Finishing up the National League with the Washington Nationals.
Washington Nationals Draft Review
1) Bryce Harper, OF, Junior College of Southern Nevada: There isn't really much else to add here: Bryce Harper is really, really good. The decision to move him to the outfield is sound, reducing injury risk and (in theory) making it more likely that his Ken Griffey Jr-like offensive potential will be fulfilled. Negotiations may go down to the wire, but they will get it done.
2) Sammy Solis, LHP, University of San Diego: Was being mentioned as a first round possibility, so getting him here is nice. Decent southpaw stuff at 88-92, good breaking pitches and changeup, throws strikes, won't need long in the minors.
3) Rick Hague, SS, Rice University: Disappointing spring cost him a chance to go in the first round, but his past track record still counts for something and he looked better late in the year. Likely to move to second base, tools aren't exceptional but at his best he is a polished, high-energy player.
4) A.J. Cole, RHP, Florida HS: Was expected to go in the first round, but dropped due to worries about signability and Miami commitment. Cole's 90-95 MPH fastball, projectability, and athleticism would make him a steal here, though it will take first round money to keep him from college.
5) Jason Martinson, SS, Texas State University: Has athleticism, good arm strength and some speed, but there are doubts about his hitting ability against good pitching.
6) Cole Leonida, C, Georgia Tech: Good defensive catcher, but bat is questionable. Projects as backup receiver.
7) Kevin Keyes, OF-1B, University of Texas: He has very strong power potential and a good throwing arm, but got fat last summer, lost athleticism and speed, and didn't get all of it back this spring, killing his defensive value and reputation with scouts.
8) Matt Grace, LHP, UCLA: Junkball lefty, projects as a LOOGY at the major league level.
9) Aaron Barrett, RHP, University of Mississippi: 88-90 MPH fastball, good slider, erratic track record but has had bouts of impressive success.
10) Blake Kelso, SS, University of Houston: Scrappy infielder with athleticism and speed, but undersized body may make offense problematic at higher levels. Projects as utility type.
FOUR OTHERS OF NOTE: 12-Robbie Ray, LHP, Tennessee HS; 16-Mark Herrera, RHP, San Jacinto JC; 17-Tyler Hanks, RHP, Junior College of Southern Nevada; 21-Connor Rowe, OF, University of Texas
COMMENT: Everyone knew the Nationals would pick Harper, but I don't think people expected the rest of their draft to pan out like this. A year ago, Harper, Solis, Hague, and Cole were considered first round candidates, and Keyes was expected to be a second rounder. Erratic springs knocked down the stock of Hague and Keyes, but both could rebound. Solis is a polished arm who should move fast, while Cole might be the best high school pitcher in the draft not named Taillon. If they can sign Cole, this class goes from being quite strong to being truly outstanding. Many of the later picks are just potential role players, but that's ok considering how much it will cost to sign the impact guys. Overall, I love this draft.