Nats Draft Class Sets Them Up For The Future
August 18, 2011 in Uncategorized
The Nationals spent nearly $20 million to land this draft class, but the impact could be 10 fold for the Nationals. The Nationals landed 4 top prospects in 3B Anthony Rendon, RHP Alex Meyer, CF Brian Goodwin, and LHP Matt Purke, in addition to some other decent young players.In the top 4 guys the Nationals landed, are the key though and if two or more of them reach their potential the Nationals could be contenders sooner rather than later. Here's a detailed look at each of the top four guys:
Rendon came into the season as the number one player in the nation. In fact last Jim Callis editor of Baseball America said that had Rendon been in last year's draft he would have taken him over Bryce Harper. Unfortunately (or fortunately for the Nats) an early season shoulder strain kept Rendon at DH for most of the season, which raised questions about his ability to stay healthy for some. Overall it doesn't seem to be that big of an issue, and while people point out a significant drop in power numbers, there were multiple reasons for the decline in HR's. In addition to the shoulder injury, which I'm sure contributed, college baseball started using a newer kind of metal bats that don't provide nearly the power the older ones did. HR numbers were down everywhere due to the new bats (which also allowed pitchers to challenge hitters more since mistake swings didn't result in homers). Rendon also had to deal with being constantly pitched around, as he lead the nation in walks.
Rendon gives the Nationals a truly elite batter. He has a great hit tool, and should constantly be over .300. His power projects to be very good as well, as he should be around 30 home runs and add 30-40 doubles. His best tool though might be his eye and patience, despite not seeing a lot of pitches in the strike zone this year Rendon was never one to chase. Rendon doesn't have great speed, but he is capable of taking an extra base and scoring from 2nd on a single. All-around Rendon is an impact bat who is capable of hitting 3rd-6th in just about any lineup in baseball.
In addition to his batting skills, Rendon profiles as a top notch defender as well. When healthy Rendon has a cannon for an arm, and has great range at 3B. He's been compared favorably to guys like David Wright and his soon to be new teammate Ryan Zimmerman. The real question becomes, what position does Rendon play going forward.
Now right now the Nationals have said he will start out as a 3B, but with Ryan Zimmerman turning just 27 this September, he is still in his prime and getting the job done at 3B. He's signed for another two years, and will probably be approached about signing an extension after the season. That means Rendon will need to find another spot to break-in with the Nationals. The three most likely positions would be 1B, 2B, and LF, but none is a perfect match.
Chance of him becoming a star: 98% no one is a sure thing, but Rendon is about as close as they come.
Meyer was a highly touted recruit out of high school who reported turned down 1st round money to go to Kentucky to play college baseball. While at first it looked as though he made a poor choice, given that he struggled his first two years in college, but he really turned the corner this year. He found better command of his fastball, and at times it rivaled Gerrit Cole for being the best in college baseball. His slider also became a devastating pitch and he looks poised to become the front of the rotation starter everyone believed he could be.
He still needs to refine his change up, and continue to get better command of his pitches, but the potential is undeniable. I really see him joining Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann at the top of the rotation by the 2014 season. That could give the Nationals 3 front line starters (as well as one potent lineup) and a quality closer in Drew Storen, and really set them on the road to contending. If Meyer doesn't fully harness his abilities his stuff is good enough that he can pitch at the back of the bullpen, but that is obviously the fall back scenario.
Chance of him reaching his potential: 90% Pitchers always carry an injury risk, but I love Meyer's frame and personality. He's got the stuff and I think he can put it together. A very good number 2 starter down the line.
For some Goodwin was a late first round pick, so the fact that the Nationals landed him in the sandwich round is good value. Goodwin is younger than most college prospects since he is coming from a Junior College program after transferring from UNC, but the upside really shines through. He was considered a borderline first round talent out of H.S. two years ago, and really nothing has changed to diminish his upside. He still has a very good and advanced hit tool, with excellent speed, and average power. He is projected to develop even more power as he fills out and should be a top of the order bat.
He projects as a potential Gold Glove caliber defender as his speed will allow him to cover a ton of ground and his arm appears to be above average. He's a little unrefined in CF as he spent his freshmen year playing RF. Basically given his age, he just needs repetitions. While Scott Boras clients don't typically sign early it would be nice to get him in for some extra work in Low-A this summer. Longterm he projects very well and should easily take over CF duties from whomever the Nationals have there.
Chance of reaching his potential: 80%, I love Goodwin's approach, and I believe he can stay in center field, which means his hitting only has to be average for him to be a very good player.
Purke is a front of the rotation talent, that is typically hard to find unless you draft in the top 5. In fact in the last 5 drafts the number of college pitchers who had a higher upside than Purke on draft day, could probably be counted on two hands (now some other pitchers have developed, and there were some high upside high school guys). Now the caveat there of course, is 'if Purke is healthy', but to some extent that is true for all pitchers. Like it or not, and despite team's best efforts to avoid them a high percentage of pitchers have at least one serious arm injury in their early careers. Now obviously the shoulder is a greater concern than elbow (Tommy John) injuries, but we aren't talking about a labrum injury here. The Nationals could even have an advantage here because they could tweak his mechanics and strengthen that shoulder, before it causes a more serious injury.
Chance of him reaching his potential: 75% I'm a lot higher on Purke than most, mainly because I see the number 1 stuff. Sure the injury risk is a factor, but plenty of pitchers deal with injury, few can match Purke's stuff. If he make's it, him and Strasburg will form an elite 1-2 (not to mention Jordan Zimmermann and Meyer)