Though the College of Southern Nevada dropped four-straight to Western Nevada College last weekend, CSN Coyotes' catcher Bryce Harper still managed to impress, going 0 for 7 with a walk and a run scored on Friday night and then rebounding with 3 hits, 2 HR's (16,17) and 4 RBI's in 7 at bats on Saturday to leave the 17-year-old presumptive no.1 overall prospect for the 2010 MLB First Year Player Draft with a .401 AVG (57 for 142), .494 OBP, .866 SLG, 13 doubles, 1 triple, 17 HR's and 46 RBI's over 43 games this season. When I read this week that Andy Seiler, from the great site MLB Bonus Baby (A Community Obsessed with the MLB Draft), had joined the SB Nation I made sure to send him an email to ask if he'd be willing to answer a few questions about the upcoming MLB Draft and what fans of the Nationals can expect their team to do with the second-straight no.1 overall pick. Mr. Seiler was kind enough to respond in the email interview that follows:
Federal Baseball (FB): Any chance you think the Washington Nationals pass on Bryce Harper? Is there any other legitimate contender for the no.1 overall pick?
Andy Seiler: It's looking less and less like they'll pass on Harper, but there's still enough time for that to change. Harper could go into a major slump or could get hurt, and those are just two scenarios that could change their minds. However, I don't see that as likely, so I'd say there's a 95% chance Harper is a National draftee. The only other legitimate contender for that top pick is Jameson Taillon, a right-handed prep arm from Texas, and there isn't a history of a prep righty going that high, as the risk is just too high. No one else has stood out as #1 overall worthy, so Harper's the main option.
FB: Are you surprised LSU's Anthony Ranaudo has remained atop many prospect lists in spite of suffering an elbow injury during his draft year?
Andy Seiler: Not at all. It was early enough in the year that he's been able to come back from it, and he took a big step forward last Friday when he threw 99 pitches and showed that his stuff has almost completely returned. He's working on getting his command back now, and if he does, he's definitely a top five option if Scott Boras doesn't place a heavy price tag on him. Ranaudo has better stuff than Kyle Gibson did a year ago, and despite a late-season arm injury that was considered more serious than Ranaudo's, he still went in the first round, so Ranaudo's a safer bet to be picked high if he stays healthy for the rest of the year.
FB: Nats' VP of player personnel Roy Clark is known for liking high school pitchers, any chance the Nationals break with tradition and take Jameson Taillon with the first pick?
Andy Seiler: There's always that possibility, but I honestly don't see it happening. Harper's essentially a high school pick, too, and Clark's drafts with Atlanta included a fair share of prep bats, too. He picked a lefty-hitting high school catcher with a second round pick in 2002, and that guy's gone on to be a pretty good ballplayer named Brian McCann.
FB: Former DC GM Jim Bowden threw Goergia Tech's Deck McGuire into the discussion of players the Nats were considering for the top pick, does he have no. 1 overall stuff?
Andy Seiler: Having seen McGuire pitch three times so far this spring, it's pretty clear to me and the rest of the scouting community that McGuire is not that type of pitcher. He represents a fairly safe arm in the mid-rotation mold, not #1 overall stuff. I'm sure the Nationals are testing every possibility, and it's their job to do so, but McGuire is probably not as high on their list as some have speculated.
FB: Predict the Top 5 picks? Any ideas for the Nats' top pick in the 2nd Round?
Andy Seiler: The top five picks depend heavily on weather the Pirates and Orioles will go the route they went last year, picking players with solid first round talent that are signable for slot money with their first picks. The way I see the top five panning out right now is Harper to the Nationals, Drew Pomeranz to the Pirates, Anthony Ranaudo to the Orioles, Jameson Taillon to the Royals, and Chris Sale to the Indians. As you can see, it's pitching-heavy behind Harper, and the only legitimate top five hitting option out there behind Harper is Manny Machado, who could sneak in as high as #2 overall. The Nats' second pick will likely follow the slot restrictions they were faced with for most of their draft last year behind Stephen Strasburg. I could see them trying out players such as Jedd Gyorko, Chad Bettis, Rob Rasmussen, or Dan Klein, but that's speculative. However, I'm positive that whatever player they pick will be agreeable to slot money for the #51 pick, which means it will almost certainly be a college player.
Thanks, Andy. The 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft takes place on June 7-9th.