One of the biggest single events on the MLB calendar, the Rule 4 Draft, will take place over 40 rounds on June 6-8th. Rounds 1 and 2 are today, with 3-10 on the 7th and 11-40 on the 8th. The Nationals sacrificed their first round pick to sign Rafael Soriano, and since they had the best record in baseball, will be the last team to pick.
Their first selection will be 68th overall, much too late for any high profile players to slip to the Nats as they have in the past. Injuries allowed top prospects Anthony Rendon and Lucas Giolito to fall to the Nats at 6th and 17th overall respectively the past two years, but the Nationals are unlikely to have such luck this year. The Nationals probably won’t pick someone many fans have heard of, but their draft record is strong and they will certainly pick a player they are high on. Regardless of name recognition, many productive players are second round draft choices.
Jordan Zimmermann was a second-round draft pick in 2007. Other recent Nats second-round picks include Destin Hood (2008), Jeff Kobernus (2009), Sammy Solis (2010), and Tony Renda (2012). Across baseball, many stars have been chosen in the second round, such as Dustin Pedroia, Chase Headley, and Joey Votto. Specifically, recent 68th overall picks include Jason Vargas, John Lackey, and Drew Smyly. Plenty of talent remains at the lower levels of the draft, but it is a bit harder to find.
Baseball America considers Louisiana high school outfielder Justin Williams to be the draft’s 68th-best player, while ESPN’s Keith Law ranks Atlanta high school outfielder Terry McClure there. A top-100 list is not much of a mock draft, but it can give you an idea of what players the Nats might be looking at. Regardless, we will see which player the Nationals ultimately settle on tonight.