Washington Nationals: Welcome To D.C. Elijah Green
By Max Rayman
The pick is in and Elijah Green is the newest member of the Washington Nationals farm system.
With a farm system in drastic need of elite talent — the Washington Nationals responded by drafting the player with the most upside in this year’s draft — IMG Academy outfielder Elijah Green.
Standing at 6’3, 225 pounds, Green is a freak athlete who oozes talent — with his 70-grade speed leading the way. He has the speed to stick in center long-term, but also has the arm strength to play both corner spots.
For those that have been reading plenty of mock drafts, this pick comes as somewhat as a surprise — because for most of the season, Washington had been tied to Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada — who ended up falling to the New York Mets at 11. But dating back to last season when they took Brady House in the first round, the Washington Nationals have been drafting for upside.
Once viewed as the potential number one pick, Green fell due to his swing and miss issues and questionable hit tool. Last year he struck out a whopping 34 times while drawing only 16 walks, but this past season he showed drastic improvements –lowering his strikeouts (21) and raising his walks (21). He finished his senior season hitting .462, with nine homers, 32 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.592 in 25 games.
So what did the top draft sites have to say about Green?
"“Simply put, there’s not much Green cannot do. Some evaluators believe he could be a plus hitter with plus-plus raw power, and he’s already tapping into that juice in-game. He’s currently at least a 70-runner with a 70-arm as well. There’s definitely some swing and miss in his game, so that’ll be the one thing scouts are keeping an eye on, though it has improved. He gets anxious at the plate and can get greedy early in counts when in ambush mode, susceptible to the breaking ball. There aren’t too many warts in his game. Green is a very special talent, some calling him a generational player, that teams will undoubtedly covet at the top of the draft.”"
"Green looks the part of a future star in size, frame, and especially tools, with a strong, athletic 6-3 build, explosive speed, and plus power already that projects to 70 in the future. It’s easy, easy power, with fantastic hand acceleration after a quiet start, and when he gets his arms extended the ball jumps off his bat. All his power comes on pitches on the middle or outer thirds, although he can still make contact on the inner third, just without the same sort of impact. The concern on Green has always been his tendency to swing and miss, especially on stuff in the zone; he doesn’t chase fastballs, but will miss fastball strikes, especially up, and can expand for breaking stuff down and away. He has the most pure upside of the high school position players in the class, with 30/30 potential in a true centerfielder who throws well enough to play right, with a bit more risk than some of the other hitters in the top echelon."
"A right-handed hitter, Green is capable of doing just about everything very well. He can make very loud contact and has proven he can drive the ball to all fields and hit the ball out of the park just about anywhere with at least plus raw power, and he’s done that this spring in front of a lot of decision makers. . The one question that had arisen about his offensive upside had been about the swing-and-miss in his game. He’s struggled in the past against elevated velocity and there are some concerns about his ability to adjust to offspeed and breaking stuff, but had assuaged many of those fears with how he has swung the bat this spring."
Only 18, it will be a few years before Green is in D.C. — and in the middle of a rebuild, the Washington Nationals have no reason to rush him.