In his senior year at Merritt Island High School in Merritt Island, FL, Washington Nationals’ 2018 1st Round pick Mason Denaburg went (5-1) with a 1.27 ERA in eight outings and 35 1⁄3 innings pitched, striking out 73 batters and walking only ten.
Denaburg, 19, dealt with biceps tendinitis before the draft, however, though it didn’t stop the Nationals from picking the right-hander, who was selected 27th overall.
“It’s not an injury that for us was going to scare us off,” Assistant General Manager & Vice President, Scouting Operations Kris Kline told reporters on the night of the 2018 Draft.
“Mason missed some time with some bicep tendinitis,” Kline continued. “I ended up going there and seeing him, well, actually Alan Marr, our area scout there, saw a three-inning simulated game after he came back and it was really good, he didn’t show any signs of fatigue or any signs of an injury and then I ran in there in a playoff game and he looked really good.”
“I got back on the mound after the injury and I pitched in the last three games of the year and then I kind of chilled out for a little bit, but I’m feeling good now,” Denaburg said after he signed for an above slot $3M bonus. The assigned value for his spot was $2,472,700.
“Before they drafted him we kind of had a good bearing on what his financial values were, what the team’s were,” Denaburg’s agent, Scott Boras, explained.
“We had an alignment on that and so it was a very smooth transition to what both sides felt was a common value point for Mason.”
It’s not just the Nationals, or Boras, who were impressed with Denaburg, who, Boras said, is a gifted athlete,” who, “... has the velocity.”
“But the real thing is he has a feel to pitch,” Boras added.
“He has very repeatable delivery, very durable, and has been kind of hidden in the baseball markets,” Boras said, because Denaburg, “... didn’t do a lot of the showcases and things, but the scouting industry kind of caught on to him late in his junior year.”
“He’s been up to 97 mph in the past with his fastball,” MLB.com’s Pipeline scouts noted in their write-up on the pitcher, who’s ranked as the top pitching prospect in the Nationals’ organization on their list.
“Sitting around 94, throwing it with good life down in the zone,” the scouting report goes on.
“When Denaburg stays on top of it, his power breaking ball has nasty break and finish to it, and he shows feel for a solid changeup as well.”
Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer reportedly, according to MASN’s Dan Kolko, also liked what he saw from Denaburg when GM Mike Rizzo asked for the three-time Cy Young award winner’s opinion on some of the prospects Washington was considering taking with their top pick.
Denaburg got to meet Scherzer when the Nationals had their new prospect visit the nation’s capital to sign his new deal in July.
“I met Max actually downstairs [in Nationals Park],” Denaburg said, “and I’ve always loved watching him pitch, and I always thought that like, not our stuff, but our body and our windup and stuff like that was kind of similar, so it was cool to see him and hear from him.”
While MLB.com’s Pipeline scouts project a 2022 debut for Denaburg, Kline said on the night of the draft that there was a high ceiling for him if he pans out and is able to meet the Nats’ projections/expectations.
“Denaburg profiled as a — if he slid into LSU or one of the big programs of the country he slides into the Friday night role,” Kline said, “... and so we see him as a potential frontline starter in the big leagues.”
The Nats kept their prospect on a throwing program instead of sending him out to one of the minor league affiliates this summer, but he did go to the Instructional League, and he has impressed, according to Director of Player Development Mark Scialabba.
“Mason has made a great first impression here in camp,” Scialabba told MLB.com’s Mike Rosenbaum.
”He threw a sim game the other day and is scheduled to pitch in games later this week. He’s strong, healthy and getting his feet wet. He’s been a sponge here so far ... getting to slowly build a foundation for his future.”