Nationals sign first-round pick Denaburg
Right-hander to work out at West Palm Beach facility before beginning pro career
WASHINGTON -- After discussing his lifelong dream of playing in the Major Leagues for the first time on Tuesday afternoon in the Nationals Park press box, Washington 2018 first-round pick Mason Denaburg smiled and took a deep breath as his family looked on.
About a minute later, as reporters bustled off to interview Denaburg's agent, Scott Boras, Denaburg's family could hardly contain their excitement before Denaburg led them out of the room.
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Denaburg, a right-handed pitcher, felt relieved and thrilled Tuesday after agreeing to terms on a contract with Washingotn three days before the deadline to do so. Denaburg, the 27th overall pick in this year's Draft, said he'll begin training at the Nationals' facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., next week, before starting a Minor League stint. The Nationals have agreed to contracts with all of their top 10 selections, seven of whom are pitchers.
"It's a dream come true really," said Denaburg, who'll forego a commitment to play baseball at the University of Florida. "As a kid I've always grown up wanting to play professional baseball, and today I finally met that goal."
Denaburg signed for $3 million, according to Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline. The 27th overall pick featured a slot value of $2,472,700.
Due to biceps tendinitis, Denaburg missed more than a month of his final season at Merritt Island High School (Florida). Were it not for the injury, the hard-throwing righty was a potential top-10 Draft pick. The 18-year-old's arsenal features a fastball topping at 97 mph with a power breaking ball and an above-average changeup. Denaburg said he's now healthy.
During the Draft, three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer watched video of multiple pitchers the Nationals were considering, and Scherzer recommended Denaburg.
Denaburg joins Erick Fedde and Seth Romero as the Nationals' top-rated Minor League pitchers.
"It's awesome just thinking about the guys that they've brought through their organization," Denaburg said. "For them to think highly enough of me to pick me means the world to me."
Denaburg went 5-1 with a 1.27 ERA in eight starts during his senior year. MLB Pipeline ranked Denaburg its 24th overall Draft prospect. He was also a two-way player in high school. Denaburg struck out 73 batters and walked 10 while hitting .410 with five home runs, 21 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 28 games in the field.
Boras compared Denaburg to Fedde because they're gifted athletes outside of baseball. Denaburg played baseball, soccer and football growing up, and his favorite athlete was Travis Pastrana, a professional motorsports competitor and stunt performer.
"He has the velocity, but the real thing is he has a feel to pitch," Boras said. "He has a very repeatable delivery, very durable and has been kind of hidden in the baseball market; didn't do a lot of showcases and things, but the scouting industry kind of caught onto him late in his junior year. He's got all the physical tools and a great work ethic to go with his talent attributes."
Boras represents an array of former Nationals first-round selections, including Romero, Fedde, Anthony Rendon, Brian Goodwin, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg.