When Washington Nationals' scouting director Kris Kline was asked last night how sure he was the Nats' would be able to sign 2nd Round pick Jake Johansen after taking him with the 68th overall selection of the 2013 MLB Draft, he sounded confident that a deal would get done. "We wouldn't have taken him if we couldn't sign him," Kline said. "We all talked to him at length this week," Assistant General Manager Roy Clark added, "And we felt good about it. We felt like this kid wants to go out and like Kris said, I think we'll get it done."
"I think that that is a very good chance," Kline said about the possibility a deal might happen quickly, "I think Jake's very excited to start his career and we'll get this done as soon as we possibly can." At 6:22 pm EDT tonight, less than twenty-four hours after the Nats' picked the hard-throwing 6'6'' right-hander out of Dallas Baptist University with their first pick of the draft, they announced that the 22-year-old Johansen had signed. In a teleconference with reporters tonight, the pitcher talked about coming to the nation's capital for a workout recently and agreeing to a deal so quickly.
"Just being able to be with Mr. Kline and [Nats' GM Mike] Rizzo and everybody in the front office there," Johansen said, "They were just extremely positive to be around and I just enjoyed being able to meet them. I wanted to go out and play as quickly as possible so I could increase my chances [to] possibly be up in the major leagues as soon as possible." The slot recommendation for the Nationals' top pick was $820,000 according to MLB.com. Though he didn't confirm the dollar amount, Johansen said he signed right on slot. "Yes, sir, the deal was on slot," he said when a reporter asked.
Kris Kline talked after drafting Johansen about his 96-98 mph fastball, slider, which the Nats' scouting director said was an out-pitch now, his "power downer" curve, changeup and his cutter that will "blend into a slider." Johansen offered a similar report when asked to describe himself as a pitcher tonight. "I'm 6'6'', 235, obviously," the right-hander said, "I do have a very hard fastball, but I do have some secondary pitches. I have a changeup that I have a pretty good feel for as well as a curve ball and a slider. The slider kind of doubles as a cutter sometimes, but whenever it's necessary I can throw it in there as a slider for a strikeout pitch. But I'm very comfortable throwing all my pitches and I know they might not be the best pitches in my overall repertoire right now, but I know that they're very projectable and I have a lot to develop, there's no doubt about it."
Johansen said that he's excited about the opportunity to develop in the Nats' organization. "I'm very, very excited with the positive things that I've heard about the player development through the Nationals," the pitcher said, "that I have no doubt that I'm very confident I will reach that potential."
The Nationals' Assistant GM and scouting director were clear last night that they viewed the right-hander as a starter, and Johansen said tonight he agreed with that assessment and it was part of the reason he was interested in signing with Washington. "Honestly, I also view myself as a starter and just to hear the words from Mr. Rizzo and Mr. Kline about how they project me as a starter in the organization is extremely motivating," Johansen said. "I just pushes me that much further to exceed expectations and reach my full potential."
"I definitely do see myself as a starter though," he continued, "I feel like I do have some pretty good intangibles. With my overall body size I'm able to maintain velocity throughout the majority of the start and if not get better, increase velocity in the later innings and I know I am durable to last. But I can also -- I have four pitches that I can command decently well and I know I can get them in there for a strike when necessary. I feel as though I have great composure and presence on the mound that a starter needs."
Roy Clark said last night that the right-hander was definitely on the Nats' radar heading into the draft. "We were really hoping that we'd have a shot at [Johansen]," the Asst. GM admitted. Johansen too said he was hoping things would work out so Washington took him though he said he did work out for the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers.
"I was actually up [in D.C.] for the workout," he said, "And whenever I was done and we kind of got to talking about my stuff and where they see me in the projectable future. When they mentioned as a starter I was extremely ecstatic. In the back of my head I logged that away and I was just hoping that the Nationals would be able to get the chance to draft me and I was extremely, extremely happy. Just ecstatic about the opportunity that they chose to take me with their first overall pick of the 2013 Draft in the second round."
As for what's next? "I think I'm actually going to fly out on Sunday," Johansen said, "Go to Florida just for a physical and the actual signing of the contract. And then I believe that the short-season team in New York, [the Auburn Doubledays], I believe it starts on June 17th and they've also talked to me about flying me up there as soon as that season starts."