The Washington Nationals used the first 2 days of the 2017 MLB Draft to target college pitching, selecting nine college arms in their first ten picks. Today on Day 3, I would anticipate the team continuing to target high-velocity pitchers, while also drafting some bats to fill out the lower level affiliates. In addition, I would expect to see the Nationals choose a handful of “difficult to sign” prospects today, as they seemingly did not on the first two days and should have some surplus funds in their bonus pool to gamble on some players that have slipped.
11th Round -> Justin Connell OF American Heritage School, Florida HS
A Florida International commit, Connell has excellent speed and has been clocked in the upper-80s off the mound. Assuming he signs, Connell should be an interesting package of tools for the Washington development staff to mold and develop. He is the first high school player selected by Washington and only the second hitter chosen thus far.
12th Round -> Jackson Stoeckinger LHP College of Central Florida
Committed to the University of Kentucky, Stoeckinger had Tommy John surgery in 2016 and briefly returned to the mound this spring. He is a 6-4 lefty with the ability to reach the low-90s with the fastball and spin a breaking ball. He is extremely raw, but could be an intriguing prospect in a few years if he can develop.
13th Round -> Eric Senior OF Midland College
Drafted by Oakland in the 23rd round two years ago, Senior is a 6-3 180lbs athlete who possesses good speed, a powerful arm and some raw power. He looks to be a toolshed but needs repetitions against higher competition to advance his skills. This feels like a sleeper in this draft class.
14th Round -> Anthony Peroni Catcher Mercer County CC
Committed to the University of Delaware, Peroni has punished the competition this season, hitting .440 with 66 hits, 12 home runs, 22 doubles, 47 runs batted in, a .549 OBP and a .827 slugging percentage. Also, his coach complimented his defensive ability behind the plate and his makeup in online interviews. The Nationals have done a nice job developing catching the past few years, and I am eager to see Peroni play.
15th Round -> Bryce Montes de Oca RHP University of Missouri
This is an intriguing pick on Day 3, as Montes de Oca was selected in the 14th round out of high school and was projected to go well on Day 2 of this year’s draft. Montes de Oca is a mountain of a man, standing 6-7 265lbs and might be larger than that – he also possesses a big fastball, sitting mid-90s and touching 97mph. His off-speed offerings significantly lag behind, but will show promise on an inconsistent basis. He pitches exclusively from the stretch in order to simplify his delivery, but he still has below-average (or worse) command. In addition, he has had a past Tommy John surgery. There are obvious warts, which explain why he is available, but this is a terrific package of raw tools to develop.
I am quite curious to see if Washington can sign him; if they do, they could immediately move him to the bullpen to see if this helps improve his command and curveball. This is a terrific pick if the Nationals sign him.
16th Round -> Jake Scudder 1B Kansas State University
A senior, Scudder is the first senior the Nationals have selected so far today, more than a mild surprise. After going undrafted last year, Scudder returned to campus this season and added the long ball, hitting 13 home runs this season. He should sign quickly and might have a bit more upside than the typical senior first baseman.
17th Round -> Jared Johnson LHP Palm Beach State College
Baseball America says, “A 6-foot-3 southpaw who has shown advanced control with an 88-92 mph fastball, Johnson fanned 77 batters and walked 27 this spring with Palm Beach State in 69.1 innings.”
I wonder if this pick has anything to do with their new facility in West Palm Beach and their scouts lingering in that area during spring training. This is another promising arm for the Nationals to develop.
18th Round -> Nick Choruby OF Texas A&M University
Their second senior selected, Choruby is an interesting college player with some tools, as he has above-average speed and the ability to play solid defense in center field. He has a below-average arm and little power, but he can put the bat on the ball and get on base. He has tremendous makeup and will be a nice addition to the Nationals’ lower minors.
19th Round -> Jonathan Pryor OF Wake Forest University
Another senior, Pryor served as the leadoff hitter for Wake Forest this season and performed well, hitting .354 with a .447 on-base percentage. He played left field for the Demon Deacons, but could see action at all three outfield spots as a professional. Pryor reminds me a bit of former Nationals’ draft pick and current minor leaguer Ike Ballou.
20th Round -> Jake Cousins RHP University of Pennsylvania
A senior from the Ivy League, Cousins has a projectable 6-4 180lbs body with the potential to still add weight as he matures. Cousins has a promising 3-pitch arsenal, with a fastball in the upper-80s to low-90s, along with a quality curveball. He should sign quickly and the fastball/curveball combination could lead him to a role in the bullpen. Incidently, Jake Cousins is a cousin of Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins.
21st Round -> Leif Strom RHP Pierce College
Listed at 6-6 on the team’s website, I am not finding much information on him. He has a very cool, role “65” name.
22nd Round -> Nelson Galindez LHP Haines City HS
A Florida high school lefty, Galindez is listed at 6-3 225lbs with a fastball that touches the upper-80s. Again, I am struggling to find much information on Nelson. As a high school prospect, he will be much more challenging to sign than many of the recent picks.
23rd Round -> Jamori Blash 1B Cochise College
The brother of current major league player Jabari Blash, Jamori is a monstrous 6-4 240lbs who hit .324 with 11 home runs and 41 runs batted in over 50 games this season. He is a right-handed hitter who has hit 86mph off the mound in the past – considering the blood lines and these raw tools, he is an exciting pick in Round 23.
24th Round -> Tim Richards SS Cal State Fullerton
Richards is a senior who has been drafted twice before, first back in 2013 in the 40th round by Miami then last year in the 18th round by Minnesota. Richards batted .301/.378/.449 with 4 home runs this season and should provide Washington with badly needed infield depth in the low minors this summer.
