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State of the Nats: 2015 draft preview

Jun 8, 2015, 11:01 AM EDT

iApr 8, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo on the field before the game between the Washington Nationals and New York Mets at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

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MLB Draft begins tonight – The 2015 MLB Draft starts on Monday night at 7 p.m. on MLB Network and MLB.com. The Nationals do not pick until 58th overall due to the signing of Max Scherzer this offseason, so if you plan on waiting up for their selection it could be a long night. A safe bet has the Nats picking between 11 and 11:30 p.m. They also select 69th overall on Monday.

Here are the particulars…

When: Rounds 1-2 (Mon., 7 p.m.), Rounds 3-10 (Tue., 1 p.m.), Rounds 11-40 (Wed., 12 p.m.)

TV coverage: Rounds 1 through Competitive Balance Round B are on MLB Network and MLB.com starting with a 6 p.m. preview show on Monday; Rounds 3-10 are on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. on MLB.com; Rounds 11-40 are on Wednesday at 12 p.m. on MLB.com.

Nationals’ recent first picks: RHP Erick Fedde (Rd. 1, 2014), RHP Jake Johansen (Rd. 2, 2013), RHP Lucas Giolito (Rd. 1, 2012), 3B Anthony Rendon (Rd. 1, 2011), Bryce Harper (Rd. 1, 2010)

Deadline for draft picks to sign: July 17

Top prospects in this year’s class: SS Dansby Swanson (Vandy), SS Alex Bergman (LSU), SS Brendan Rodgers (Lake Mary HS, Fla.), RHP Dillon Tate (UC-Santa Barbara), LHP Tyler Jay (Illinois)

Rizzo on this year’s draft  The Nationals are picking 58th overall, which is one of the lowest selections they’ve ever had in franchise history. In 2013 they picked 68th overall after losing their first rounder for signing Rafael Soriano. The Montreal Expos also picked 52nd in 1997.

Starting out so low on the board creates a different dynamic for the Nats, but general manager Mike Rizzo says it doesn’t change the team’s process:

“No, doesn’t change our approach a bit. We’re doing the same thing we’ve done since 1998 and Kris Kline, he takes the same approach. We talk as much about the top 10 players in the country as we do the 800th player. We’re watching film on every day. We’re looking at medicals and psychological tests on every single player and we’re going to line them up and when 58 comes, we’re going to pick the best guy that we see that’s available and hopefully we hit on a guy that helps us in the big leagues.”

“I don’t think it’s harder, because the process is the same. We’re so tedious and we do such a lot of background work and scout these guys so diligently that when our turn comes to pick, the guy that’s at the top of our board is the guy that we feel is the best player for us at that time. It’s just something that’s a little more boring because you don’t have the excitement of pick one or pick six or pick 29 but it’s still to me the Super Bowl of the season and we will be fired up for it Monday and we’re going to have a few long sleepless nights for the next couple of days to tweak the board and get it in the order we want it. When Monday comes, when the horn rings, we’ll be ready.”

The Nationals have drafted several pitchers in recent years who were already injured when they joined the organization. Both Fedde and Giolito were players who needed Tommy John surgery in their first years as professionals. Rizzo gave some insight on the team’s willingness to take those risks:

“They’re definitely case by case, and every injury is different. Every Tommy John case is different. We’ve passed on many guys that we feel are going to need or have had Tommy John. Like I said, we do our due diligence on all these players. And when there’s guys that we feel more confident than others as far as injuries go … It’s not a philosophy to draft a guy with an injury. That’s not what we’re looking to do. But when talents like Giolito and Fedde and those guys fall to you because of injuries, and the injuries are palatable for us, those are, we feel, opportunities to jump on guys that we would have no chance of getting without the injury.”

Nats go on the road – Losers of eight of their last 10, perhaps it is good timing for the Nationals to head out on a road trip. They get a change of scenery and begin with a two-game series at the New York Yankees, a team they swept in two games back in mid-May. They then travel to Milwaukee to play the Brewers, owners of the worst record in baseball. The Nats get them for four games before playing the Rays twice in Tampa.

