VIERA FL - FEBRUARY 25: Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals poses for a portrait during Spring Training Photo Day at Space Coast Stadium on February 25 2011 in Viera Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
• 2005 1st Round PIck: As NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman reported yesterday, in an article entitled, "Zimmerman to resume baseball activities", the Nats' 26-year-old third baseman and Face of the Franchise, Ryan Zimmerman, who's been on the DL since April 9th with an abdominal strain, "will resume some baseball activities Tuesday before the start of the Nationals' seven-game homestand." The Nats' 05 1st Round pick has played in just eight of the Nats' twenty-one games, collecting 10 hits in 28 at bats, (.357/.486/.536) with a triple, HR, and seven walks. A short stint nearby with one of the affiliates may precede Zimmerman's return to the lineup, which Mr. Zuckerman suggests could come at the end of the week if all goes as planned this week...
• 2011 1st Round picks?:
Baseball America's editor John Manuel, executive editor Jim Callis and assistant editor Conor Glassey held a mock draft, "[alternating] choices throughout the first round while taking into account each club's needs and financial situation." The results of the 2011 1st Round selections were posted last night in an article entitled, "The BA Experts Pick: Our Draft Experts Select Their First Round", with the BA's Mr. Callis predicting that though a highly-regarded shortstop prospect might be available for the sixth pick, the Nats will go with pitching:
"Jim Callis: "... With the No. 6 pick, I'd take Montverde (Fla.) Academy's Francisco Lindor, the only sure-thing shortstop in this draft. But Washington seems content with Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa as their double-play combination for the foreseeable future, so I don't think it would pop Lindor. I love Sonny Gray's fastball/curveball combination and competitiveness, and he'd help the Nationals quicker and fill an area of perceived greater need."
With the 23rd pick of the draft, which the Nats received as compensation for Adam Dunn signing with the White Sox this winter, BA's assistant editor Conor Glassey predicts that the Nationals will make, "a splash here with Matt Purke. BA's No. 3-rated prospect entering the season," who has since, "...slipped because of some questions about the health of his shoulder," but could, as Mr. Glassey puts it, "fit nicely with Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann—two other pitchers that have dealt with arm problems—at the top of its future rotation."
Sonny Gray is a 5'11''-6'0'' (depending on the source) right-hander out of Vanderbilt who throws two and four-seam fastballs, a slider and change, that Baseball Beginnings.com's scouting report describes as, "...a little guy with a big arm who profiles best as a closer." In 10 starts for the Commodores this season, Gray's (8-2) with a 2.00 ERA and a .193 BAA, and he's K'd 80 (10.69 K/9) and walked 29 (3.88 BB/9) in 67.1 IP. Lindor is a 5'11, 175lb, 17-year-old switch-hitting shortstop. ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill, in a recent MLB Draft blog profile entitled, "Francisco Lindor making a push", described him as, "...the top shortstop prospect in the class," while noting that he, "...has impressed scouts since his first at-bat of the season." Purke, a 6'3'' left-hander out of TCU with a four-pitch arsenal highlighted by a high-90's fastball, was selected by the Texas Rangers with the 14th pick of the '09 Draft, but didn't sign, and within the last week he's seen Dr. James Andrews after experiencing soreness in his throwing shoulder. No word on the results, but if he's healthy and available there, the Nats might make good use of their second 1st Round pick.
For the first time since 2008 when Washington selected RHP Aaron Crow (now w/ KCR) with their first-round pick, the Nats' 1st Round selection will depend on what the five teams before them decided to do. After Stephen Strasburg in '09 and Bryce Harper last June, it's going to take a lot to impress the nation's capital's fans. Baseball America's predictions are just that, educated guesses. Will D.C. GM Mike Rizzo and the Nats' Front Office outspend the rest of the league again in this year's draft as the continue to try to build a contender?