MIAMI — A dozen or so lanky pitchers hustled through pitcher fielding practice on the back fields at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Tuesday morning, trying to make an impression under while being watched by Nationals pitching guru Spin Williams. They wore red Nationals T-shirts, with no indications of who they are or might become, but they all might be somebody. The Nationals are hoping against odds that they all are.
Those players were members of the Nationals’ 2017 draft class, the first signees, who will participate in their first official team workouts this week in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Nationals have agreed to terms with 25 of their 40 draft picks, they announced Tuesday. Their first two selections — first-round choice Seth Romero and second-rounder Wil Crowe — are not among the 25, though that is not surprising.
Third-round choice Nick Raquet headlines the group of signees, a left-hander with what the Nationals believe is back-end stuff who fell to them at that spot. Sixth-rounder Kyle Johnston, seventh-rounder Jackson Tetrault and eighth-rounder Jared Brasher — whose fastball hit 98 mph at times this spring — also signed. So did ninth-rounder Alex Troop, Michigan State’s Friday night starter and three-hole hitter, and 10th-rounder Trey Turner, who had Tommy John surgery in April and will rehab under the Nationals’ experienced watch.
All of those players are pitchers, as were nine of the Nationals’ first 10 picks in this year’s draft. They have agreed to terms with six of those 10, which is important because the first 10 rounds are the only rounds with assigned slot values for signing bonuses. The only picks unsigned are Romero, Crowe and two players whose teams were still active in the College World Series as of Tuesday.
Among the notable unsigned players is right-hander Bryce Montes De Oca, a promising behemoth from the University of Missouri who has battled injuries that led him to fall out of the first 10 rounds. Dusty Baker’s son Darren has not signed either, but he is not expected to. Baker is committed to play baseball at the University of California, and his father indicated he would attend to build strength before being eligible for the draft again.
The deadline to sign drafted players is next month, meaning no one should read much into the fact that neither Romero nor Crowe has come to terms yet. Both are working with agent Scott Boras, whose history of getting deals done with the Nationals is long and well-documented.
A complete list of Nationals signees is below. Those signed are in bold. Those yet to be signed are not.