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Nats think they have a 'jackpot' after Day 2 haul

LSU righty Cole Henry led Draft picks Thursday, with shortstop Sammy Infante not far behind
@jessicacamerato
June 12, 2020

Five rounds and six picks later, the Nationals had added to their newest wave of talent in the 2020 MLB Draft. Washington made five selections during Day 2 of the condensed event on Thursday, bolstering their prospects with three pitchers, a catcher and an infielder after kicking off festivities with

Five rounds and six picks later, the Nationals had added to their newest wave of talent in the 2020 MLB Draft. Washington made five selections during Day 2 of the condensed event on Thursday, bolstering their prospects with three pitchers, a catcher and an infielder after kicking off festivities with a pitcher on Wednesday.

Nationals Draft Tracker | 2020 Draft Central

"What a tremendous group,” said Kris Kline, Nationals assistant general manager and vice president of scouting operations. “I’m so excited and fired up to have all these kids in the system. This is a jackpot for me. We did great. The guys did a tremendous job."

After selecting Oklahoma right-hander Cade Cavalli in the first round (No. 22 overall) on Wednesday, the Nats began Thursday by calling upon another 6-foor-4 right-hander, Cole Henry from LSU, at No. 55 overall. Washington had five picks on Day 2 at Nos. 55, 71, 94, 123 and 153. (The 71st pick was a signing compensation for Anthony Rendon.)

10 facts to know about Nats' top pick Cavalli

Here's a primer on each of the new Nats, including reactions in their own words on top of insight from Kline and Eddie Longosz, the organization's director of scouting operations.

Round 2, 55th overall: Cole Henry, RHP, LSU
Listed at 6-foot-4, 211 pounds, Henry was ranked No. 45 in MLB.com's Top 200 Draft prospects.

In his shortened sophomore season, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 20-year-old made four starts. He went 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA, striking out 23 batters to six walks over 19 innings. Henry is a draft-eligible sophomore, but he abated signability fears by saying that he plans to sign with the club despite the fact that he could become a first-round talent and comes from a big program like LSU. The slot value for the 55th pick is $1,307,000.

What Henry said: “I really like watching [Max] Scherzer and [Stephen] Strasburg compete on the mound. They’re bulldogs out there, and I really like that about them. Actually, I’m a really big fan of Strasburg. I was probably like 11 or 12, and I actually went to one of his very first starts against the Braves. So ever since then, I’ve been a huge fan and I’ve followed him until now.”

What the Nationals said: “[He was] a Friday night starter at LSU, really good delivery, command guy, big fastball that touches 97 [mph]. He’s got life down in the zone. He shows the makings of a plus curveball. For Cole, I think he has the ability to spin it. He needs to learn how to commit to each one, and I feel it could be an above-average pitch. The changeup is above average now. It’s just a solid overall package. I see him as a quality No. 3, with a potential to be a two.” -- Kline

Compensation round, 71st overall: Sammy Infante, SS, Monsignor Edward Pace (Fla.) High School
The Nationals moved away from pitching and selected Infante, an 18-year-old high school shortstop who had committed to the University of Miami but plans to sign with Washington. Infante was No. 149 in MLB Pipeline's rankings for his hard contact and ability to drive the ball. He hit .481 with four doubles, one home run, six walks and three strikeouts in the shortened 2020 season.

What Infante said: “As a player, I’m always going to evaluate myself higher than others evaluate me. I know the ins and outs of my game, and I know what I can do and I’m healthy. So I feel there’s no chance to waste. I want to be a baseball player. That’s something I wanted to be my whole life. My dream was becoming a Cane [at the University of Miami], stepping on campus, living the campus life. But I’m ready, I’m healthy and I’m ready to go. So that’s why I’m signing with the Nats.”

What the Nationals said: “This is going to be great to add with our mix of [Trea] Turner, obviously, [Carter] Kieboom and [Luis] Garcia. It’s another phenomenal addition for our Minor League system to work with. He’s got strength in his swing. The body’s amazing, but he’s got raw power right now, too.” -- Longosz

Round 3, 94th overall: Holden Powell, RHP, UCLA
The right-handed, 20-year-old Powell earned the second most saves in UCLA team history (26), and he had a 20/2 K/BB ratio with no runs allowed in eight appearances this season as a junior. He was ranked No. 134 in MLB Pipeline's top 200 Draft prospects, regarded as one of the best relievers in the class.

What Powell said: “Being a good closer just takes a certain mentality. It’s an attack-first mentality. It’s often times a team-first mentality, really. You’ve got to do whatever you need to do to get those last three outs and to get the wins. … Getting the last out of a World Series game, there’s really nothing better, in my opinion. Obviously, I hope I can be in that position one day with an organization like the Nationals.”

What the Nationals said: “Very aggressive approach. Fastball’s anywhere from 93 to 97, again with life. He’s had outings where he’s pitched two and three games at a time, so the velocity does back up from game to game, and he’s got a present above-average slider. He’s got an out pitch. He’s got a changeup -- he doesn’t use it that much, he doesn’t really need it right now. I think he’s in the role he’s always going to be in, and I think he’s going to have a lot of success in that role.” -- Kline

Round 4, 123rd overall: Brady Lindsly, C, University of Oklahoma
In his four-year career at Oklahoma where he was teammates with Cavalli, the Nationals’ first-round pick, Lindsly slashed .275/.360/.420 as a left-handed batter. He recorded 129 in his Sooner tenure and had an .850 OPS in his condensed senior season, at 22 years old.

What Lindsly said: “I was just shocked, honestly. I thought I was looking at the free-agent thing the whole way. When I got the call, I was just speechless. I heard about it when they called me and said they were going to take me seven picks before, and the Draft just never moved slower. Oh my goodness. I was just itching to hear it then. I heard my name and just folded.”

What the Nationals said: “He’s an average receiver. He’s got a solid, average arm. It’s a loose, left-handed swing. [He’s] a great makeup, character kid. Strong body. We’re glad to have him in the system as well.” -- Kline

Round 5, 153rd overall: Mitchell Parker, LHP, San Jacinto College North (Texas)
Third time could be the charm for 20-year-old Parker, who was previously drafted out of high school by the Cubs in 2018 (28th round) and the Rays in '19 (27th round). Parker, who is committed to Kentucky, posted a 1.19 ERA in six starts this season with 64 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings.

What the Nationals said: “It’s a funky, unconventional delivery, mechanics. It’s deceptive. It’s [an] overhand slot. It’s 90 to 97, but he’s going to pitch around 92, 93. He’s got an above-average curveball. Right now, he commands the curveball better than the fastball.” -- Kline

Jessica Camerato covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato, Facebook and Instagram.