Mocking the Nats Draft

This is not the most exciting year to be a follower of the Nationals’ draft. 

The 2013 MLB Draft kicks off on Thursday, June 6, but it will take a while to see the Nats’ first pick; for the first time in their existence, the Nats don’t own a first round pick (due to the signing of RHP Rafael Soriano), so their first pick (68th overall) will not be until the tail end of day 1.

I’ve been chosen (by first come-first serve virtue) to represent the Nats in this year’s Minor League Ball mock draft that takes place this Saturday afternoon. One of the duties in being a mock scouting director is to write Mock Organization Diaries, so I figured it would be beneficial to Natstown to take a look at what I would do if I were in the shoes of Mike Rizzo and Kris Kline.

MOD #1:

I briefly discussed my initial draft strategy: go after whatever higher upside talent falls to me. This will be difficult given the Nats’ small draft pool size (only $2.737 million), but I can follow along with last year’s strategy by taking some seniors in rounds 3-10 to get some extra spending money for the first few picks. We will only be mocking rounds 1-4, so I will need to plan on taking a senior in round 3 or 4, but in real life I may wait until round 5 or 6 to start taking cheap-signing seniors.

I also listed some local prospects that I might target at some point in the mock draft:

RHP Bobby Wahl (West Springfield HS alum/Junior at Ole Miss)

3B Chad Pinder (Junior at Virginia Tech)

RHP Connor Jones (Senior at Great Bridge HS/UVA commit)

OF Matt McPhearson (Senior at Riverdale Baptist HS/Miami commit)

SS Andy McGuire (Senior at Madison HS/Texas commit)

LHP Austin Nicely (Senior at Spotswood HS/UVA commit)

IF Errol Robinson (Senior at St. Johns HS/Ole Miss commit, profiled here by Ryan Sullivan of Nats GM)

MOD #2:

I began constructing my draft pick groupings. There were 18 guys that I felt had no chance of slipping to the Nats (or would be completely unsignable if they did), 19 more that I thought were unlikely to fall (and could be difficult to sign if they did) and finally 55 guys that I felt the Nats had a fairly decent shot at getting to choose from at pick #68. Without further ado, here are those lists.

Top prospects that are not really even worth me dreaming about landing

College/JuCo P: Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray, Sean Manaea, Braden Shipley, and Ryne Stanek

College/JuCo H: Kris Bryant, Colin Moran and Hunter Renfroe, Austin Wilson (unless he really slides due to injury concerns)

HS P: Trey Ball and Kohl Stewart

HS H: Nick Ciuffo, JP Crawford, Jonathan Denney, Clint Frazier, Austin Meadows, Reese McGuire and Dominic Smith

Prospects that could fall out of round 1, but unlikely all the way to #68

College/JuCo P: Chris Anderson, Jonathon Crawford and Bobby Wahl

College/JuCo H: Tim Anderson, Phillip Ervin (sliding due to injury), Aaron Judge and DJ Peterson

HS P: Phil Bickford (tough sign), Ian Clarkin, Hunter Harvey, Connor Jones (tough sign), Rob Kaminsky, Matt Krook (tough sign), Kyle Serrano (tough sign) and Devin Williams

HS H: Ryan Boldt (tough sign b/c of injury concerns?), Chris Okey, Cord Sandberg, Riley Unroe (tough sign) and Justin Williams

Prospects that I could see falling to #68 (the list prospects I expect to be picking from)

College/JuCo P: Aaron Blair, Alex Balog, Ryan Eades, Kent Emanuel, Buck Farmer, Marco Gonzales, Alex Gonzalez, Jason Hursh, Corey Knebel, Trey Masek (injury concerns), Andrew Mitchell, Dillon Overton, Teddy Stankiewicz, Colby Suggs, Andrew Thurman, AJ Vanegas, Trevor Williams, Tom Windle and Kevin Ziomek

College/JuCo H: Hunter Dozier, Ryon Healy, Eric Jagielo, Jared King, Andrew Knapp, Michael Lorenzen, Michael O’Neill and Chad Pinder

HS P: Jake Brentz (tough sign), Andrew Church, Tyler Danish, Hunter Green, Clinton Hollon, Austin Nicely, AJ Puk (tough sign), Cal Quantrill, Carlos Salazar, Blake Taylor and Garrett Williams

