CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }

Seasoned hurlers lead Nats' 2009 class

Seasoned hurlers lead Nats' 2009 class

With the 2009 season and Arizona Fall League (where several 2009 Draftees got their first taste of pro ball) in the books, we take a look at the early results of each club's '09 Draft class: how their top picks did; late-round picks that fared well; which picks are likely to move up the ladder quickest; and which picks clubs were unable to sign.

It might have slipped past most folks' radars that the Washington Nationals signed 14 of their first 15 Draft picks this summer, and continued to directly address their most pressing need for big league pitching by taking college hurlers with seven picks in the first 10 rounds.

In fact, it might have slipped past most folks' radars that the Nationals even drafted more than two players in 2009, given the avid and well-deserved press that their top two picks got.

More


NL East
ATL | FLA | NYM | PHI | WAS

AL East
BAL | BOS | NYY | TB | TOR

NL Central
CHC | CIN | HOU | MIL | PIT | STL

AL Central
CWS | CLE | DET | KC | MIN

NL West
ARI | COL | LAD | SD | SF

AL West
LAA | OAK | SEA | TEX

For the first time in history, thanks to the new rules regarding where a team receives its compensation pick if it did not sign a first-rounder in the previous year, the Nationals had two picks in the Top 10 (in this case, getting pick No. 10 for not signing No. 9 pick from 2008, pitcher Aaron Crow) and they made great use of them.

With the first overall pick, the Nats signed San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg, widely regarded as the best pitcher to be available in a First-Year Player Draft, and they signed him with several minutes to spare prior to the Aug. 17 midnight ET deadline. With the 10th pick, Washington went for Stanford closer Drew Storen, who, conversely, signed quickly and became one of the first '09 Draftees to begin his pro career, cruising with virtually nary a hitch all the way to Double-A Harrisburg.

Both pitched in the Arizona Fall League and both should factor into the 2010 big league picture.

Top five picks

1. Stephen Strasburg, RHP: What is left to say about one of the top pitchers to enter the draft? The 6-foot-4 Strasburg's fastball has been clocked in triple digits, and he offsets it with a power curveball and a changeup. The only amateur on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team and the winner of pretty much every national collegiate honor in '09, Strasburg signed a $15 million deal minutes before the deadline, and it was considered by many to be a steal (especially compared to some of the numbers that had been rumored prior to the deal). A sore neck scratched him from the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game starting slot, and a twisted knee suffered while playing catch in the outfield kept him out of the league championship game. Since those were the lone two AFL games televised nationally on MLB Network, most fans have yet to see Strasburg throw a pro pitch, but he's expected to be rested and ready to go when Spring Training arrives. The righty could break camp with the big league club, if he isn't sent to the Minors for just a bit of seasoning first. In limited AFL action, Strasburg finished 4-1 with a 4.26 ERA in five starts for Phoenix, striking out 23 while walking seven in 19 innings.

1. Drew Storen, RHP: The 10th player taken overall after having served as closer at Stanford, Storen is a polished reliever with a fastball in the mid 90-mph range and good secondary stuff to offset it. He wasted no time in getting his pro career started, moving in immediately with his best friend and former Stanford teammate, current Nationals pitching prospect Jack McGeary, in Class A Hagerstown. By season's end, Storen moved through three teams -- Hagerstown, Class A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, combining for a 1.95 ERA and 11 saves in 37 innings, walking just eight while striking out 49. He followed that up with an 0.66 ERA and four saves in 12 AFL games, striking out 13 while walking three in 13 2/3 innings. A draft-eligible sophomore signee whose dad (Mark Patrick) is a well-respected media veteran, Storen has both the maturity and charisma that will make him a quick fan favorite when he arrives in D.C., which, as with Strasburg, could be very quickly.

