Nats Get Both First Rounders Signed


Posted Jun 27, 2006


Chris Marrero and Colton Willems are both very talented young men. Now, they're both also wealthy after signing lucrative deals with the Nationals. The pair will be taking the field for the Gulf Coast League Nationals in the near future.

The Washington Nationals will have a lot of young faces in their organization with the selection of six high school players with their first six picks in the draft earlier this month. The two big names - Chris Marrero and Colton Willems - are both done deals, with Marrero agreeing to a contract Monday night.

Marrero will travel to Washington to sign the deal Saturday while getting a tour of RFK Stadium and taking in the Nationals game against Tampa Bay. The high school third baseman, who was the 15th player selected in the draft, will get a $1.625 million deal as his first pro contract.

Willems signed earlier in the week, getting $1.425 million after being taken with the 22nd overall pick in the draft.

"I just want to get out there and start my career," said an excited Marrero. His career will start in the Gulf Coast League shortly after he officially signs his deal with the Nationals. Marrero brings great power potential to the Nationals organization, but isn't likely to stay at his native third base. It's likely that he'll wind up playing either in left field or at first base down the road. Everything about Marrero's game is above average, including defensively, but scouts still believe he could be better suited to a position change.

Willems, who went 7-1 with a 0.68 ERA in his senior year at John Carroll Catholic High School in Fort Pierce, Florida, will start pitching immediately for Washington's Gulf Coast League rookie team. Scouts followed Willems closely after he was able to push his velocity to the low 90 mile per hour range this spring and has hit as high as 97 miles per hour in game situations. The only knock on Willems is that he'll need to develop a better slider and change-up to be effective in pro ball, but scouts believe he has the talent to handle mastering those two pitches. His change-up is already decent, but he needs to disguise it a little better.

Marrero's power will be a blessing to the Nats' GCL team, which has hit just one homerun in their first five games. Meanwhile, Willems joins a pitching staff that has been clicking on all cylinders, posting a 1.83 ERA as the GCL Nats have started the year 4-1.



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