In spite of the fact that they traded two of their highest-ranked pitching prospects and their 2016 1st Round pick (right-handers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning, respectively) in the 3-for-1 deal with the Chicago White Sox that landed outfielder Adam Eaton, Mike Rizzo told reporters this weekend that the Washington Nationals would take the same approach they always have in the 2017 MLB Draft.
Rather than looking to replenish the supply of arms in the organization, the Nationals will take the best available players when their name is called tonight.
“We rarely go for organizational need,” Rizzo explained. “We try to get the best, most impactful player in each particular round, because our philosophy is if you have good impactful players, that can get you any kind of player that you want in the trade market. We’re going to identify what we feel gives us the best and most impact in the draft and just take it as each round comes.”
“We’re often aggressive in the draft,” he continued, “we take chances, and we’ll continue to be aggressive this year and take chances, and we’re looking forward to Draft day, it’s the best day of the year for me and for our staff, we really enjoy it and it’s the way you build your franchise and it’s an important and vital day in the yearly calendar.”
Washington’s top pick is the 25th overall selection (Pick Value: $2,530,400), then they have the 65th pick in the second round ($946,500) and the 105th in the third round ($522,300). They make the first two picks tonight.
What, if anything in particular, will the Nationals be looking for this time around?
“I think it’s a deep crop this year,” Rizzo said on Friday. “We feel it’s a very pitching orientated draft. College bats are kind of at a minimum, so if you want one of those you have to reach up and get it. We see a big velocity draft with a lot of pitchers both college and high school split equally. Some quality left-handed pitching prospects, which would be something that would be attractive to a lot of teams, but we see pitching as the surplus in the draft, and it’s a deep draft this year.”
A year’s worth of work pays off over the next three days. The name on top of their draft board when their picks come up will likely get selected.
The process in the draft room, Rizzo said, was basically “controlled chaos”.
“There’s months and months of work that get encapsulated into three days,” he said, “and we go by the premise that Round 40 is as important as Round 1, because there are major leaguers throughout the draft.
“A lot of focus is made on the first round picks, the top couple of round picks, but we’ve had great success not only in the first round picks, but throughout the draft and it’s a credit to Kris Kline and the staff that he’s put together on what they can do and what they can find late in the draft.”
Baseball America’s latest Mock Draft has the Nationals selecting left-handed pitcher Seth Romero, who was dismissed from the University of Houston after he posted a 3.51 ERA, 20 walks, 84 Ks, and a .256 BAA in 10 games (seven starts) and 48 2⁄3 IP this season.
MLB.com’s Jim Callis matched the Nationals up with South Carolina right-hander Clarke Schmidt (who underwent Tommy John in May) in his latest mock draft, though he noted in his write-up that, “... other teams consider the Nationals the favorite to take former Houston left-hander Seth Romero, a top-10 talent who got suspended and then dismissed by the Cougars.”
Keith Law’s latest mock draft matches the Nationals with Seth Romero as well, though it’s INSIDER ONLY.
Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office will have to wait and react to what 24 other teams do before they have to make their top pick.
Check back here for mock draft updates, projections, and post-second-round quotes from the Nats’ GM, Kline and others, who will be talking to reporters after the Nats make their second round pick tonight...