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HINGTON -- As evidenced by spending half of their 40 picks on pitching, the Nationals made a clear effort to stockpile talented young arms in this week's First-Year Player Draft.
Of the 20 pitchers Washington selected, 14 were right-handers, including first-round pick (No. 16 overall) Lucas Giolito from Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) High School. Giolito is a 6-foot-6, 230-pound pitcher who has drawn comparisons to Roy Halladay, though he did miss his senior year with a sprained ulnar collateral nerve in his right elbow. Both Giolito and the Nats insist his health is no longer issue, making the pick one with remarkable upside.
"If you think about having Giolito and [Stephen] Strasburg and Gio [Gonzalez] and Jordan Zimmermann at the front of your rotation -- you have to factor in [No. 1 pitching prospect] Alex Meyer -- now you've got some depth again," Nationals director of scouting Kris Kline said. "That's what we tried to do early in this Draft."
Within that emphasis on pitching, Kline said the Nats had a clear focus on big bodies with above-average velocity. That certainly fits the mold of Giolito, whose fastball sits in the mid-90s and has occasionally hit 100. Giolito also has a strong power curve and a changeup in his arsenal.
Kline said general manager Mike Rizzo will handle the majority of the contract negotiations with Giolito.
The next pitcher the Nats took was left-hander Brett Mooneyham from Stanford. Mooneyham also fits the mold of a big pitcher at 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds. As a fourth-year junior, he posted a 7-5 record and a 4.26 ERA with 90 strikeouts and 37 walks in 82 1/3 innings.
The Nats first drafted Mooneyham in the 38th round in 2011, and according to Kline, Mooneyham is expected to sign "relatively quickly."
"You have to go back to high school with this kid," Kline said. "We have a lot of history with Brett. Back in high school, he was a potential top-five pick."
Nats did 'due diligence' on prospects' signability
Given the new rules implemented under the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement, prospects' signability became an even larger issue in this year's Draft. Each team now has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds. The Nats' bonus pool was worth $4,436,200, 23rd among all teams.
College seniors are generally the most signable picks given their lack of leverage compared to high school prospects and younger collegiate players. This week, the Nats drafted 26 college seniors, 11 high schoolers and three college juniors.
"You had to do your due diligence with signability with everybody with the new system in place because you have limitations," Kline said. "Every round, we were making telephone calls to see if guys had agreed to the money that we were offering. There were certain guys that were requiring too much money -- mostly the high school kids that were drafted beyond the second round -- we just had to pass and move on."
Kline added that he expects to sign each of the team's first 10 picks within or below the bonus pool.