When the Washington Nationals go on the clock in two weeks to make their selection at fifth overall, they will be facing a plethora of questions. Draft a college bat or a prep bat? Higher ceiling or higher floor? Both are valid questions.
The Nats are in drastic need of elite talent for their farm system — which is still one of the worst in the majors. Thankfully for them, the top of the draft is loaded with bats. Leading the way is Drew Jones, the consensus top player in the draft. Behind him are fellow high schoolers Jackson Holliday, Termarr Johnson, and Elijah Green. Brooks Lee and Kevin Parada are the top college bats, while 17-year-old Cam Collier is shooting up draft boards.
As teams continue to prioritize underslotting in the first round in order to spend more money later in the draft, it is near impossible to predict who will be on the board when the Nationals go on the clock.
Known for playing it safe in years past, the Nationals need to be all-in on high school phenom Elijah Green if he falls to five.
Once viewed as a lock to go number one overall, Green’s stock has taken a slight dip due to swing and miss issues. He struck out 34 times, while only drawing 16 walks in during his junior season, before looking overmatched against an increase in velocity that summer.
But this season he’s taken a step in the right direction — drawing as many walks (21) as he’s struck out (21). On the season, he hit .462, with nine homers, 32 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.592 in 25 games.
6’3, 225 pounds, Green is a freak athlete whose best attribute is his 70-grade speed, evidenced by his 15 steals this year and how he’s been able to patrol centerfield with ease. Throw in his strong arm and he can potentially move to rightfield.
When his swing is on, he’s shown he can hit to all fields and has impressive raw power that some scouts believe could also be 70-grade. His power is enabled by his above-average bat speed and strong hands. It’s when he starts to get over anxious at the plate that he starts to run into trouble. He’s been known for expanding the zone on breaking balls and sometimes will be unable to lay off high heat.
If he reaches his immense ceiling, the Nats will be looking at a player with 30/30 potential, but this all hinges on the development of his swing and plate discipline. In need of another superstar to join Juan Soto, Green is the perfect prospect to gamble on.