The Washington Nationals' 2008 1st Round Pick?
The Washington Nationals have the 9th pick in the 1st Round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft which begins this afternoon at just after 2:00 pm EST at Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. When my brother Scout, Braves Fan and Source For All Things Baseball asked me the other day to predict the Nationals' 1st Round selection, I was forced to admit that just days before the Draft, I simply had no idea, hadn't had a chance to even glance at the scouting reports, because I found myself so busy chronicling the injury-and-struggle-filled 2008 Nationals' campaign. I decided to do some research..
The June 15, 2008 print edition of Baseball America's magazine features the "08 Draft Preview", including an article by Jim Callis entitled, "Contract history makes Beckham Tampa's best bet", in which Mr. Callis predicts that the Nationals will draft Tanner Scheppers, who was drafted by the Orioles back in 2005, but instead of signing chose to attend Fresno State, where Scheppers was (6-6) with a 4.74 ERA in 15 starts and 25 appearances as a 20-year old Bulldog in his sophomore season, during which the 6'4" right-hander struck out 94 batters in 93.0 innings while walking 32.
In Baseball America's "Scouting Reports" section, which is compiled by writers, Matt Blood, Jim Callis, Aaron Fitt, John Manuel and David Perkin, Tanner Scheppers is listed as the 10th best of the "Top 100 Draft Prospects", surrounded by,
8. 1B Justin Smoak, 9. C Kyle Skipworth, and 11. RHP Shooter Hunt
Kyle Skipworth and Justin Smoak are the two names the MLB.com writer Jonathan Mayo attaches to the Nationals and the 9th Pick of the draft, with Mr. Mayo now predicting that Washington will draft C Kyle Skipworth out of Patriot High School in Riverside, California, a week after Mr. Mayo freely admits, he had projected 1B Justin Smoak out of the University of South Carolina landing with the Nationals. Mr. Mayo writes, in the article entitled, "Crystal ball: Projecting first 30 picks", that:
"It looks like this could be a choice between the polished college hitter in Smoak and the high-upside high school player in Skipworth. Could make for a spirited debate and for now we'll have the Nats come down on the high school backstop side of the argument."
According to ESPN.com's Keith Law, the "spirited debate" Mr. Mayo predicts is already taking place in the nation's capital, as Mr. Law begins his article entitled, "Draft Gossip", with the question, "Discord in Washington?":
"Word is the scouting department and special assistant Bob Boone want to take California prep catcher and Gatorade national player of the year Kyle Skipworth, while the GM wants to take a college player who'll move faster through the system, with his eyes on Missouri right-hander Aaron Crow."
Brian Oliver, over at the Nationals Farm Authority, represented the Nationals in the MLB Mock Draft, which had bloggers from around internets selecting players for their respective teams, with the caveat, Mr. Oliver writes, that you have to, "Remember, this isn't picking what player you would want per se', but who you think your team is most likely to pick." With that in mind, Mr. Oliver unknowingly sides with DC GM Jim Bowden over Bob Boone, in noting that :
"...RHP Aaron Crow was my personal preference of the names available there, (but) I believe the Nationals are going to focus on the best college bat available..."
...and therefore Mr. Oliver selects 1B Yonder Alonso out of the University of Miami (FL), a 6'2'', 210 lb, left-hand hitting, right-hand throwing native of Coral Gables, Florida, who attended Coral Gables High before signing with the U of Miami, where Alonso, at 20-years of age, in his second season, hit .376 in 61 games and 201 at bats, with 79 hits, 13 doubles, 1 triple, 18 HR's, 74 RBI's and 13 steals.
A yahoosports.com Exclusive article entitled, "MLB first-round projections", by MLB Editor for Yahoo! sports, Steve Henson, predicts that Yonder Alonso's going to go 13th overall to the St. Louis Cardinals; the San Francisco Giants will take Justin Smoak with the 5th pick, and Mr. Henson has Kyle Skipworth going to Florida with the 6th pick overall, leading the Nationals to select Shooter Hunt, the aforementioned right-hander out of Tulane University with the 9th pick of the draft.
Shooter Hunt is a Wykcoff, NJ native, who attended both the University of Virginia and Tulane, going (6-6) in 15 starts and 16 appearances in '07 for the Green Wave, with 99.2 innings on the mound, over which Hunt allowed 85 hits, 29 ER, 3 HR and 30 walks while striking out...104. 104?
In the article, Mr. Henson explains his projection of Shooter Hunt landing in DC:
"This would be a counterintuitive pick for Nats general manager Jim Bowden, who usually gravitates toward the best available athlete. But his team needs pitching, and the hard-throwing Hunt has been all but unhittable this season."
Baseball America's Jim Callis has the Nationals selecting RHP Tanner Scheppers.
MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo has the Nationals selecting C Kyle Skipworth.
ESPN.com's Keith Law has the Nationals selecting C Skipworth or RHP Aaron Crow.
The Nationals Farm Authority's Brian Oliver has the Nationals selecting 1B Yonder Alonso.
Yahoo! Sports.com's Steven Henson has the Nationals selecting RHP Shooter Hunt.
...Somewhere around the 3rd or 4th inning of the first game of tomorrow's day/night doubleheader, the Nationals should make their first selection, ending all the speculation...but til then, DC fans can dream of Skipworth and Flores sharing the catching duties in DC; of Crow coming up in September to pitch a few innings in relief; Yonder Alonso battling Chris Marrero for the right to replace DY and Nick Johnson at first in a few years, or Shooter Hunt joining Josh Smoker, Zech Zinicola, and Ross Detwiler on the Nationals' pitching staff a few years from today.