Nine Down, One to Go, And It's Crow

By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

With Friday's deadline to sign 2008 draft picks approaching, the Washington Nationals' first-round pick, Aaron Crow, remains unsigned.

Before last night's game against the New York Mets, General Manager Jim Bowden said the worst-case scenario the team faces will be Crow not signing and the Nationals emerging from this year's draft with nine of their top 10 picks signed and entering next season's with two top 10 selections -- a number that hinges on whether other top 10 draft picks sign.

If Crow does not sign, the Nationals will receive a pick directly after the slot in which they drafted him this year, which was No. 9.

"On our end, I think we had a great draft," Bowden said. "Our scouting department is not going to complain if we go into next year's draft with two picks in the top 10."

On Monday, the Nationals signed two of their top 10 choices: third-round shortstop Daniel Espinosa (Long Beach State) and fourth-round left-handed pitcher Graham Hicks (George Jenkins High School in Lakeland, Fla.).

In both cases, the Nationals exceeded the recommended slotted price for the pick.

"We were very pleased," Bowden said. "We're very blessed we have ownership and a president committed to allowing us to draft the very best players and allowing us to sign them."

Whether they sign their most prized selection remains to be seen. The Nationals have until midnight Friday to sign Crow.

Mock Is Bullpen-Bound

Despite losing Monday's start against the Milwaukee Brewers, right-hander Garrett Mock struck out nine batters in 4 2/3 innings. Any more strikeouts will come from the bullpen, where Nationals Manager Manny Acta said Mock is headed. "I really enjoy getting on the mound as much as I can," Mock said. "It's their decision where they want to use me."

In 19 1/3 innings, Mock has a 5.59 ERA and 23 strikeouts with nine walks.

"Garrett has shown flashes of brilliance," Bowden said. "Whether he ends up a third starter, a fourth starter or in the bullpen, he has quality major league stuff and he'll keep getting better."

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