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Washington Nationals select three in MLB Draft's first night

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The Washington Nationals selected three players in the first two rounds of the MLB Draft on Thursday night. With the 28th overall pick they selected SS/3B Carter Kieboom out of Walton (GA) High School, followed that selection with collegiate right-handed pitcher Dane Dunning out of the University of Florida with the 29th overall selection, and finished with the No. 58 overall selection, 3B Sheldon Neuse out of the University of Oklahoma.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals selected three players in the first two rounds of the MLB Draft on Thursday night. With the 28th overall pick they selected SS/3B Carter Kieboom out of Walton (GA) High School, followed that selection with collegiate right-handed pitcher Dane Dunning out of the University of Florida with the 29th overall selection, and finished with the No. 58 overall selection, 3B Sheldon Neuse out of the University of Oklahoma.

Carter Kieboom

From the Nats press release:

Kieboom, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound infielder is considered one of the best prep hitters in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft after hitting .366 (37-for-101) with nine doubles, two triples, five home runs, 37 RBI, 24 walks, seven stolen bases and 39 runs scored for Walton High School in Marietta, Ga. He posted a .504 on-base percentage and a .644 slugging percentage during his senior season.

The younger brother of Nationals catcher Spencer Kieboom, Carter has collected numerous prep All-America honors, including being named a 2016 Rawlings/Perfect Game preseason first-team All-American, 2016 Louisville Slugger first-team preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball and the 2015 Under Armour All-American Game MVP. He is rated by Perfect Game as the fifth-best high school prospect coming out of the talent-rich state of Georgia for the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.

A shortstop in high school, Kieboom – who signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball at Clemson (SC) University – also saw time on the mound for Walton as an ambidextrous pitcher.

Kieboom led Walton High School to its first state title in 2016, as the school claimed the Georgia Class 6A championship. In addition to Spencer, Carter’s other older brother, Trevor, just completed his junior season at the University of Georgia and is draft-eligible this year.

From MLB.com's draft preview:

Kieboom is the youngest of three baseball-playing brothers, following Spencer (a catcher in the Nationals system) and Trevor (a third baseman at Georgia). Carter is the best hitter in the family -- and one of the best prep hitters in the 2016 Draft.

He finished his senior season in style, doubling off likely first-rounder Joshua Lowe and coming around to score the winning run in a walkoff victory that gave Walton High (Marietta) the Georgia 6-A state championship. Thanks to excellent hand-eye coordination and a mature approach, Kieboom barrels balls repeatedly.

He had the best at-bats of anyone at the Under Armour All-America Game in July, including an opposite-field single against a 98-mph fastball from Riley Pint, the top-rated high school right-hander. Factor in Kieboom's quality bat speed and the loft in his right-handed swing, and he should have at least average power once he fills out.

A shortstop in high school, Kieboom has the actions, soft hands and solid arm strength to get the job done at third base in pro ball, and he has some experience behind the plate. He's also capable of switch-pitching, not that the mound will be part of his future at the next level. Part of a Walton program that has produced six big leaguers, most notably Billy Burns, Kieboom has committed to Clemson.

Dane Dunning

From the Nats press release:

A 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior, Dunning is 5-3 with two saves and a 2.50 ERA (19 ER/68.1 IP) in 29 games (five starts) for the University of Florida. Dunning has struck out 78 batters and walked just 11 batters to this point in the 2016 season. Dunning will continue to pitch for the top-seeded Florida Gators as they advance to the Super Regional Round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

A native of Fleming Island, Fla., Dunning attended Clay High School in Green Cove Springs, Fla. He was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 34th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, but chose to attend the University of Florida. He was named to the Rawlings/Perfect Game preseason second-team Florida All-Region prior to his senior year. As a senior at Clay, he earned all-state honors in Class 5A and was the school’s Athlete of the Year after going 5-2 with a 1.27 ERA.