Whether it be a coincidence or not, the Nationals have shown a tendency to have turning points on the road. Last August they used a near-comeback in Atlanta as a launching pad for a spectacular finish to the season. And on April 28 of this season they came back to beat the Braves… in Atlanta and that huge win seemed to carry over the the weeks that followed. Okay, maybe there’s something about Atlanta, but you get the point.

The Nationals have an opportunity here to get out of town and spend more time with each other as teammates. When I covered the Capitals, many of the veterans looked at road trips as good things when times were tough. They grew closer as a team when on the road and had less distractions outside the lines. We’ll see if this particular road swing has a similar effect on the Nats.

NL East Standings

source:

Offensive game of the week: Danny Espinosa 6/5 vs. Cubs – 2-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R

Pitching game of the week: Jordan Zimmermann 6/2 vs. Blue Jays – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 H, BB, 4 SO. 105 pitches, 69 strikes.

Quote of the week:

Anthony Rendon when asked ‘How did you hurt your oblique?:’

I think just hitting too many homers. What kind of question is that? I don’t know. It just happened.

Tweet of the week:

Padres pitcher Tyson Ross after traveling to watch his brother, Joe, debut for the Nationals on Saturday:

Road ahead

MON – OFF/MLB Draft Rds. 1-2
TUE – 7:05 p.m. at New York Yankees (Scherzer)/MLB Draft Rds. 3-10
WED – 1:05 p.m. at New York Yankees (Gonzalez)/MLB Draft Rds. 11-40
THU – 8:10 p.m. at Milwaukee Brewers (Roark)
FRI – 8:10 p.m. at Milwaukee Brewers (TBA)
SAT – 4:10 p.m. at Milwaukee Brewers (Zimmermann)
SUN – 2:10 p.m. at Milwaukee Brewers (Scherzer)

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 11:26 AM

    “Quote of the week:

    Anthony Rendon when asked ‘How did you hurt your oblique?:’

    I think just hitting too many homers. What kind of question is that? I don’t know. It just happened.”

    Love “Two Bags”. That’s a great response.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 8, 2015 at 11:41 AM

      A little more of an edge than I would expect from him. I like it.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 11:45 AM

        I know who asked it and he gave the stink eye too. His patience with the media has grown thin. Love this guy.

    • Toot D. Blan - Jun 8, 2015 at 11:57 AM

      “That’s a clown question, bro” was already taken.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:01 PM

        His stink eye is Hollywood. It just says REALLY?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:18 PM

        Just remembered who he does it like. Steve McQueen! Doesn’t get better than that.

    • nattyboh1 - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:28 PM

      Maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t seem like a stupid question. He could have hurt it swinging, diving, running, throwing, or like he said – just in the course of playing, not one particular thing.

      It could have some relevance, like if he hurt it on a quick diving play maybe he should stay away from 3B for a bit.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:34 PM

        Agree. Some posters here (not necessarily the ones above, mind you) criticize the Nats for not releasing enough information about injuries. And slam the beat reporters for not being aggressive enough. This seemed like a pretty basic question to me; if you don’t want to answer (or honestly don’t know), just say so.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:37 PM

        Not the worst question but players don’t like to talk about how they got injured. Kind of something you don’t ask.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:59 PM

        Eugene, fans want to know if a player is hurt and diagnosis from the team. Everyone wants to know what’s wrong with RZim and he’s not going to tell us so they won’t ask.

      • Sonny G 10 - Jun 8, 2015 at 5:51 PM

        IMO, its not a stupid question. However, given how the season has gone so far for Anthony and the Nats in general, I can understand his impatience with the question. I, too, have been know to answer a question with sarcasm or irritation if I’m not feeling well and I can’t formulate an answer easily.

    • laddieblahblah - Jun 8, 2015 at 3:34 PM

      They should mike the guy up. The 2nd base ump shouldn’t be the only one laughing at his one-liners.

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 11:43 AM

    My prediction on this Draft will be the best pick will come as a diamond in the rough in the top 10 rounds. A Jacob deGrom type. Not highly touted.

    I credit Rizzo for making the Scherzer move as he didn’t lose much going later.

    Brady Aiken, Andrew Suarez and all the players who didn’t sign last year intrigue me.

