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“I feel comfortable playing anywhere,” he said.

The first 40 minutes of the draft contrasted the anticlimactic drafts of the last two years, when Washington had the luxury of no-brainer selections with the first picks. Pitcher Stephen Strasburg (2009) and catcher Bryce Harper (2010), elite talents widely considered to be in a class of their own, were destined for the Nationals months before Washington went on the clock.

Rizzo’s choice Monday was not as clear cut. Four pitchers were selected to start the draft, as Nationals decision-makers waited. They knew Rendon was their man only after Kansas City selected center fielder Bubba Starling fifth.

“It wasn’t nerve-wracking at all,” Rizzo said. “We were really satisfied with the top six players, and when it was our turn to pick, we had Anthony’s name at the top of our list and we pulled it.”

Meyer went 7-5 with a 2.94 ERA in 14 starts for Kentucky in 2011. He won over Nationals scouts with how he pitched late in the Wildcats’ season.

He tossed a five-hit shutout against top-ranked Vanderbilt on May 6. He also held No. 12 Arkansas to three hits during a complete-game victory in late April and beat No. 4 Florida less than three weeks ago.

Meyer’s fastball consistently sits in the mid-90s, and he has what Rizzo called a “wicked, wipeout slider.”

“We’ve been tracking him since he was a high school junior; he wasn’t physically or mentally ready to go out then,” Clark said. “He scuffled the first couple of years, but this year he really started putting it together real well in the fall. We think he’s really coming into his own and feel very fortunate to have gotten him.”

Rizzo described Goodwin as a prototypical defensive center fielder and leadoff candidate. A left-handed batter, he hit .382 with eight home runs, 37 RBI and 42 runs scored in 47 games with Miami Dade this spring.

He transferred to Miami Dade for the 2011 season after the University of North Carolina suspended him for violating university policy.

“As a graduate of the University of North Carolina, we did extensive research and feel very good not only about what happened there — it’s unfortunate — but we feel like those issues have been settled,” Clark said. “No apprehensions at all.”