The Nats had, as Mark Zuckerman pointed out, a big night. They signed all four of their top picks, and that is a good thing. Don’t let memories of Jim Bowden and Aaron Crow fool you – this is perfectly normal. More than 90% of prospects sign, and most of those who don’t sign had indicated that they really wanted to go to college. Even Josh Bell, who sent a letter to all 30 teams saying he wouldn’t sign, signed with the Pirates. Still, this is very good news, and should generate real excitement. Let’s take a look, once again, at who the Nats picked. For a more in depth of the first three, check out my Day 1 draft analysis. Below are just a few highlights and lots of quotes from people more knowledgeable about prospects than I am:

Anthony Rendon (Pick #6 – 3B, Rice)

A 6’0″ third baseman, the Nats can dream about putting him at second base so he has somewhere to play in the majors, but some evaluators think that’s not gonna happen. Regardless of where he plays, he can hit. He has a GREAT eye and some real power. He has had injury concerns that we probably won’t know enough about until next season, but if he’s healthy he should be able to hit his way up to the majors very quickly. He rnaked #2 on Keith Law’s final predraft rankings, and is considered by many to be the best hitter in this year’s draft. A few quotes on him:

Keith Law – “…once Rendon’s shoulder is healthy his bat and eye should let him advance quickly through the minors.”

Kevin Goldstein – “If Rendon IS healthy, he projects as a .280-.300 hitter with tons of walks, 20-25 home runs and plus defense at third. Only question about him other than health was that he didn’t necessarily have a big time pro body at 6-0/190.”

John Manuel (Baseball America) – “For the third straight season, Washington wound up taking the No. 1 player on BA’s Top 200, as Rendon joins Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in Washington’s fold.”

John Sickels (SBNation) – “A healthy Rendon projects as an on-base machine with good power and excellent defensive ability at third base. The Nationals may have a steal here.”

Alex Meyer (Pick #23 – RHP, Kentucky)

Meyer is a 6’9″ righty with a blazing fastball that can touch the high-90s (but unlike Strasburg, doesn’t sit there all the time). He has had control issues, but has also struck out a ton of batters. Some of that may come from pure velocity, amplified by his height. Despite his college experience and velocity, he may need some time to work on mechanics, and probably shouldn’t be penciled in to the 2013 starting rotation just yet. That being said, if he can improve his control, he has true #1 potential. Some quotes:

Keith Law (ESPN) – “Alex Meyer should at least begin his pro career as a starter after getting the $2 million he turned down in 2008 from Boston, but needs to show better command and control to remain there despite a high-maintenance delivery. Still, it’s a tremendous top three for the Nats. [referring to Rendon, Meyer and Goodwin]”

Keith Law – “even with the improved control he was walking a guy every other inning until his last few outings, but it’s top-10 or top-5 stuff with No. 1 starter upside.”

Jason A. Churchill – “He’s 6-foot-9 and when he keeps his delivery together is dominant and uses the slider to put batters away. There’s a chance he’s a closer in the future but he holds his velocity well despite some inconsistencies with his command. The Nationals, if we dream for a second, could have four perennial All-Stars out of the past three first rounds in Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Rendon and Meyer, with an above-average closer in Drew Storen.”

Brian Goodwin (Pick #34 – CF, Miami-Dade CC)

Goodwin was ranked 25th in Keith Law’s final final final predraft rankings list, and he is a potential 5 tool outfielder. He’s fast although not a superb defender, and he’s got a great eye and a good bat speed. His power isn’t there yet, but it’s “projectable” meaning that scouts see it coming eventually. If things work out for him, he’s an above average or even all star caliber center fielder, although it probably won’t be for several seasons.

Jim Callis – “Nationals get more big upside to start first round as OF Brian Goodwin joins Rendon, Meyer”

Nathan Rode – ” Goodwin has been compared to Jacque Jones with his average to plus tools across the board. He’s a good hitter, showing patience and strength at the plate.”

Jason Churchill – “an athletic outfielder with plus speed and the ability to square up line drives and even hit for some power”

Keith Law- “Goodwin was effectively a college sophomore, a junior college player who was set to transfer to South Carolina for the fall to re-enter next year’s weak draft as one of the top two or three college position players in the class”

Matt Purke (Pick #96 – LHP, TCU)

Purke was drafted 14th overall by Texas in 2009, but went to college instead. He has shown the ability throw in the high-90s, although he sits in the low-90s range most of the time. The exception was this year, when he had shoulder bursitis. That injury kept him from throwing hard, and limited his playing time and effectiveness. There are questions as to whether his delivery will ever let him stay healthy for long, and while some project a healthy Burke as an ace, others, like Keith Law, see his max as a #2 or 3.

Keith Law – “Purke got paid well over and above anything justified by his performance and health this spring. I saw Purke twice, never saw him throw a pitch over 91 mph, and saw his velocity drop in each of the two outings. He missed time with soreness in his shoulder.”

Keith Law – “His low-slot, slinging arm action does put stress on his shoulder, so it’s a tough call for a team drafting him even if they get his full medicals, but there is some No. 2-3 starter upside here if he’s healthy and has realistic bonus demands.”

By Charlie