    All the scouts are looking for a Stanton body type at High School age and Trout and Harper and see if there’s anything close as power potential is worth its weight in gold in today’s game.

    Rizzo is looking to add big speed to his farm in rounds 5 to 10 and find a Rendon with a short swing and a Taylor frame. Good luck with that as it’s potential as on the surface it’s not there.

    This Draft has some great closers like when Drew was drafted. Complete filth. The closer from UCLA is the best of them all. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Rizzo fast track a closer this year if he is lucky enough to snag one and sign him quickly.

    Best position players I’ve seen are High School kids. Rodgers is athletic with a strong arm just can’t project the bat which is why he’s not a consensus #1 and could slip to #5. Scouting directors fear for their jobs and High School kids rarely work out. Justin Upton was a High School shortstop with a big bat.

    Should be fun.

    • sjm308 - Jun 8, 2015 at 11:58 AM

      Really enjoy your expertise here and your contacts!
      Thanks
      I am not posting much right now but still try and read (except for during game posts which drove me nuts)
      Have had full knee replacement which I DO NOT recommend (at least these first 3 weeks)

      Go Nats!!

      • Theophilus T.S. - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:01 PM

        Take a close look in the mirror. My aunt had the surgery and discovered three months later they had installed the new knee upside down.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:07 PM

        Hope you’re doing better. Become more common with even ex-athletes in their 50’s with tremendous results.

        Just wrote about Maryland’s LaMonte Wade. You’ll like him. I have 3 players I hope Rizzo takes. He goes best available so we will see who’s available 😉

      • Section 222 - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:10 PM

        Feel better sjm. Hope to see you at the park soon.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:30 PM

        Are you walking?

      • adcwonk - Jun 8, 2015 at 1:00 PM

        I wish you a speedy and uneventful recovery, sjm!

      • unkyd59 - Jun 8, 2015 at 1:07 PM

        Had mine done, last september… It’s Awesome, but I waited too long. I could have done it 10 years earlier, and I just found out that all that hobbling around gave me arthritis in my lower back… Going to see the neurologist, tomorrow….. sigh… It’s always something (in the words of Roseanne Roseannadanna’s grandma; Nana Roseannadanna…lol)

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:00 PM

      Mariano Rivera is in the Draft. MRJ or MR2 or whatever they want to call Mariano’s son who carries the same name. Yankees want him but don’t want to burn a high pick.

      Scouts are poring over the position players who hit the best pitchers in the country not the kid who hit .420 overall and rocked the pitcher’s who will never be Drafted. Sure, they will be drafted but not where you’d expect. That’s where the Draft has changed.

      Who barrels up that ball and can hit breaking pitches and sit back for offspeed because they have an advanced approach.

      I hope LaMonte Wade is on Rizzo’s board. Kid out of Maryland who was switched from 1st base where he was awful to centerfield and it worked. Kid is a human highlight reel. Worthy of a look. Has the arm, speed and athleticism to be a 4th outfielder and need to see if his bat can transition to wood.

    • Doc - Jun 8, 2015 at 2:29 PM

      De Grom\ was a position player for several minor league years with the Mets—so I suppose he was in the ‘diamond in the rough’ category.

  3. Theophilus T.S. - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:00 PM

    No excitement, here. When the Nats get around to picking, the best player on the Fairfield, CT, Little League champions may still be available. A prospect, but might pan out.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:22 PM

      Not true at all. Jacob deGrom was 9th round out of Stetson University near NatsJack. He showed mixed dominance at a small school.

      That’s why they have a draft that goes more than 2 rounds.

      • Theophilus T.S. - Jun 8, 2015 at 1:03 PM

        The point is, “no excitement.” What’s left after the first 30+ are the Johannsens of this world, known only to their closest relatives, and it’ll be four years before you can find out if they’re Espinosa or Cory Kastro.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 1:11 PM

        True for that but read my draft analysis of Johansen as I had him as a mechanically flawed pitcher destined for the bullpen that you pick up in round 5. Picking Storen 10th and not in the 2nd round and then the Johansson pick were certainly head scratcher picks but so goes the Draft. Goodwin may be a 1st round bust.

        I like the non 1st round picks like JZim, AJ Cole and Purke with tremendous upside.

