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2014 MLB Draft: Nats' Asst GM Kris Kline on Nationals' Draft picks Andrew Suarez, Jakson Reetz + more

After the Washington Nationals wrapped up the second day of the 2014 MLB Draft on Friday, Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Operations Kris Kline talked to reporters about the Nationals' selections including Andrew Suarez, Jakson Reetz and more...

Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo (right) and Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Operations Kris Kline (left)
Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo (right) and Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Operations Kris Kline (left)
Photo © and courtesy of @Nationals

The Washington Nationals selected eight players on the second day of the 2014 MLB Draft after taking UNLV right-hander Erick Fedde and University of Miami lefty Andrew Suarez in the first and second rounds on Thursday night.

After the Nationals were done making their selections on Day Two, Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Operations Kris Kline and National and Midwest crosschecker Jimmy Gonzales talked to reporters about some of the picks specifically and the Nats' approach to the Draft in general.

"We tried to take the best player available. We got [Andrew] Suarez from the University of Miami who we love. Big lefty. Physical kid. Up to 97 with a plus slider and a plus changeup..." -Kris Kline talking Nats' 2014 Draft picks

What follows are the Nats' notes on each pick from the Nationals' press release and comments from Kline and Gonzales where relevant.

Summing up the Nats' approach to the draft, Kline said there really wasn't an overriding philosophy as far as the players the Nationals selected.

"Not really a philosophy," he explained. "We tried to take the best player available. We got Suarez from the University of Miami who we love. Big lefty. Physical kid. Up to 97 with a plus slider and a plus changeup that commands his stuff very well.

"After that we took some pitching. Some seniors that we felt were going to be big leaguers in some capacity, were going to play in the big leagues on some level otherwise we would not have considered or taken them in those spots."

"We like high school players. We're just trying to take the best players available. If you look at our drafts over the history, we focused on the college players, but we're not afraid of the high school kids..." -Kris Kline on college vs high school prospects

The former Nats' scouting director, who was promoted to Asst. GM and VP of Scouting Operations last November, said that in spite of the fact that they've drafted heavily from the college ranks over the last few seasons, the Nats are not averse to drafting high school talent.

"We like high school players," Kline said. "We're just trying to take the best players available. If you look at our drafts over the history, we focused on the college players, but we're not afraid of the high school kids. The high school kid, in our mind, has to profile as a college guy. And I mean that physically and mentally is he capable of going out and playing and handling it every day?

"And if a high school player was at LSU or Texas or Arizona State or one of these big schools in the country, where would he fit? Could he fit in and be a three-or-four hitter at that school as a freshman? Could he be the Friday or Saturday or Sunday guy as a freshman? Those are things that we look for and those are the high school players that we focus on. If they don't fit that criteria, we're going to take a college player."

After taking college starters with their first and second round picks, the Nationals went for a high school catcher out of Nebraska with their third round pick...

• 3rd Round (93rd overall): Jakson Reetz – Catcher – Norris (NE) High School / Firth, NE

Press Release: At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Reetz is known as a hard-nosed competitor and a tremendous athlete behind the plate. He was named the 2013-14 Gatorade Nebraska Baseball Player of the Year after hitting .487 with eight home runs, 37 RBI and 37 runs scored in 2014. Reetz was rated by Baseball America as the No. 62 overall draft prospect (No. 1 in Nebraska) in this year’s draft class. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Nebraska. When he inked with the Cornhuskers, he was rated the No. 28 overall recruit in the country, and was named a 2013 Perfect Game First-Team Underclass All-American.

Kris Kline: "Very excited. This is a high school catcher that we love. Power bat. He's got a really good feel to hit. Catching skills are probably along the lines, maybe a tick better than Derek Norris at the same time. So we feel that we have the right people to help him progress in that area. I think that you're looking at a offensive catcher at the big league level down the road."

Kline (asked generally about any surprises in draft): "Surprises no, we were very excited to get the catcher, Reetz, that's for sure."

• Get to know Jakson Reetz (via StudentSports):

• 4th Round (124th overall: Robert Dickey – Right Handed Pitcher – Blinn (TX) Junior College / Austin, TX

Press Release: Dickey helped lead Blinn Junior College to its first Junior College World Series since 1992, going 9-4 with a 2.74 ERA (26 ER/85.1 IP) in 14 starts for the Buccaneers. He struck out 100 batters while walking just 44. Entering the season, he was rated by Perfect Game USA as the No. 1 overall junior college prospect in the nation. He’s noted for strong makeup and mound presence. He signed a National Letter of Intent with Texas State University.

Jimmy Gonzales: "He's a strong right-handed pitcher. Great body. Great character kid. Solid breaking ball. We feel he is going to be a starter and really expressed a lot of interest in wanting to pitch for us."

Kris Kline on Dickey: "We feel confident that we're going to sign him. I think we're going to get that done. The kid's very excited."

• 5th Round (154th overall): Drew Van Orden – Right Handed Pitcher – Duke (NC) University / Manhattan Beach, CA

Press Release: At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Van Orden leans on his fastball and slider command to get batters out. He ranked 6th in the Atlantic Coast Conference in strikeouts (91) and paced the Blue Devil staff in innings pitched (87.1), strikeouts and games started (14). Van Orden went 6-5 with a 3.19 ERA (34 ER/87.1 IP) while allowing opposing hitters to post a .219 average against him in 15 games/14 starts during his senior season. He was selected to the ACC All-Tournament Team after tossing his first career shutout in Duke’s 6-0 win over Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament.

