Washington Nationals’ Assistant General Manager and Vice President, Scouting Operations, Kris Kline, talked shortly after the club drafted Mason Denaburg, (a 6’3’’, 190-pound right-hander, 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 10), with the 27th overall pick in 2018’s MLB Draft, about what the team got in the pitcher they chose with their top pick that year.
“Very, very good makeup kid, tremendous competitor, good delivery, clean action, has that starter look about him,” Kline told reporters on the night of the 2018 Draft.
“Big fastball,” Kline continued when asked for a scouting report.
“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.”
Denaburg dealt with biceps tendonitis that year, which led to him being available with the 27th pick, but Kline said the club wasn’t concerned about the issue.
“It’s not an injury that for us was going to scare us off,” Kline said. “Mason missed some time with some biceps tendonitis. 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.”
“The last few months were good,” Denaburg told reporters after signing in July of 2018 for a well-above slot $3M signing bonus ($2.4727M was the recommended bonus for his slot).
“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,” he said.
Denaburg made his pro debut in 2019, with seven appearances, four of them starts, for the Gulf Coast Nationals, giving up 23 hits and 22 runs (17 ER) in 20 1⁄3 innings pitched in which he walked 14 and struck out 19 batters, but he dealt with a shoulder issue, and he ended up having surgery to clean out his right shoulder in the fall of ‘19, but he experienced shoulder issues again in March 2020 before the baseball world shut down due to the pandemic.
Denaburg threw in instructs in September 2020, after which Nationals’ Assistant GM, player development, Mark Scialabba, told FBB’s David Driver, “He is in game shape now.”
“He is building up his arm strength. He will throw in the next week or so then start focusing on next year. He worked diligently all season long.”
At the start of Spring Training 2021, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo said Denaburg would take part in minor league camp when it started.
“He’s not in big league camp, he’s slated for minor league camp and we’ll see where he’s at when he gets here,” Rizzo said. “He’s come off of several arm injuries since we drafted him.
“So he’s worked extremely hard this winter and offseason with our people down here and he’ll continue to work hard and we’ll see where he’s at when he reports for Spring Training.”
Unfortunately, the latest development is another setback for the now-21-year-old righty, who posted the following image on his Instagram page Saturday night:
Subsequent reports have now confirmed that Denaburg had Tommy John surgery:
Mason Denaburg, the Nationals’ 2018 first-round pick, recently had Tommy John surgery, per a club official. It’s another unfortunate road block for the right-hander, who has thrown only 20 1/3 professional innings due to injuries.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) April 4, 2021
“An injury is not just a process of recovery, but a process of discovery,” he wrote, quoting Connor McGregor, apparently.
It’s been tough couple years for the pitcher, with shoulder, and now elbow surgery, but he’s young and can hopefully put that behind him and start over again when he’s able to throw.