Armchair Evaluation – Washington Nationals 3rd Round Pick Jesus Luzardo

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Last Friday afternoon on Day 2 of the 2016 MLB Draft, the Washington Nationals selected Florida high school left-handed pitcher Jesus Luzardo as their 3rd round pick.  This was an intriguing pick, not only because it was #94 overall, but because Luzardo was considered a 1st round talent before undergoing Tommy John surgery in March.

Upon further research, I learned Luzardo participated in the Perfect Game All-America Classic game last summer played at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  Since I have the event saved on the DVR in THE NatsGM Studios, I decided to re-watch the game to evaluate his strengths and weaknesses.  The obvious caveats of this game occurring 10 months ago and pre-surgery aside, I thought it might be intriguing to put Jesus Luzardo through my infamous, Armchair Evaluation.

The now 18-year-old Luzardo entered the game in the top of the 4th inning and needed only 17 pitches to retire the side in order.  He threw 10 strikes against 7 balls, inducing two meager grounders to first base and striking out Nationals’ 1st round pick Carter Kieboom looking for the third out.

Luzardo is a well-built 6-1 205lbs with big, stocky legs and some projection remaining in his upper body.  He utilities a semi-windup with a medium leg kick, which gives him good momentum into a relatively quiet delivery.  Luzardo throws from a three-quarters arm slot and possesses noticeable arm speed.  By reputation he repeated his delivery well last summer on the showcase circuit, although in this appearance he was struggling, often over-rotating his body and causing his arm to lag behind.

In this one inning outing Luzardo flashed his 4-pitch arsenal, featuring a 91-93mph fastball with cutting movement, an upper-70s slider he was struggling to command and a low-70s curveball, plus an above-average 79-81mph changeup with excellent fading action.  He located his fastball well, especially up-and-in to righties, inducing two feeble ground ball outs.  The changeup was truly impressive for a high school pitcher, as he replicated his arm speed particularly well and could throw it for strikes.  One inning is difficult to judge a pitcher’s command and control, but Luzardo attacked hitters with a plan, showing maturity beyond his years.  If forced to judge, I would put a “55” on his fastball, no grade on the breaking pitches (he threw three and obviously lacked any feel) and a “55/60” on his changeup.

While watching a one inning appearance in an All-Star game on television is not the best way to evaluate a player, this outing did give a nice insight into the overall prospect profile of Jesus Luzardo.  He has a polished delivery and a solid 4-pitch arsenal, with a mature approach toward attacking opposing hitters.  He has an above-average fastball and changeup, along with the obvious ability to spin a breaking ball.  He needs experience on the mound to refine his breaking pitches and to repeat his delivery, but the overall “starter kit” is quite impressive.

The Nationals are taking a gamble selecting an injured high school pitcher with a top-100 pick, but the reward could be a #3/#4 starting pitcher down the road if he can properly rehabilitate his arm.  In addition, there is no question he would not have been available in Round 3 if he was healthy at draft time, making this a shrewd gamble by the Washington Nationals.

2016 MLB Draft Live Blog – Day 3

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We are back in THE NatsGM Studios, fueled on coffee and leftovers, to Live Blog Day 3 of the MLB Draft!  Today we will draft rounds 11-40, so please join me with your questions, comments, rants, and more.

While Day 3 sees the talent pool get thinner, there are still several players I like and would be happy if the Nationals added them to the organization this afternoon.  A few names I am specifically listening for today are Nick Cieri Maryland, Brigham Hill Texas A&M, Ian Hamilton Washington State, Cory Wilder NC State, Vincent Jackson Tennessee, Connor Jones Georgia, Jason Delay Vanderbilt and Mitchell Traver Texas Christian.

12:03pm – Looks like we are getting started basically on time… 11th round and Day 3, let’s do this!

12:12pm – Already realizing how difficult today’s live blog is going to be, as MLB.com is not updating the picks in real-time.  Bear with me today gang!

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 11th Round Pick -> Armond Upshaw CF Pensacola State

Listed as both an outfielder and left-handed pitcher, Upshaw posted a .327 average this season with 3 home runs and 33 stolen bases.  It appears as though Upshaw has some tools, with the possible backup plan of converting him to the mound if he fails to hit.