• 6th Round (184th overall): Austen Williams – Right Handed Pitcher – Texas State University / Fort Worth, TX

Press Release: Williams was named All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team after finishing third in the conference in strikeouts (96) and tied for third in wins (8). Standing 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Williams was 8-3 with a 3.65 ERA (40 ER/98.2 IP) in 15 starts for the Bobcats. He struck out 96 batters and hitters posted a .239 batting average against him.

• 7th Round (214th overall): Dale (D.K.) Carey – Center Fielder – University of Miami (FL) / Marietta, GA

Press Release: Carey is seen as a plus defender and is considered one of the best pure athletes in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. He stands 6-foot-2, weighs 207 pounds, and ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in runs scored (53), as well as ranking fourth in hits (75). On the season, he led the Hurricanes in hitting .305 (75-for-246) and doubles (16) while clubbing seven home runs, 29 RBI and 16 stolen bases. Carey was named Second-Team All-ACC following the 2014 season.

Kris Kline: "I think Dale was a kid we all felt when he was really young was going to be a really, really good player. He struggled throughout the course of his college career a little bit, but as of this year, one thing we noticed was how he has simplified his approach. He's calmed things down and slowed the game down offensively. He's always been a really good defender. He throws well, he runs well, but as far as the bat goes, it was encouraging to see him progress to the point to do what we feel like he's capable of doing. And we're actually really excited about having him part of our system. He's got power, so you're looking at a guy that I think at the low end is an extra player at the big league level but potentially could be an everyday outfielder."

• 8th Round (244th overall): Jeff Gardner – Left Fielder – University of Louisville / Louisville, KY

Press Release: A three-time All-Conference selection (Big East/American Athletic Conference) throughout his career, Gardner was named the 2014 AAC Player of the Year after hitting .326 with 20 doubles, nine home runs and leading the league with 67 RBI and a .551 slugging percentage. He was a two-time AAC Player of the Week and was recently named a Collegiate Baseball Louisville Slugger Second Team All-American.

• 9th Round (274th overall) Austin Byler – First Baseman – University of Nevada-Reno / Peoria, AZ

Press Release: Byler, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound first baseman, led the Mountain West Conference and ranked seventh in NCAA Division 1 with 14 home runs. He also led the MWC in slugging percentage (.624) and total bases (138), while ranking fourth in on-base percentage (.420), runs scored (51) and fifth in RBI (47). Byler was a First Team All-Mountain West selection and a two-time MWC Player of the Week. He hit .326 with 14 doubles, five triples, 14 home runs, 47 RBI and 51 runs scored in 57 games this season.

Kris Kline (asked if there were any standouts or surprises among selections): "I wouldn't say a steal, we got some left-handed power bats that we like, guys that have a feel to hit in Gardner and Byler."

• 10th Round (304th overall): Matt Page – Left Fielder – Oklahoma Baptist University / Redwood City, CA

Press Release: Page was a two-time NAIA First-Team All-American, two-time Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Year as well as the 2013 NAIA Player of the Year. Standing 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Page hit .381 with 26 doubles, six triples, 11 home runs, 84 RBI and 78 runs scored in 64 games played in 2014. His 26 doubles were second-most in NAIA, while his 84 RBI were good for third.

• BONUS COVERAGE: The Nationals made University of Miami lefty Andrew Suarez their second round selection after Kris Kline and Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo spoke to reporters on Thursday night following the first round of the Draft.

Since they didn't talk about drafting Suarez, we asked Kline for his thoughts on the lefty, who had labrum surgery in 2012, but returned to the mound for the 2013 and '14 campaigns with the Hurricanes:

Press Release: "The Washington Nationals today selected collegiate left-handed pitcher Andrew Suarez (University of Miami) in the second round (57th-overall) in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo and Assistant General Manager & Vice President of Scouting Operations Kris Kline made the joint announcement.

"The 6-foot-2, 205-pound southpaw went 6-3 with a 2.95 ERA (36 ER/109.2 IP) in 16 starts for the University of Miami in 2014. He struck out 87 while walking just 15 batters. His 109.2 innings led the Hurricanes’ pitching staff and were second-most in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while his 87 strikeouts were good for eighth in the league.

"A native of Miami, Fla., Suarez attended Christopher Columbus High School where he was named All-Dade County First-Team and an AFLAC All-American. He was previously selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the ninth round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft."

Asked about previous comments by Nats' GM Mike Rizzo about being more comfortable with elbow injuries than shoulder injuries, Kris Kline explained why the Nationals were comfortable taking Suarez with the Nationals' second round pick.

The procedure to repair the labrum, he said, was a, "... minor surgery when he was a freshman in college."

"He has not missed any time since then," Kline continued, "so that gives us comfort level and our doctors comfort level in taking the player."

"The velocity has been there," he said.

"The secondary stuff is there. Everything is crisp. He throws strikes.

"Tremendous competitor. He had a really good year this year. We're never going to take a hurt guy, whether it's a guy like [Erick] Fedde, or somebody that's going to require surgery unless we feel that he can get to the big leagues quick. Suarez fits that criteria. And he's healthy right now. 100%."

As for a projection for where Suarez might end up? "Middle of the rotation starter," Kline said.