Two weeks from today, MLB will hold its annual amateur draft. Before this year’s draft takes place, the Federal Reserve will provide a two-part look back at the last five drafts. This post, part one, examines the Nationals 2009-‘10 classes by focusing on the players that are still in the farm system, and determines which crop will produce the most talent going forward.
Graduated: Stephen Strasburg (1st round), Drew Storen (1st), Taylor Jordan (9th)
Notable Players with Other Organizations: Nate Karns (12th), Rays
Prospects: Jeff Kobernus (2nd), Michael Taylor (6th)
This was the draft in which the Nationals set a record by spending $11,927,200 on bonuses, which was surpassed two years later by the Pirates’ $17,602,100 class. As one of the most hyped prospects of his era, Strasburg received a major league deal that paid him $15.1 million over four years.
Strasburg alone could make this draft. While he has since been overshadowed by Mike Trout, the 25th selection, his career 3.01 ERA, 2.74 FIP, and 10.5 K/9 rate offer glimpses of his talent. Storen has become a steady bullpen piece, while Jordan could still fit into the Nationals’ plans long-term.
This class thinned out when it comes to prospects, with Taylor arguably the last hope to salvage the weak crop of position players. Currently with Double-A Harrisburg, the 23-year-old is flashing the potential to be a long-term centerfield option with a .293/.374/.573 triple-slash line. Kobernus may fit in as a bench player down the road, though he is on Triple-A Syracuse’s DL and has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career.
Graduated: Bryce Harper (1st), Aaron Barrett (9th)
Other Organizations: Robbie Ray (12th), Tigers
Prospects: Sammy Solis (2nd), A.J. Cole (4th)
By taking Harper, the Nationals snagged two of the most hyped amateurs in history in back-to-back drafts. Despite several injuries in the early stages of his big league career, Harper has provided plenty of highlights along the way, including two All-Star selections, a Rookie of the Year in 2012, and a career 125 OPS+. It should be noted that Barrett is technically still a prospect, though he should stick in Washington with his production so far.
After Harper, the hitters selected from this class—including infielders Rick Hague (3rd) and Jason Martinson (5th)—have struggled in the high levels of the minors, leaving little in the way of prospects. On the pitching side, Solis still flashes the potential to be a mid-to-back of the rotation starter, but injuries have stunted his progress and could make the bullpen a safer destination in the long run. Cole, meanwhile, currently sports a 2.33 FIP and 7.7 K/9 at Harrisburg and might find his way into the Nationals’ rotation before too long.
In many ways, these drafts are the most important in franchise history. Along with marking the transition from Jim Bowden to Mike Rizzo’s regime, the Nationals stimulated a previously weak farm system, laying the foundation for the major league team.
I like the potential of the ’10 class a little bit more. Harper should fully emerge as a franchise player within the next few years, while Doug Fister adds to this group after being acquired for Ray. With Solis and Barrett as two potential late-inning stalwarts, Cole could provide a power arm out of the rotation.
- Assistant General Manager Doug Harris said that lefthander Matt Purke will seek a second opinion on his injured left elbow, Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. Kilgore says that Tommy John surgery is a possibility for Purke, who had an 8.04 ERA in 8 starts for Harrisburg this year.
- Solis earned a win in game one of High-A Potomac’s doubleheader on Wednesday, limiting the Lynchburg Hillcats (Braves) to 1 run on 7 hits with 4 strikeouts in 5 and 1/3 innings.
(Image: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)