Everyone expects the Nationals to draft pitching in the draft. That has been the standard they have set and it has been hit or miss over the previous eight years. This year they shocked everyone and went with a bat in the first three rounds. The players the team has added here have the potential to be contributors for years to come.
In the first round with the 11th selection the Nationals landed high school shortstop Brady House. House was ranked 7th on Baseball Americas Draft Rankings and in their final mock draft CBS had him going 3rd overall to the Tigers. Not many people thought House would fall to the Nationals, but you have to think that Mike Rizzo and company are extremely excited about this. House currently plays shortstop and he would like to stay there, but at 6’4” 215 pounds, it would not be surprising to see him move over to the third base. Nationals VP of Scouting Kris Kline thinks that he could make it at SS, but believes he could be a gold glove caliber third basemen. The glove is good, but it is the bat and the raw power behind it that has many people excited about this pick. The Nationals now have an unexpected big bat to add to their big arms on the farm.
In the second round, the Nationals shockingly went with a high school bat again. This time it was outfielder Daylen Lile out of Trinity High School. Lile also has a great hit tool, but not as much power. That hit tool led to Lile winning the Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year in 2020 and 2021, he also was the Rawlings National High School Player of the Year in 2021. Lile finished the 2021 season at Trinity hitting .550 with 18 home runs. No, .550 is not a typo. For the second round in a row, the Nats got a high upside bat and these two additions could dramatically change the way the Nationals farm is looked at.
With the 82nd pick in the draft, the Nationals selected the first baseman Branden Boissere. Boissere has a solid hit tool as well, but he is missing some of the power you would expect from a first baseman. He was ranked a little lower than 82 on most draft rankings and this pick may have been made to save some money in the 3rd round to help sign both Daylen Lile and Brady House from the previous rounds. House and Lile are both committed to big baseball schools so having a little extra money available could make signing them an easier process.
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In the 4th round the Nationals selected LHP Dustin Saenz out of Texas A&M. I doubt anyone had the first pitcher drafted by the Nationals not coming until the 4th round, but here we are. Saenz is a former Savannah Banana so you know he’s a fun guy, but beyond that, he has the potential to help out in the Nationals Bullpen in the future. He relies on his slider and 93-95 MPH fastball to get batters out. He is currently a starter, but most scouts expect him to move into the bullpen in the future. Saenz is another player that was drafted above his rank and being a college senior there is potential the Nationals could save some slot money here as well.
The National’s next pick was a switch-hitting high school outfielder by the name of T.J. White. White is a big powerful kid who likely is not fast enough to stay in center field. The Nationals continue to prioritize bats so far in this draft and white is no different. According to Baseball America, some scouts have given White’s raw power a 70 grade. He is committed to Indiana University, but I would expect the Nationals to be able to sign him out of the draft.
In rounds 6 through 10 the Nationals selected some players that really stand out. The first of these picks were Michael Kirian who is a 6’6” pitcher out of Louisville. He has experience in the bullpen and as a starter and the Nats will look to find a role where he can contribute. The rounds 7 through 10 picks are much more exciting to me. In the 7th round, the Nationals drafted one of Baseball America’s Sleepers in Jacob Young an outfielder out of Florida. Young led the Gators in hits, doubles, runs, and stolen bases this past year and over his three-year career there he hit .330/.400/.447. He has all the tools that would make him a great fourth outfielder at the big league level, but he could be an everyday contributor if everything goes well. The 8th round was up next and the Nationals got a guy that had an OPS over 1.100 in 2021 at Texas A&M. First baseman Will Frizzell has shown some eye-popping power and Baseball America describes him as a pure hitter first.
Looking at the offensive numbers it does not make much sense to me that he fell to the 8th round, but he may be a DH-only type of guy in the big leagues. Depending on how the CBA negotiations go Frizzell could be a steal in the 8th round.
In the 9th round, the Nationals selected Cole Quintanilla, a big-time college reliever out of Texas University. In 2019 the Nationals went this route with Matt Cronin, he looks to be the closer of the future and the Nats may have just found his setup man. He is another fastball/slider guy and in 2021 at Texas he pitcher to a 1.29 ERA striking out 36 of 35 innings. Finally to end day two of the Draft the Nationals selected California second baseman Darren Baker. They got Baseball America’s 187th ranked player with the 293rd pick in the draft. You might know this name because the Nationals already drafted him in 2017 and of course, he is Dusty Baker’s son. Darren has all the tools to make his own name at the big league level. He was a Cape Cod All-Star and hit .327 this year at Cal. This time the Nationals will sign him and he is certainly one to keep an eye on.
Days 1 and 2 of the Nationals Draft were much different than in previous years. This time the Nats focused on bats and they got some big-time talent. These look to be another set of moves that will likely allow the Nationals farm to rise up the rankings.