Nationals Ink Drew Ward, Seven Of First Nine Draft Picks


A little over a week after the conclusion of the MLB Draft, the Nationals have agreed to terms with seven of their top nine draft picks.

As you can see on Baseball America’s supremely helpful Draft Database, the Nationals have signed their second and third round picks, in addition to their sixth through tenth round picks.

The team’s second round pick, RHP Jake Johansen, signed the day after he was drafted for his pick’s slot value of $820,000. He had an ERA north of 5.00 this season at Dallas Baptist University, but his fastball can touch 99MPH and the Nationals see potential in his power arm.

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

Perhaps the biggest signing is that of high school 3B Drew Ward. Ward graduated high school early to enter the draft in 2013, not 2014, which had two major consequences. The first is that Ward was not scouted very heavily, as teams expected to have another year to check him out. The second is that he was thought to be an easy sign, given his eagerness to become draft-eligible. This perception appears to have been wrong, as Ward signed for $850,000, $359,000 over his recommended slot bonus. Regardless, the Nats had the money to get him and locked him up.

The two remaining unsigned players are fourth round pick RHP Nick Pivetta out of New Mexico Junior College and fifth rounder RHP Austin Voth from the University of Washington. Pivetta is a bit of a prospect, and might not be the easiest sign given that he is committed to the University of New Mexico, but he will likely sign. Voth is a relatively polished starter, placing second in the PAC-12 in strikeouts behind first overall pick Mark Appel, but some see his future in the bullpen given how much he uses his fastball.

In the sixth and seventh rounds, the Nats drafted 3B Cody Gunter from Grayson County Community College and 1B Jimmy Yezzo from the University of Delaware. Both are big power bats but have more to offer beyond that. Gunter has a strong arm at third and excelled as a pitcher; he could be converted to the mound if he fizzles as a hitter. Yezzo tore up the Colonial Athletic Association as a senior, earning the conference’s player of the year award after he hit .406/.451/.719. Both signed for slightly under slot.

Jun 8, 2013; Fullerton, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins left fielder Brenton Allen (23) prior to the game against the Cal State Fullerton Titans during the Fullerton super regional of the 2013 NCAA baseball tournament at Goodwin Field. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

In the eighth, ninth, and tenth rounds, the Nats picked up some easy senior signs to save cap room. Tulane LHP David Napoli and Virginia Tech RHP Jake Joyce signed for $15,000 each and gave Tulane SS Brennan Middleton $10,000 to save over $400,000 against the cap on those three. The Nationals have a little bit of money left over after giving a chunk to Ward, but if they could convince Voth and Pivetta to take under-slot deals, they might have some change to throw at later-round tough signs, like 11th-rounder John Simms, 26th-rounder Garrett Hampson, and 35th-rounder Lukas Schiraldi.

These are the only players that Baseball America reports as having been signed, but information on twitter informs me that that 14th-rounder David Masters (Central Arizona JC SS), 15th-rounder Isaac Ballou (Marshall U OF), 16th-rounder Willie Allen (Western OK St. JC OF), and 29th-rounder Mike Sylvestri (FAU RHP) have also all signed. More news on signings will certainly come out in the coming days and weeks, so we’ll keep you posted.