The Nationals own the 18th overall pick in tonight’s MLB draft, a pick that has some spotty history. The best player ever taken 18th, by a wide margin, is outfielder Willie Wilson, whom the Royals selected in 1974. Up next would be R.A. Dickey, whom the Rangers took in 1996. The spot has shown recent promise: In 2011, Oakland grabbed Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray, who has been one of the majors’ best pitchers this year.
Whom will the Nationals get at 18, a pick that should come around 8:30 p.m.? Based on rumblings, three players appear to have the best chance of landing with the Nationals.
RHP Erick Fedde, UNLV: Fedde is a Scott Boras client and had Tommy John surgery
in May Tuesday. Doesn’t that just sound like a Nationals draft pick? Fedde, a 6-foot-4 flamethrower, likely would have been taken in the top 10 if not for undergoing the elbow ligament-replacement surgery this season. The Nationals haven’t shied from Boras clients in the past, and they’ve had luck rehabbing pitchers from Tommy John surgery. Before his injury, Fedde went 8-2 with a 1.76 ERA and was named Mountain West pitcher of the year, an honor that once went to San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg.
1B Casey Gillaspie, Wichita State: The brother of big leaguer Conor Gillaspie has been compared to Lance Berkman and Mark Teixeira. Like those two, he’s a switch hitter. Gillaspie bashed 15 homers and slugged .682 this year. He’s 6-foot-4, 238 pounds. In his senior year of high school, Gillaspie hit .515. MLB.com’s Jim Callis, the best mock drafter in the business, predicted the Nationals will take Gillaspie.
1B A.J. Reed, Kentucky: A finalist for the Golden Spikes award, Reed led the NCAA in homers with 23 and slugged .735 with a .476 OBP this season. Reed also pitched for the Wildcats, punching up a 2.09 ERA and led the SEC with 12 wins. But he’ll be drafted for his vicious bat. He’s 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, the prototypical frame for a power hitter.