With roughly 36 hours to go before the midnight August 15 signing deadline for 2011 draft picks, the Nationals have locked up 26 of their 50 picks from the June draft, including five of their top 10 — but none of their top five.
The Nationals first three picks: Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer and Brian Goodwin are all represented by Scott Boras. Their fourth pick, third-rounder Matt Purke, is represented by Peter Vescovo. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was not with the major league team this weekend as he gears up for tomorrow’s deadline and tries to help negotiations along with scouting director Kris Kline and Roy Clark, the assistant general manager and vice president of player personnel.
With a week to go before the signing deadline, Rizzo said that the Nationals weren’t close with any of their top four picks: Rendon, Meyer, Goodwin or Purke, but that was to be expected. Due to the nature of the MLB signing deadline and the process for signing players to over-slot deals, most of the top picks do not sign until August 15 and often times tried and true negotiations don’t begin much earlier than that.
All four had, however, taken and passed physicals, Rizzo said. For Rendon and particularly Purke, that is a significant step as both players were coming off seasons hampered by injury. Rizzo spoke with Vescovo a month ago when the Nationals were in Houston, where Vescovo’s office is based, and Purke visited Nationals Park just before the All-Star break to take in a game, take his physical and get a tour of the clubhouse, etc.
Most draft experts have said that it would be a surprise if the Nationals didn’t lock up Rendon, Meyer and Goodwin but Purke is considered to be the wild card of the bunch. Purke, of course, was drafted out of high school by the Texas Rangers but his $6 million bonus was vetoed by MLB. He’s a draft-eligible sophomore who could just as easily come out of school next year (after a presumably healthy season) and sign for more than the Nationals may offer. This certainly looks to be the most uncertain of the group, but don’t forget that the Nationals found the money to sign Sammy Solis and AJ Cole last year at significantly over slot and they could easily do the same with Purke if they felt he was worth the money.
There will be plenty written in the next day or so on the Nationals top picks if and when they sign them so here’s a look at who they have locked up in the top 10 rounds and how they’ve done so far in their pro careers:
5th round, Matt Skole, Georgia Tech, 3B, Class-A Short Season NY Penn Lg.: .290 AVG, 4 HR, 37 RBI, .383 OBP, .435 SLG
6th round, Taylor Hill, Vanderbilt, RHP, Single-A Auburn, NY Penn Lg.: 0-2, 4.58 ERA, 17 K, 2 BB
7th round, Brian Dupra, Notre Dame, RHP, Single-A Auburn, NY Penn Lg.: 3-3, 3.46 ERA, 31 K, 12 BB, .237 Opp BA
8th round, Greg Holt, UNC, RHP, Single-A Hagerstown (Promoted from Single-A Auburn): 1-2, 3.80 ERA
9th round, Dixon Anderson, UC Berkley, RHP, GCL Nationals: 60-day DL
10th round, Manny Rodriguez, Barry University, RHP, Single-A Auburn, NY Penn Lg.: 3-3, 4.34 ERA, 39 K, 13 BB
Here’s a list of the Nationals’ 20 other previously signed picks
11th round, Caleb Ramsey, OF
12th round, Blake Monar, LHP
16th round, Deion Williams, SS
18th round, Nicholas Lee, LHP
21st round, Todd Simko, LHP
22nd round, Travis Henke, RHP
23rd round, Khayyan Norfork, 2B
25th round, Erick Fernandez, C
26th round, Shawn Pleffner OF
27th round, Bobby Lucas, LHP
28th round, Kenneth Ferrer, RHP
29th round, Sean Cotton, C
30th round, Bryan Harper, LHP
32nd round, Billy Burns, OF
33rd round, Trey Karlen, 2B
35th round, Alex Kreis, RHP
36th round, Ben Hawkins, LHP
41st round, Bryce Ortega, 3B
45th round, Ritchie Mirowski, RHP
50th round, Anthony Nix, OF
A few more draftees of note: Rizzo said this week in Chicago that the Nationals had not written off the lower round guys who had yet to be signed and when asked specifically about 19th-round pick Hawtin Buchanan, a 6-foot-8, 245-pound right-hander out of Madison Central High School in Mississippi, Rizzo said he had not given up on bringing him into the fold.
The Nationals are not, however, expected to sign 15th-round pick Zach Houchins, who drew headlines earlier this summer for his controversial twitter account. Houchins told reporters last week that he did not expect to sign as he hadn’t heard from the Nationals since they asked him to delete his twitter account this past June.