Kris Kline, the Washington Nationals’ Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Operations talked to reporters after the Nats selected high school pitcher Mason Denaburg with the 27th overall selection of the 2018 Draft last June, about how the Nats’ front office evaluates high school versus college players before they make their picks.
“We evaluate them the same,” Kline said, “on ability. Taking a high school kid whether it’s a pitcher or hitter, obviously you want a kid that’s mature beyond his years and you have a comfort-level that he can go out into pro ball as a young man and compete and make those adjustments.”
“Nothing really changes,” he added.
“When you’re talking about taking a high school kid, either a position player or a hitter, obviously signability comes into play, and if they’re really, really talented, they’re probably looking for first-round money, and if the industry or if we don’t see them as that then they go to school and we get to see them in three years and see where they are, but that’s the only difference I would see.”
Looking at this year’s draft class, with the Nationals set to pick 17th overall, with their first and only pick on Day 1 of the 2019 MLB Draft, Kline told MASN’s Dan Kolko on Sunday’s pregame show that as always they would take the best available player on the board after the first 16 teams make their selections.
“It’s always the best player available,” Kline said. “In a perfect world you want to take — you know, I mean, for me college pitching is always a priority, because that’s what wins championships in the big leagues, front-line pitching, if that’s available. Those are the guys that you covet.
“You build a championship team through the middle with catching, shortstops, center fielder, front-line pitching, but those guys are hard to find, they’re not always there, and in this particular draft, there’s not a lot of pitching. You have a couple, two or three very talented high school pitchers, you have a couple — just a handful of college pitchers, and it kind of goes in cycles. Sometimes those years are there for you, sometimes they’re not, this year it’s still a very good draft, but it’s mostly position players, a combination of college guys and high school guys.”
For the last week or so, the Nationals’ brass, the scouts, crosscheckers, and everyone else involved in the Draft, has been holed up in the press room where Davey Martinez normally does his pre and post game interviews, going over all the work they’ve done to prepare for tonight in the makeshift command center.
“We have everybody in the room, all the crosscheckers, we have a few area scouts that have seen a lot of players, just trying to put the final touches on really focusing on the top 17. We pick 17th in the draft, and we’re trying to finalize the top 17,” Kline explained.
“Mike Rizzo is in there with us too, you know this is like his Super Bowl, so he’s excited and we’ll go over that group several times and put it together to the best of our abilities. And then we’ll put a Top 100 players together, ranked what we think collectively as a group how they line up, and then there’s another group that we’ll finish up with ranked by positions and that will take us all the way through 40 rounds.”