The Washington Nationals had one pick each in the first and second round of the 2017 MLB Draft on Monday and used both selections on collegiate arms.
The Washington Nationals took left-handed pitcher Seth Romero from Houston in the first round (25th overall) and in the second round (65th overall) drafted right-handed pitcher Wil Crowe from South Carolina. So, let’s discuss what these two selections signal for the club moving forward.
It wasn’t a major surprise that the Nationals used their first two picks on pitchers as this was an area many expected the club target early in the draft. Romero being selected by the team is a gamble, but there’s a potential benefit if it works out.
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The southpaw was suspended from the team earlier in the year and later was kicked off permanently for reasons highlighted by Mark Zuckerman.
However, he does have quality pitches in his arsenal to get opposing hitters out. Romero has a fastball that sits in the 92-95 mph range and tops out at 97, including a slider in the mid-80s and an improving changeup, according to a scouting report on MLB Pipeline.
Romero could be a future closer if he shows some maturity. I think if he can develop his changeup and slider into above average pitches, then he would become a solid late-inning arm for the Nationals.
There is risk involved by using your first-round pick on an individual with character concerns, but it could pay off in the long-run, especially if you gain a bullpen anchor for many years.
Crowe is also an interesting pick as the right-hander had Tommy John surgery in 2015. The Nats have experience in dealing with pitchers who’ve had this procedure. They selected Jesus Luzardo in the third round of last year’s draft, and Stephen Strasburg on the big-league club, underwent the operation.
For Crowe, the operation hasn’t negatively impacted him. Crowe’s fastball is between 92-95 mph and can reach 97, the curveball can be a weapon occasionally, the slider can generate swings and misses, and his changeup is better than average, per MLB Pipeline’s scouting report on Crowe.
Crowe does get compared to Joe Blanton due to his six-feet-two, 240-pound frame. Blanton isn’t the worst pitcher to be compared with as he’s had a decent career in baseball.
I could see Crowe having a role as a reliable back-end starter for the Nats in a couple of years. The key for him will be throwing his pitches for strikes and repeating his delivery once he signs a contract and gets assigned to a minor league affiliate.
The Washington Nationals started the 2017 draft well, by selecting someone who could be their future closer with Romero and another pitcher in Crowe who can add depth to the rotation in the future.
I expect the club to continue adding more quality pitchers as the draft progresses while mixing in some position players.