BALTIMORE — The Nationals ticked off one more of their top 10 draft picks on Friday when they signed third-rounder Brett Mooneyham, a left-handed pitcher out of Stanford, for $428,500.
Mooneyham fits the mold of what Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and scouting director Kris Kline look for: a tall, power arm, and he signed for slot money which allows the Nationals more leeway with top pick Lucas Giolito.
But Mooneyham is a big one for the Nationals on his own.
At 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, he cuts quite a unique figure and he was a big prospect coming out of high school in 2008. The Nationals drafted him in the 38th round in 2011, even after he missed the whole season with an injury to his left middle finger, the second time he was drafted (the Padres took him in the 15th round in 2008). His father, Bill, was a first-round pick of the Angels in 1980 and pitched with the A’s in 1986.
Kline spoke glowingly of Mooneyham, a former teammate of Drew Storen’s at Stanford, after the Nationals selected him, comparing him to Dave Righetti or Al Leiter in his “mannerisms” and calling worst-case scenario a “Matt Thornton-type bullpen guy who can blow it out with an out pitch.”
“We have a long history with him,” Kline said “Back in high school, he was a potential top-5 pick. He was going to Stanford. Very intelligent. Tremendous skills. Wait until you guys see how athletic this kid is. It’s unbelievable. He shags fly balls on days he’s not pitching. It looks like he could play center field at 6-5, 230.
“(When I saw him this year) he was anywhere from 90-97 mph. He pitched at 93 the entire game. Still touching 94-95 in the seventh inning and showing power to his curveball and a now-plus change. Command is below average to fringy average right now. I think we have the right people to help him with his delivery issues… This is an exciting kid to have in our system, no question.”
Here’s what Baseball America had to say about Mooneyham, who is a Scott Boras client:
“It’s hard for scouts to get a good read on him because his stuff has been up and down throughout his college career. He touched 94 mph in high school, was down in the 86-88 mph range with Team USA in 2010, and was in the 90-91 mph range and touching 93 this spring. He has a knack for spinning a breaking ball, switching between a curveball and slider this season, and shows a decent changeup. The biggest concern with Mooneyham is his control. As a big kid, his delivery is funky and can get out of sync. He works a lot of deep counts, but also gets a lot of uncomfortable swings. Scouts say Mooneyham has a great work ethic, though sometimes he tinkers with his delivery and his pitches too much.”
The Nationals also signed their 30th round selection, Robert Orlan, a left-handed pitcher out of the University of North Carolina, giving them 25 of their 40 selections officially in the fold.
Top pick Giolito and seventh-round pick Robert Benincasa remain the only unsigned picks from the top 10 selections. The Nationals are also hoping to lure a few more of the 11-40-round guys before the July 13 deadline.