We all celebrated a great Washington Nationals draft of three projected first round talents in Dylan Crews, Yohandy Morales, and Travis Sykora. But the challenge always comes down to getting the players signed — because you never know. Sykora, for instance, had sizeable leverage on the Nationals since he was a top-rated high schooler at 19 years old, and he would be draft eligible in two years if he decided to honor his college commitment. The Nats signed him today at $2.6 million (pick 71 value = $1,021,300), and that was nearly at $1.6 million over-slot signing. Sykora, along with Morales, Andrew Pinckney and Marcus Brown, were all at Nats Park to officially sign. Morales also signed over slot, and nearly $600,000 above the suggested slot value.
That extra money for Sykora came from the back-end of the draft where general manager Mike Rizzo went under slot, and in particular with Picks 6-to-10, they were each signed to $20,000 deals per reports. This is all part of the draft game in this slot value era, plus teams can go up to 5 percent over their total pool at a 75 percent cash penalty which is approximately $721,000 for the Nats. Every player in the first 10 picks are signed except for Crews. Crews will sign. This was an A+ draft class by Rizzo once Crews inks his contract, and it is probably already done and just not announced.
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Listen to this video of Nats’ Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Ops Kris Kline on a media ZOOM call about the first day of the draft, and in particular drafting Crews, Morales, and Sykora:
So far, three different evaluators have reseeded their Top-50 to Top-100 prospects already after adding the current draft class. With that, we seeded those first three picks by the Nats into our prospect rankings of just the Nats farm, and we have Crews at №2. There are some who think that he should be №1. We will keep James Wood at that spot because he has proven himself in pro baseball.
In our seedings, we did a Top-16 in the Nats’ farm system and have placed Morales at №7, and Sykora at №12 in the prospect rankings. Did we mention that this farm system is now very very deep?
Overall, this is the strongest farm system the Nats have ever had, and even before this draft, general manager Mike Rizzo had already declared this the best he has ever had.
“I’m optimistic. I’m excited about this time in our developmental curve with the organization. … It’s an exciting time. It’s the best group of upside players we’ve ever had here. I’ve been here since ‘day one’, and I’ve never seen it like this before.”
“You filter in — there’s 22, 23 and 24 year-olds [on the MLB roster], I think you see what we’re trying to accomplish here. That’s the first rung on the ladder to get back to a championship.”— Rizzo’s comments in February during Spring Training
In January, Rizzo used the word ‘lush’ to describe his farm system, and said it was the best prospect group the team has ‘ever’ had. Now look at it after this draft.
“This is the most lush and successful prospect list that we’ve ever had. It’s the most talented players we’ve ever had in the farm system at one time.”
Adding Crews, Morales, and Sykora makes that even better — and the Sweet-16 is brimming with legit MLB talent. While there is a downside arrow with Elijah Green, and a sideways arrow next to Robert Hassell III, Cade Cavalli (60-day IL), and Jeremy De La Rosa, the rest all have upside arrows. Even Hassell is trending better since the last week of June with a .752 OPS. The sky’s the limit it feels like.
Nats prospects by Future Value (FV) as assessed by MLB.com :
OF Dylan Crews (drafted)
OF James Wood (AA)
The Nats went upside in many of their picks from the 11th round to the 20th round where a team is not penalized if they do not sign one of those players. High upside picks in the 11th round with Gavin Adams who is a JuCo transfer to Florida State will head to college, and in the 19th round with James Ellwanger a high schooler with a college commitment to Dallas Baptist, are just two long-shots who are not signing. Ellwanger was the better of the two, and it is understandable that it would not work, and he will head to college per a source of ours. There just was not enough money to spread it around without severe penalties and a loss of a first round draft pick next year if the Nats exceeded the slot value by more than 5 percent overall.
“Yeah, we feel confident that we will have that all taken care of.”— Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Ops Kris Kline said of signing all picks from 1st-to-10th round
As a reminder, the Nats have a total pool of $14,502,400 to spend, and they have roughly a $725,100 overage (5 percent of their total if they sign their first ten picks). If they do not, that will impact the overage numbers. There is also a $2,500 per pick contingency bonus, but no team has used that before to go over that 5 percent threshold. Conceivably you could get to $9.1 million if Rizzo wanted to push the envelope. The largest bonus ever signed previously in the slot value era was for $8.4 million to Spencer Torkelson. Any bonus that Crews gets, could be eclipsed by the first pick of Skenes. The largest amount ever paid to a draft pick was $15.1 million to Stephen Strasburg back in 2009, before the slot value era. Here are the suggested slot values and the picks:
Now we just wait on the Crews signing and any of the 11-20th round picks that sign.