Instant Analysis of the Washington Nationals Day 3 Picks

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.

A Recap & Analysis Of The Washington Nationals Selections on Day 2 of the MLB Draft

After drafting two collegiate pitchers on Day 1, the Washington Nationals used their 8 picks in Rounds 3-10  to continue this trend, selecting 7 more college arms on Tuesday.  Washington presently lacks pitching prospect depth due to offseason trades, thus the organization has prioritized replenishing the farm system with flame-throwing pitchers in the 2017 MLB Draft.

In the 3rd round, 103rd overall, the Nationals went with a (somewhat) local product, selecting William & Mary LHP Nick Raquet.  An undersized southpaw, Raquet shows outstanding pure stuff, reaching 95-96mph with his fastball, along with the ability to spin both a slider and a curveball, plus will flash a changeup.  A transfer from the University of North Carolina, Raquet had to sit out a year, so he has a “fresher” arm than most college picks.  He has below-average to well below-average command, which when coupled with his size, likely portends a shift to the bullpen.  The Nationals will likely develop him as a starter, but his ceiling is as a 7th/8th inning reliever, with a likely outcome of a matchup bullpen lefty.

Next in the 4th round, Washington chose LSU 2B Cole Freeman, a senior left-handed hitter who was drafted in the 18th round of the 2016 draft.  Freeman is an undersized 5-9 174lbs who has performed well in his two seasons at LSU and last summer for Wareham in the Cape Cod League.  He has above-average speed and shows outstanding bat-to-ball skills, allowing him to profile as a plus hitter.  Freeman lacks much home run power, more likely collecting doubles and triples in the gaps, and has a below-average arm, giving him a difficult defensive profile.  Washington will likely start him as a second baseman, with the backup option being left field or a utility profile.  Because he is a senior, Washington should save a great deal of money against their bonus pool and will hope he can hit his way to the major leagues.

Round 5 found Washington picking another college pitcher, this time Texas A&M right-handed pitcher Brigham Hill.  He spurned Oakland last year as a 20th round pick, preferring to return to college and improve his draft stock.  An undersized right-handed pitcher listed at 6-0 185lbs (I might take the under), Hill pounds the strike zone with a 90-92mph fastball which touches 94mph, along with a devastating plus changeup.  In addition he throws both a curveball and slider, with scouts preferring the curveball.  He is known for his competitive nature, bulldog demeanor on the mound and off-the-charts makeup.  His lack of size and present above-average breaking pitch keeps his ceiling rather modest, but Hill could move quickly if shifted to the bullpen.  Hill’s ceiling is that of a #5 starter, with the most likely outcome being a role in middle to long relief.  Hill is a nice value late in the 5th round.

Then in the 6th round the team plucked another college pitcher from the state of Texas, University of Texas RHP Kyle Johnston, an undersized righty at 6-0 225lbs.  Johnston will show a low-90s fastball that can reportedly reach 96mph, along with an intriguing and potentially future plus upper-80s cutter.  In addition, he will throw a changeup, but it is a distant third offering.  Washington will likely start his professional career as a starting pitcher to quicken his development, but Johnston profiles as a middle reliever, with perhaps a set-up man ceiling.

Round 7 found Washington dipping into the Florida junior college ranks, choosing RHP Jackson Tetreault from the State College of Florida Manatee.  Tetreault is a projectable righty standing a reported 6-5 170lbs, with the potential to add significant weight as he matures.  Only a sophomore, Tetreault has a low-to-mid-90s fastball with some life, along with the ability to spin a breaking ball and throw a changeup.  Scouts like his impressive arm speed and project him to add velocity in the future.  He struggles with his command, as evidenced by his 40 walks in 80.1 innings pitched this season.  Tetreault sounds like a project for the Nationals’ development staff, but there are some quality tools present for a 7th round pick.

Continuing a theme, in the 8th round Washington selected Samford University RHP Jared Brasher, a senior pitcher with a live arm.  He possesses a big 93-98mph fastball with life along with a nasty swing-and-miss quality slider.  Brasher is still available because he is undersized at 6-0 200lbs and has a poor delivery with several flaws, which contributed to his 30 walks allowed in 33.2 innings pitched.  Brasher is a pure relief profile and projects as a middle reliever if things come together – this is an intriguing senior with a big arm.

The 9th round found Washington taking Michigan State University LHP Alex Troop, a redshirt sophomore who was a 2-way player for the Spartans.  A large man standing 6-5, Troop is a lefty with a high-80s to low-90s fastball, along with a promising above-average changeup and a nascent curveball.  He has an unconventional delivery, which is much less athletic than one might expect from a decent athlete.  Scouts believe once he focuses exclusively on pitching, he could gain some velocity and refine his mechanics.  He will be more difficult to sign than the usual 9th round pick, but Troop has a chance to develop into either a backend starter or reliever in the future.

With their final selection on Day 2, the Nationals chose another college pitcher, Missouri State RHP Trey Turner, a junior righty who was a 2-way player in college but will move to the mound as a professional.  The information is scarce on Turner, as he made only 7 appearances this season, throwing 13.1 innings with 22 strikeouts.  One of Washington’s area scouts must have liked his raw potential on the mound this spring.  He will be the 9th pitching prospect Washington has added in the first 10 rounds of the draft.

