Longshot Signees Highlight Draft’s Drab Day Three


The MLB Draft is an exciting event, but its third day, consisting of rounds 11-40, can be pretty boring. The vast majority of these players are either college players who will sign cheaply and never sniff the majors, or outpriced high schoolers who will not sign and head off to college. The Nationals’ draft contained plenty of both of these. However, since the team drafted a few college seniors who are likely to sign cheap in the first ten rounds, they could have upwards of $200,000 in pool money to spend on a late-round pick and convince them to sign. Money spent on signing picks in rounds 11-40 only counts beyond the first $100,000, so the Nats could offer a reluctant high-schooler $300,ooo or more to join them, equivalent to a fifth-round pick. Not every high schooler is a lock to return to the school, and if the Nats can sign one or two, that would be quite the coup.

May 15, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo before the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The complete list of Nationals’ draft picks, complete with a short scouting report for the more highly-regarded prospects, can be found here.

The biggest name of all was 37th round pick Karsten Whitson, who has a very similar story to 2012 Nats over-slot signee Matt Purke. He was picked ninth overall in 2010 by the Padres, and declined a $2.1 million bonus to attend the University of Florida. Purke declined a $4 million bonus as the 14th overall pick of the Texas Rangers in 2009 to attend TCU. Both Whitson and Purke dominated their freshman years, but struggled thereafter. Whitson was inconsistent his sophomore season in 2012, and missed the entire 2013 season with shoulder surgery. Purke ended up signing with the Nats for over $4 million, but that was in the days of uncapped draft spending. Whitson might have signed had he been drafted in 2011, but now with the locked-in pools, the Nats will not be able to make him a competitive offer.

Among the players who will not be cheap signs out of college, one of the best prospects is Rice RHP John Simms. He was relatively successful in his junior year, but not as much as one would expect with his potential. He did not allow a run in 24.2 innings as a reliever in the Cape Cod League, one of the highest profile summer college baseball leagues. He has potential as a starter, but could be a good reliever if he does not pan out as a starter. He will not be easy to sign, but inking him is feasible.

March 07, 2012; Melbourne, FL, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Matt Purke (50) pitches during the spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

In the 26th and 27th rounds, the Nats added back-to-back high-ceiling high schoolers. Shortstop Garrett Hampson and right fielder Bryce Harman both expected to be drafted in the first five rounds, but likely fell due to signability concerns. They are committed to Long Beach State University and East Carolina University respectively, but if the Nationals can offer them fifth-round money with earlier savings, they may reconsider their commitments. For now, however, it seems unlikely that they will end up going pro.

Another interesting pick was RHP Andrew Dunlap. He reclassified to the 2013 class from 2012 in order to get more Division I scholarship offers, but was ruled ineligible to play for his high school’s team. He has flashed a 96 MPH fastball in sessions for scouts, so his raw ability is undeniable. He is committed to Rice, but it is unknown how likely he is to attend or not.

In the end, most of these picks wil be inconsequential or not sign, but if the Nationals can get one or two for over-slot, Day Three will have been a major success.