Washington Nationals 2018 MLB Draft Profile: Cole Wilcox

The 2018 MLB Draft is now four days away, and the Washington Nationals will have their eyes on several players. One of those could be pitcher Cole Wilcox.

Here at District on Deck, we’re keeping our draft profiles coming, with several options the Washington Nationals could go with at number 27 overall. Next up, is the right-handed pitcher out of Heritage High School, Cole Wilcox.

Wilcox is one of three Georgia high school right-handers that will likely be available in the 20-30 range in the draft. The others being Ethan Hankins and Kumar Rocker, but Wilcox may be the best bet of them all.

With a fastball that sits in the low-mid 90s and could even improve into the high 90s as he grows into his 6-foot 5-inch frame. His best off-speed pitch, by far, is his changeup. It’s reminiscent of Stephen Strasburg’s with fade action and can fall off the table at the end.

His slider with wicked movement is his third pitch, but it’s slightly behind the other two in terms of command. As with a lot of these prospects, he has plenty of time to develop it.

Wilcox would only be the fourth high school pitcher the Washington Nationals will have drafted in the first-round since moving to D.C. in 2005. The others were Lucas Giolito, Josh Smoker, and Colton Willems.

This just goes to show it can be risky with high school arms. Giolito is the example of why teams do it, as he became the top pitching prospect in baseball and a key piece in acquiring Adam Eaton.

On the other hand, Smoker left the Nats system after five seasons but has now had parts of MLB experience with the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates. Whereas Willems lasted in the minors for five years, never making it past Hagerstown.

Wilcox is easily more talented than the latter two, and hasn’t had injury troubles like Giolito did. So there’s reason to believe that the Nationals will buck the trend and go for a high school righty. It’s just a matter of figuring out which one to go with.

In his first mock draft back in mid-May, Jim Callis of MLB.com had the Nationals taking Wilcox with the 27th overall pick. Here’s what he had to say about the pick:

This might be too low for Wilcox, who outclassed Rocker in a Georgia 4-A playoff game last week and has a better arsenal (albeit with a rougher delivery) than either Rocker or Hankins. All three Peach State prepsters could be in play, as could another in switch-hitting and switch-throwing C Anthony Seigler.

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Cole Wilcox is one of many high school pitching prospects littered across this draft class. It all depends who falls on draft day, but the Washington Nationals would be wise not to pass on him if he’s there at 27.

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