12:18pm – Shocked, and kinda proud, at the number of players I still recognize going here early on Day 3.  Of course the picks are going so quickly I cannot comment on them, but still…

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 12th Round Pick -> Hayden Howard LHP Texas Tech

A large 6-4 190lbs lefty, Howard transferred to Texas Tech this season after two years at Seward County Community College.  He was selected in the 39th round of the 2013 draft by the Oakland Athletics, so he has been on scouts’ radar for a while.  This season he posted a 9-3 record with a 3.13 ERA, with 49 strikeouts against only 18 walks in 74.2 innings pitched.  The strikeout number is slightly concerning, but the walk rate and projectable body has me intrigued to watch his development.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 13th Round Pick -> Conner Simonetti 1B Kent State University

Drafted by Cincinnati in the 2013 draft, Simonetti is listed as a 6-1 215lbs junior who hit .311 this season with 17 home runs for the Golden Flashes this season.  In addition, he hit 11 doubles and a triple this season in 56 games, giving me some optimism about his power potential.

12:40pm – If you have any additional information on these players, please let me/us know in the comment’s section.  These are (often) new names to me and the readers of NatsGM, so if you can help educate, let us know!

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 14th Round Pick -> Kyle Simonds RHP Texas A&M

A senior transfer from Hutchinson CC, Simonds received national attention this spring, no-hitting Vanderbilt in early May.  Listed at 6-4 200lbs, Simonds was 10-3 this season with a 2.73 ERA.  He had 74 strikeouts against only 23 walks in 92.1 innings this spring.  He should sign quickly and has a chance to rise through the organization due to his ability to pound the strike zone.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 15th Round Pick -> Ryan Williamson LHP North Carolina State

A junior left-handed starter for the Wolfpack, Williamson pitched 70.1 innings this season, posting a 2.69 ERA with 77 strikeouts against 38 walks.  Interestingly, Williamson is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery in the future, meaning the Nationals are hoping to sign him and rehabilitate his arm.  Considering he will not pitch next season if he has surgery, I would assume he signs relatively quickly and the Nats might have a bargain in Round 15.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 16th Round Pick -> Phillip Morse RHP Shenandoah University

A senior righty, listed as 6-2 185lbs, is a local boy from Vienna, Virginia.  Morse this season made 22 appearances and threw 30.2 innings, posting a 0.88 ERA with 26 strikeouts and 8 saves.  On his Shenandoah page, this first thing they mention is “great pop on the fastball”.  Personally I am excited to see what his fastball looks like…

1:12pm – After taking precious few arms through the first two days of the draft, we are now seeing Washington load up on college arms, taking 4 pitchers in their past 5 picks.  I would expect this trend to continue through the rest of the teens.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 17th Round Pick -> Tyler Beckwith SS University of Richmond

Another local product from Mount Airy, MD and Linganore high school, Beckwith is a senior shortstop who hit .319 with 6 home runs, 29 extra base hits and 10 stolen bases for the Spiders this season.  He has the reputation as a solid fielder and his statistics show he has some speed and the ability to hit for average.  His senior numbers were much better than his other three seasons, which gives some hope maybe a Nationals’ area scout has found a gem.

1:24pm – Just realized going head-to-head with the Nationals game is probably not the best thing for my traffic and page views today… D’oh!

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 18th Round Pick -> Ben Braymer LHP Auburn University

A junior left-handed pitcher who previously played at LSU-Eunice, Braymer posted a 4-4 record this season with a 3.56 ERA over 48 innings pitched, allowing 36 hits and 20 walks against 47 strikeouts.  Any lefty with a strikeout rate of nearly 9 per 9 innings in the SEC piques my interest.  If he is signable, he might develop into a lefty specialist down the road.

1:35pm – I would have bet money Aaron Nola would have lasted longer in the Nationals game than the first 10 rounds of Day 3’s draft.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 19th Round Pick -> Jarrett Gonzales Catcher Texas HS

Listed as a 5-11 185lbs right-handed hitting and throwing catcher, I see precious little information online about Gonzales.  If anyone can help, please do.

