Compared to the best part of the last decade, the Washington Nationals are in a bit of an unusual spot as we look toward the MLB Draft this evening.
After a disappointing shortened 2020 campaign, the Nationals find themselves picking 11th in the draft. That’s the highest slot they’ve picked in since the 2011 MLB Draft when they selected Anthony Rendon 6th overall after a 69–93 season in 2010.
Rendon was also the last position player that the Nationals used a first-round pick on in the draft. However, they did also select Brian Goodwin and Carter Kieboom with picks that they received for Adam Dunn and Jordan Zimmermann leaving in free agency respectively.
Most of the mock drafts around expect that trend to continue. Almost all of them have the Nationals selecting a pitcher of some kind, be that Ty Madden, Jackson Jobe, or Sam Bachman.
Naturally, with SB Nation having a site for every major league team, it made sense to get together for a mock draft and have each team site make a pick for the team they cover, so we stepped in the shoes of Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and made a selection in this mock.
Without further ado, here’s who we selected with the 11th overall pick in the mock...
Round One, Pick 11: Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
Wait, that’s not a hard-throwing college right-hander?! Hear me out on this one...
With the way this particular mock draft played out in the first 10 picks, taking a college hitter in Colton Cowser was a situation that could actually make sense could the Nationals.
Most importantly, the two players who went that probably would’ve been a realistic pick over Cowser were Jackson Jobe, who went to Los Angeles Angels, and Ty Madden, who went to the New York Mets. So both players went right before the pick here.
In Rizzo’s shoes, that essentially left the decision down to Cowser and Sam Bachman.
Because of the reliever risk that Bachman has, it made sense to go with the safe bet of a bat with the 11th pick, but make no mistake, Cowser still has a very high ceiling at the plate.
In three seasons at Sam Houston State, Cowser slashed .354/.460/.608 with 24 home runs in 125 games. In his final season, he took off to the tune of a .374/.490/.680 line with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs in 56 games while walking 42 times and striking out just 32 times.
The outfielder has excellent bat-to-ball skills, something the Nationals have at least valued at the major league level lately when grabbing veterans off of the free-agent market, so could be something that they look for if the right bat presents itself in the draft.
It would also fill a huge need in the farm system, with seven pitchers in the team’s top 10 prospects according to MLB Pipeline. Drafting for need isn’t always a wise idea, especially when players that are drafted are multiple years away from the majors. But when the need aligns with one of the best players on the board, it certainly is a consideration.
I don’t necessarily think that Cowser is the most likely pick for the Nationals when they end up on the clock later this evening, but if the draft falls this way, then it’s at least a possibility.
Here’s the rest of the first round from the SB Nation Mock Draft:
Full SB Nation Mock Draft
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit Prep HS
- Texas Rangers: Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS
- Detroit Tigers: Jack Leiter, SP, Vanderbilt
- Boston Red Sox: Henry Davis, C, Louisville
- Baltimore Orioles: Khalil Watson, SS, Wake Forest HS
- Arizona Diamondbacks: Kumar Rocker, SP, Vanderbilt
- Kansas City Royals: Brady House, SS, Winder-Barrow HS
- Colorado Rockies: Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College
- Los Angeles Angels: Jackson Jobe, SP, Heritage Hill HS
- New York Mets: Ty Madden, SP, Texas
- Washington Nationals: Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
- Seattle Mariners: Jordan Wicks, SP, Kansas State
- Philadelphia Phillies: Gunnar Hoglund, SP, Ole Miss
- San Francisco Giants: Benny Montgomery, CF, Red Land HS
- Milwaukee Brewers: Matt McLain, SS, UCLA
- Miami Marlins: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS
- Cincinnati Reds: Andrew Painter, SP, Calvary Christian HS
- St. Louis Cardinals: Sam Bachman, SP, Miami (Ohio)
- Toronto Blue Jays: Gavin Williams, SP, East Carolina
- New York Yankees: Will Bednar, SP, Mississippi State
- Chicago Cubs: Michael McGreevy, SP, UC Santa Barbara
- Chicago White Sox: Colson Montgomery, SS, Southridge HS
- Cleveland Indians: Bubba Chandler, SP/SS, North Oconee HS
- Atlanta Braves: Trey Sweeney, 3B, Eastern Illinois
- Oakland Athletics: Will Taylor, SS, Dutch Fork HS
- Minnesota Twins: Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
- San Diego Padres: Izaac Pacheco, 3B, Friendswood HS
- Tampa Bay Rays: Ryan Cusick, SP, Wake Forest
- Los Angeles Dodgers: Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East HS
Tune in to MLB Network or ESPN tonight to see who the Nationals actually select in the first round of the MLB Draft. Spoiler alert, it probably will more than likely be a college pitcher...