With all the news about Bryce Harper and his many bags of money, I was inspired to research the history of Nationals first round draft picks. Like so many things Nationals-related, that history is dark and frightening, though there are a few successes-as far as drafting John Patterson counts as a success. So here they are, the three worst and best Nationals first-round picks of all time.
3. Pete Incaviglia: Incaviglia is not only the focus of one of the best chapters in "Baseball Between the Numbers" but he was also apparently the greatest college player of all time-he still holds the college records for most career home runs and home runs in a season. Incaviglia wanted to go straight to the Majors, something the Montreal Expos would not let him do. The Expos were out-muscled by Incaviglia and were forced to trade him for two forgettable players, Jim Anderson and Bob Serba. Incaviglia got his wish and then went on to have six 20+ homer seasons.
2. Condredge Holloway: Holloway not only refused to sign when the Expos picked him fourth overall in 1971, thanks to the laws of his home state of Alabama he was too young to even legally sign a contract. Holloway did go on to become the first black quarterback in SEC history. Unlike more recent first-round-refuser Aaron Crow, Holloway did not eventually go on to play in the Majors-he became a star in the Canadian Football League and a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame instead. no comments
With their collective backs against the wall, and time ticking away, both the Washington Nationals and Bryce Harper came together to get a deal done before the midnight deadline. As a result, the 17-year-old Harper will begin his journey towards his ultimate dream, becoming a major league star, and the Nationals will shell out a big check.
Reports are saying that Harper will receive a $6.25 million signing bonus, to be paid in five equal payments of $1.25 million. The actual contract is a five-year major league deal where he will earn $500K in 2011 and 2012, $700K in 2013, $900K in 2014, and $1 million in 2015. That works out to a total of $9.9 million over five seasons, making it the largest contract ever given to a position player out of the draft.The deal reportedly came down to the final seconds before the deadline, with Kasten expressing afterwords to reporters that going into the last minute neither he nor Mike Rizzo was sure a deal would be made. no comments
12:05 A.M. Tuesday NATIONALS SIGN BRYCE HARPER
According to Jim Bowden (of all people) the Nationals came to an agreement with Harper for a $6.5 million deal. We'll get you more when we have it.
11:00 P.M. Monday - 1 hour left to sign Bryce Harper
It's down to the final hour for the Nationals to sign slugging prospect Bryce Harper. With Sammy Solis, Robbie Ray, and A.J. Cole now signed, the Nationals can now focus their full attention on getting this Harper deal done. In the end it will all come down to whether or not Harper wants to play next year, or he wants to hold out and try and make more money next year. Just like last year, we will probably not know until after midnight, but make sure to stick close and we'll bring you all the updates.
9:06 P.M. Monday - 3 hours left to sign Bryce Harper
While there has been no news on the Harper front, the Nationals have made progress by signing 12th round pick Robbie Ray, and second round pick Sammy Solis.
Ray, an 18-year-old left-hander, dropped in the draft because of his strong commitment to pitch for the University of Arkansas. In the end, Rizzo was able to convince the 18-year-old to take a $799,00 bonus instead.
Solis is another left-hander who projects to middle of the rotation talent. He has a low 90's fastball with good movement and if his back stays healthy, should be in the majors the next few years.
4:34 P.M. Monday - 7 hours and 26 minutes left to sign Bryce Harper
SI.Com's Jon Heyman reports that Bryce Harper is still demanding a record high signing bonus for a position player:
"Bryce Harper, the homer-hitting 17-year-old from Las Vegas, is said by sources to be seeking to beat Mark Teixeira's $9.8-million signing record bonus for a position players but baseball executives are hopeful Harper won't top Stephen Strasburg's record $15.067-million set a year ago. No word has leaked yet on the Nationals' offers to Harper, whom Washington took with the No. 1 overall pick in June's draft."
3:00 P.M. Monday - 9 hours left to sign Bryce Harper
1. Bryce Harper, C/OF - There really isn't much more to be said about Harper that hasn't been said already. By Monday evening at midnight Eastern Time, Nats' fans will know whether or not they have added their second franchise-changing prospect in as many years. While significantly farther away from major league readiness, Harper projects to have comparable effect on the major league level, particularly since he is a position player who will see the field on a daily basis. Assuming he signs, his career at catcher is likely over so that the franchise can preserve his health in order to maximize his prodigious offensive abilities. Though most fans are well aware, his numbers are worth repeating. In his lone college season, Harper hit an absurd .443/.526/.987 with 31 home runs in just 228 at bats. He walked nearly as many times as he struck out (39 BB/43 Ks), and stole 20 bases in 24 attempts. In short, the kid is a stud, the total package, and it would behoove the Nationals to do anything and everything in their power to sign the rising star.