2. Jeff Kobernus, 2B: The 50th pick overall, the Cal product is a prototypical No. 2 hitter whose debut season was cut short by a knee injury. When healthy, Kobernus provides plus defense, some pop, a good arm and solid tools across the board, and as the club's lone position player pick in its first five selections, he is Washington's most polished hitter right now from the 2009 Draft class. Kobernus can hit to all fields, though he is more of a line drive hitter than a home run guy, but he has great instincts on the basepaths to go with good speed. His work ethic matches the rest of the picture. He hit .222 in 10 games at short-season Class A Vermont this summer, and should start working his way through the full-season leagues this spring.

3. Trevor Holder, RHP: One of two back-to-back college senior signings, the Georgia prospect pitched at three levels this summer, finishing up at advanced Class A Potomac and combining for a 6.97 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings. A 10th-round pick in 2008 by Florida who did not sign, the Nats love his upside, size and makeup.

4. A.J. Morris, RHP: The Kansas State hurler was one of five finalists for the Golden Spikes Award for top collegiate player (which went to his future teammate, Strasburg) as he combined to go 14-1 with a 2.09 ERA in his senior season. Armed with a fastball and slider combo in college, Morris has started flashing a promising changeup, as well, and he combined for a 3.38 ERA between the Gulf Coast League and Hagerstown, striking out 40 while walking eight in 42 2/3 innings.

Best of the rest

Right-hander Dean Weaver (seventh round), the closer out of Georgia where he was teammates with Holder, has a fastball which touches the mid 90s, and he posted a 3.55 ERA in 10 games between the Gulf Coast League and Vermont after signing late. ... Righty Taylor Jordan (9), taken out of community college in Florida, limited Gulf Coast League hitters to a .194 average in 10 games. ... Lefty Paul Applebee (10th round) from UC Riverside walked just four batters in 33 1/3 innings between the Gulf Coast League and Vermont. ... Righty Nathan Karns (12th round), a big right-hander out of Texas Tech, signed at the deadline and has yet to pitch, but he has a blazing fastball in the mid 90s. ... The Nationals gave fans a local boy to root for in the person of righty Pat Lehman (13th round), the Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year out of George Washington. Between Vermont and Hagerstown, Karns combined for a 1.97 ERA and limited hitters to a .202 average, walking just two while striking out 42 in 59 1/3 innings. ... Outfielder Naoya Washiya (14th round), only the second Japanese player to be drafted, comes out of Junior College of the Desert in California and has great speed, going 12-for-12 in steals in the Gulf Coast League. ... Lefty Evan Bronson (29th round) out of Trinity College in Texas was 3-0 with an 0.55 ERA in 20 games at Vermont, limiting hitters to a .161 average and walking three while striking out 38 in 49 1/3 innings. ... The last player from their Draft that the Nats signed was righty Shane McCatty (34th round), whose dad Steve is the club's pitching coach. Taken out of Oakland University in Michigan, he posted a 3.95 ERA in 14 games in the Gulf Coast League.

Fast risers

The two obvious picks are Strasburg and Storen, both of whom could factor into the Opening Day picture in 2010, but the Nationals' other two pitchers taken in the top five, Holder and Morris, were college seniors who will move as fast as their own progress dictates. In addition, though a little further away, don't be surprised to see Kobernus move up, thanks in part to his versatility in the infield.

Unsigned

Overall, the Nationals signed 30 of their 51 picks, including 14 of their first 15. Their last selection to sign came in round 34. The club's fifth-round pick, high school lefty Miguel Pena from Texas, opted instead to attend San Jacinto Junior College and could be back in the Draft in 2010. Big first baseman Corey Davis (15th round) out of high school in Coffee, Ga., went the college route, as well, as did intriguing two-way player Marcus Stroman (18th round). One of the top players from the New York suburb of Long Island, some teams saw the 5-foot-9 170-pound Stroman as a pitcher and others as a shortstop (the Nats drafted him officially as a shortstop), but all knew the academic/athletic double-threat would be a tough sign, and indeed he headed to Duke instead.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less
{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }
{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }