Projecting Major League Arrival Dates for Washington Nationals' 2013 Draft Class
The Washington Nationals didn't get to make their first selection of the 2013 First Year Player Draft until the No. 68 pick in the draft, but that doesn't mean they haven't made the best of their selections.
General manager Mike Rizzo and scouting director Kris Kline have selected great players, all of which have the potential to make it to the big leagues one day in the future.
That being said, when is the "future?"
Every minor leaguer progresses at his own pace. For some, it could take but a few months to make it to the bigs—though this is a rare occurrence. These types of promotions are generally achieved by pitchers taken high in the first round.
I don't foresee that happening in Washington, though.
It'll take several seasons before even the most talented of the Nationals' new prospects make it to the bigs, but don't allow that to lead you to believe these kids aren't talented.
More than one will have a positive impact on the Nationals' franchise in the long run.
No. 68: Jake Johannsen
The Nationals took a kid with a huge upside with their first selection.
Right-hander Jake Johansen throws gas. He's been clocked as high as 100 miles per hour, and his off-speed pitches are already displaying potential.
This makes him a candidate to be a starter in the future, but I predict he'll find a role in the back-end of the bullpen. Not many guys can throw 100 miles per hour as a starter, and I don't peg Johansen as one.
Being a candidate for the bullpen gives him a much likelier shot at being called up to the bigs within a few seasons. Whereas starters and position players generally need much more time on the farm, relievers who throw hard seem to be put on the fast track.
I wouldn't be surprised if Johansen was a September call-up in 2015.
ETA: September 2015
*You can read even more on Johansen here.
No. 105: Drew Ward
Infielder Drew Ward graduated a year early from Leedey High School in Oklahoma in hopes of speeding up his timetable for making it into the bigs.
Whether that decision will backfire or not remains to be seen, but it's obvious that the Nationals were high enough on the very young infielder to take him with a third-round selection.
Ward was a shortstop in high school, but his 6' 4", 215-pound build makes him a candidate for the hot corner. It may not be easy for him to crack the big club there, as both Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon seem to have dibs on that spot for now.
The Nationals will cross that bridge if they ever get there, though.
Ward generates a ton of power from the left-handed batter's box, but there's a chance he takes that power to the University of Oklahoma instead of short-season Single-A. At such a young age, though, he wouldn't be in the big leagues any time soon.
*You can read more on Ward here.
No. 136: Nicholas Pivetta
Righty Nicholas Pivetta was drafted out of New Mexico Junior College at pick No. 136, and Washington was lucky to get a guy that throws up to 95 miles per hour in the fourth round of the draft.
Pivetta was considered one of the top JUCO (junior college) pitchers in the draft.
His fastball receives a spike in velocity when pitching out of relief, topping out in the high-90s. As a starter, Pivetta throws in the lower-90s. His solid curveball gives him two quality pitches, but he profiles as no more than a reliever without a consistent changeup.
Should he develop that pitch, he can start in the bigs. If not, then he's a reliever.
Like I said earlier, relievers tend to come up earlier than starters. At just 20 years old, I don't see Pivetta making an impact for several seasons, however.
*For more on Pivetta, read here.
No. 166: Austin Voth
A junior at the University of Washington last season, righty Austin Voth is a strikeout-artist.
He finished with 98 strikeouts, second behind No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel in the Pac-12 conference. That's some elite company, especially for a pitcher drafted 165 picks later.
As a strike-thrower that hits 95 on the gun, Voth has the potential to be special. He also throws a slider and a changeup, though neither are considered great pitches. He gets by with his strike-throwing ability, but there's no telling what role he'll play with the Nats.
Such a skill-set makes him a candidate for a No. 5 starter that eats innings. It could also put him in line for a middle relief role out of the bullpen. Either way, Voth has the potential to be valuable to the Nationals.
Relatively hard throwers that pump the zone with strikes are hard to come by in this league, and the Nationals just drafted one.
*For more on Voth, click here.
No. 196: Cody Gunter
Both a closer and third baseman at Grayson County College in Texas, the Nationals have the hot corner in mind for Cody Gunter as he progresses through the system.
While talented enough to crank it up to 93 on the gun, his bat will be what determines where he plays. He displays power and consistency from the left-handed batter's box, so his future seems to be at third.
Along with Ward, the Nationals have stockpiled third baseman early on in this draft. Even though Drew Ward was taken higher, I actually like Gunter much more. He's more polished after playing a year in junior college and has the tools to make an impact much sooner.
The only thing delaying his ETA is the fact that Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman play third. One of them will already have to move to make room for the other, so I'm not sure how it will work when either Ward or Gunter are ready for The Show.
*For more on Gunter, click here.
No. 226: James Yezzo
First baseman James "Jimmy" Yezzo has a ton of power. No wonder the Nationals were interested in him in the seventh round.
Yezzo was named 2013 Colonial Athletic Association Baseball Player of the Year after hitting .410 with 28 doubles, 13 home runs and 64 RBI. The kid can straight-up mash.
With that much power, Yezzo could easily be put on the fast track to the bigs if he adjusts well to professional pitching. His ability to at least hold his own at first base is a plus, too.
Position players usually don't get put on the fast track to the bigs (unless, of course, they happen to be Bryce Harper), but I could see Yezzo needing just two seasons in the minors.
He would likely be promoted from Double-A if that were the case, similarly to Anthony Rendon this season.
ETA: September 2015
*For more on Yezzo, click here.
No. 256: David Napoli
Left-hander David Napoli was drafted No. 256 after putting in four years at Tulane University.
The opposition hit just .176 against him over 66 innings during his senior season, showing just how dominant he can be. That dominance resulted in a 13-9 record with a 3.64 ERA.
Napoli may be small at 5' 10" and 180 pounds, but that shouldn't stop him from reaching the big leagues. Even if it's as a reliever, Napoli has the tools and experience from college to be successful.
Napoli dealt with forearm issues this season at Tulane. Those issues don't look to be serious, and he even was able to come back to finish out his senior season.
With no long history of injury issues, Napoli pretty much has a clean bill of health. He'll likely be on track to crack the bigs with the majority of the crop of this season's picks.
*For more on Napoli, click here.
No. 286: Jake Joyce
Jake Joyce just finished up his senior season at Virginia Tech, though he never really stood out on the stat sheet in any of his four seasons there.
He had ERAs over 5.00 each of his first two seasons and finished out the previous campaign at 4.16. He does throw a fastball that reaches 95 and a slider that he considers his best pitch, however, so there's some potential here.
Joyce is destined for a role in the pen. He was a middle reliever, setup man and closer during his senior season, showing the ability to adjust to the expectations of each role. This versatility will be helpful in Joyce's quest to reach the bigs.
He'll have to show a lot in the minors after a mediocre college career, but bullpen arms are always valuable to have down on the farm.
*For more on Joyce, click here.
No. 316: Brennan Middleton
The Nationals apparently like what's going on at Tulane University, as their final pick of Day Two came in the form of Tulane shortstop Brennan Middleton.
Middleton is a strong fielder, making just six errors in over 50 chances at short this past season. At the plate, he is just average.
Middleton hit .295 with eight doubles, 13 RBI and nine stolen bases. His .372 on-base percentage shows that he has the patience at the plate to at least serve as a reserve infielder, however.
That's exactly what I project Middleton to be. His glove and passable bat make him an ideal candidate to be a super-utility infielder at the next level.
With enough polish in the minors, he may even be able to improve on his abilities at the dish.
*For more on Middleton, click here.