I'm going to be taking a look back at every player the Nationals have drafted since the relocation to DC. At the very least, I want to see which players are still in the organization, which have moved on to other organizations, and which are out of baseball entirely. I don't know what, if anything, I'm going to learn from this exercise, but I do expect it to make me depressed, angry, and sad.
This labor of labor would not be possible without the efforts of Nats prospect maven Brian Oliver at Nationals Farm Authority. So, if you actually read this and halfway through you begin to regret it, blame him. No one told him to keep track of these washouts.
Names of players who played for a major league club are in bold. Names of players still in the Nationals organization are in italics. Names of players who were drafted by the Nationals but did not sign are underlined.
Round 1. Chris Marrero (stats): High school 3B. Baseball America hit all the high notes on Marrero: "top prep position player," "remarkable power," "average to plus tools in all five categories." All right, sign him up. "Adequate plate discipline." Uh, OK, but home runs, right? "Hasn't shown an ability to make consistent hard contact." Maybe he's more of a doubles hitter? "Needs to improve plate coverage." Uh-huh. "Some scouts envision him . . . developing into a player the ilk of Pat Burrell." Oh, jeez. Moved first to corner OF, then later to 1B. Broke his leg and missed half the 2008 season, and has battled weight problems. His second time through Potomac showed improvement, but it hasn't translated to success in Harrisburg. In Marrero, you have a guy with no natural position who doesn't hit well enough to play 1B, the only position available to him in the National League. The latest word on Marrero is that he's still a DH in the field with no sense of the strike zone. I'm going to comfort myself with the knowledge that a) Marrero is still young; and b) some other team probably would have picked him in the 1st round if the Nats hadn't, so there's at least one other team as dumb as the Nats. Meanwhile, I'm going to try to ignore the fact that Marrero's top 3 PECOTA comps are Donnie Scott, Nelson Simmons, and Tony Longmire. Bottom line: if Marrero doesn't break out this year or the next, he's going to be well on his way to organizational filler.
Compensation Pick 1. Colton Willems (stats): High school RHP. Very highly regarded coming into the 2006 draft. Never showed the numbers to make it as a starter, and was sent back down to Rookie ball in 2009 to work on his conversion to a reliever. Had mixed results as a reliever, but made the AA roster for Opening Day 2010. Retired May 2010. Twenty-one isn't too late to go to college. Hopefully, he put some of his signing bonus aside for safekeeping.
Compensation Pick 2. Stephen Englund (stats): High school OF. DOA as a hitter. The Nats were attempting to convert him into a pitcher when he was hit with a 50-game suspension after testing positive for amphetamines. Released April 2010. A close reading of the Baseball America scouting report on Englund provides some foreshadowing: inability to hit, problematic makeup, and a warning that "organizations that covet high-end tools are likely to be too tempted to let Englund slide out of the first five rounds." Can you blame Bowden for being Bowden? In this case, yes. The makeup issues should have been the biggest red flag. I'm not saying the Nats shouldn't have drafted Englund, but maybe they shouldn't have drafted him quite so high. Who could they have chosen instead? The Red Sox took Justin Masterson with the very next pick. (True, there were concerns that Masterson wouldn't stick as a starter. My point is that Bowden had other options besides Englund for that pick.)
Round 3. Stephen King (stats): High school SS. Suspended 50 games after testing positive for Ritalinic acid. Currently on the restricted list. Showed some potential with the bat at Hagerstown in 2008, but that didn't translate into success in Potomac in 2009. Injury-prone and an iffy fielder. If I were feeling optimistic about King, I'd point out that he's only 22. I'm not feeling particularly optimistic about King.
Round 4. Glenn Gibson (stats): High school LHP. Traded to Tampa Bay for Elijah Dukes. The Rays loved him so much they released him, and the Nats resigned him as a minor league free agent. So now the Nats have Gibson and Dukes. Sweet! Wait, they released Dukes because his bad attitude was harshing Rizzo's buzz and Gibson has been nothing more than a mediocre pile of mush ever since he got mononucleosis? Fuck!
Round 5. Cory VanAllen (stats): College LHP. Usually ERA doesn't tell the whole story, but in this case ERA tells a whole lot of the story. VanAllen gives up too many hits. But he's a lefty, so he'll get lots of second chances. But at 25 and in Potomac for the third time, this might be the last second chance he gets.
