With their top pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, No. 27 overall, the Washington Nationals selected pitcher Mason Denaburg, a 6’ 3’’, 190-pound righty, who went (5-1) with a 1.27 ERA in 35 1⁄3 innings over eight starts during his senior season at Merritt Island High School in Florida, striking out 73 batters and walking just ten.
“We are very excited to select Mason with our first pick of the 2018 Draft,” Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Ops Kris Kline said in a press release on the selection Monday night. “He is a strong, athletic kid with very clean arm action and three Major League quality pitches. He’s a competitive, two-sport athlete who we saw a lot throughout his high school career.”
Denaburg dealt with biceps tendinitis this season, but was able to get back on the mound and impress scouts.
Having seen him throughout his high school career, however, as Kline mentioned, the Nats were comfortable making the selection.
“It’s not an injury that for us was going to scare us off,” Kline said in a conference call on the Nationals’ top two selections on Day 1 of the Draft.
Mason Denaburg ... COME ON DOWN! #MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/cLRMWYi86G— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 5, 2018
“Mason missed some time with some bicep tendinitis. 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.”
“He had another start after that where he was up to 94,” Kline continued, “so he did miss a little time in-between there, but nothing that was alarming to us, and checked out with the doc and so he gave him a clean bill of health and I feel like we got a healthy guy and a potential frontline starter.”
MLB.com’s scouting report on Denaburg, who was ranked No. 24 overall on their list of the Top 200 prospects for this year’s draft, noted that the right-hander threw a fastball that’s been up to, “97 mph in the past ... sitting around 94,” which has, “... good life down in the zone.”
Get to know #Nats first-round pick, RHP Mason Denaburg... pic.twitter.com/xwz3CFXeAn— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 5, 2018
“When he stays on top of it,” the report noted, “his power breaking ball has nasty break and finish to it, and he shows feel for a solid changeup as well.”
Kline said the Nationals liked his stuff and his overall athleticism.
“He was a two-sport athlete in high school,” Kline explained. “Really good athlete. Very, very good makeup kid, tremendous competitor, good delivery, clean action, has that starter look about him. Big fastball, he’ll show you an above average breaking ball and an above average changeup, and he’s a good-looking kid, one of the guys that we ID’d early and I think we’re very fortunate that he slid as far as he did.”