06/08/05 11:51 PM ET
Nationals excited with draft results
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
"They are mostly draft and follows," Brown said. "They are going to go to a junior college or we will follow them during the summer to see if they get better. For the most part, the better players are off the board. The ones that are left are usually tough signs or are injured."
Of all the players they selected on Wednesday, the Nationals are really high on left-hander Scott Barnes and right-hander Robert Leonhardt.
Barnes, who went to Cathedral (MA) High School, is expected to go to St. John University in the fall. The Nationals think he has a chance to throw harder in the summer. "A lot of times, those guys don't warm up until after May. We may make a run at him," Brown said.
Leonhardt nearly priced himself out of the draft. But Brown believes that he's fifth or sixth round pick.
During the two days, the Nationals drafted 15 outfielders with power including center fielder Justin Maxwell of the University of Maryland and right fielder Ryan DeLaughter of Billy Ryan High School in Denton, Texas.Maxwell missed most of the last two seasons because of injuries, and he's is still recovering from a hamate bone injury. He is expected to be out another six weeks and recover at the Nationals' Spring Training facility at Brevard County in Florida. Brown was impressed on how Maxwell performed in the Cape Cod League and believes that Maxwell is worth the risk. "We were fortunate to get a couple of reports early in the year," Brown said. "He slipped to the fourth round and we were happy to get him." DeLaughter hit over .300 and led his high school in home runs and RBIs, and most of the scouts compare him to former Mariners outfielder Jay Buhner. "DeLaughter has good arm strength and power. He is from Texas where we know a lot of good players come from," Brown said. "I saw him play in an All-Star Game and we feel that he's a power bat that will play a corner position." Right-hander Marco Estrada of Long Beach State University and Jack Spradlin of USC were the Nationals' top two pitchers. Both pitchers are expected to be starters in the minor league system. Spradlin, a left-hander, was 6-3 with 4.14 ERA. He struck out 92 batters and walked 29 113 innings. Estrada, a right-hander, was 8-3 with a 2.43 ERA in 18 games. Opponents hit .212 against him. "Spradlin has a really good curveball. He may be a No. 4 starter," Brown said "When Estrada gets to the big leagues, he will be an innings eater and a fifth starter-type guy. He has value because of his pitch ability. He really throws a lot of strikes. Over all, the Nationals selected 24 pitchers and only eight of them were left-handed. Surprising considering that they don't hardly have any good left-handed prospects in the farm system. John Lannan of Siena College was the other lefty they drafted in the 11th round. "It's just tough to get left-handed pitching. There were a lot of other lefties on the board, but they were relievers," Brown said. "We felt those two starters we drafted had fastball command. That's why we went after them."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.