The Nationals made a big splash by selecting Dylan Crews with their first round pick Sunday night, but added yet another big bat later that night with University of Miami 3B Yohandy Morales.
It might not have been the direction many expected the Nationals to take in the second round, but there is no denying they got an absolute steal with Yohandy "Yo Yo" Morales at 40th overall. Entering the draft as MLB's 20th Ranked Draft Prospect, Morales has serious power playing third base as he hit 20 homeruns in 61 games last season for the Hurricanes. He slashed ..408/.475/.713 for a 1.187 OPS and while there is some proclivity from Morales to chase pitches, he kept his strikeout percentage to a modest 19.8%, a trade any team will make to have Yo Yo continue mashing the ball like he did in college.
Since Morales was regarded as a first round talent but fell to the top of the second round, the Nationals will likely have to go overslot, at least slightly, to secure Morales. A worthwhile trade for an organization going through a full-fledged rebuild. Adding a college bat like Morales provides some serious upside and should put Morales on more of a fast track to the Major Leagues unlike some of the High School prep bats with upside the Nationals have drafted in recent years like Brady House and Elijah Green that are still several years away.
If you weren't excited about the selection already, hearing what Morales had to say after he was selected should bring joy to every Nats fan.
Seeing what Crews and Morales did last season playing in college, it is hard to argue with that statement. For a team that severely lacks power, the idea of Morales' bat in the future lineup is incredibly enticing.
But if/when Morales cracks the big leagues, where would he play? Drafted as a third baseman, there seems to be some belief he could stick at the position, but with his size and frame (6'4, 225), there is also a chance he could make the switch to first base as the Nationals do not have much depth in their system at that position. If it helps the organization and gets Morales to the big leagues faster, then you will likely see that switch.
The Nationals will kick off Round 3 of the MLB Draft today with some big names still available, including Virginia Tech OF Jack Hurley who was ranked 38th in the pre-draft rankings. The Nationals have gone with back to back collegiate bats thus far, a strategy I fully support, so adding Hurley would fit that strategy. I could also see them finally dipping into the pitching pool with a guy like Cameron Johnson (#43 on the pre-draft rankings).
The thing to monitor will be the money. The Nationals will likely need to go slightly overslot to sign both Crews and Morales, which they most definitely should do, but that may lead them to go underslot on Day 2 to even out the money. Keep an eye on Tanner Witt (P, University of Texas) as a name to watch for the Nats in Round 3.