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MLB Draft 2012: Washington Nationals' Draft Strategy Comes as No Surprise

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIJune 1, 2012

The 2012 MLB draft marks the first time since 2006 that the Washington Nationals have a pick outside of the Top 10. They pick at 16 this year.

In previous years, the Nationals' upper management has had a better idea of who to draft.

Now, because of the team's improvement at the major league level, the team must rely much heavier on its scouting department.

Via Bill Ladson of MLB.com, Nationals scouting director Kris Kline said the following on the matter.

"It was easier, I guess, in the years we took Bryce [Harper] and Stephen Strasburg. We are in the middle of the pact this year. We are in a Draft that doesn't have nearly as much depth. It's not bad, but it has been better. But it is what it is, and we'll put our top 16 guys together on the board."

That being said, what will the Nationals focus on in this year's draft?

Pitching, pitching and more pitching.

Since moving back to Washington from Montreal after the 2004 season, the team has had a reputation around the league of conducting a pitching-heavy draft.

All signs point to that reputation holding true.

The team unloaded three of its top pitching prospects—Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole and Tommy Milone—to Oakland in exchange for Gio Gonzalez this winter. Top-tier pitchers are currently at a minimum in the Nationals' system.

Texas A&M junior Michael Wacha, Mississippi State junior Chris Stratton and Brockwood High School senior Lucas Sims could all be taken with the No. 16 pick, so there's no shortage of talented arms in the middle of the first round.

Stockpiling some power arms in the system is always an easy way to improve the team's minor league depth.

The Nationals will also address another issue later on in the draft. The team is looking to draft a few left-handed hitting corner outfielders.

Such a want really isn't a need, though. The Nationals will not reach to draft such players.

The draft begins in just three days—June 4—so Nationals fans won't have to wait long to see who the team unveils as their first round pick.

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