Round 6. Zechry Zinicola (stats): College RHP. Instead of living in campus housing or an apartment in college, Zinicola "pride[d] himself on living in a manufactured home in a trailer park in Tempe." Baseball America called him both "eccentric" and "an immature player who won't play by the rules." But a low-mid 90s fastball cures a lot of faults. Got off to a pretty fast start, and made it all the way to AAA by 2008, when the strikeouts started decreasing and the walks started increasing. After spending part of 2009 in AA, Zinicola fought his way back to AAA. The organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2006 and originally thought to be the Nats' future closer, the team left Zinicola unprotected in the 2009 Rule 5 draft. He was chosen by Toronto, who later returned him. OK, so Zinicola didn't meet expectations, but is there anything there worth hoping for? If there is, it's hard to see it. It's almost impossible not to look at Zinicola and see a complete bust. Update: Zinicola has been demoted to Harrisburg.
Round 7. Sam Brown (stats): High school RHP. Did not sign. Drafted by Texas in the 22nd round of the 2009 draft. See kids, going to college can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
Round 8. Sean Rooney (stats): Junior college C. Showed some promise in Potomac last season, but is struggling in his first full season at Harrisburg.
Round 9. Joey Rosas (no stats): Junior college LHP. Did not sign. Attended University of Tennessee.
Round 12. Cole Kimball (stats): College RHP. Repeating Potomac and showing improvement, but, at 24, a little old for the league.
Round 13. Hassan Pena (stats): Junior college RHP. Cuban defector. Currently in the Harrisburg bullpen. What's good about Pena? Career 0.4 HR/9. What's not so good about Pena? Career 6.3 K/9. What's bad about Pena? Career 4.2 BB/9.
Round 15. Dustin Dickerson (stats): High school 3B. Did not sign. Drafted by Florida in the 6th round of the 2009 draft.
Round 17. Erik Arnesen (stats): College RHP. Swingman/spot-starter in Harrisburg. Good peripheral numbers. At age 26, it's either up or out. Wouldn't be surprised to see him in DC in September if he keeps it up.
Round 18. Adam Carr (stats): College RHP. Getting old fast in his third visit to Harrisburg. Walks and homers have been Carr's nemeses. Doing OK so far in 2010. Maybe he moves up to AAA this season when a bullpen spot opens up (Storen!), but there are probably others who are more deserving (Arnesen) or more important to the organization (MacDougal).
Round 19. Sam Dyson (no stats): High school RHP. Did not sign. Attended University of South Carolina.
Round 22. Robby Jacobsen (stats): George Mason University 1B. Has been playing a mix of 1B, 3B, and corner OF. Spent all of 2009, his age-24 season, in Hagerstown and has only a .718 OPS to show for it. Currently in Potomac, where he's hitting his way to a release.
Round 23. Forrest Beverly (no stats): College LHP. Did not sign. Labrum surgery. "Forrest Beverly" is a great name. It works for almost any occupation, cool or mundane. "Hi, I'm Pulitzer Prize winning author Forrest Beverly." "Hi, I'm EMT Forrest Beverly." "Hi, I'm baseball player Forrest Beverly." "Hi, I'm Forrest Beverly, and I'll be your server today." "Hi, I'm astronaut Forrest Beverly." There are few people who wouldn't be better off if their names were changed to Forrest Beverly. Notable exception: 2006 30th round pick Burt Reynolds.
Round 25. Jim Birmingham (no stats): High school LHP. Did not sign. Attended Coastal Carolina University.
Round 28. Michael Robbins (no stats): Junior college LHP. Did not sign.
Round 29. Khris Davis (stats): High school OF. Did not sign. Drafted by Milwaukee in the 7th round of the 2009 draft. Currently playing for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Midwest League.
Round 30. Burt Reynolds (stats): High school SS. Burt Reynolds -- cool name, right? And not just a regular high school, but a "prestigious" (but not too prestigious to misuse an apostrophe) vo-tech high school. Maybe young Burt here is some kind of throwback to the days before everyone went to college, back when factories fielded semi-pro teams? Yeah, and then I saw that young Master Reynolds was born in San Pedro de Macoris, DR. Say what? What kind of guy born in the DR has a name like "Burt Reynolds?" Did the esteemed Mr. Ferguson stop in the DR while scouting possible locations for Cannonball Run III and leave behind a generous dollop of mustachioed manseed? Was this an example of Jose Rijo and Jim Bowden taking a run at an early version of Smileygate? ("No, I'm telling you, Jose. That the kid's name is 'Burt Reynolds' makes it that much more awesome. Look, I gotta go, I'm getting another call on my Segway phone.") And then I saw that his real first name is Alfredo, so now I wasted all this time on crappy jokes and his name isn't even really Burt. If journalism is the first draft of history, then blogging is the first draft of inanity, right? In other words, if you think I spend any time revising this thing, you're nuts. Oh, and he's a cousin of Robinson Cano, who doesn't suck anymore. Did not sign.
