In order to make himself eligible for selection in the 2013 MLB Draft a year earlier than he would have been otherwise, Leedey, Oklahoma-born infielder Drew Ward sped up the process of graduating from high school. "'I've been talking to some scouts and stuff," Ward told NewsOK writers Ed Godfrey, Scott Wright and Jacob Unruh in October of 2012, before correcting himself. "Well, my adviser has. They told me that I'm ready to do that. We kind of discussed it and decided to do it last year."
The decision paid off for Ward when the Washington Nationals took the prep school shortstop in the 3rd Round with the 105th overall pick in last June's Draft. "Ward hit .507 (67-for-131) with 9 HR, 39 RBI and 57 BB in 32 games for Leedey (OK) High School," the Nats' press release on the selection noted. "You're talking about potential big-time power," MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo said on MLB.com's Draft broadcast. "Some teams were having a hard time putting an exact figure on that big-time power because you didn't see him against good competition."
The Nationals, however, and now-former Assistant GM Roy Clark liked what they saw from Ward.
"We've been tracking [Ward] since last summer," Clark told reporters after making Ward their second pick of the draft after they took right-hander Jake Johansen 68th overall. "Once we heard that he might be coming out early. We saw him a bunch, and of course we tracked him this year. He's from a small town, little small town, but he played for a high profile team in summer ball, so we got a lot of looks on him, but we knew that he might be coming out early."
Though he played short in high school, the Nationals were clear from the start that they saw the 6'4'', 210 lb, left-handed hitting infielder as a third baseman. "Drew's going to move from short to third base," then-Scouting Director Kris Kline, who's since been promoted to Assistant General Manager and VP of Scouting Operations, told reporters this past June. "And he's got a plus arm, he's got good action. Good hands. He's not a runner, but he's a left-handed bat with a really good advanced approach. And he's got power from the left side, so he definitely profiles as a corner-type player."
The Nationals signed Ward, who had a commitment to Oklahoma University for $850K, way over the recommended bonus for the slot, which was $491,200 according to MLB.com.
Ward, who turned 19 on November 25th, started his pro career in the Gulf Coast League where he played third base for the 39-9 GCL champion Nationals, putting up a .292/.402/.387 line with 13 doubles, one home run, 25 walks and 44 Ks in 49 games and 199 plate appearances. He also put up a .338/.430/.500 line with runners in scoring position.
Currently ranked 20th on MLB.com's list of the Nationals' top prospects, Ward reportedly, "...impressed scouts and opposing managers," who saw him play in the Gulf Coast League according to Baseball America's J.J. Cooper.
"We took three, what we consider, big-time power bats," Roy Clark told reporters last summer in discussing the last Nats' Draft class he had a hand in selecting, "and of course [Ward] is one of them." Ward was projected to go in the 1st Round in 2014 if he hadn't sped up the process to make himself eligible in 2013. Did the Nationals land a gem in the 3rd Round last June?
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