Interview with Chris Crawford from MLB Draft Insider about the 2011 Nationals Draft

When I originally started NatsGM, I intended for it to be a forum to share my opinion on the various player personnel moves the Nationals make, and publicly show how good or badly I would do in comparison to the actual General Manager.  I never thought I would be having the opportunity to talk baseball with so many people and interview such incredibly smart people throughout baseball.

A few weeks ago I reached out to Chris Crawford, author of MLBDraftInsider.com and one of the top amateur scouts in the country, and asked him if he would be interested in doing an interview discussing the Nationals 2011 draft.  Chris started MLBDraftInsider this April, and has been a prominent name in the scouting community for many years.  I am grateful Chris shared a few moments from his busy schedule to discuss the Nationals and their 2011 draft.

NatsGM ->          “Chris, during our draft coverage last month, we obviously spent a great deal of time talking about Anthony Rendon and his slide in the draft.  In the midst of that talk and his shoulder, I think we have overlooked what an excellent prospect he is.  Can you please discuss him in some detail and the pick overall?”

Chris Crawford: “Simply put, the healthy version of Rendon is the best offensive prospect of this year’s draft class. He has plus pitch-recognition and an (obvious) ability to get on base, and unreal bat speed. As a third basemen he’s well above average, and has a plus arm as well. Outside of health, the real “negative” going forward is that he does have some timing issues, which could be caused by excess movement that can be corrected. He’s not the sure fire star he appeared to be as a sophomore, but there’s no reason to think Rendon can’t be a well-above average player, if he can stay healthy.”

NatsGM ->          “In your draft piece about the Nationals on MLBDraftInsider , you wrote “I thought Alex Meyer was one of the ten best prospects of the year”; please discuss this pick further and why you think so highly of Meyer and his potential?”

Chris Crawford: “Simply put, Meyer has the best two-pitch combination of any prospect outside of Cole with his fastball and slider. He sits in the 93-95 range, and will get his fastball as high as 97 with lots of movement, and his slider is frisbee like with tilt. There’s no third pitch yet, but if he can develop a change-up or split, he’s got the potential to be a No.1 starter — if his control can improve, and it did improve as the year progressed.”

NatsGM ->          “Chris, I have read that you were rather positive on the National’s Top 10 round selections: I was hoping you could talk about a player(s) within the top ten rounds that you thought was a good pick and deserves mentioning?”

Chris Crawford: “One of the picks I really liked outside of those first four was Matt Skole, an infielder out of Georgia Tech. If the draft were held last year, Skole probably would have gone in the first-round, but injuries and only a so-so junior year hurt his stock considerably. I don’t think there’s any chance he stays at third-base long term, but he’s got a solid swing from the left-side and has shown an ability to take pitches, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Skole became a regular.”

NatsGM ->          “Chris, in your Nationals draft piece on MLBDraftInsider you were somewhat critical of their selections outside the Top 10 round: Can you expound upon this and if you wish, cite some examples?”

 Chris Crawford: “After the first ten rounds, there just wasn’t much upside here at all. As I wrote in my draft review, there was one high-school player taken in the first 500 picks, and far too many of the selections were college seniors, aka organizational filler. I don’t know if there’s one specific example of the Nationals showing poor value, but there’s no examples of Washington grabbing steals, either.”

NatsGM ->             “I think signability is the biggest current question mark with the Nationals 2011 draft: which players do you expect them to sign (and for how much) and which do you expect to return to campus this fall?”

Chris Crawford: “I would say that Rendon is a lock to sign, and Meyer very likely, too. Goodwin and Purke, though, are going to be very difficult — and I would say Purke is pretty close to impossible. There are too many options for the left-hander next year as a draft-eligible sophomore, and Washington is going to have to go well over slot to sign their first three selections.”

NatsGM ->          “Chris, how would you rate the Nationals draft against the rest of the NL East?”

Chris Crawford: “Very well, but that might be because I wasn’t a huge fan of any of the other drafts in the division. The Marlins, Phillies, and Braves drafts left much to be desired, and the Mets will have to sign some of their late-round risks in order to have a successful class.”

NatsGM ->              “Before we wrap up, I think it would be unfair for me to ask you for an overall grade for the draft class, as we are still a few weeks before the signing deadline, but could you give us a summary of how the Nationals did last month and how they have done in terms of signing players thus far?”

Chris Crawford:  “I don’t know if it’s completely fair to say that it’s too early to give a grade for the class, because I think it’s just as much about the process as it is about the results. Is there a real chance that the Nationals don’t sign one of their top 100 selections? Of course. That’s not a scouting or recognizing value issue though, that’s a “the draft needs to be fixed” issue. It wasn’t the best draft, but it was easily the best draft of the National-League East, and they did as well as anyone with their first four selections.”

NatsGM ->        “Thank you so much for your insights and for sharing your time with us today:  Where can we keep up with you these days?”

Chris Crawford: “We’ll be having team by team reviews of every team in the draft on MLB Draft Insider, and a top 50 “players to watch” coming soon. You can also follow me on twitter @CrawfordChrisV”

Thank you so much Chris for taking time away from your website MLBDraftInsider.com and from scouting the various summer leagues to share your thoughts on the Nationals 2011 Draft.

 

Big “Tip of the Fedora” goes out to Chris Crawford, who was nice enough to share his time and thoughts with us about the Nationals 2011 Draft Class.  If this is your first introduction to Chris, I highly encourage you to make his website, MLBDraftInsider, a bookmark in your baseball reading.  He is one of the best scouts of amateur baseball right now and a true expert. Thanks again!

** Note ** … This upcoming Sunday, July 31st, I will be live blogging both the Nationals game verses the Mets and the happenings of the MLB trade deadline.  Please join me with your questions and comments!

You can follow me on Twitter @NatsGMdotcom, find me on Facebook search NatsGM, and you can email me at nationalsgm@gmail.com.

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