Nationals Notebook

Nationals Get to Work on Shaping Draft List

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 1, 2009

PHILADELPHIA, May 31 -- By the time the June 9 amateur draft begins, the Washington Nationals will have a detailed list of 1,600 high school and college prospects. They will have sorted through scouting reports and medical reports on each player. They will have weighed -- and, oftentimes, argued about -- each prospect's strengths and weaknesses.

Finally, they will have ranked every single player, 1 to 1,600, by preference.

Right now, though, the Nationals have none of that. Which is why, starting at 9 a.m. Monday, those in the team's scouting department -- including acting general manager Mike Rizzo -- will think about little else.

"When do the arguments start?" Rizzo said. "Nine o'clock."

If the draft prepares a team for the future, draft day itself requires an exhaustive prep course.

For the last few months, the team's several dozen scouts have crisscrossed the nation, watching baseball at every level in every state.

On Monday, office work replaces that grind. Each of the 15 area scouts will have an allotted time to present information on 25 to 50 players. During the day-long conferences, which will last three days, Rizzo and scouting director Dana Brown will be there at all times.

So, too, will the team's cross-checkers (or high-ranking scouts), including Kris Kline, Deric Ladnier, Martese Robinson and Jimmy González.

Though the front office will compile the massive rankings system, it will focus most attention on ranking the top 90.

As Washington moves through the opening rounds -- the team picks first overall, 10th overall and 50th overall -- it will select players on a simple formula. Whoever is highest on their board is picked, Rizzo said.

So long as players in the top 90 remain, position does not matter.

"After the fifth, sixth, eighth round -- however many you get out of that 90, and I've gotten as many as 11 rounds out of that 90 -- then after that 90 we'll go position-by-position," Rizzo said. "The optimal scenario would be to [come out of this] with a real good comfort level with picks No. 1, No. 10 and No. 50."

Willingham Heating Up

Josh Willingham homered two more times on Sunday, giving him nine this season for a grand total of 12 RBI. Manager Manny Acta called the abundance of solo shots "odd," but Willingham said he was simply proud that his bat has finally gotten hot.

"I'm proud of the fact that I have nine homers," he said. "Sure, I wish a couple of them were three-run and two-run, but it is what it is. Maybe I'll hit a single with somebody in scoring position on Tuesday."

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