Washington Nationals' General Manager Mike Rizzo politely declined to share the Nats' Draft strategy with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier. In his weekly appearance on the Nationals' flagship station, he did, however, talk about the team's willingness to draft players with injury issues over the past few seasons when he was asked about 21-year-old East Carolina Pirates' right-hander Jeff Hoffman, who was (3-3) with a 2.94 ERA, 20 walks (2.67 BB/9) and 72 Ks (9.62 K/9) in 10 starts and 67 1/3 IP before he learned earlier this month that he would need Tommy John surgery.
"Every situation is unique," Rizzo said, "and we've shown in the past that we're not afraid to roll the dice on a player that has some medical issues. Case in point, [Lucas] Giolito. We did it with [Anthony] Rendon and several other guys, so we're not afraid to do it, but it has to be the right situation. The medical people have to like what they're seeing on the medical side. We have to know the makeup of the player, because without great makeup these guys don't rehab and come back like you think they would. So there's a lot of things that go into it.
"It's a deep enough draft this year so there is a possibility that you wouldn't have to do that, you're going to get a good, healthy player. But again, we don't say no to anything. We keep our options open. And that's something that [Asst. GM and Vice President, Scouting Operations] Kris Kline and myself will discuss as we get closer to the draft."
The Nationals have the 18th overall pick, in this June's Draft.
Law does, however, match the Nats up with another highly-regarded pitcher who learned recently that they would need Tommy John: 6'4'', UNLV right-hander Erick Fedde.
The Las Vegas, Nevada-born, 21-year-old junior was (8-2) with a 1.76 ERA, 21 walks (2.46 BB/9) and 82 Ks (9.27 K/9) in 11 starts and 76 2/3 IP before he was held out of his last two starts and eventually diagnosed with a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
As Fedde's bio on UNLV's Official Athletic site notes, the righty entered the 2014 campaign, "... as the 12th best pitching prospect and the 17th best overall prospect in collegiate baseball by Baseball America."
Fedde was up to no.8 on BA's Top 100 Prospects list when it was updated on May 14th.
Law wrote this morning that he's also heard some high school names mentioned in connection with the Nationals, while noting that under Rizzo's guidance, the Nats have taken just one high school player in the first round when they selected right-hander Lucas Giolito 16th overall in 2011, after he too fell in the draft after suffering an elbow injury in his final year at Harvard-Westlake (CA).
The Nationals will have to wait for seventeen other teams to make their 1st Round picks before they can react and make their own top choice, but it was a pick Rizzo said this winter he was "more reluctant" to part than he was when he signed Rafael Soriano and forfeited the Nats' 1st Round pick in 2013.
The 2014 MLB Draft takes place from June 5-7.
• Check out the Mike Rizzo's full interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier HERE.