The Washington Nationals are not used to waiting at the MLB draft. The last two years, the team has had the honor of picking first, which resulted in Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.
In 2011, the Nationals had to wait for five other teams to pick before their turn, but that didn't stop the Nationals from once again, getting the best talent in the draft—Anthony Rendon of Rice University, whom Baseball America ranked as the top prospect entering Monday's first round.
With the 23rd and 34th picks, the Nats selected Kentucky starting pitcher Alex Meyer and center fielder Brian Goodwin out of Miami Dade City College, respectively.
Rendon hits for average and has above-average power. Defensively, he's Gold Glove-caliber, but there is one tiny problem: he plays third base. Obviously, the Nationals have no need for a third baseman, so they'll have to change his position.
The most sensible move, seemingly, is to move Rendon to first and bring him up after Adam LaRoche's contract expires. If the Nats like Morse at first, they can move the Rendon to left. And if Ian Desmond isn't the player the Nationals think he is, they could always move Rendon to second—a position he has played before—and slide Danny Espinosa over to short.
Worst case scenario, the Nationals have a replacement for Zimmerman if he leaves for free agency in 2012. All in all, the front office gave themselves plenty of flexibility with this pick.
Meyer, who possesses a mid- to high-90s fastball and a wicked slider, is a right-hander who projects as a starter but has the stuff to be a devastating back-of-the-bullpen guy. The Nationals actually looked at Meyer with the sixth pick and were shocked that he fell to them at No. 23, according to the Washington Post.
“If you look at Gerrit Cole’s [the first overall pick] stuff and this guy’s stuff, it’s comparable,” said Kline in a post-draft press conference.
With their third and final pick Monday, the Nationals may have killed two elusive birds with one talented stone. Brain Goodwin, whom Mike Rizzo called "a guy with five tools," is a prototypical leadoff hitter and center fielder.
He has blazing speed and an above average glove; he hits for average and does a great job of putting the ball in play. His power is nothing to write home about, but it's certainly there. In other words, he's a younger and more talented version of Roger Bernadina—without the strikeouts.
In 2009 and 2010, the Nationals hit a home run with Strasburg and Harper, but those were solo shots. 2011 was a three-run job.
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