Finally back in town, I was following the team from afar. I noticed that almost all of the attention in the area was focused on the signing of Bryce Harper, which was important. There was focus on what guys in the clubhouse said about him as well, which was probably less important. And yes, the most important thing was getting him signed. But there were some other significant signings, including guys like AJ Cole and Sammy Solis. These were not just late round signings, they are guys that people project to be major league quality starters.
According to ESPN, “Cole is one of the most projectable pitchers of the top high school arms in this year’s draft, flashing 96 or 97 in some outings this spring, but offering the potential of more consistent plus velocity and a better breaking ball down the road.” MLB.com puts his fastball lower, around 92-94, and notes the strength of his power slurve. ESPN also notes that, “If you want a projection arm in the first round, he’s probably the top such arm in this draft, but you’ll have to buy him away from a strong commitment to Miami.” MLB.com projected that he’d be one of the first high school pitchers drafted. So he is basically one of the best high school pitchers (Keith Law ranked him #25 overall) and the Nats paid to get him to stay. Cole was a 4th rounder, available so late because people didn’t think they could sign him. The Nats did end up giving him a record amount for a 4th round pick – $2M.