The Washington Nationals finish up a three-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies in Nationals Park with a 4:05 pm EDT start on Thursday. By the time the game wraps up, Nationals' General Manager Mike Rizzo, his scouts and front office staff will be hard at work on making their top two picks in the 2014 Draft.
The Nationals' 1st Round pick is 18th overall and on the first day of the Draft they also have the 57th overall pick in the second round. Their third pick is the 93rd overall pick in the 3rd Round, which will take place on Friday.
As noted in a Baseball America article in April on the recommended slot bonuses for this year's draft picks, under the latest rules agreed upon in the CBA, teams can exceed the recommended slot bonuses for each pick, and even, "... go over their allotment," though, "[g]oing over by 0-5 percent leads to a 75 percent tax on the overage, [and] anything [over] 5 percent starts triggering loss of draft picks."
In Baseball America's John Manuel's latest Mock Draft (No.4), he once again matches the Nationals up with 18-year-old Clovis High School shortstop Jacob Gatewood at no.18 overall for the third time in four Mock Drafts, writing that the, "... talk hasn’t changed with Washington: bats preferred, especially college," though, "[a] late playoff surge may help Fresno prep shortstop Jacob Gatewood remain in their mix."
Nationals 2014 MLB Mock Drafts
ESPN.com's Keith Law has the Nationals taking UNLV right-hander Erick Fedde in each of the two Mock Drafts he's published in the leadup to the 2014 MLB Draft, matching them up with the right-hander who underwent Tommy John surgery this season.
In the latest Mock, he writes that the Nationals would be happy to select Evansville Purple Aces' lefty Kyle Freeland if he falls that far or East Carolina Pirates' right-hander Jeff Hoffman if he's still available.
In MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo's latest Mock Draft, published last Friday, Hoffman is available for the Nationals at no.18 and Mayo has the Nationals taking the one-time potential top selection who underwent Tommy John surgery this season:
"Where Hoffman lands could come down to financials. If he believes he should get a bonus that matches his former top-of-the-Draft status, before he had Tommy John elbow surgery, the field of suitors could shrink."
In another Mock Draft published by MLB.com's Jim Callis today, Hoffman's off the board at no.11, going to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Callis writes that the Nationals' history of gambling and drafting injured players like Lucas Giolito at no.16 overall in 2012, "... is paying off, leading to speculation the Nationals could buy low on Hoffman or Fedde," though he suggests that, "...they seem to be concentrating more on college bats: [Michael] Conforto, [Kyle] Schwarber, [Casey] Gillaspie and NCAA Division I home run leader A.J. Reed, a Kentucky first baseman."
One name for the draft I've heard connected to the Nats: Erick Fedde, a 6-4 right-handed pitcher from UNLV who underwent Tommy John.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) May 31, 2014
Callis has the Nationals taking Gillaspie at no.18 in his latest Mock Draft. Gillaspie is a 21-year-old first baseman for the Wichita State Shockers who put up a .389/.520/.682 line with 15 doubles and 15 home runs in 59 games this season.
Gillaspie was Baseball America's pick for the Nationals in the one of their four Mock Drafts that didn't have the Nats taking Gatewood.
In three days, the speculation ends and the Nationals make their top two picks of the 2014 Draft.