On day one of the MLB Draft, the Washington Nationals selected Mason Denaburg in the first round, and Tim Cate in the second round. How did they do?
The Washington Nationals got their draft off to a great start on Monday night. In the first round they selected right-handed pitcher Mason Denaburg out of Merritt Island High School. Then in the second round, they picked up left-handed pitcher Tim Cate from the University of Connecticut.
Once again, Mike Rizzo was not scared to select pitchers who have had injury concerns that meant they fell on draft boards. So let’s take a look at two newest potential Washington Nationals.
The Nationals had plenty of pitching options available with the 27th overall pick. The likes of Ethan Hankins and Cole Wilcox were still there, but in the end they went with Mason Denaburg.
Denaburg is a right-handed pitcher who had excelled in his high school career on the mound, and behind the plate. One of the worries was whether he would want to play two ways with his Florida commitment.
However, this season he moved to the outfield when not pitching, hoping to refine his craft on the mound. Evidently the Nats felt confident enough that they could sign him by taking him in the first round.
He brings a mid 90s fastball, that has worked up to 97 mph previously, as well as a plus-plus curveball. He has used a changeup before, but needs a bit of work to become a major league offering.
Jim Callis of MLB.com said of the Nationals selection of Mason Denaburg:
"The Nationals have not shied away from drafting pitchers with physical question marks in recent years, selecting the likes of Lucas Giolito (first round, 2012), Erick Fedde (first round, 2014) and Jesus Luzardo (third round, 2016) despite injury concerns. They grabbed another one here. Denaburg was pushing his way into the top 10 early in the year before coming down with bicep tendinitis, but he came back strong right before the Draft."
Overall, the Nationals could have pulled off yet another coup in Mason Denaburg if he lives up to his potential. We look forward to seeing him in the minor leagues fairly soon.
Following the selection of Denaburg, the Washington Nationals then got a pitcher from the other side in the second round. Left-hander Tim Cate pitched extremely well in his first two seasons at the University of Connecticut.
Through his first two years at UConn he had a 9-4 record, recording 203 strikeouts in just 158 innings. He was also first-team all-conference in 2017, and seemed well on his way to a first round selection.
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However, in 2018 he had a bout of forearm tightness, that forced him to miss starts for the Huskies. But again, Rizzo is happy to overlook injury issues and draft a player with first round potential.
Some scouts believe that he has the best curveball in the entire draft, with MLB.com grading it at 65 out of 80. He has a solid fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s and a changeup that still needs to develop.
His repertoire is very similar to Gio Gonzalez with the potentially elite 12-6 curve and a solid heater with good command. And if he becomes the equivalent of Gonzalez down the road, then they will be extremely happy with the selection.
His progress will be interesting to monitor, as there are some concerns he was overworked by the Huskies, resulting in the injury. So the Nationals could opt to play it safe, and use him scarcely in 2018. This will allow them to take off the training wheels in 2019.
Day two of the MLB Draft begins on Tuesday at 1:00pm, and the Washington Nationals will look to continue adding to their relatively strong farm system.