- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When Baseball America’s 2011 draft preview was sent off in late May, it projected Anthony Rendon and Alex Meyer would be off the board after the sixth pick. It listed Brian Goodwin as the sixth-best center fielder available. Many thought Rendon would be the first-overall selection, and there wasn’t much hope that if Meyer made it past the Washington Nationals’ first pick at six, he’d still be there at No. 23.

Tuesday, more than two months removed from draft night and a week after all three signed multimillion-dollar deals, they sat in the press conference room at Nationals Park all smiles, flanked by their new boss, general manager Mike Rizzo, and their agent, Scott Boras.

“We’re extremely proud to announce the newest members of our family,” Rizzo said, adding their top three picks to third-round selection Matt Purke and a haul from the past three years that includes Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Drew Storen.

In the Boras clients alone — Strasburg, Harper, Rendon, Meyer and Goodwin — the Nationals have spent $37.2 million.

“This is how you get ahead in baseball,” Boras said, expanding his client base with the Nationals to include nine players on the 40-man roster and a host of their top prospects.

“For the dollars spent, you’re getting an extraordinary core. These players, for the most part, it’s very conceivable that any one of these players could have been a No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.”

Of all the Nationals’ top picks, the highest praise was reserved for their first selection.

“Anthony is just so advanced defensively,” Boras said of the 6-foot, 190-pound Rendon. “He plays baseball at a slow pace, and that’s usually reserved for a major leaguer. Of all the players in this draft, he’s the one you can clearly say, position player-wise, is a clear major leaguer.

“[When you look back,] you’re going to say it was very obvious that he was who he was.”

Rendon, who hit a combined 46 homers in his first two collegiate seasons, was considered a No. 1 overall talent even after a shoulder injury this season (and a leg injury last summer).

Rendon, Meyer and Goodwin are expected to begin their pro careers shortly when they travel to Viera, Fla., to be checked out by the Nationals’ medical staff.

Rendon, who plays the same position as Ryan Zimmerman, said he was not opposed to a switch.

With regard to Meyer, a 6-foot-9, 210-pound right-hander who could end up taller and at roughly 250 pounds, Boras said “the cake is still in the oven, and I think it’s going to be a three-layer cake.” The big righty turned down $2 million from the Boston Red Sox out of high school but had no regrets, noting school helped him mature mentally and physically.

Goodwin’s journey is unlike that of his other two touted new teammates. After a strong freshman season at North Carolina and an exceptional season in the Cape Cod Baseball League, Goodwin was suspended from the UNC baseball team because of a university violation and took himself to Miami-Dade Junior College. By the time he was done there, he was earning comparisons to Jacque Jones, according to Baseball America.

Goodwin was humbled by the attention in Washington on Tuesday, all smiles as the three went through the paces of their press conference. He noted his favorite players as Ken Griffey Jr. and Andruw Jones but when asked to describe his latest outfield signee, Boras chose another comparison.

“Seen [Atlanta Braves speedster] Michael Bourn?” he asked. “That’s the kind of guy Brian is.”

Notes: Because of Tuesday’s 5.8 earthquake that shook the Washington area, the Nationals-Arizona Diamondbacks game started at 7:25 p.m., 20 minutes later than the scheduled first pitch. The opening of Nationals Park to fans was delayed as the building was checked for structural damage.

• Amanda Comak can be reached at acomak@washingtontimes.com.

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