The Washington Nationals expected their first selection tonight to take place around 10:30 pm EST. That did not happen.The draft started at 7:00 pm EDT with the Houston Astros selecting Stanford right-hander Mark Appel no.1 overall at around 7:12 a year after the pitcher failed to reach an agreement with Pittsburgh after the Pirates used the eighth overall pick on the Cardinal starter.
The Astros' pick left the Nationals sixty-six picks away from their spot in the order. The Nats gave up the 33rd pick of the draft when they signed 33-year-old closer Rafael Soriano to a 2-year/$28 million dollar deal this past winter. In Soriano's introductory press conference the Nats' GM, Mike Rizzo, admitted that the idea of losing the pick if they signed the reliever was a serious consideration before they signed the deal.
"The draft pick's important," Rizzo said, "but picking at the end of the draft like we are this year, we examined the draft pool this year and we felt that where we were picking and the talent pool that was out there and the chance to acquire a talent such as Rafael it was a good time for us to forfeit the pick." That meant the Nationals would pick 68th overall. In an MLB Network Radio interview in May, the Nationals' general manager said nothing would change about the way his organization prepared for the draft even though they didn't pick until the end of the second round.
"We're all going to get together in Washington," Rizzo said, "put the board together, just like we have every other year and it doesn't matter that we don't pick until 68th, we're going to line them up and when our pick comes, the magnet that's at the top of the board, we're going to take and we're going to sign and develop and hopefully he can contribute to us."
When he met with reporters this week, Rizzo reiterated that he thought the team could find value throughout the draft starting with the 68th overall pick. "There [are] going to be impact big leaguers in this draft. Our job is to find out which guys those are? Where are the hidden gems? And take them, and have our development staff develop them into big league players. Major leaguers, impact major leaguers, are found all over the draft and with our scouting staff we feel that we're going to overturn all the rocks and try to find the hidden gems that will gives us a real impactful draft this year."
The magnet at the top of the Nationals' board tonight when the 68th pick arrived at around midnight was that of RHP Jake Johansen:
With the 68th pick in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the #Nationals select Jake Johansen (RHP - Dallas Baptist University).— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) June 7, 2013