According to Google, Gonzales played on the 2015 Area Code Games team named after the Washington Nationals… Seems like this could be a natural connection, or not.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 20th Round Pick -> Jake Barnett LHP Lewis and Clark State College

Dipping into the NAIA waters, Barnett is listed as a junior 6-2 190lbs lefty who previously played at Palomar College.  This season he made 16 appearances and pitched 47.2 innings, allowing 42 hits and 16 walks against 51 strikeouts.  Baseball America listed him on their Idaho state map as a “other prospects of note”, but does not have any information about him.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 21st Round Pick -> Jacob Howell RHP Delta State

Another junior right-handed pitcher, Howell is listed at 6-3 190lbs.  This season Howell posted a 3.93 ERA for Delta State in 34.1 innings pitched, with 45 strikeouts against 35 hits and 15 walks allowed.  The ERA seems high for this level of competition, but that strikeout rate is interesting.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 22nd Round Pick -> Sterling Sharp RHP Drury University

A 6-3 185lbs junior right-handed pitcher, Sharp (best name in the Nats’ class and arguably best in this draft) provided Drury with a 5.90 ERA in 50.1 innings this season, with 43 strikeouts and 23 walks.  The numbers do not look pretty and the level of competition is not stellar, so I am assuming an area scout likes his velocity and/or arm.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 23rd Round Pick -> Michael Rishwain RHP Westmont College

A senior 6-3 220lbs right-handed pitcher, Rishwain posted a 1.51 ERA this season for Westmont in 35.1 innings, providing them with 31 strikeouts against only 7 walks this season while pitching in relief.  He should sign quickly and pitch in the bullpen for one of Washington’s affiliates, likely Auburn.

2:41pm – Wow, Seattle just picked Tre Griffey, the son of Ken Griffey Jr. from the University of Arizona.  This pick makes me feel extremely old.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 24th Round Pick -> Joseph Baltrip RHP Wharton County CC

Baltrip is a sophomore at Wharton and unfortunately their website provided little other information on Baltrip.

2:48pm – Any chance the Nationals can start drafting players from some larger schools?  It would make researching these young players a lot easier.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 25th Round Pick -> Branden Boggetto SS Southeast Missouri State

A senior 6-0 190lbs infielder, Boggetto was listed on the top-100 seniors by Perfect Game prior to the season.  This year Boggetto hit .339 with 5 home runs, 27 extra base hits and 9 stolen bases in 59 games played.  Similarly to 17th round pick Tyler Beckwith, he should sign quickly and add infield depth in the lower minor leagues.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 26th Round Pick -> Jack Sundberg CF University of Connecticut

Finally a player I have watched!  Sundberg is a senior from UConn who hits left-handed and throws right-handed.  He is a physical kid who looks bigger than his listed 5-11 190lbs.  This season Sundberg struggled at the plate, hitting only .258 with 5 home runs and 17 stolen bases after hitting .287 with a .412 OBP in 2015.  He has some speed and can play all three positions adequately, making him an intriguing pick this late.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 27th Round Pick -> Jeremy McDonald LHP California Baptist

Another senior, McDonald is listed as a 5-9 182lbs lefty, which would make him the smallest drafted pitcher I can remember in the Rizzo era.  This year McDonald had a 2.14 ERA over 84 innings pitched with 88 strikeouts and 40 walks.  Interestingly, he allowed only 1 home run this season – maybe he develops into a productive lefty reliever down the road.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 28th Round Pick -> Jonny Reid LHP Azusa Pacific University

Son of a coach at Azusa, Reid is a junior who had 70 strikeouts against 20 walks in 86 innings of action this season.  The Nationals continue to stockpile pitching in the middle rounds of Day 3.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 29th Round Pick -> Samuel Held RHP University of Nevada-Reno

Back to the right-handed pitchers – Held is a senior 6-5 195lbs pitcher who spent two seasons at Delta State before transferring to Nevada-Reno.  This season Held had a 5.17 ERA in 38.1 innings pitched, with 13 (yes 13) strikeouts against 9 walks.  Even for a 29th round pick, this selection has me slightly stumped, yet very interested to see what the area scout saw in this prospect.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 30th Round Pick -> Tristan Clarke CF East Oklahoma State Junior College

A sophomore 6-3 184lbs R/R outfielder, I am not finding anything else on him online – Help?

