The last time the Washington Nationals selected better than eleventh in the amateur draft was 2011 when the team selected Anthony Rendon with the sixth overall pick in the first round that year.
Just a few months ago, the Chicago White Sox selected Garrett Crochet with the eleventh pick of the draft. The greatest eleventh overall pick taken in the draft was a guy named Max Scherzer. You might have heard of him. There was also Andrew McCutchen, George Springer, Greg Luzinski, Shane Mack, Neil Walker, Walt Weiss, and the other Adam Eaton.
The fine people at Baseball America have already put together a mock Top-10 for the 2021 draft (subscription required).
The analysts at Baseball America then gave their best five players after their top-10 which gives you an idea who could be available for the Washington Nationals and certainly a few from that top-10 will fall, and some will fall further, and others will move up.
- RHP Andrew Painter, Calvary Christian HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
- OF James Wood, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
- LHP Steven Hajjar, Michigan
- 3B Alex Binelas, Louisville
- OF Sal Frelick, Boston College
These projections will change as they always do. We will see if Kumar Rocker will stay at Nº 1 for the draft. Jack Leiter, who is Rocker’s teammate at Vanderbilt, has already fallen back a few spots in the BA mock drafts. Expect more movement.
Painter is my favorite pitcher and I love his coachability. I’ve reached out to his family, and just like his make up. Then you have the local guy, Wood, from Montgomery County, Maryland looks like a big man who can rake. I’ve heard great things from several people who had eyes on him at the local batting cages and youth travel ball. Yes, he is legit. Also, and interestingly enough, the Nats already have drafted Alex Binelas before from Oak Creek High School in 2018 in the 35th round, and of course he chose to go to Louisville. The lefty batter who is a third baseman has the most compact swing you have seen. Simple mechanics, but those mechanics need work — and the contact rates are not what the most elite have with that short swing. Binelas is a hands forward setup then pulls them back in his load. Will he transition well to a wood bat?
Let’s go back to that first name on that BA list is Andrew Painter from Calvary Christian Academy near the Nats spring training home just down the road in Fort Lauderdale. He is huge in stature. He stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs 225-to-230 pounds according to two places in his bio. Currently he is 17 with a birthday of April 10, 2003. Yes, that date is correct.
Maybe he will even grow some more. His bio from Perfect Game will give you an idea of what type of pitcher he is with a fastball that has been clocked from 94-97 mph and a power changeup.
“Outstanding pitcher’s build with ideal size and impressive present coordination for his size, plenty of room to get even stronger. Low effort delivery with a 3/4’s arm slot, can vary his tempo to give hitters different looks without loss of command or stuff, very comfortable and confident in all his actions on the mound. Steady mid-90’s fastball, topped out at 96 mph, has the present ability to spot his fastball to both sides of the plate. Changeup is a very advanced pitch, likely the best changeup in the class. Throws both a curveball and a slider for strikes with feel for different shapes. Highest level talent on the mound of the type that doesn’t come along every year. Good student, verbal commitment to Florida. Named to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic.”
According to his Prospects Live scouting report, Painter gets around 2500 rpm on his slider and curveball. He fits with Rizzo’s drafting of large framed pitchers who has the heater and can throw breaking pitches, and some feel his changeup is his best pitch. He is a University of Florida commit, and you have to believe he will skip college if he is chosen at Nº 11.
Painter ranks as the third highest of the High School kids on the BA list, and the first high school pitcher on the list. Brady House and Jordan Lawlar are the only high schoolers ranked ahead of him and they are both shortstops.
The strategy as always is choosing BPA — known as best available player. Many will point to the Nationals’ horrific history of drafting pitchers. But, stick with BPA and go from there.