Draft Reviews: Washington Nationals

2008 Draft Slot: Ninth overall
Top Pick: Aaron Crow, RHP, University of Missouri (Did not sign)
Best Pick (that signed): Destin Hood, OF, Alabama high school (2nd round)
Keep an Eye On: J.P. Ramirez, OF, Texas high school (15th round)
Notes: After taking the collegian hurler, Washington then selected prep prospects with three of the next four picks (Long Beach State infielder Danny Espinosa was also nabbed). Of those three high school picks – Destin Hood, LHP Graham Hicks, and C Adrian Nieto – (plus J.P. Ramirez, who was given a huge over-slot deal to sign after being taken in the 15th round), all of them began 2009 in extended spring training and will be making their season debuts in June in short-season ball.

2007 Draft Slot: Sixth overall
Top Pick: Ross Detwiler, RHP, Missouria State University
Best Pick: Jordan Zimmermann, RHP, Wisconsin-Stevens Point (Second round, 67th overall)
Worst Pick: Jake Smolinksi, 3B, Illinois high school (Second round, 70th overall)
Notes: With five picks in the first two rounds, Washington grabbed a number of key prospects and completely remade (and significantly improved) its minor league system. Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler are currently pitching in the big league rotation. OF Michael Burgess (supplemental first round) is the organization’s best hitting prospect. Catcher Derek Norris (fourth round) might be the second-best hitting prospect. Getting LHP Jack McGeary to sign in the sixth round was another steal.

2006 Draft Slot: 15th overall
Top Pick: Chris Marrero, 1B/OF, Florida high school
Best Pick: Chris Marrero
Worst Pick: Stephen Englund, OF, Washington high school (2nd round)
Notes: The club spent quite a few picks on prep players and did not fare very well. Chris Marrero is the best pick of the draft, but he’s been inconsistent and injured. Sean Black did not sign after being selected with the team’s first pick of the second round. Stephen Englund, also taken in the second, and Stephen King, the third-round selection, have both struggled to hit pro pitching. Fourth round pick LHP Glenn Gibson has fallen off the map since being traded to Tampa Bay.

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2009 Draft Slot: 1st overall
Draft Preference (2006-08): College pitching, prep hitters
MLB Club Need: Pitching, Pitching, Pitching
Organizational Need: Right-handed pitching, third base, second base
Organizational Strength: Outfield, catcher
Notes: Along with the first overall pick in the 2009 draft, with which the club should take Stephen Strasburg (unless there is a catastrophic injury), the Nationals club also possesses the 10th overall pick in the draft for failing to sign its first round selection from 2008 (RHP Aaron Crow, who is back in the draft). The Nationals organization has the opportunity to significantly improve its minor-league depth in the span of 10 picks. A future starting rotation including Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Collin Balester, Ross Detwiler, and John Lannan or Shairon Martis should look pretty good in the National League East, if everyone stays healthy and reaches his potential.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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15 years ago

A lot of people had been expecting the Nats’ 10th pick to be a signability pick, considering the $50mil figure being thrown around by Boras for Strasburg and the $900,000 difference that prevented them from signing Crow last year, but Mike Rizzo, the Nats GM, recently said that money will not factor into who they choose at #10. We’ll have to see if they actually do as they say.

I think it’s essential that the Nats take a pitcher with #10. The batters in this draft aren’t much to get excited about, especially with who’ll be available at the 10th pick, and their pitching is in shambles right now.

As a Nats fan, the draft is about the only thing I can get excited about this season.