25th Round -> David Smith RHP Cal State Long Beach
A well-built 6-4 210lbs, Smith is a senior righty who posted a 2.01 ERA over 91.1 innings pitched this season. Of some concern, Smith allowed 98 hits and only struck out 41 innings in those 91.1 innings. The performance numbers and size are quite impressive for a 25th round pick – he should sign quickly.
26th Round -> Kameron Esthay OF Baylor University
Another senior (yes we’ve reached that point of Day 3), Esthay is a physical, well-built 6-0 225lbs outfielder with experience at first base who hit .283/.380/.488 with 9 home runs this season. A left-handed hitter, Esthay profiles as either a first baseman or left fielder, with the potential to be a productive minor league hitter.
27th Round -> Darren Baker SS Jesuit HS California
Yes it is the son of Washington manager Dusty Baker and I am proud that I predicted this selection 2 weeks ago (though I did guess Round 38). Baker is a talented baseball player and unfortunately, most remembered for the World Series incident at home plate with J.T. Snow. He is committed to the University of California Berkeley and is expected to attend college. However, being selected before Round 30 gives me pause that he might sign with Washington.
28th Round -> Nic Perkins Catcher Drury University
Perkins spent his first two seasons at the University of Mississippi before transferring to Drury for the 2017 seasons. A large man at 6-4 230lbs, this right-handed hitter batted .355 with 8 home runs and 49 runs batted in this season. He is a junior so he has eligibility remaining (I assume), but I expect him to sign quickly.
29th Round -> Alex Dunlap Catcher Stanford University
A senior backstop and right-handed hitter, Dunlap is listed as a stocky 6-2 215lbs. Dunlap’s season was apparently cut short, as he only played 25 games for the Cardinal in 2017, hitting .274 with 2 home runs. He has proven he can catch the premium velocity from the impressive stable of Stanford pitchers, and has had success in his 4-years at Stanford. His injury obviously cost him a great deal.
30th Round -> Austin Guibor OF Fresno State University
Guibor is a senior left-handed bat who hit .311 with 5 home runs and 38 runs batted in this season. He will add additional organizational depth in the outfield for Washington.
31st Round -> Jeremy McKinney RHP Indiana State University
Another senior college pitcher, McKinney is an undersized righty listed at 6-0 190lbs who posted a 5.40 ERA with 26 strikeouts against 21 walks in 25 innings pitched for the Sycamores this season.
32nd Round -> Phil Caulfield 2B Loyola Marymount University
A diminutive middle infielder who hits left-handed, Caulfield is a senior who hit .362/.438/.477 with 3 home runs and 9 stolen bases this season. He has been a 1st team All-WCC selection in both of his seasons at Loyola Marymount.
33rd Round -> Adalberto Carrillo Catcher University of Southern California
Carrillo is a junior listed at 5-11 195lbs. and hit .281/.377/.472 with 7 home runs and 9 stolen bases this season. He played some infield and catcher at USC and looks to be a conversion project for the Nationals. He does have the leverage to return to school, so there is a chance he goes unsigned by Washington.
34th Round -> Bennett Souza LHP University of Virginia
Souza is a projectable 6-3 210lbs. lefty who worked exclusively in relief for the Cavaliers this season, making 24 appearances and pitching 33 innings, allowing only 25 hits and 15 walks against 44 strikeouts. Souza has eligibility remaining and UVA does a fantastic job of keeping players on campus, so this is a situation to watch if he comes to terms with Washington.
35th Round -> Jackson Kramer 1B West Virginia University
Generously listed at 6-4 225lbs. (I’ll take the over) is a senior left-handed hitting first baseman who hit .270/.370/.472 with 11 home runs and 14 doubles this season for the Mountaineers. This is another depth pick for the low minors of the organization.
36th Round -> Gabe Klobosits RHP Auburn University
A massive 6-8 255lbs senior right-hander, Klobosits clearly wins the award for most difficult name to spell in this draft class. For Auburn this season, Klobosits posted a 5.18 ERA in 33 innings pitched, striking out 20 against 11 walks. His sheer mass makes him an interesting pick in the 36th round.
37th Round -> Cody Gratkowski 3B Fairhope HS
This is a legacy pick, as Gratkowski was announced as a relative of Nationals scout Johnny DePuglia. Gratkowski possesses good speed according to his biography on Perfect Game, along with a commitment to Wallace CC-Dothan. Typically I would dismiss this as a “favor to an employee” pick, but the fact he has only a community college commitment means he could be inclined to start in professional baseball.
38th Round -> Jake Boone SS Torrey Pines HS, California
Another legacy pick as Jake is the son of Bret Boone and the grandson of Nationals’ employee Bob Boone. Jake is a 5-10 185lbs middle infielder with a college commitment to Princeton (impressive). He is a right-handed hitter and also has experience on the mound. I will assume he will be taking his talents to college, where he could develop into a top-10 round pick in a few years.
39th Round -> Kai Nelson OF Fieldston HS, New York
Nelson is listed at 5-11 170lbs. outfielder who has a college commitment to local Georgetown University. According to his Perfect Game page, he has plenty of tools and is also an excellent student. I would expect to see him reach college and revisit the draft in a couple years.
40th (and Final) Round -> Max Engelbrekt LHP Oregon State University
A 5th year senior on the #1 ranked team in the nation, Engelbrekt is a 6-3 204lbs. lefty who posted a 0.48 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 3 walks over 16 innings pitched this season. His numbers and projectable body has me quite interested to see him in professional ball.
Thanks so much for joining me for this lengthy 3rd day of the 2017 MLB Draft. If you have additional information on any of these players, or opinions on the Nationals’ effort the past three days, please comment in the comment’s section.