Washington’s top 2021 Draft pick, Brady House, taken eleventh overall out of Winder-Barrow High School in Georgia earlier this month, signed for $5M (an above-slot deal, with the value of the No. 11 pick at $4,547,500) officially on Friday, and he was in the nation’s capital to take in a game between his new organization and the Chicago Cubs in Nationals Park.
House, 18, was described by Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Ops Kris Kline on the night of the 2021 draft as a, “... high school kid that has great size, [is] really strong, [with] big power, and well-above average arm strength,” and as someone who, “... for a guy his size ... can really, really run. He happened to arrive in the nation’s capital a few hours after the club traded away eight players, seven on expiring contracts.
Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Brad Hand, Yan Gomes, Daniel Hudson, Kyle Schwarber, Josh Harrison, and Jon Lester were all traded before the deadline passed on Friday, and an influx of the prospects they received in return, GM Mike Rizzo said on Friday, will be mixed with draft classes from previous seasons, and remaining players in the majors to form what they hope will be the core of the next championship club in D.C.
“The remnants of this trade deadline, the last trade deadline, the last couple of impactful drafts that we had, will be the core of this next world championship-caliber club,” Rizzo said.
“It’s so exciting,” House said of joining the organization at this point, and hearing Rizzo say that he’s part of the next great Nationals team.
“That’s the thing you want to hear, is that you’re going to help a team win a title one day and I think that that’s a really good compliment, you know, for the guys that are with me, and me as well, just trying to get up there and help the team win.”
While it’s tough to offer analysis on Day 2 as an official member of an organization, House did say that he likes what he’s seen from the Nationals.
“I think it’s headed in a great direction,” House said. “Even though the trade deadline was yesterday, I still think that we’re a strong team, and we’ve got people that can get the job done, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens the rest of the season.”
House’s season, or at least his first work as a pro, is about to get started. Once he signed and visited Nationals Park, he headed down to the club’s Spring Training facilities to get going with baseball activity.
“I’m actually here [in West Palm Beach] right now, I’m in the process of getting checked in and getting my stuff done, so I can get out on the field as soon as possible.”
It’s been a while, he said, since he hasn’t played since his high school season ended.
“I haven’t been playing games just because my high school season ended pretty early,” he explained. “But I’m still training, I’m still hitting, weight lifting, fielding, doing all that good stuff just to keep my body in shape for whenever I do start here playing.”
Unfortunately, while he was in Nationals Park, House didn’t really get to speak with any of the players or coaches, after the recent COVID outbreak with the team.
“Because of what we went through, honestly, we told him to stay away,” Davey Martinez told reporters before Saturday’s night’s game.
“I don’t want anybody else to get sick,” Martinez added. “But I’m looking forward to meeting him, and eventually I will at some point.”
House said he would like to pick some players’ brains as well, and he said if he could talk to one player, it would be the club’s first first round pick, all the way back in 2005.
“I’d probably say Ryan Zimmerman for sure at the top level is somebody that I’d love to pick their brain,” House said, “... about just because he’s basically been there for ever and knows everything and stuff like that.”
And what would he ask the now-37-year-old, 16-year veteran if he had the chance?
“I’d probably say I’m in a situation to where this is all new to me, so I’d just go up to him and ask how he deals with things,” House said, “how he handles himself on and off the field and deals with all the outside pressure and stuff, you know, not really anything baseball related, just the situation he’s in and how he deals with that.”
Zimmerman, coincidentally, talked to the D.C. press corps as well on Saturday, so he was, of course, told that he was the kid’s choice of someone he’d like to talk to in the organization.
“I would love to talk to him,” Zimmerman said.
“But obviously when those guys came in in the past they’d usually come into the clubhouse or hit batting practice, and you actually get to hang out and talk to him.
“Obviously with all the circumstances this year they’re not allowed to do that kind of stuff.
“He can reach out if he wants to, but yeah, what would I tell him, I think just take advantage of your opportunities. Baseball and any pro sport is all about getting a chance and then taking advantage of that chance. So prepare and be ready when you get that chance to give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.”
And that work, Zimmerman said, starts right away in a pro career.
“It starts as soon as you’re drafted, as soon as you’re ready to go, and just work hard and I guess keep your nose clean and go out there and have some fun. I don’t know, it’s hard to tell a young kid what to do. I think he’s in the position he is for a reason. He’s obviously already done a lot of that correctly and he’s very talented and I’ll enjoy watching how his career unfolds and he looks like a pretty talented player so it’s exciting for the organization and I’m sure it’s really exciting for him and his family.”
“That’s a pretty good guy to pick,” Martinez said when informed of House’s choice of whose brain he’d like to pick.
“I mean, [Zimmerman’s] got many years in the big leagues, as you can see, he plays the game the right way, so yeah, I would definitely encourage that.”
“Why didn’t he want to talk to me?” the fourth-year manager and veteran of 16 big league seasons joked. “I’m not a bad person to talk to neither.”