Nationals Open Up Their Checkbook:
According to Baseball America, the Washington Nationals inked two 7 figure deals this morning with their 2nd (LHP Sammy Solis) and 4th round picks (RHP A.J. Cole). The signings show that they aren’t just pegging all of their hopes on 1st round pick Bryce Harper (who is still expected to sign by tomorrow night’s deadline). Both Solis and Cole project to be top 3 starters and are desperately needed arms for the Nats future rotation.
While Solis is the Nats 2nd round pick, his bonus ($1 million) is reportedly half of what Cole got as the 4th round pick. Solis did receive over $300K what the typical ‘slot price’ of his selection would receive. Giving him quite the nice pay day. Solis is a college lefty and is much closer to the majors. If everything goes well he could be ready for the show by early 2012 (if not sooner). Solis profiles as a number 3 starter and would look quite good in the Nationals rotation behind Strasburg and Zimmermann. Now that is the best case scenario, and what the Nats are hoping for after shelling out $1 million, but at the very least he should be a solid 5th starter.
A.J. Cole is the real prize here even if it is all potential. He is a tall, projectable RHP who already touches the high 90’s. In addition to his power fastball, Cole has shown a plus curve ball and a solid potential changeup. If all three pitches continue to develop, Cole could very well end up as a 1 or a 2 (much more likely his ceiling). Cole is well worth the investment of $2 million and was considered by some to be the 2nd or 3rd best High School pitcher in the draft. His price tag and lack of refinement pushed him down in the draft, but he is well worth a 4th round pick and the early 1st round money the Nats gave up to ink him. While he might not be a truly finished product, Cole has a bright future.
The Nationals did a great job signing these two young pitchers. By grabbing higher upside guys with bigger price tags, the Nats turned their 4th round pick into a Top 15 pick value, and their 2nd round pick (51st overall) into the value of the low 30’s. Now if the the Nationals can add 12th round pick Robbie Ray, a LHP who is committed to Arkansas in addition to Bryce Harper, Washington could have the best draft class in baseball, and a farm system that can begin to produce All-Star caliber talent.