****

Overall through two days of the 2017 MLB Draft, the Washington Nationals have stuck to their game plan, capitalizing on a deep collegiate pitching crop to fill an organizational weakness.  I am surprised they have selected only one hitter and have not selected a high school pitcher or a seemingly challenging prospect to sign so far.

That said the pitchers they have chosen all seem to have big arms with excellent fastball velocity, along with the potential for quality secondary stuff.  The development people will have their work “cut out” for them molding these arms into major league pitchers, but their are raw tools present with each.  While I might quibble at a few of the picks, Washington has done a fantastic job through two days maximizing the talent they acquired considering their available bonus pool.

NatsGM Overall Grade ->  B to B+

Washington Selects Seth Romero & Wil Crowe On Day 1 Of The MLB Draft

Monday evening the Washington Nationals selected University of Houston LHP Seth Romero and University of South Carolina RHP Wil Crowe on Day 1 of the MLB Draft.  After building their offensive prospect depth in the minors in recent years, the Nationals have obviously prioritized pitching early in the 2017 draft.

With their 1st pick, 25th overall, Washington selected Romero, a top-10 candidate before a series of off-field incidents this spring eventually caused his dismissal from the team.  While much of the behavior can fall into the “knucklehead college kid” category, there are legitimate makeup concerns that caused him to slide to the Nationals.

When on the mound Romero is extremely impressive, throwing from a low 3/4s arm slot, and possessing a powerful three pitch arsenal.  His repertoire begins with a mid-90s fastball that he can locate throughout the zone.  In addition he will show a plus mid-80s slider with hard, late break – this pitch is simply nasty against left-handed hitters.  Finally Romero will occasionally show a quality changeup in which he replicates his arm speed well.  He did not use this offering much in college, but it has shown future average potential with development.  Listed at 6-3 240lbs, he does not have a body to sell jeans and there have been conditioning issues in the past, but he has reasonable athleticism and repeats his mechanics well.

Overall Romero is the latest example of the Nationals gambling in the 1st round of the draft.  Certainly they tend to speculate on players recovering from injury rather than those with makeup concerns, but Washington will again attempt to capitalize on the seemingly elevated risk of a prospect to acquire someone with upside.  He profiles as a long-term #3 or #4 starting pitcher if everything comes together, although due to his lack of innings this spring, he could pitch in relief this summer to possibly bolster the major league bullpen.  This would be challenging, but not completely unreasonable.  If you are willing to accept the elevated risk due to possible character issues, this was a solid gamble for the Nationals at #25.

Then with their 2nd round pick, 65th overall, the Nationals chose Crowe, a well-built right-handed pitcher with a past Tommy John surgery.  He overcame this injury to lead the Gamecocks’ pitching staff this season.  Crowe features an impressive 4-pitch repertoire, with a 92-94mph fastball, reportedly touching 97mph at its best, with some sink and arm-side movement.  In addition Crowe throws both a low-80s slider and a high-70s curveball – both show similar shape and the slider has potential to be an above-average future offering.  Finally Crowe throws a quality 82-85mph changeup with fade to his arm-side and he replicates his arm speed well.

Listed at 6-2 245lbs, he lacks physical projection and his surgery cost him almost two seasons, making him old for this draft class at 22.5 years old; these two flaws, plus the fact his stuff slumped a bit toward the end of the season caused him to slide from a likely supplemental 1st round pick into the 2nd round.  Nonetheless, this is an impressive collegiate arm whom has excelled against competition in the SEC and feels like an excellent value selection for Washington at #65.

****

After Day 1 I believe the Nationals did a fantastic job of maximizing the potential talent they could acquire at the positions they selected.  Despite the fact no team should ever prioritize position over talent in the draft, Washington enters this year with a preference for pitching and was able to capitalize on this area of depth in this draft class.

Without question both players have some risk in their profile, but both also have the potential to move quickly through the minors and be average or better major league starters.  If there is one minor quibble, I might have leaned toward LSU RHP Alex Lange, who went #30 to Chicago, over Romero in Round 1, as I see them having similar ceilings while Lange has less risk.  On the other hand, Crowe was my primary target in Round 2 and a player I would have considered at #25.  While impossible to legitimately grade a draft until well into the future, the Nationals did well maximizing talent, need, risk and reward with their two selections Monday evening.

NatsGM Instant Grade ->               A-

THE NatsGM Show #101 – Guest Emily Waldon

THE NatsGM Show #101 has dropped like a bowling ball in the ocean and we are proud to welcome from 2080Baseball.com, Emily Waldon!

Our conversation begins by talking prospects playing in the midwest, specifically Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. & Bo Bichette, and Detroit’s Matt Manning, Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser.  Somehow we transition and I get Emily’s thoughts on being a female in the baseball “industry”, her experiences both positive and negative and her advice for those aspiring to work in baseball.  Finally, we play an exciting rendition of the Lightning Round and speculate on Anthony Gose as a pitcher.

Thank you to Emily for being such a terrific guest and to you for downloading.  If you like the show, please consider Rating and Reviewing the show on iTunes.  Thanks for listening!