Round 33. Tyler Moore (stats): Junior college 1B. Did not sign. Redrafted by the Nationals in the 16th round of the 2008 draft.
Round 34. Taylor Kinzer (stats): High school OF. Did not sign. Drafted by the Angels in the 24th round of the 2009 draft.
Round 35. D'Vontrey Richardson (no stats): High school OF. Did not sign. Drafted by Milwaukee in the 5th round of the 2009 draft.
Round 37. Austin Hudson (no stats): High School RHP. Did not sign. Drafted by Seattle in the 27th round of the 2009 draft.
Round 38. Zachary Von Tersch (no stats): High School RHP. Did not sign. Drafted by the Mets in the 22nd round of the 2009 draft.
Round 39. Andrew Doyle (no stats): High school RHP. Did not sign. Drafted by Texas in the 4th round of the 2009 draft.
Round 40. Nick Pearce (no stats): High school RHP. Local product out of DeMatha Catholic High School. Did not sign. Attended the University of Maryland.
Round 41. Brad Peacock (stats): High school RHP. Peacock is now a 22-year-old starting pitcher in his first full season at Potomac. His peripheral numbers aren't terrible, and there is a definite trend towards improvement. Sickels grades him a C, so it's within the realm of possibility that he might make the big leagues as a fringe #5 starter or a bullpen arm someday, but for a player drafted so low to not have washed out has to be considered some kind of success.
Round 42. Javier Martinez (stats): College RHP. Did not sign. Drafted by Seattle in the 29th round of the 2007 draft.
Round 44. Chad Jenkins (no stats): High school LHP. Did not sign. Redrafted by the Nats in 2009.
Round 45. Adam Kramer (no stats): Junior college RHP. Did not sign. Attended West Texas A&M University.
Round 46. Jason Brugman (no stats) Junior college SS. Did not sign. Attended the University of Central Missouri.
Round 47. Joshua Rodriguez (stats): High school C. Did not sign. Drafted by Seattle in the 49th round of the 2008 draft.
Round 48. Kyle Page (no stats): Junior college OF. Son of former Nats hitting coach Mitchell Page. (Yeah, I forgot all about Mitchell Page, too. Quick refresher: Cardinals hitting coach, drinking problem, dried up, Nats hitting coach in 2006, fell off the wagon, and that's how we ended up with hitting coach Lenny Harris [shudder].) Did not sign. Currently attending Grambling State University.
Round 49. Jarred Holloway (stats): High school LHP. Did not sign. Drafted by Houston in the 10th round of the 2008 draft.
Round 50. Jonathan Pannell (stats): College RHP. Local kid from George Mason. Did not sign. Drafted by San Francisco in the 38th round of the 2007 draft.
2006 totals: 52 players drafted. 26 players signed (11 position players, 15 pitchers). 12 players still with the organization. 0 players with major league service time.
Looking at the number of high school players the Nationals drafted -- both lower-round unsigned high school players that went to college or were drafted higher in a later draft, but especially upper-round high school players that signed -- I'm going to call 2006 the Upside Draft. Or as Nationals Farm Authority said: "the Nationals drafted very aggressively among high reward/high risk prep schoolers early in the draft with designs of rebuilding their depleted farm system from the ground up."
While the 2006 draft got relatively good reviews at the time, it looks poor in hindsight. Not 2007 poor, but still really bad. In Marrero and Zinicola, we thought we were getting our 1B and closer of the future. Instead we got a bad body hitter who will be lucky to project as the next Casey Kotchman and a guy who went from being loved by the team to being left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft. Add in the suspensions, underperformances, retirement, and unsigned players that makes up the rest of the first 10 picks, and you've got a failed draft. Forget Marrero, Zinicola, and King. The best we can hope for is one of Arnesen or Peacock making it to the show for a little while. If Marrero does end up developing, it will be a pleasant surprise.