Remember also that all of them were “falling down the board” during the draft. Falling to the Nationals, for good or ill, at No. 6, 23, 34 and 96 overall.
“Our best evaluators, Clark and Kline, thought that if those four players stayed in college and were back in the ’12 draft, that any of the four of them could have ended up being drafted 1-1 — first overall [asStrasburg and Harper were],” said Rizzo on Tuesday after all four signed in the final minutes before a midnight deadline. “We agreed that all four of them would have a good chance to be the top five overall picks [in ’12].”
Yes, that’s just as nutty and giddy as you think. What’s wilder is that Rizzo would say it. Remember, he also said he had “one hour sleep.”
“We had them all graded out above “60” on a scale of 20 to 80 on OFP [Overall Future Potential]. There are only two handfuls of those scores each year. That’s like Ryan Zimmerman’s number,” said Rizzo.
Okay, all together, let’s scream: Talk is cheap.
But also appreciate how rare it is for a GM in any sport to risk being so euphoric. Draft history (since 1965) shows that one player — one — who was drafted 96th overall ever became a star. More than 40 have failed. As for players picked 23rd and 34th, they’ve panned out big about one in 10. Even No. 6s such as Rendon have produced 3-to-1 busts-to-stars, with only three superstars.
So, Mike, do you know how goofy you’ll look if they all fail? Do you know it looks like you are breaking your arm patting yourself, your owner and your front office on the back?
“Yes, I know,” said Rizzo.
But the story’s too good. He just has to tell it. Like his father before him, Rizzo’s spent his whole life in scouting. This is what he knows, and he trusts Clark and Kline as much as he trusts himself. Of course, some believe scouts are one step up from dopes. Go see the movie “Moneyball” when it comes out. But the Nats are scouting driven. So, days like this define their fate.
“That team in Atlanta — Jason Hayward, Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman — that’s Roy Clark’s team. He drafted all of them. And plenty of those earlier Braves [first-place] teams were a lot of him, too,” said Rizzo. “The [first-place] team in Arizona now, Kline and I were there putting that together. That’s our team.”
Rizzo doesn’t mean every good idea belongs to them, just that they were part of the team-building processes. But look at the results.