From MLB.com's draft preview:

The Florida Gators have a very deep pitching staff, making it tough for even quality arms to get regular innings. Such has been the case for Dunning, who has the stuff to start, but because he has more value for the team as a reliever, hasn't been a regular part of the rotation in 2016. Dunning has gotten some starts on Tuesdays, but because of him being needed to relieve on weekends, it's been sporadic.

But many scouts feel he has the stuff to be in a rotation at the next level. He has a plus fastball, up to 95 mph, sitting 92-93 mph and with outstanding movement. He has a very good feel for his changeup as well. His breaking ball is fringy, but shows glimpses of being an average offering.Dunning's arm is so quick that he sometimes struggles with keeping the ball down in the zone, an issue most feel is correctable.

Dunning reminds some of another talented Gators arm who had trouble finding rotation innings in college: Anthony DeSclafani. Dunning has the chance to be similar, a relatively quick to the big leagues back-end starting pitcher.

Sheldon Neuse

From the Nats' press release:

A 6-foot, 195-pound junior, Neuse hit .369 (73-for-198) with 15 doubles, five triples, 10 home runs, 48 RBI, 39 walks, 12 stolen bases and 42 runs scored in 55 games for the University of Oklahoma. He led the Big 12 Conference in slugging percentage (.646), tied for the conference lead in triples (5) and ranked among league leaders in total bases (T2nd, 128), on-base percentage (4th, .465), home runs (T4th, 10), walks (T4th, 39), batting average (5th, .369), RBI (7th, 48) and stolen bases (T8th, 12).

For his efforts, Neuse was named first-team All-Big 12, a Louisville Slugger second team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and is a semifinalist for the National College Baseball Writers Association Dick Howser Trophy and USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award, awarded annually to the top collegiate player and top amateur player, respectively. He is also a semifinalist for the John Olerud Award, awarded to the top two-way player in college baseball and the Brooks Wallace Award, given to the top shortstop in college baseball.

On the mound, Neuse went 4-1 with five saves and a 1.40 ERA (3 ER/19.1 IP) in a career-high 14 appearances out of Oklahoma’s bullpen. His five saves were tied for seventh in the Big 12.

The 2014 Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Neuse was one of the top offensive players in the Big 12 the last three seasons, earning three consecutive unanimous first-team All-Big 12 selections while becoming the 40th player in Oklahoma’s program history to score at least 100 runs and record at least 100 RBI in his career. He is one of just 10 players in Big 12 history to be selected to the first team All-Big 12 three times and just the second player to be unanimously selected three times.

In three collegiate seasons, Neuse hit .313 with 42 doubles, 15 triples, 23 home runs, 138 RBI, 90 walks, 29 stolen bases and 11 runs scored in 174 games (all starts). He posted a .525 slugging percentage and a .390 on-base percentage. On the mound, he went 6-2 with seven saves and a 1.60 ERA (7 ER/39.1 IP) and 36 strikeouts in 29 appearances out of the bullpen.

Neuse is a native of Fort Worth, Tex., and attended Keller Fossil Ridge High School where he was District MVP as a junior and a senior and hit 30 home runs during his high school career. He was originally selected by the Texas Rangers in the 38th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

From MLB.com's draft preview:

Neuse was one of the better two-way talents in the 2013 Draft, but he slid all the way to the 38th round because of his strong commitment to Oklahoma. After two solid if unspectacular seasons as a shortstop and reliever for the Sooners and a similar turn in the Cape Cod League last summer, he entered this season as a top-five-rounds candidate.

This spring, he has been the one reliable performer on a disappointing Oklahoma club and has pushed himself into second-round consideration. Scouts long have admired Neuse's right-handed swing, and he upped his production this year by improving his approach and plate discipline. He's keeping his bat in the hitting zone longer and staying on pitches better, allowing him to tap into what should be average power. An average runner, he shows good instincts on the bases and in the field.

While Neuse is a sure-handed defender who can make the routine play at shortstop, he lacks the quickness to play the middle infield and projects as a third baseman in pro ball. Some clubs are intrigued by the idea of turning him into a catcher. He has the arm for either spot, having been clocked up to 94 mph (and also flashing a promising slider) on the mound.