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 31st Round Pick -> CJ Picerni Catcher New York University

Another senior, the Nationals draft another catcher here in Round 31 with CJ Picerni from NYU.  Picerni hit .258 this season with 0 homers and 9 doubles in 34 games and 124 at-bats.  He should provide additional depth for Washington in Rookie ball this summer.

4:22pm – I would like to thank several commenters in the comment’s section who are adding additional information on several of these picks – Thanks everyone!

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 32nd Round Pick -> Garrett Gonzales 3B Texas HS

The son of one of the Nationals’ scouts, Gonzales is listed as a 5-11 165lbs shortstop who bats left-handed, throws right-handed and is committed to Incarnate Word.  Typically I would dismiss a pick like this as a favor to a member of the organization, but the lack of a strong college commitment could make him a possibility for Washington to sign.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 33rd Round Pick -> Ryan Wetzel SS Heritage Christian Academy

The son of a special assistant to the GM for the Nationals, Wetzel appears to be uncommitted to a college as of now, though he is linked to several impressive Big-12 teams.  He bats left-handed and throws right-handed, and is listed at 6-2 170lbs.  Similarly to Gonzales above, typically this would feel like a “throwaway” pick as a favor to a friend of the organization, but the lack of a college commitment makes it plausible he signs.

4:41pm – There have now been 1,000 players drafted… That is a staggering number.  Still several rounds to go however!

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 34th Round Pick -> Morgan Cooper RHP University of Texas

A redshirt sophomore, Cooper is a huge 6-4 220lbs righty who provided the Longhorns with a 4.03 ERA in 67 innings this season, striking out 70 and walking only 17.  Cooper obviously has the leverage to go back to school, so it will be interesting to see if the Nationals can sign him.  He would be a nice addition to this draft class if they can get him signed.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 35th Round Pick -> Tristan Bayless LHP Hutto HS Texas

I am not finding anything about Mr. Bayless online at this time.  Can anyone help?

5:11pm – Detroit just selected Florida HS Drew Mendoza here in Round 36 – Many had mocked him to the Nationals before the draft.  Now it seems likely he will play at Florida State and re-enter the draft in 3 years.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 36th Round Pick -> Jordan McFarland OF Waterloo HS Illinois

Committed to Arkansas, McFarland is a promising looking outfield prospect for the Razorbacks, standing 6-3 and 225lbs.  A 2nd team Perfect Game All-American, McFarland feels highly unlikely to sign this late in the draft and will likely find his way to college.  However, as per usual with the Nationals, remember this name as Washington could look to re-draft him again in three years.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 37th Round Pick -> Cory Voss Catcher McLennan Community College

Drafted by Colorado in the 34th round of the 2014 draft, Voss spent his freshman season at the University of New Mexico before transferring to McLennan.  This year Voss hit .384 with 11 home runs and 53 runs batted in over 55 games played.  Committed to the University of Arizona for next year, Voss might be difficult to sign away from Tucson, but looks like a nice gamble in Round 37.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 38th Round Pick -> Noah Murdock Colonial Heights HS VA

A monster local product listed at 6-8 175lbs, Murdock has a strong commitment to play baseball at Virginia, making it nearly impossible Washington is able to sign him.  Much like Tommy Doyle two years ago, the Nationals are likely making this pick with their idea of potentially drafting him again in three years.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 39th Round Pick -> Matt Mervis 1B/RHP Georgetown Prep HS

Yes!  My alma mater, Georgetown Prep, gets represented in the 2016 MLB Draft, as the Nationals select Matt Mervis, a corner infielder and pitcher.  Mervis has a strong commitment to Duke University, but was receiving 1st day buzz earlier this spring after performing well at the NHSI showcase in Chicago.  It looks like Mervis will be taking his talents to Durham for the next 3 years, but I am so excited that he was drafted, particularly by his hometown Nationals.  Congrats to Matt and the Lil’ Hoyas!

