Nats ecstatic with Draft's outcome
Assistant GM feels many selections will make impact
WASHINGTON -- It's no secret that going into 2007 season, the Nationals had one of the worst farm systems in baseball, but they believe they've closed the gap significantly by drafting quality athletes during the 2007 First-Year Player Draft on Thursday and Friday.Washington feels, in fact, that impact pitchers such as Ross Detwiler, Josh Smoker, Jordan Zimmermann and Jack McGeary and a power bat like Michael Burgess will start a winning tradition in the nation's capital. Assistant general manager Mike Rizzo, one of the leading men in the team's war room, went so far as to say that this year's Draft was the best he was ever involved in. That's saying something, considering that he played a big role in drafting Carlos Quentin, Conor Jackson and Matt Chico in the 2003 Draft when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks. "Only time will tell, but we feel we have a lot of impact Major Leaguers," Rizzo said. "We have good depth. We had a lot of sets of eyes -- veteran baseball scouts -- to see these players. We think we put together one heck of a Draft. I feel as comfortable with this Draft as I ever felt with any Draft in Arizona. "If we get all these guys signed," Rizzo said, "we got ourselves the best Draft in baseball. There's no question about it." In Day 2 of the Draft, McGeary, who was a sixth-round selection, was the Washington's biggest pick. He was considered one of the top 30 players in the country, but he fell dramatically because most people believe he will attend Stanford University. McGeary attended Roxbury Latin High School in Boston, and holds the school's single-season record for strikeouts with 86 in 2006. He also had ERAs under 2.00 in 2005 and '06. "Look, he's probably going to Stanford," general manager Jim Bowden said. "We know that. But you never know in this game. We didn't do this except for one pick in this Draft. Every one else we feel is signable. Strategically, we thought it was the right thing to do. We've talked to him, and we've talked to his representatives. We drafted him just in case."
|6||Detwiler, Ross||Missouri St. U||LHP|
|31||Smoker, Joshua||Calhoun HS||LHP|
|49||Burgess, Michael||Hillsborough HS||RF|
|67||Zimmermann, Jordan||U Wisconsin Stevens Point||RHP|
|70||Smolinski, Jabob||Boylan Catholic HS||SS|
|100||Souza, Steven||Cascade HS||SS|
|130||Norris, Derek||Goddard HS||C|
|160||Meyers, Bradley||Loyola Marymount U||RHP|
The Nationals went through this situation last year when they drafted pitcher Sean Black in the second round. Black, who was committed to Seaton Hall University, said he would sign with the Nationals if they gave him first-round money. Black ended up going to school, where he is getting hit hard this season.Privately, according to multiple sources, the Nationals are trying to make sure they don't repeat what happened last year. It helps that McGeary's advisors are Casey Close and Brodie Van Wagenen, two agents who have a great relationship with Bowden. However, McGeary said by phone that it's going to take first-round money in order for him to play for the Nationals. "The Nationals still took me and still believe that hopefully, we can work something out," McGeary said. "If we can, that would be great and I welcome [the chance] to do that. If not, I'll end up in Stanford, obviously. I was surprised that I was taken as high as sixth. I thought I would be falling in the teens or 20s." Besides taking McGeary on Day 2, the Nationals like pitchers Philip Dean (seventh round), Adrian Alaniz (eighth round) and outfielder Christopher Blackwood (16th round). Dean, who went to New Caney High School in Texas, can throw a fastball up to 92 mph, while Alaniz is undefeated this season at the University of Texas and is known for his power slider. "If you noticed we have a bunch of physical, good-armed pitchers with good stuff," Rizzo said. "We are going to send them out, give them to our player-development staff and make them into big leaguers." Blackwood reminds director of amateur scouting Dana Brown of former big-league outfielder Otis Nixon. "He is a center fielder with good instincts," Brown said. "Hopefully, if he gets stronger, he has a chance to be a leadoff guy. You know how hard getting a leadoff guy and center fielder can be. He is a slap hitter and he's 19 years old. If you look at the history of leadoff hitters, a lot of them take a little longer to come around. When they do, they can be pretty special."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.