Nats 2011 Draft Day 1 Analysis

The Nats were the first team to pick three players, although they were soon outpaced by others, especially those devilish Rays, who had 43 picks in the first 60. Here’s a quick breakdown of each of the guys picked:

Pick #6 – Anthony Rendon (3B, Rice)

Many thought Rendon might go second overall, after Garrett Cole, but prior to this season it was thought he’d go as #1 overall. So for 3 years in a row, the Nats got the guy everyone thought would be #1 nine months prior to the draft, for what that’s worth. His biggest asset is probably is understanding of the strike zone, comparisons remind me of someone like Jason Giambi (for his EYE only), who I used to watch and realize he knew the strike zone better than the umpires. The reviews are glowing. He also has the potential to be a high batting average hitter, maybe a batting title contender, and someone with at least average power, but likely more.

Questions abound, though, not so much based on ability but on health. He has had two ankle surgeries, and this spring has had a shoulder injury. If he is healthy, the question still remains as to where he could play. Rendon is considered an excellent fielding third baseman, which would make the injury the only real question, except if Ryan Zimmerman gets the contract extension many hope is inevitable. Rendon has had some time at 2B, but it isn’t clear he could do that at a major league level. And while he might be a great hitting prospect at 3rd, moving him to LF or 1B certainly diminishes some of his value. And at 6’0″, I have my own doubts that they’d ever move him to first. I’m sure the Nats hope he just turns into the great hitter that some envision, and he can play LF or get traded for some great prospect pitcher.

Here are a few quotes from analysts on the pick:

Kevin Goldstein (Baseball Prospectus) – “I don’t know ANYBODY who thinks Rendon can play up the middle as a pro.”

Kevin Goldstein – “If Rendon IS healthy, he projects as a .280-.300 hitter with tons of walks, 20-25 home runs and plus defense at third. Only question about him other than health was that he didn’t necessarily have a big time pro body at 6-0/190.”

Jason A. Churchill (ESPN Draft Blog) – “it’s clear the Nationals went for best player available, ignoring the fact Ryan Zimmerman is one of the best third baseman in baseball and under contract long term. Rendon’s injury concerns may or may not have had something to do with the fall, but the Nationals get a hitter here who could join them on the 25-man roster as early as next season. Where he plays in D.C. remains to be seen, but there has been some chatter about him moving to second base.”

John Manuel (Baseball America) – “For the third straight season, Washington wound up taking the No. 1 player on BA’s Top 200, as Rendon joins Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in Washington’s fold.”

John Sickels (SBNation) – “A healthy Rendon projects as an on-base machine with good power and excellent defensive ability at third base. The Nationals may have a steal here.”

Pick #23 – Alex Meyer (RHP, Kentucky)

This guy was tabbed as a member of the Nationals from the start, because Rizzo has a reputation for loving giant righties, and Meyer is 6’9″. His plus qualities also includes a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can reach 97 or 98. He has a very strong slider as well, and has a good delivery for such a tall 21 year old.His stuff is incredible, and it is quite possible to see him as a future ace.

He has had control issues in the past, but last year looked much better in that regard, which helped his overall performance. According to Baseball America, Meyer posted ERAs of 5.73 and 7.06 the last two seasons before going 7-5, 2.94 this season with 110 strikeouts in 101 innings. This leads to worries about what he’ll bring at first, and how long he’ll take to join the majors. With the issues he’s had, it’s unlikely that he’d be ready for the majors very soon, but an ETA of late 2013 probably isn’t out of the question.

Some takes on Meyer, including reacts to the pick:

Keith Law (ESPN) – “even with the improved control he was walking a guy every other inning until his last few outings, but it’s top-10 or top-5 stuff with No. 1 starter upside.”

Jim Callis (Baseball America) – “Nationals thought about taking Alex Meyer at 6 at one point, instead get him at 23, to add to Rendon. That is a good night.”

Kevin Goldstein – “One scout summed him up best by saying, ‘He’s either a number one, a shutdown closer, or doesn’t get out of Double-A.'”

Jason A. Churchill – “They tabbed Rendon at No. 6 and went pitching here with the best available college starter in Meyer. He brings big upside with a plus fastball-slider combo. He’s 6-foot-9 and when he keeps his delivery together is dominant and uses the slider to put batters away. There’s a chance he’s a closer in the future but he holds his velocity well despite some inconsistencies with his command. The Nationals, if we dream for a second, could have four perennial All-Stars out of the past three first rounds in Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Rendon and Meyer, with an above-average closer in Drew Storen.”

Pick #34 – Brian Goodwin (CF, Miami-Dade CC)

Keith Law ranked him 26th in his top 100 prospect list, and he may have fallen because of his personal issues. He was ineligible after his first year at UNC due to academic problems, and had to go to community college. But that isn’t necessarily a reflection on character, and it certainly doesn’t reflect his ability to hit. He has a good eye, and is considered a “potential” 5 tool player, in this case meaning he can run and he can hit and the power projects out, but isn’t there yet. Law called him a “plus-plus” runner who may not yet have a great first step but can catch up to most anything.

And the reaction:

Jim Callis – “Nationals get more big upside to start first round as OF Brian Goodwin joins Rendon, Meyer”

Nathan Rode (Baseball America) – ” Goodwin has been compared to Jacque Jones with his average to plus tools across the board. He’s a good hitter, showing patience and strength at the plate.”

Jason Churchill – Goodwin is “an athletic outfielder with plus speed and the ability to square up line drives and even hit for some power”

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One Response to Nats 2011 Draft Day 1 Analysis

  1. [...] take a look, once again, at who the Nats picked. For a more in depth of the first three, check out my Day 1 draft analysis. Below are just a few highlights and lots of quotes from people more knowledgeable about prospects [...]

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