6pm – Last round everyone!  I want to thank everyone who has joined me the last three days.  Like the last five years I have done this, it is a long, but wonderful three day adventure.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 40th Round Pick -> Sean Cook RHP Walt Whitman HS Bethesda, MD

I love that the Nationals have selected two local kids with their last two picks, and two players I have seen play.  Cook is a 6-0 175lbs righty who struck out 46 batters in 46 innings this spring for the Vikings.  He is expected to walk-on at the University of Maryland this spring and could develop into an interesting prospect in a few years.

6:12pm – With that, the NatsGM Live Blog of the 2016 MLB Draft is a wrap.  Please keep the comments coming in the comment’s section.  Thanks again for reading, bye for now!

2016 MLB Draft Live Blog – Day 2

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We are back LIVE in THE NatsGM Studios ready to Live Blog Day 2 of the MLB Draft!  There is still plenty of talent remaining in this deep draft, so the Nationals (and the 29 other clubs) have a chance today to select some future contributors to their organization.

Please join me with your comments, questions, hot takes or whatever in the comment’s section or on Twitter @NatsGMdotcom.  Thanks for joining me today!

12:31pm – Been a long time since I have been this excited for a Day 2 of the draft… Curious to see if I feel the same way around 6pm tonight.

12:53pm – So MLB Network pulled an NBA Playoff game – They said we would start at 12:30, but looks like 1pm is the real start time.

1pm – Have heard Drew Mendoza linked to Philadelphia early in Round 3… We shall see.

1:09pm – Phillies instead take High School SS Cole Stobbe, continuing to take advantage of their large bonus pool this year.

1:13pm – Rockies just selected Long Beach State SS Garrett Hampson, a Nationals selection three years ago and a player I mocked to Washington this morning.  He has excellent speed, some solid barrel skills, and shortstops are often “overdrafted” on draft day.  He has some tools and should stay in the middle infield, making him a nice pick.

1:26pm – MLB Network is dragging out this 3rd round like old golfers in Florida who don’t want to go home to sleep.  Let’s get this moving a bit guys!

1:33pm – Boston just selected University of Florida RHP Shaun Anderson in the middle of Round 3.  I like his arm a lot, as Anderson has a mid-90s fastball and a swing-and-miss breaking ball.  He acted as their closer this season and could move quickly in a relief role.

1:39pm – BIG fan of the Orioles selection of Jacksonville OF Austin Hays – he has some  legitimate tools and profiles well in right field.  He was a standout performer last summer on the Cape and is a terrific value in Round 3.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS Round 3 Pick -> Jesus Luzardo LHP Florida HS

Of course the Nationals select a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery, as Lazardo had first round stuff at the beginning of this year before the injury.  He has a fastball that can reach 95mph, plus a slider and a changeup.  He will need time to recover, but this is an intriguing, excellent pick in Round 3.

1:53pm – Assuming Luzardo is signable, which he should be considering the injury and where he was selected, he is one of the better value picks thus far in Round 3.

1:58pm – The Kansas City Royals just selected Northern Virginia HS OF Khalil Lee at the end of Round 3.  He had a big season as a pitcher this spring, but was announced as a centerfielder.  He has excellent speed, a strong arm, and some barrel skills, making him an intriguing profile for the Royals.  Congrats to Khalil!

2:01pm – And the first Bethesda Big Train playing was just drafted, as the Pittsburgh Pirates selected SS Stephen Alamais from Tulane in Round 3.  He should stay at shortstop and has some speed, not to mention is a tremendous young man.  Congrats to him and the Big Train!

2:15pm – Detroit just chose Louisville SP Kyle Funkhouser, whom I had mocked to Washington much of the spring.  He struggled as a senior for the Cardinals but has a quality mid-90s fastball and three off-speed pitches.  This is a nice pick in Round 4.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 4th Round Selection -> Nick Banks OF Texas A&M

Another interesting selection here for the Nationals, as he was a member of Team USA last summer but struggled a bit this spring for the Aggies with “draftitis”.  He has some legitimate power and the ability to pepper the gaps with line drives.  He had surgery this year, which might have hindered his numbers this year.  If the team can get him healthy and back to his sophomore form, the Nationals could have a steal in Round 4.  Intriguing, boom or bust pick for the Nationals…

2:44pm – The Cardinals continue to make shrewd pick after shrewd pick, grabbing USC catcher Jeremy Martinez with the last pick in Round 4.  He has had the ultimate case of prospect fatigue and struggled a bit in his first two years in school, but broke out this season as a junior.  He needs development time, especially at the plate, but he’s a great pick outside the top-100.

