The Washington Nationals selected Merritt Island high-schooler right-handed pitcher Mason Denaburg in the 1st round with pick № 27 in the 2018 amateur Draft.
Denaburg is a fireballer with a fastball that was clocked in the upper 90’s. He stands 6-foot-3 on a 190-pound frame, and he suffered from biceps tendinitis that limited his senior season while also pushing him back in the draft rankings. This year, he had a 5–1 record with a 1.27 ERA (5 ER/35.1 IP) in eight starts at Merritt Island High School. He struck out 73 batters while walking just 10. Merritt Island is just a few miles from Viera, Florida which was the former spring training home of the Washington Nationals. Alumni from Merritt Island High School include former Nats pitch Taylor Jordan and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle whose name appears on the High School’s baseball field.
— Adam McInturff (@2080adam) June 5, 2018
“We are very excited to select Mason with our first pick of the 2018 Draft,” said Assistant General Manager & Vice President, Scouting Operations Kris Kline. “He is a strong, athletic kid with very clean arm action and three Major League quality pitches. He’s a competitive, two-sport athlete who we saw a lot throughout his high school career.”
Some scouts rated Denaburg as the most athletic and hardest-throwing high school right-hander, Denaburg was rated by Baseball America as the № 22 draft prospect and by MLB.com as the № 24 draft prospect, and by Perfect Game as the № 11 overall high school prospect, the fourth-best high school right-handed pitching prospect and the third-best high school prospect in the talent-rich state of Florida.
Denaburg also had played catcher and then switched to only pitcher and outfielder, and on offense he had some impressive stats at a .410 batting average (34-for-83) with eight doubles, three triples, five home runs, 21 RBI, 10 stolen bases and 33 runs scored in 28 games during his senior season.
According the the Washington Nationals, he was named a Rawlings/Perfect Game First-Team All-American and in the fall of 2017, he helped the USA Baseball 18U National Team bring home the gold medal at the World Cup. In the summer of 2017, he participated in the Under Armour All-America Baseball Game at Wrigley Field.
In the 2nd round, the Nationals selected Connecticut lefty Tim Cate who had a 2.91 ERA for UConn this season. He is 6’0″ and 187 pounds. He is known for his curveball and fastball and strikeouts. His K/BB this season was 3.53:1. Before college, he attended Cheney Tech High School in Manchester, Connecticut.
“Tim Cate is an advanced collegiate starter who gained even more experience playing with Team USA for two summers,” Kline said. “He has one of the best left-handed curveballs in the Draft to go along with a really good fastball. He is a strike thrower with good, smooth delivery.”
Cate entered the 2018 draft rated by Baseball America as the № 54 draft prospect, by MLB.com as the № 62 draft prospect, and is considered by many to have one of the best college curveballs, and he possesses a fastball in the low 90’s.
Prior to the season, he was named to the Golden Spikes Award watch list and was a Preseason All-American by Baseball America, Perfect Game, and D1Baseball.com.
Cate is another example of a Nationals draft pick with high upside and two ‘plus’ pitches. Some scouts feel the fallback for Cate is a lefty specialist in the bullpen.
In the 3rd round on the second day of the draft with pick #101, the Washington Nationals drafted a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher from Vanderbilt University named Roland “Reid” Schaller born April 2,1997 which makes him an older player at 21-years-old, but he is a Tommy John survivor and worked his way back in college. His fastball this year was clocked in the high 90’s and he is 6’3″ at 210 pounds on a big body. The fallback on Schaller is a big bullpen arm although the Nats will groom him as a starter.