The Nationals' 1st Round pick tonight is the 18th overall selection, and they also have the 57th overall pick in the second round. Both picks will be made this evening Their third pick is the 93rd overall pick in the 3rd Round, which will take place on Friday.
Under the rules agreedthe most recent CBA, the Nationals have $5,275,700 to spend on this year's picks.
The recommended slot money for their 1st Round selection is $2,145,600. The recommended slot money for the 57th overall pick is $987,800. They'll make both of those picks at some point tonight, and over the next few days, all the work they've done to prepare for this year's edition of the Draft will pay off in a new class of prospects, who will then have to be signed.
Over the last few weeks, as the 2014 MLB Draft approached, the Nationals, with General Manager Mike Rizzo and Asst. GM and VP of Scouting Kris Kline leading things, began the process of synthesizing everything their scouts have seen over the last few years as they prepare for another run at the top prospects around the country.
"There's a specific calendar," Rizzo explained this past weekend. "We have all of our area scouts come in individually for face-to-face meetings. We get their take on what their area is and then they'll go out to see the conference tournaments and then the college regionals and all the high school showcases, right towards the end of the draft, to get a final health check on where the guys are. We've had our crosscheckers, our scouting directors, in here this last week."
The Nationals make up their big board, put together a list of prospects and when their turn comes and they're on the clock, they take the best player available.
"We've ramped up starting to get the board together," Rizzo said. "We've been in there countless hours this past week. Hopefully by Thursday we'll have our T's crossed and our I's dotted, and be ready to pull the trigger when our time comes."
Baseball America's John Manuel, after projecting that the Nationals would take 18-year-old prep school shortstop Jacob Gatewood in three of four Mock Drafts in the last few weeks, today joined ESPN.com's Keith Law and CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman in predicting that the Nats will take UNLV right-hander Erick Fedde with the 18th pick tonight, in spite of the fact that he underwent Tommy John surgery last month:
"GM Mike Rizzo’s track record with Scott Boras Corp. clients leads to the Nationals being viewed as a landing spot for injured UNLV righthander Erick Fedde, who had Tommy John surgery in May. The Nats already have picked one of those too, with 2012 first-rounder Lucas Giolito."
Rizzo, obviously, wasn't going to divulge which direction the Nationals are leaning with their top pick, but he talked about the abundance of talent in this year's class.
"I think it's very balanced between high school and college talent," he said.
"I think the draft class is deep," Rizzo said. "It's deep with a lot of velocity arms, I think that's the thing that jumps out the most."
"There's some quality left-handed, power college bats which is not typical of a draft class. But most importantly we like the numbers and the quality of the players."
The former scout, scouting director and assistant GM is in his element on Draft day, and he thoroughly enjoys the process.
"I love it," he said on Sunday. "The parts where I actually get out to look at some high school players, some college players, is enjoyable to me. It brings back a lot of good memories for me. It's really a crucial and important part of the foundation of an organization. Every guy on this field was scouted and developed. Some area scout and some crosschecker put their neck on the line for these guys and that's what it's all about. The better the drafts, the deeper the farm systems, and the better you are in the big leagues."
As for an organizational philosophy for approaching the Draft, Rizzo said it was simple.
"We like to say 'honor the board' and the guy who's name is up there on the top, we're going to take."
Seventeen other teams' decision will affect what the Nationals do, but the Nats will have their list and they'll make their selection, which will be their first pick in the 1st Round since they took Lucas Giolito 16th overall in the 2012 Draft.
"By Thursday, with the 18th pick, it should be a seamless transition to taking the best guy on the board," Rizzo said.
"There are discussions and arguments up until the last day. We've adjusted the board the morning of the draft before and those things happen."
The 1st Round of the 2014 Draft begins at 7:00 PM tonight. The first two rounds will be broadcast live on the MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 take place tomorrow afternoon and things wrap up with rounds 11-40 on Saturday.