2:50pm – Surprised Maryland SP Mike Shawaryn is still on the board… Someone is going to get a nice value with him, likely in the next 20 picks or so.

3:00pm – And there you have it, the Red Sox just selected Shawaryn in the middle of Round 5.  There are questions about his arm action and his long-term health, but he has a quality 3-pitch mix and could find himself develop into a #4/5 starter in time.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 5th Round Selection -> Daniel Johnson CF New Mexico State

A left-handed hitting, left-handed throwing toolsy outfielder who produced well this season, hitting 12 home runs and 29 stolen bases this season.  He possesses good speed and a strong arm, which gives him a solid center field profile.  Scouts believe he has some barrel skills, but he is extremely raw.  This is a project for the Nationals scouting-and-development staff, but Johnson has a solid package of tools for a 5th round pick.

3:13pm – Quick observation – The Nationals three picks thus far today have extremely high ceilings, but also have plenty of bust potential.  I thought they would go college heavy on Day 2, but I am surprised at how risky these picks are.  This is not to say I do not like the picks, not at all, I just figured on a different strategy.

3:19pm – The Dodgers select LHP Devin Smeltzer from San Jacinto JC, whom I mocked to Washington in Round 5 this morning.  He threw a no-hitter on the Cape last summer, along with making the All-Star game roster.  He has a funky delivery with a low-90s fastball and a sweeping low-80s slider.  He profiles as a likely left-handed reliever, but there is an outside chance he can remain a starter.

3:20pm – Toronto pops Notre Dame 2B Cavan Biggio, son of Craig Biggio here in Round 5.  He does not have great tools, besides his ability to control the strike zone.

3:44pm – Colorado takes University of Miami OF Willie Abreu, who has impressive tools and looks the part of a major leaguer, but struggles to produce during games.  This is a nice gamble for the Rockies, who are having a strong draft so far.

3:53pm – Great pick by Seattle early in Round 6, taking Millersville RHP Brandon Miller, who was excellent on Cape Cod last summer and caught my eye in the Cape All-Star game.  He has a good fastball in the low-90s and a quality breaking ball, giving him a change to start in pro ball.  Excellent pick by the Mariners!

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 6th Round Selection ->Tres Barrera Catcher University of Texas

I like this pick here in Round 6, as Barrera possesses some arm strength and average skills defensively.  At the plate Barrera has some raw pull power in his right-handed swing, but does not profile to hit for a high average at the professional levels.  If everything comes together with Barrera, he could become a slightly above-average defensive catcher with some power.  This is not overly exciting, but he has a high floor and stands a reasonable chance of becoming a major league backup.

4:09pm – Texas makes a nice pick late in Round 6, getting University of Kentucky RHP Kyle Cody, a senior with a good fastball and potential to be a 7th/8th inning reliever in time.

4:11pm – Dodgers just selected University of Mississippi SS Errol Robinson, a former local product from St. John’s college high school.  He has a strong arm, good athleticism and should stay at shortstop long-term.  Offensively he struggles on the Cape last summer and continued this spring with the Rebels, but his defensive skills and speed give him a nice chance to reach the big leagues… Congrats Errol!

4:26pm – It’s almost happy hour, right?

4:34pm – Orioles take a familiar name, 1B Preston Palmeiro from NC State University in the middle of Round 7.  He has a nice left-handed swing as well, with limited athleticism.  He has a chance to hit his way up the ladder, similarly to previous draft picks Trey Mancini and Christian Walker.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 7th Round Selection -> Jacob Noll 2B Florida Gulf Coast

Very interesting pick here by the Nationals, as Noll is limited defensively and athleticism-wise, but he has a quality right-handed bat.  He has a linear swing with some noticeable bat speed and barrel skills.  He had a successful summer last year for Hyannis on Cape Cod and made the midseason All-Star team.  He does not hit for a great deal of power due to the short, compact nature of his swing, but he can hit.  Noll is limited to second base or left field defensively, but his bat gives him a chance to reach the majors.  He reminds me a little of a right-handed hitting Max Schrock, the Nationals Day 3 selection in 2015.