HS H: Cody Bellinger, Cavan Biggio, Travis Demerritte, Josh Hart, Andy McGuire, Ryan McMahon, Matt McPhearson, Oscar Mercado, Trey Michalczewski, Tucker Neuhaus, Dom Nunez (tough sign), Tyler O’Neill, Jordan Paroubek, Dustin Peterson, Mason Smith, Rowdy Tellez and Drew Ward

MOD #3:

Today, I went through some college Seniors to target in round 4. In order to spend $1 million or more on the 68th overall pick, I need to cut down on spending in round 4. Since college Seniors have little leverage, they can be signed at extremely under-slot value prices. I have $1.675 million to play with in rounds 2-4, so if I spend slot value on my 3rd round pick and spend $50,000 or so on a Senior in round 4, I will be able to spend a little over $1.1 million on my first pick. Here are the guys I was looking at:

RHP Buck Farmer (Georgia Tech) – Farmer is a rare case of a college senior who is talented enough to be worth his draft spot without a signing bonus cut. He’s not going to be a top-of-the-rotation kind of guy, but there is plenty of value in a lunch pail kind of 4th/5th starter who can eat innings. 

RHP Sam Wolff (RHP) – Wolff is definitely worth howling at. He’s got a nice heater (up to 97-98 mph) and decent secondary options and put up good stats this year as well. He certainly won’t be a lone Wolff come the end of the draft (groooooannnnn). 

RHP Jake Johansen (Dallas Baptist) – If you want a college senior with upside, look no further. Johansen has a huge arm that can touch 99. That being said, his secondary options and command are mediocre (which is why he’s not a first or second round guy). 

OF Connor Harrell (Vanderbilt) – Harrell has an intriguing power/speed combination but strikes out a bunch as well. If everything breaks right, could be a Justin Maxwell-type. 

OF Brandon Thomas (Georgia Tech) – Thomas is a guy that I am a big fan of for a few reasons. I’m a sucker for switch-hitters who can actually hit, first of all; he doesn’t have great power, but can hack it enough if he can stick in CF defensively. I like the athleticism and speed as well. 

OF Pat Biondi (Michigan) – The speedy outfielder’s ceiling is likely as a 4th outfielder/defensive sub/pinch runner extraordinaire, one could certainly do worse with a 4th round pick. 

LHP Matt Boyd (Oregon St) – Pitchers like Boyd can be tricky to evaluate. He’s got four pitches, but none really stand out. He’s sort of a tweener between a rotation and a reliever guy for that reason, since he doesn’t have the power to bulldoze guys from the pen or the quality variety to get guys out a 2nd or 3rd time around. He is a lefty who can hit the mid-90’s, though, so a new pitching coach with fresh opinions could do wonders for him. 

2B LJ Mazzilli (UConn) – The son of Lee Mazzilli is a doubles machine who handles the bat well in general. He isn’t outstanding defensively, so his bat will have to carry most of his value. 

Mitchell Garver (New Mexico) – His bat is good enough for a catcher, but there is some question about whether or not he will be able to stick behind the plate long-term. 

OF Mike Yastrzemski (Vanderbilt) – The grandson of some famous Red Sox player; you might have heard the name before (but let’s be honest, you never had a chance at spelling it correctly). Lil Yaz profiles as a 4th outfield type because he doesn’t really have any outstanding tools. He’s a smart player, though, and can make it if he continues to do the little things (base-running and defense) well. 

1B Mason Katz (LSU) – I’m not as big of a fan of his hitting projectability as many others are. He’s got a ton of pop for a smaller guy, but I’m not convinced it will translate to professional pitching. 

SS Mike Reynolds (Texas A&M) – Reynolds has a utility-type ceiling but also a fairly high floor. He’s a contact hitter who can be averageish defensively at higher levels. 

RHP Daniel Palo (Middle Tennessee St.) – Bad command, but 95 MPH velocity is somewhat intriguing. Won’t be a 4th round target, though. 

LHP Jeread Grundy (Kentucky) – This lefty has lost some velocity this season, but still remains an interesting prospect due to being a lefty with solid command and the potential to re-gain that velocity. 

RHP Calvin Drummond (Arizona Christian) – I researched Drummond after the Nats drafted him in the 34th round in 2011. He lost his NCAA eligibility last year and had no luck in the NAIA either, but according to Baseball America’s draft preview, he has been up to 96 mph this year and could move quickly as a bullpen guy. 

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