MLB.com’s Jim Callis matched the Washington Nationals up with outfielder Elijah Green, out of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL, in his latest mock draft, projecting GM Mike Rizzo and Co. in the front office in D.C. will take Green with the 5th overall pick in this year’s draft while noting that Cal Poly infielder Brooks Lee, Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada, and Termarr Johnson, a second baseman out of Mays High School in Atlanta, are, “other options for the Nats as well,” with their top pick in his year’s draft.
In his Mock Draft No. 2, The Athletic’s Keith Law, as others have this summer, matched the Nationals and Parada up at No. 5, writing, “[t]his connection keeps coming up – I don’t feel like anything is certain but I have more confidence in this name/team link than most in this mock.”
Parada, Law writes, “has been one of the best hitters in college baseball this year,” and, he added, with, “... 20-25 homer power and a potential 60 hit tool at a position of permanent scarcity, he offers some of your the best pure value in the draft class.”
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo matched the Nationals up with Lee in his June 30th mock draft, writing that, “[t]his has been a common landing spot for Parada and might be the floor for Green, but if Lee doesn’t go in the top four, the Nats might find it tough to pass on his bat.”
Rizzo wasn’t tipping his hand when 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies asked on this past Wednesday’s show which way the Nationals were leaning with their top pick since back in 2011, when they took Anthony Rendon sixth overall after back-to-back No. 1 overall picks in 2009 (Stephen Strasburg) and 2010 (Bryce Harper).
“I couldn’t tell you who we were going to take even if I wanted to,” Rizzo told the Junkies.
“We pick fifth, and we’re going to put our board together and the guy who’s on top of the board at the time we draft, we’re going to take.”
The good news is there are multiple options for Rizzo and Co., depending on what the top four teams (Baltimore, Arizona, Texas, & Pittsburgh) in this year’s draft do with their picks.
“There’s a good group of five players, so that’s always exciting for us,” Rizzo explained.
“When you pick fifth and you’ve got five good candidates, there’s even more than that, but there’s five good players up there, and when you pick this high, it’s different than in the past when we were picking 20-30, it’s — you’re seeing these guys a lot, you’re really getting upper echelon tools, make-up, competitiveness, and that type of thing, and it’s something that we’re really excited about going into this thing. Kind of following up last year’s draft with this year’s draft, we thought we did a great job last year. You can see those guys, most of those guys, at Fredericksburg from last year’s draft playing at a very, very young age, and having success, and we’re looking to match that, and even exceed that this year in the draft.”
Once the top four picks are made, Rizzo said, the Nationals will take the top player on their draft board, regardless of position or organizational needs.
“Best player in the draft is always our philosophy, in the draft, and it will continue to be,” he explained. “The best player available is the guy that we’re going to take, and we’ll figure out positionally when we get it. It’s the same question I had when I was [scouting director in] Arizona. We drafted [shortstop] Stephen Drew, who turned out to be a 12-13-year big leaguer, and we took Justin Upton who was a shortstop out of high school the next year, and people asked, ‘What are you going to do with two shortstops?’ And I said, ‘Well, if Jeter and A-Rod can figure out what to do with two shortstops we can figure out what to do with it.’ As many impactful players as you can get, that’s what we’re looking for, and by the time — this is different in football and basketball, obviously, because there is a minor league learning curve here, and at the end of the day, if you can play we figure out where to play you and impact the team the greatest.”
The 2022 MLB Draft takes place July 17-19.