2. Yunesky Maya, RHP - Maya is major league ready now and looks to contribute with the Nationals sooner rather than later. The 28 year-old signee from Cuba joins the Nationals after a very successful stint in the Cuban National Series, where he went 13-4 with a 2.22 ERA and seven complete games in garnering their equivalent of the Cy Young Award. The Nationals obviously think very highly of Maya, signing him to a four year, $8 million contract, and he quickly backed it up by going three innings without allowing a hit in his minor league debut. With a rash of injuries and incompetence plaguing the major league staff, it appears likely that Maya will quickly climb the minor league ranks.
3. Derek Norris, C - Although Norris' struggles this year have been well-documented (the young backstop has endured everything from a broken wrist to a pitch to the head), he remains a top prospect for the Nationals. The second offensive-minded catcher on this list, Norris - like Harper - seems poised for a position change ultimately. The presence of Ivan Rodriguez, coupled with the acquisition of Wilson Ramos, apparently solves Washington's need at catcher, but Norris' bat is and will remain his meal ticket. Though he is currently hitting just .221 and slugging only .387, Norris is still getting on base at a very high rate (.406) and is just one year removed from .286/.413/.513 with 23 home runs. His injuries this year, combined with his banner 2009 campaign, make it far too early to discount the player Baseball America ranked the 38th overall prospect entering the 2010 season.
Bill Ladson of MLB.COM reports that the once thought finished deal for right-handed high-school pitcher A.J. Cole is now off:
"A last-minute problem has surfaced between the Nationals and right-hander A.J. Cole, which means the two parties may not be doing a deal, according to a baseball source. It's not known what the problem is.
Early Sunday morning, it was reported by Baseball America -- then confirmed by MLB.com -- that Cole, the fourth-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, and the Nationals agreed to terms on a $2 million deal."
We're trying to get to the bottom of this here. The Nationals had offered Cole a record high bonus for a fourth round draft pick, giving him first round money with a $2 million deal. To put that in perspective, Drew Storen, who the Nats took 10th overall last year, received a $1.6 million signing bonus.
It can't be about money, unless the two sides hadn't actually agreed on terms when it hit the media. My best guess is an 18-year-old who was all but set to go to college in a few weeks is having second thoughts about not going to school. Again..that's only a guess...more will come out soon.
The Washington Nationals lost again last night 9-2 to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The game was Jason Marquis' second start since returning from the disabled list, and while he may have had his best start of the season, he got run out of the game in just four innings.
Marquis gave up fife earned runs on seven hits and three homers, continuing what will go down as one of the worst seasons for a highly paid Nats starter in history. With the loss, the starter who is earning $7.5 million this season, dropped his record to 0-5 with a 14.33 ERA. He has pitched only 16.1 innings in five starts and has more walks (10) than strikeouts (8).
Instead of writing a full game recap on yet loss from the hands of Marquis, I decided to go back and round up all of the right-handers starts to show just how bad he has been this year. Prepare yourself to see the most expensive pitcher per out in the majors...
Apr. 7 | 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 3 K, 2 BB
"This is the opposite of what Mike Rizzo wanted when he went after Jason Marquis as a work-horse with a track-record. A major problem last season was that the young starting pitching was not putting in enough innings and as a result the bullpen was gaining too much wear-and-tear to be effective as the season went on. The Nationals will play again tomorrow at 4:35 and the club will count on Craig Stammen at least getting to the sixth inning."
Apr. 12 | 4.1 IP, 6H, 6 ER, 1K, 2BB
Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the Washington Nationals have signed right-hander A.J. Cole, the club's fourth-round draft pick in 2010. Cole, a 6-5 high school talent, was set to attend the baseball hotbed that is the University of Miami, but the club was able to lure him away with a way above slot bonus of $2 million.
Cole was considered one of the higher potential pitchers in the 2010 draft, but also arguably the least signable, which is why he slipped to the fourth round. General Manager Mike Rizzo decided to take a chance by selecting him in an early round, and was able to convince Cole that Washington was a good place to build a future.
According to scouting reports, Cole's biggest asset is his massive potential. While his fastball currently sits in the low 90's (good for a high schooler), scouts project it to reach the mid-to-high 90's when he fully develops. He also reportedly throws an curve in the high 70's and is developing a change-up and a slider.
The Nationals have also reportedly signed left-handed starter Sammy Solis out of the University of San Diego. Solis, the clubs second-round pick in 2010 signed for a $1 million bonus.
Solis provides a low 90's fastball with a lot of movement and was thought to be a potential top ten pick coming out of high-school. He also throws a big, looping left-handed curve and a change-up. His history of back issues cause some to worry that he may not make it through the minors, but if he can stay healthy people believe he projects to be a mid to back of the rotation starter.