Tonight at 7PM on the MLBN, the Nationals will do something that they haven't done since 2008 - not pick first. In what has been called the "deepest draft in years", the Front Office will have no shortage of top quality players. Even better for the Nats, who draft 6th, is that there is a general consensus on the top 6 players, meaning that regardless of who is taken in the first 5, there will be one left. Lets take a quick look at the players in question, as well as checking out some "mock drafts" by the experts.
Danny Hultzen - LHP - University of Virginia
A local product playing in Charlottesville (Zim's alma mater), the tall lefty went 11-3 in the regular season with a 1.57 ERA in 103.1 IP with a whopping 148 strikeouts. Pitching in this weekends NCAA Regionals for his #1 seeded Cavaliers, Hultzen threw 7 innings of ball, allowing 3 hits, 1 run, and striking out 12.
Anthony Rendon - 3B - Rice University
This third-baseman has had his share of injury problems this year, being dogged by a nagging shoulder issue that could affect his draft status. This year with the Rice Owls, Rendon hit .327 with a 1.043 OPS, while showing a little bit of pop, speed and solid D.
Gerrit Cole - RHP - UCLA
One of two standout pitchers for UCLA, Cole put together a solid year despite some inconsistencies. Entering the year as the Top College pitching prospect, Cole struggled a bit but still helped UCLA to a successful regular season. He went 6-8 with a 3.31 ERA.
Trevor Bauer - RHP - UCLA
Here is the other UCLA top notch pitcher for 2011, and he has exceeded expectations. Bauer was nothing short of incredible, posting an amazing 12-3 record with a 1.25 ERA. Oh yea, and his struck out 203 in 136.2 IP, with only 36 walks. He has thrown 9 straight complete games as well.
Dylan Bundy - RHP - Owasso HS (Oklahoma)
The only thing sweeping down the plains in Oklahoma this year has been Dylan Bundy's fastball. Its not everyday that there is a player coming out of high school that has 100 MPH gas, but Bundy's got it. Shorter than your average MLB pitcher (6' 1"), Bundy is the nation's best High School pitcher - as evidenced by his 11-0 Record with a 0.20 ERA, 158 K in just 71 IP. He only allowed 2 ER all season.
Bubba Starling - OF - Gardner Edgerton HS (Kansas)
He has been called a "true five-tool player" by Draft Guru Jonathan Mayo, and the "best athlete in the draft" by Baseball America. This Centerfielder has possibly the most potential of any player in the draft, with speed, pop, defense, and the ability to hit for average. The elephant in the room however is that this Boras client is also a football star (apparently he can throw a football 50 yards from his knees) who has committed to Nebraska to play CF on the diamond and QB on the gridiron.
So, there you have the run-down on the consensus top 6 for today's draft, in no particular order. Now, let's take a look at what the experts project for the Nats at #6.
Jonathan Mayo - MLB.com - Trevor Bauer
Jim Callis - Baseball America - Bubba Starling
David Rawnsley - PerfectGame.org - Bubba Starling
Keith Law - ESPN.com - Bubba Starling
Kevin Goldstein - Baseball Prospectus - Bubba Starling
Brian Oliver - Nats Farm Authority - 50/50 Bauer/Starling
I'm not by any means a prospect expert, but those guys are. My wish is for Hultzen to fall to the Nats, but that most certainly won't happen - so I'm guessing that the Nats will be taking Bubba Starling with the 6th pick. Expect it.
It should also be mentioned that the Nats get two compensation picks for Adam Dunn (who is hitting .179 and has fallen all the way to the 7 hole), so they will also be picking 23rd and 34th. I would think that the Nats are going to take the best available pitcher, most likely an MLB-ready college arm. It wouldn't surprise me if the team picked a "signable" player, one who would sign quickly and at/around slot.
Tune in to MLBNetwork at 7PM, and make sure you check out Capitol Baseball for all your draft analysis needs!