4:54pm – I am a big fan of what the Nationals are doing today in Day 2.  I am slightly surprised they have leaned so heavily toward college hitters, as the organization has typically gone more toward arms in the early rounds.  However, they have done a nice job of grabbing some players with ceiling early today, then grabbing a couple nice values in Barrera and Noll in Rounds 6 & 7.  We should look for a couple senior signs in the next few picks to round out today’s picks.

5:04pm – Marlins took Andrew Knapp, centerfielder from University of California Berkeley here in Round 9, an athletic lefty hitter/thrower who is a plus defender in center.  He does not have much power, but could become a 5th outfielder/defensive specialist in the future.  He does not have a high ceiling, but I like him and his potential.

5:16pm – Indians just took Andrew Lantrip from the University of Houston, a projectable right-hander who pounds the strike zone with a low-90s fastball and a decent breaking ball.  He might be a long-term reliever, but this is a nice value late in Round 8.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 8th Round Selection -> A.J. Bogucki RHP University of North Carolina 

This is an intriguing arm selected by the Nationals here in Round 8, as Bogucki has pitched in relief for the most part at North Carolina but probably will begin his professional career as a starter.  He can touch the mid-90s with his fastball when he is on, and can show a decent slider and changeup.  He needs plenty of refinement, but the Nationals’ development people must be excited to work with this type of pure velocity.

5:35pm – 9th round, here we go!

5:43pm – Pretty sure I am not going to make it all the way through today’s selections without a beer – anyone out there having a good Friday happy hour?

WASHINGTON NATIONALS 9th Round Selection -> Joseph Harris Catcher Gonzaga University

Known for his excellent arm and ability to play a strong defensive catcher, Harris is a senior catcher who batted .247 with 2 home runs this season for Gonzaga.  He was selected as the WCC defensive player of the year in 2015 and should sign quickly with Washington.

6:12pm – We’ve reached the 10th and final round of Day 2!  Maybe we will see the Nationals pick a pitcher…

6:19pm – Oakland just selected one of my favorite “sleepers” in this draft class, Stetson RHP Mitchell Jordan, here in Round 10.  He pitched well last summer on the Cape, pounding the zone with a low-90s fastball.  He rarely walks hitters and has some sink on his fastball.  This is a nice value late on Day 2.

6:21pm – Padres select in Round 10 Texas A&M 3B Boomer White, a senior who was the SEC player of the year.  He has limited athleticism and does not have a pure defensive profile, but he can hit and work a walk.  This is a terrific senior sign in Round 10.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS Round 10 Selection -> Paul Panaccione SS Grand Canyon University

A senior from this small University, Panaccione is a versatile defender who will probably not stay at shortstop long-term, likely moving to a utility role in pro ball.  A right-handed hitter Panaccione hit .363 this season with 4 home runs and 10 stolen bases.  The guys on the telecast seemed to like Panaccione as a senior sign, saying he had more upside than a typical senior 10th round pick.

6:45pm – Excellent pick by the Dodgers late in Round 10, picking UMBC SS Kevin LaChance, a nice fielder with an interesting bat.  I watched him twice this spring in-person and I liked him as a middle infielder and possible future utility player.

6:55pm – And with that, Day 2 of the 2016 MLB Draft is a wrap.  I want to thank everyone for joining me today during this exciting process.  I will return tomorrow at Noon to guide everyone through Rounds 11-40 of the draft.  Please join me with you questions and comments either in the comment’s section or tomorrow during our Live Blog.  Bye for now!

The Washington Nationals Select Kieboom, Dunning and Neuse on Day 1 of the MLB Draft

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The Washington Nationals used Day 1 of the MLB Draft to add to their collection of talent in their farm system, choosing high school infielder Carter Kieboom, college pitcher Dane Dunning and college infielder Sheldon Neuse.  The Nationals forfeited their original 1st round pick as compensation for signing Daniel Murphy, but received picks in return for the losses of Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann.  This left Washington picking number #28, #29 and #58 on Thursday evening.