  4. scnatsfan - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:45 PM

    One thing I can absolutely guarantee – 100% We will draft someone I have never heard from and will scramble to read about the newest Nat.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 1:00 PM

      +1 and its always exciting.

    • adcwonk - Jun 8, 2015 at 1:25 PM

      + 40

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 12:46 PM

    “@JamesWagnerWP:Bryce Harper on why he may pass on HR derby if invited. “If I win it for the 1st time, I want it to be with my dad.” http://t.co/a0VfpL0R9F

    Also includes that Bryce won’t be doing outdoor BP. Probably will I’d think for the All Star game.

  6. adcwonk - Jun 8, 2015 at 1:02 PM

    Can someone remind me again why we don’t have a 1st round pick?

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 8, 2015 at 1:03 PM

      Max.

      • adcwonk - Jun 8, 2015 at 1:08 PM

        Thanks — having a senior moment here.

        I knew that the team that lost a top player gets an extra pick, but I didn’t remember that the team who gets the player loses a pick. It’s been a while since we’ve gotten that good of a free agent? (unless I’ve forgotten that, too!)

      • adcwonk - Jun 8, 2015 at 1:15 PM

        Also (I just read):

        Their No. 58 pick is compensatory, too, one given for a second-round pick they were unable to sign — left-handed pitcher Andrew Suarez, who returned to the University of Miami. The 69th pick is the Nationals’ regular turn, and they will pick next-to-last in the rest of the draft’s 40 rounds.

  7. adcwonk - Jun 8, 2015 at 1:21 PM

    News for division rivals from Svrluga today:

    Braves – There was no more emphatic signal of Atlanta’s intention to rebuild than the eve-of-the-season trade of closer Craig Kimbrell to San Diego. But even before that, setup men Jordan Walden, Anthony Varvaro and David Carpenter – who accounted for 165-2/3 innings in 2014 – were gone. Now, the Braves have the NL’s worst bullpen ERA (4.86). And they’ve turned everywhere for answers. Atlanta has already used 16 different pitchers as relievers. (Kimbrel, meanwhile, has his own issues – a 4.29 ERA that’s more than twice his previous worst for a full season.)

    Mets – [David Wright,] The franchise cornerstone third baseman played only eight games this season before going down with what has since been diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis. The condition – a narrowing of the spinal canal – could change the 32-year-old’s career. He wants to come back. The Mets would like him back. But because they don’t know how the debilitating condition will affect Wright going forward, they’re also uncertain about what to do at third base for a first-place team.

    Complicating matters: Daniel Murphy’s injured quadriceps, which has the infielder – capable of playing second or third – on the disabled list.

  8. adcwonk - Jun 8, 2015 at 1:25 PM

    Wow. Chris Archer — three straight games of 10+ strikeouts with zero walks. Possibly first time in history (first time since 1914, when good enough records start).

  9. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 1:32 PM

    On draft day, this from @BaseballAmerica research: A first-round pick has a 30% chance of never reaching the majors. Almost one out of three.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Jun 8, 2015 at 2:02 PM

      Is that recently, or over the 50-year history of the draft? With the kind of money they spend you would think they would want to be able to see the future better than that.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 8, 2015 at 2:04 PM

        Baseball America didn’t define it.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 8, 2015 at 8:08 PM

        It can’t be that recent. The past few years’ worth of draftees have to have some time to graduate, so to speak. On that account I’m going to guess it has to be overall, since the draft started.

    • adcwonk - Jun 8, 2015 at 2:38 PM

      I remember reading a few years ago of an in depth analysis (anybody remember the blog “NatsFarm” (or something like that?)). Regarding 1st round players, there was a huge difference between whether; (a) the player was HS or college; and (b) a hitter or a pitcher. Pitchers were lower probability, and HS was also lower probability (and both . . . )

  10. nats128 - Jun 8, 2015 at 3:51 PM

    It will be Manfred shaking hands tonight instead of Selig.

  11. nats128 - Jun 8, 2015 at 4:50 PM

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2015/06/08/peter-gammons-laughs-at-people-who-are-jealous-of-bryce-harper/

    Oreo’s trolls like to bust on the Nats any chance they get.

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ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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