Nationals find 'the man' in No. 2 overall Draft pick Crews

July 22nd, 2023

WASHINGTON -- Dylan Crews was 17 years old when the Nationals won the World Series in 2019. Four years later, he sat at the podium inside Nationals Park on Saturday afternoon being introduced as not only the No. 2 overall pick in the MLB Draft, but also as a key piece of the organization’s plans to achieve that feat again. 

“Emotions are going through the roof right now,” said Crews. “I feel accomplished, knowing that all the hard work is paying off. Looking back, I really don’t think I could be in this position without surrounding myself with the right people and sacrificing a whole lot to get to this point. I’m ready to get going. The game doesn’t change.”

The coveted outfielder from LSU, Crews donned a No. 3 Nationals jersey while sitting between general manager Mike Rizzo and agent Scott Boras, just one month after winning the College World Series and becoming the recipient of the Golden Spikes Award for top amateur player in the country.

“It’s all happened so fast,” said Crews. “... I’ve learned how to slow things down and be where my feet are every single day. So I’ve enjoyed it. I couldn’t be happier where I am today.” 

Crews inked a $9 million signing bonus, above the pick value of $8,998,500, according to MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis. He garnered the second-highest signing bonus in MLB Draft history. It is behind only right-hander Paul Skenes ($9.2 million), the No. 1 selection and Crews’ college teammate.

As a junior at LSU, Crews boasted a .426/.567/.713 slash line with a 1.280 OPS, 16 doubles, 18 home runs and six stolen bases. He reached base safely in each of his 71 games played. Crews became the first player to win SEC Player of the Year honors in consecutive seasons.

“This was not only a unique player, but a player that I’ve seen for years, I’ve seen him grow as a player,” said Rizzo. “He’s been the man for three years at LSU, had the target on his back and you would never know it. He plays with a slow pulse and a low heart rate -- a lot like Anthony Rendon was when I saw him at Rice. This is a guy that it was about one thing. It wasn’t going 4-for-4 and impressing the scouts, it was about winning that game.”

Crews is the latest coveted talent added to the Nationals’ developing core. In the past three Junes, the Nationals drafted right-hander Cade Cavalli (No. 3 prospect, No. 75 overall), third baseman Brady House (No. 2, No. 69 overall) and outfielder Elijah Green (No. 4, No. 79 overall).

In 2021, the team acquired All-Star right-hander Josiah Gray and catcher Keibert Ruiz, who inked an eight-year contract extension this spring, from the Dodgers in exchange for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. Last August, they landed left-hander MacKenzie Gore, shortstop CJ Abrams and top prospects James Wood (No. 1, No. 4 overall), Robert Hassell III (No. 5, No. 91 overall) and Jarlin Susana (Nationals’ No. 6) in the Juan Soto blockbuster with the Padres.

“I know a lot of the guys on the team and in the organization -- CJ, House, Wood, [second-round Draft pick Yohandy] YoYo Morales,” said Crews. “I’m familiar with all the faces here, so I think that’s a good start. I think we’ve got a headstart on this whole thing. I’m ready to get going and compete with those guys.”

Crews’ favorite player growing up was Nats former No. 1 pick Bryce Harper. To be part of their future also means appreciating their past. Before the deal was finalized, the final point in negotiations for Boras was that Crews meet Annette Lerner, principal owner and wife of founding principal owner Ted Lerner, who passed away in February.

“We all built a championship here, and we did it with core players like Rendon and Harper and [Stephen] Strasburg and [Jayson] Werth,” said Boras. “To see this next generation come, with [managing principal owner] Mark, [Lerner, principal owner] Judy [Lenkin Lerner], and having Annette here, I wanted the Crews family and Dylan to meet that history, to share in it and watch it grow and let her meet the next generation of what Ted wanted.”

After the press conference concluded and Rizzo presented Crews with a celebratory cigar, Crews took the field for his first batting practice session in a Nationals uniform. As he stepped into the cage, Gore walked off the field from shagging fly balls, Gray prepared for his 20th start of the season and Abrams got ready for a pregame Q&A with fans.

It was a snapshot into the foundation being built that now includes the storied outfielder from LSU.