Carter Kieboom, the younger brother of fellow Nationals prospect Spencer Kieboom and University of Georgia’s Trevor Kieboom, is the top prospect in this baseball family as a middle infielder with an impressive bat.  At the plate Kieboom shows a patient, mature approach with some natural feel for the barrel.  There is explosiveness in his body and some natural loft in his swing, giving him a chance to hit for both average and some power.  Defensively Kieboom has improved enough this spring to give scouts the opinion he could stay at shortstop and will certainly stay on the left side of the infield.  He has a quick first step and solid agility, plus excellent instincts, allowing him to profile at shortstop.  If he reaches his ceiling, I had a scout put a “Mike Bordick comparison” on Kieboom.

With their 2nd 1st round selection, 29th overall, the Nationals selected University of Florida right-handed pitcher Dane Dunning.  Due to the depth of the Florida pitching staff, Dunning has spent most of his time with the Gators starting during the midweek and pitching in relief on the weekend.  The 6-3 200lbs Dunning has an ideal pitcher’s frame with some projection remaining, especially in his lower half.  He has a relatively clean and simple delivery, which he repeats well.  He possesses a 3-pitch repertoire, featuring a 91-95mph fastball with extreme arm-side movement, a slider and a changeup.  He has shown a feel for both off-speed offerings, though the changeup seems more advanced than the slider.  In the past Dunning has struggled with his command and control of the strike zone, but this season he made major advances in this area, halving his walk rate as a junior.  He pitches off his fastball, an easy plus pitch, but will need to develop his changeup and slider if he wants to be a long-term starter.

In Round 2, 58th overall, Washington selected University of Oklahoma shortstop and right-handed pitcher Sheldon Neuse.  One of the top two-way players in college baseball, Neuse destroyed college baseball this year with a .369/.465/.646 batting line with 10 home runs and 16 doubles, while also posting a 1.40 ERA and 5 saves in 14 appearances on the mound.  But Neuse will begin his career as a hitter, where he shows a mature approach at the plate and the ability to get on-base.  His swing can get long at times, but there is some bat speed and barrel awareness to Neuse’s game, allowing one to dream on him developing an average hit tool and average power.  Defensively he will likely move off shortstop, as his below-average speed and athleticism are subpar for the position.  However, he has a strong arm and profiles well at third base.  There are some rough edges to his game, but Neuse has a chance to develop into a league average regular at the hot corner, with the backup plan of moving him to the mound if he fails to hit.

On Day 1 of the MLB Draft, the Nationals did a nice job of adding to their inventory of talent, drafting two players from major college programs and a high school player well-known on the showcase circuit.  I have watched both Kieboom and Dunning extensively – they were both solid value picks late in Round 1 and could have been selected several slots earlier.  Personally I had Louisville catcher Will Smith and Mississippi State RHP Dakota Hudson ranked ahead of Kieboom and Dunning and would have taken them with those picks, but that is a minor quibble.

Additionally I like the Neuse pick in Round 2, although he does not seem like the typical Day 1 Mike Rizzo pick, being that he is not an elite athlete and does not possess a high ceiling.  I might have preferred Washington gamble on Vanderbilt OF Bryan Reynolds or Ohio State OF Ronnie Lawson, but Neuse was a solid value at #58.

In conclusion Washington made three quality, shrewd selections on the first day of the MLB Draft.  While I might have preferred other picks as mentioned at each slot, it is difficult to argue with the job the Nationals’ organization did Thursday night.

NatsGM Overall Grade ->  Solid B

Today on Day 2 I would expect the Nationals to heavily target college players, particularly starting pitchers and outfielders, which is the depth of the college crop this year.  I will foolishly make predictions for the Nationals’ picks today.

Round 3 – Kyle Funkhouser RHP University of Louisville

Round 4 – Garrett Hampson SS Long Beach State

Round 5 – Devin Smeltzer LHP San Jacinto JC

Round 6 – Connor Jones LHP University of Georgia

Round 7 – Mitchell Jordan RHP Stetson University

Round 8 – Vincent Jackson OF University of Tennessee

Round 9 – Boomer White 3B Texas A&M

Round 10 – Curtiss Pomeroy RHP Georgetown University