The first year MLB amateur draft began last night, and the Washington Nationals had the 25th pick in the 1st round. That spot in the draft will forever be known as the “Mike Trout” spot, and over the years has turned out to be a good spot to choose from.
Draft gurus like Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo both had the Nationals tied to Seth Romero who is a Scott Boras client with some unfortunate baggage where he allegedly fought a teammate and failed a drug test while also breaking curfew on a road trip and appearing in uniform in a photograph holding a bong, multiple sources told the Houston Chronicle. Romero was kicked off of his University of Houston team for multiple team violations. Okay. What more can you say. Well, you can say a lot more because Mike Rizzo did in fact choose Romero with the Nats 1st pick in the draft.
With the 25th pick of the 2017 #MLBDraft, the @Nationals select LHP Seth Romero: https://t.co/oUUGXftEPh pic.twitter.com/C50FjAfWST
— MLB Draft (@MLBDraft) June 13, 2017
Normally this is where Mike Rizzo does the song and dance about how he has vetted the player through a rigorous background check, and it’s a maturity issue, yadda, yadda, yadda, and he will be a model citizen with the Nationals. The word sociopath doesn’t get tossed around lightly as Jonathan Papelbon got that label as did Elijah Dukes and Nyjer Morgan. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” and move on as the Nats did with Papelbon, Dukes and Morgan.
The #Nats just took Seth Romero at No. 25. I love it. Lots of baggage (kicked off his college team twice). But the dude has top-10 talent.
— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) June 13, 2017
For Romero’s transgressions, it cost him millions of dollars as he went from a Top-1o pick to the 25th slot that has a value of $2,530,400 associated with it. Romero won’t be poor when he receives that net check, and you hope he can walk the straight and narrow and turn his life around for the better.
“[Seth Romero] certainly needs to be accountable for his actions,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. “We are going to demand that he conduct himself like all our players do. Be proud of the name on the front of the jersey is something that we harp on here once we sign the player, and we feel that with our development system, he’s going to conduct himself as a professional and adhere to the rules and regulations we set forth for all of our minor league players.We felt comfortable in the fact that we knew his history. Our area scouts are guys who know him., and we expect him to conduct himself with maturity and be professional and be accountable for his actions.”
On the field, and if Romero can stay on the field, he is a big framed lefty who throws hard and competes.
“Big fastball, wipe-out breaking ball, good feel for his change-up,” Nationals scouting director Kris Kline said. “a very competitive kid.”
The Nationals also chose their 2nd round pick (65th overall) last night and went with Wil Crowe who was another value pick. Crowe is a pitcher with an injury history where the Nats usually get a higher ceiling player with a pick further back in the draft. That is how the Nationals picked Lucas Giolito and Erick Fedde using that strategy.
Crowe is out of the University of South Carolina and is a right-hander who held the coveted role as the Gamecock’s Friday night starter. Crowe had Tommy John surgery after his 2015 season which was his sophomore year with the Gamecocks. In his freshman season at South Carolina, Crow was named an All-American in 2014. This season, Crowe returned to the mound and was at a .975 K/9 in his 92 1/3 innings in 2017.
“The fact that he got to us where he picked, I’m extremely elated,” said Kline, who pointed to Crowe’s mid-90s fastball as a key asset for the 6-2 righty. “… He’s an ultra-competitive kid. Good track record. Profiles as a mid-rotation starter with secondary stuff.”
There is your day number 1 backgrounds of the draft picks for the Nationals and round number 3 begins today. The draft picks that sign early will gather at the new facility at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and many of the advanced players will become part of the Gulf Coast League Nationals or short-season Auburn Doubledays of the New York Penn League. Usually from there they get promoted to the Low-A Hagerstown Suns who are just absolutely loaded with talent with players like Juan Soto and Carter Kieboom. The Hagerstown All-Stars include Kieboom and also Blake Perkins, first baseman Aldrem Corredor, right fielder Daniel Johnson, and Sheldon Neuse along with Hagerstown pitchers McKenzie Mills and Tyler Watson. The All-Star team will also be managed by Hagerstown’s Patrick Anderson.
This is the perfect segue into the latest TalkNats podcast which features the voice of the Hagerstown Suns’ Kevin Gehl as well as a chat with Blake Perkins‘ mother Carisa Cole Sharrett. For those who are into prospect talk, this is a great piece produced by Kevin Nibley and Bryan King.
In addition, I got to interview the home run leader in the South Atlantic League, Daniel “DJ” Johnson, who is quickly moving up the prospect rankings.
One other interview we did on this trip was with Jakson Reetz who you might remember from the 2014 draft as he was one of the top high school bats in the entire draft but seemed to be fully committed to going to college and Mike Rizzo got him to sign as a 3rd round pick. Reetz unfortunately had a few injuries that he talks about in this interview. He is a little behind in his progression through the minor leagues because of the injuries, and he just got promoted to Hagerstown.