As the season comes to a close and the Nationals' 2006 draftees finish out their first seasons in…
Draft Report Card: Part One
Best Pro Debut: RHP, Zech Zinicola has already rocketed all the way to Double-A Harrisburg, where he finished the season and dominated out of the bullpen at every stop along the way.
Best Athlete: OF, Stephen Englund struggled in his first sampling of pro baseball, but all the tools that made him a second round draft pick were still very noticeable. His athleticism is second to none in this Nationals' draft class.
Draft Synopsis - Part 1
As a whole, the Nationals draft class is already looking like one of the best of any organization in baseball. They lacked depth in high upside talent throughout the levels of their farm system and they took obvious steps to shore up that weakness, signing toolsy prep standouts, Chris Marrero, Stephen Englund, and Stephen King. There was also a glaring weakness in pitching depth and that issue was lessened when they added high upside hurlers, Colton Willems and Glenn Gibson.
The Nationals were able to add plenty of high upside talent as it was noted above, but the overall depth of their class is what is most impressive. All five players that they inked in the first five rounds were selected out of high school, showing a renewed commitment to developing these young standouts and refining their raw abilities. If they continue to add this type of of quality talent to their farm system, the laws of probability point to a bright future in the nation's capitol.
Reviewing The Picks - Part 1
Chris Marrero - Washington's first pick in the 2006 draft is looking as good as advertised following his first season in professional baseball. Marrero's season was shortened after he came down with viral meningitis, but he displayed the pure hitting skills and power potential that made him the 15th overall pick in the draft. The third baseman appears to be on the right track to begin the 2007 season in full season ball and the Nationals couldn't be more pleased with what they received in their top pick.
Colton Willems - Yes, he pitched only 16 innings in the Gulf Coast League before being shut down due to arm fatigue, but the Nationals saw more than enough from their prized 18-year-old righty to believe they got exactly what they drafted in the first round. His upside made his selection a very worthy first round choice and he simply needs refinement in the coming years. Willems stood out in a draft class that lacked depth in high school pitching talent, but Washington made it a top priorities to pick up an arm of his caliber.
Stephen Englund - In the second round, the Nationals began their run of high upside selections and Englund's upside is about as high as they come. Nationals' scouts feel he could become a legitimate five tool talent despite his struggles with the bat in his first sampling of pro ball in 2006. He did show the speed, the good bat speed and defensive ability in the outfield and Washington is comfortable that he will slowly begin to grow into his immense talent.
Stephen King - Landing a player of Stephen King's caliber in the third round may end up being looked back on as one of the biggest coups of the draft. Netting a bonus of $750,000, the Nationals see King as a significant part of their future infield. Despite signing out of high school, King could actually make his ascent up the minor league ladder rather quickly with his advanced approach at the plate and excellent defensive skills.
Glenn Gibson - In yet another example of the Nats snagging a player with great upside, Gibson may also end up being quite a steal for a fifth round pick. An ultra-polished lefty, Gibson is a rarity coming out of high school. He pitches much more like a college pitcher, using command and his mound aptitude to dominate hitters. And, at 6-foot-4, scouts believe his velocity could eventually take off. At this point, it sits around 88 MPH but his ability to pitch is matched by few at his young age. If he is able to pick up that extra velocity and combine it with his pitchability, Washington may have a top flight lefty starter for years to come.
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