- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2006

The Washington Nationals won’t know if they mined gold in this year’s baseball draft for three or four years — or even longer. That’s how long it will take for the club’s vast crop of high school players to either develop into viable big leaguers or prove themselves busts.

The Nationals made 52 selections over 50 rounds in two days, drafting 23 high school players and 29 college players. Of the Nationals’ picks, 32 were pitchers.

“I think on paper this was an extraordinary draft,” general manager Jim Bowden said. “I think we have a tremendous amount of players in this draft with upsides. The key to the draft will be the signing of the players, not the drafting of the players. But to draft that many players with that much upside. I’ve never been a part of a draft in 20 years with that many quality players.”

In yesterday’s second day of the draft, the Nationals also went with bloodlines, taking bench coach Eddie Rodriguez’s son, Joshua, a catcher at Red Mountain High School in Arizona, and outfielder Kyle Page, son of hitting coach Mitchell Page, in the 47th and 48th rounds, respectively.

The Nationals drafted some local players as well. George Washington left-hander Dan Pfau was taken in the 27th round (No. 811 overall). Two George Mason players, first baseman Robert Jacobsen (22nd round, 661st) and right-hander Jonathan Pannell (50th round), also were picked by Washington.

Also, the club chose shortstop Burt Reynolds in the 30th round (No. 901), whose first name is actually Alfredo. He is the cousin of New York Yankees starting second baseman Robinson Cano.

“This is probably one of our strongest drafts, even though you may not see the results of the draft for three years because we took a lot of high school players, but I think it’s one of our strongest drafts ever,” said Nationals scouting director Dana Brown, who previously selected All-Star closer Chad Cordero and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. “We were able to take some high school guys that in the past we probably would have passed on just because of signability issues and different things like that and not having an owner.”

Patterson update

Injured right-hander John Patterson made his first rehabilitation start with Class A Potomac last night, pitching 31/3 innings against Winston-Salem.

Patterson, on the 15-day disabled list since April 22 with a strained right forearm, allowed two runs (none earned) on four hits, walked one and struck out four. He threw 54 pitches and took the loss in the Warthogs’ 4-1 victory.

Patterson will rejoin the Nationals in Washington today and is expected to make two more rehab starts before coming off the DL.

Hill’s future

With Patterson at least another week or two from returning, rookie Shawn Hill will remain in the rotation for now.

Hill, who allowed three earned runs in six innings during Tuesday night’s 5-3 loss to the Braves, is scheduled to start Sunday against the Phillies at RFK Stadium. But manager Frank Robinson said the club will be keeping a close eye on both Patterson and fellow right-hander Pedro Astacio (who is also close to returning from a strained forearm).

As soon as either pitcher is ready, Hill is the likely candidate to be sent back down.

“We’ll have a decision to make at some time,” Robinson said. “But in the meantime, if his turn comes up and they’re not ready, he’ll be out there.”

Mark Zuckerman reported from Atlanta.

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