CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 24: Mike Rizzo General Manager of the Washington Nationals talks on the phone during batting practice before a game against the Chicago White Sox on June 24, 2011 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Nationals named John McLaren as their new manager. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Not too long ago it was Nats' outfielder and no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper who heard his name announced as the Washington Nationals' 1st Round pick in June of 2010. The 19-year-old major leaguer, who just played his 33rd MLB game last night, told MLB Network Radio host Mike Ferrin in an interview recorded before Tuesday's game that he'd contacted this year's 1st Round pick, 17-year-old high school right-hander Lucas Giolito, to welcome him to the Nationals' organization he joined at the same age just two years back. "I got his number from a friend," Harper explained, "And just texted him congratulations. Excited for him. Excited that he's a National. He's a great talent, great arm, and we're excited to have him, so I'm excited to put him on board." Harper recalled his own experience with the draft in the interview, explaining that he was surrounded by his family when the Nationals officially made him the top selection.
"It was an exciting time," Harper said, "To be able to enjoy it with my family. That was a great experience. Being able to just go through that whole process of doing it, and it was just a lot of fun at that time and it's great seeing guys go through it that I know and it's a lot of fun for everybody and they need to enjoy it as long as they can." The Nats' 2012 1st Rounder told reporters last night that he too had been surrounded by family and friends when he heard his name called as the 16th overall pick in this year's draft. "I had no idea where I was going to go off the board," Giolito told reporters last night, "I was sitting there and I was surrounded by my family and close friends and it was really just a huge surprise to get taken by such a great organization. And right when it happened, it just kind of struck me and I was speechless. It was just an awesome moment."
Bryce Harper signed a 5-year/$9.9M dollar major league deal which included a $6.25M dollar signing bonus. With the new CBA, there are no more major league deals for Draft picks. The 16th overall selection has a recommended slot value of $2.125M, though the Nationals can exceed that recommendation while subtracting from the $4.4 draft bonus pool total they can spend on this year's picks overall. The speculation is that the Nationals will have to spend over the slot value to sign Giolito, who has a commitment to pitch at UCLA, but would consider signing and starting his major league career if it was the right deal as he explained yesterday.
"Well, if it was right, I’ve always wanted to play pro ball," Giolito told reporters, "But obviously I [picked] UCLA for a reason. It's one of the best baseball programs in all of college baseball. [UCLA Head Coach] John Savage has been unbelievable with pitchers in his whole career, especially the past few years, so, obviously UCLA is a really big option for me, and we'll see how everything plays out."
Asked how he thought the negotiations with Washington's 1st Round pick would go this year, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters Monday night that it was a "different ballgame" with the new rules in the CBA, but as always the Nationals would, "... make every attempt to sign him." "We're going to put our best foot forward," Rizzo said, "... and try to sell him on our place here in Washington as the place that will get him the healthiest and get him the best opportunity to do what he wants to do and that's to pitch in the big leagues."
Giolito was (9-1) in his senior year in high school at Studio City, California's Harvard-Westlake with 78 K's (9.98 K/9) and a 1.00 ERA in 70.1 IP, and as the Nationals noted in a press release on his selection, "He also threw three shutouts and tossed four complete games," and, "In 2011, he was named a Perfect Game All-American for his efforts at Harvard-Westlake as a junior."
The Nationals' 2nd Round pick, 80th overall, was used to select Cal-Berkeley second baseman Tony Renda. Renda finished his junior year with a .342/.436/.484 line, 16 doubles, 5 HR's, 29 BB and 18 K's in 54 games and 219 at bats after posting a combined .351/.394/.485 line in his freshman and sophomore seasons. "In our opinion, Tony has the quickest bat in the draft. He has always hit," Nationals' Director of Scouting Kris Kline explained on Twitter (@NationalsPR) yesterday after the selection. "He brings controlled aggression and a strong, compact swing. He has tremendous makeup and is a great kid."
In an article entitled, "Draft calls local players", Renda told San Jose Mercury News writer Vytas Mazeika that he wants to get started as quickly as possible. "Renda plans to sign as soon as possible to begin working his way up the organization," the Mercury News' reporter wrote, "The path to the major leagues is a dream Renda shared with his father, who died of lung cancer only months after his freshman season at Cal."
"'I know he's up there celebrating just like we are, and I know he's proud,' Renda said."
• The Nationals selected 13 other players in the first two days of the draft and the rest of the selections wrapped up today. More information on that later. Here's the list of picks from Rounds 1-15:
• Here's what Kris Kline and Asst. GM Roy Clark had to say about some of the other picks:
• 3rd Round: 111th pick LHP Brett Mooneyham (Stanford - 6'5'', 215 lb, Atwater, California) - 2012 Stats - (7-5) with a 4.26 ERA, 37 walks and 90 K's in 14 games and 82.1 IP:
On 3rd rd pick Mooneyham, Kris Kline says: "A plus athlete with a fastball that touches 97 to go along with a plus curveball and changeup."— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) June 5, 2012
• 5th Round: 174th pick - C Spence Kieboom (Clemson - 6'0'', 220lb, Marietta, GA) - 2012 Stats - .250/.314/.328, 7 2B, 3 HR's, 58 G, 204 AB's: