rotation guy. If that is their rationale, it’s a good one. All we are doing has to fit that line of thinking. Otherwise, we can clamor to fire Rizzo and get someone in who thinks with a different philosophy. Or, if Denaburg is a bust, get a new scouting department. But they have a strategy, it makes sense for a champion, and they used scouting to project in a way that we cannot understand without seeing the players play.


    8 Jun 18 at 1:31 pm

  18. Put another way: When know you can get Hellickson for 5 cents in the dollar, you don’t need #5 starters in the draft.


    8 Jun 18 at 1:33 pm

  19. I like the Schaller pick.

    More than I liked Raquet.

    Look how Raquet turned out. The pundits said he would rise if he were ticketed for the bullpen. Because the pundits are useless.

    So to bring it full circle, my rationale:
    1) I believe in Rizzo
    2) I understand Rizzo philosophy as he explains it
    3) Schaller is recovering from injury that Nats have done well with
    4) with his pedigree and measurables, if folks hit 230 against him the Nats would never been able to grab him
    5) or sign him
    6) they can coach him up in a great organization and nurture his arm, and make themselves appealing to give up eligibility to return to Vasy as a potential big dog

    Works for me


    8 Jun 18 at 1:47 pm

  20. Vandy


    8 Jun 18 at 1:48 pm

  21. This would be the same Rizzo & Co. who gave us Johanssen, Renda, Mooneyham, and many, many more? Rizzo has indeed been a great architect with acquiring talent at the major-league level. He also didn’t miss when he had very high picks with Stras, Harper, and Rendon. But overall, Nat draft success hasn’t been great, and in some years it’s been pretty poor (particularly during the time of supposed draft guru Roy Clark). Yes, Glover was/is a great find . . . if he can ever stay healthy. But that’s also part of the equation — the Nats have taken A LOT of risks on vulnerable arms, and there hasn’t been a huge overall success rate.

    As we’ve discussed here at other times, we don’t know what is considered an acceptable success rate in drafts across franchises, so it’s hard to judge how Rizzo & Co. are doing in comparison. They’re far from the worst, but I don’t think they’re at the elite level, either. Beyond the 1st-round picks, the Nat success rate hasn’t been very good.

    Raquet — some stats very promising, but his K rate is quite low for someone who supposedly gets into the upper 90s. He’s clearly ready for a step up to A+ to see how he’ll do at that level. I think it would be more age-appropriate for him at Potomac. We’ll see.


    8 Jun 18 at 5:29 pm

  22. You’re missing my point. I’m not speaking about Roy Clark, or even history. What I am saying is that THIS year, the Nats have stated their priority is to go for people who have it in them to have transcendent talent.

    That’s the strategy.

    I think it’s a good one.

    They’ve concluded that those possibilities more likely reside in major college programs. I think that’s wise.

    Whatever their strategy was in the 2016 draft was, I don’t know. It worked, though.

    Whatever their strategy before then, it didn’t work. So I welcome a change in strategy, and I think that is what we saw. No, they didn’t draft Cole Freeman types this year. Or lots of position players. Or Robbie Dickey types. Or Juco types.

    So it was a different strategy. As well it should be.


    8 Jun 18 at 6:24 pm

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