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Before he was promoted to his current position as the Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Scouting Operations with the Washington Nationals, Kris Kline was the Nats' Scouting Director when they made Dallas Baptist University right-hander Jake Johansen their top pick of the 2013 Draft, selecting the 6'6', 216 lb pitcher with the 68th overall pick in the second round.
Johansen, then 22, was coming off a (7-6) campaign with the Dallas Baptist Patriots which saw the Allen, Texas-born pitcher put up a 5.40 ERA, 26 walks (2.65 BB/9) and 75 Ks (7.64 K/9) in 15 games and 88 ⅓ innings pitched.
Kline heaped praise on Johansen, whose numbers weren't particularly impressive.
"You've got a guy that's 94 [mph] that's touching triple digits with his fastball," Kline told reporters who asked for a scouting report after the selection.
"I saw him twice this year. He maintains his velocity. The sixth inning he's still 96-98. He's got a curve ball, slider and a changeup. The slider is an out-pitch now. It's a hard cutter that he'll throw 88-90 and will blend into a slider.
"The curve ball is at times an above-average pitch and it's a 75-78 mph power downer curve ball. It's inconsistent as is the slider. This guy is -- I feel -- at 22 years old is just scratching the surface and a late-bloomer. If we look at him from his high school days until last year and to this year, it's a very positive, encouraging change and progression to where he is today."
Then-Nats' Assistant GM Roy Clark recounted how the Nationals brought Johansen to the nation's capital before the draft so that they could get a good look at the pitcher they were thinking about drafting.
"We had our whole staff there to watch him," Clark said.
"To analyze him to see if there was something we could pick up. Because we know he doesn't have good numbers. If he had good numbers, he wouldn't have gotten out of the top ten. But our guys feel like there are a couple of things that are easy fixes and we feel like when we get him signed and we turn this kid over to the best player development system in baseball -- in our opinion -- we think we've got a gem."
"I'm very, very excited with the positive things that I've heard about the player development through the Nationals," Johansen said after signing for an $820K bonus.
"I have no doubt that I'm very confident I will reach that potential."
Unlike Lucas Giolito in 2012 and Erick Fedde in 2014, Johansen wasn't a potential top pick, who fell to the Nationals because of injury. He was ranked 180th on Baseball America's list of the Top 250 prospects in the leadup to the 2013 Draft.
"This is what we seek when we go out to the ballpark every day," Kline said in discussing the search the Nationals conducted as they traveled the country to watch potential draft picks.
"He's a 6'6'', 235 lb right-handed pitcher. If you put him next to [2012 1st Round pick Lucas] Giolito, you have some pretty good-looking bookends."
Giolito and Johansen were part of the Hagerstown Suns' rotation this season.
Giolito, who underwent Tommy John surgery after he was drafted, put together an impressive first full pro season which earned him recognition as the Nationals' Minor League Pitcher of the Year and the South Atlantic League's (Low-A) Most Outstanding Pitcher and Most Outstanding Prospect.
The 20-year-old right-hander was (10-2) in 20 starts for the Hagerstown Suns with a 2.20 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 28 walks (2.57 BB/9) and 110 Ks (10.10 K/9) in 98 IP.
Johansen was (5-6) with a 5.19 ERA, a 4.05 FIP, 55 walks (4.92 BB/9) and 89 Ks (7.96 K/9) in 29 games, 18 starts and 100 ⅔ IP. While the numbers didn't stand out, he did, however, impress his rotation mate.
"Jake's a great pitcher," Giolito told MASN's Byron Kerr when the righty was in the nation's capital to be honored as the Nats' Minor League POY. "He's got a big frame on him and he's able to come down the hill similar to how I do."
"The only difference is Jake throws the ball so heavy it's like he's throwing a bowling ball into the catcher's mitt."
That sounds like a pitcher Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo would like.