Washington Nationals 2017 MLB Draft profile: Clarke Schmidt

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May 19, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; A Washington Nationals hat and glove on the bench during a game against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
May 19, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; A Washington Nationals hat and glove on the bench during a game against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Washington Nationals could select right-hander Clarke Schmidt in the first round, who is coming off of Tommy John surgery

In the past, the Washington Nationals have not been afraid to take pitchers in the MLB Draft who have had or were about to undergo Tommy John surgery. In the last few years, they have taken Lucas Giolito, Erick Fedde, and Jesus Luzardo, who all fit in one of those categories. This year, they are linked to another pitcher who has had the surgery that could be selected in round one.

When you look at Baseball America’s most recent mock draft, John Manuel has the Nats selecting Clarke Schmidt, a right-handed starter from South Carolina. Before the surgery, he was one of the best pitchers in the SEC.

Back in 2016, Schmidt went 9-5 with a 3.40 ERA and had 129 strikeouts in 18 games (17 starts) during his sophomore season. He was second in the conference in strikeouts and third in innings pitched (111.1).

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If you fast forward one later, the 21-year-old looked like he was on his way to another great season. Over the first nine starts of the season, Schmidt had a 1.34 ERA and had 70 strikeouts in 60.1 innings en route to a 4-2 record. Then, the injury happened.

After a start against Florida on April 20, it was revealed that Schmidt had a torn UCL in his right elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. While he wasn’t pitching, he was still there for his teammates during the stretch run. Here is something Schmidt said in an article written by Matt Connolly of The State last month that stood out:

"“These guys still need direction and to be guided. They’re a young team. We have a lot of seniors and a lot of leaders but there are a lot of young guys as well that are having to step up, especially with the injuries.”"

A couple of days ago, I sent a tweet to Derek Scott, who is the play-by-play announcer for South Carolina baseball and asked what stood out to him about Schmidt. While he only had 140 characters, it was still something you should check out:

https://twitter.com/DScottGamecocks/status/869752657711439872

It’s clear that pitching is going to be something the Washington Nationals address in the draft after trading three of their top arms in the Adam Eaton deal last winter. Schmidt would make sense because they know how to guide pitchers along in their rehab from Tommy John and they manage their workload well.

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When healthy, Schmidt showed he was one of the best pitchers in one of the best conferences in college baseball. It’s no given that a pitcher returns to the same form after Tommy John surgery, but with Schmidt’s work ethic, it may not be a bad idea to take a chance on him in round one or if he’s still there in round two.

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