Nationals Draft Report Card

Analyzing Washington's 2008 draft class




QUICK TAKE
Not signing Aaron Crow leaves the Nats with two of the first 10 picks in 2009 (Nos. 1 and 9A) but leaves this year's class without an obvious impact talent after Hood. The pitching side looks especially thin, signing only RHPs Demny, Chris Kelley (24) and Casey Whitmer (30).
POSITION PLAYERS

Best Pure Hitter: OF J.P. Ramirez (15) used his smooth lefthanded swing to jump right in after signing Aug. 15, going 7-for-16 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League playoffs. OF J.R. Higley (9) has a line-drive stroke, while C Adrian Nieto (5) has a good feel from both sides of the plate.  >>  Best Power Hitter: OF Destin Hood (2) has electric bat speed and raw power to spare. Nieto has more usable power for now.  >>  Fastest Runner: Hood is a plus runner, while 5-foot-9 OF Chris Curran (22) is a burner with leadoff skills that earned him all-star honors in the GCL.  >>  Best Defensive Player: SS Danny Espinosa (3) has unorthodox actions but a strong arm and instincts that profile well in the middle infield. OF Marcus Jones (11) rates above-average in center field with a solid-average arm.

PITCHERS

Best Fastball: Unsigned RHP Aaron Crow (1) had by far the best fastball in the draft class. Without him, RHP Paul Demny (6) stands out with a fastball that touches 94 mph.  >>  Best Secondary Pitch: LHP Will Atwood (12) has command of a solid-average curveball and changeup and plenty of pitchability. LHP Graham Hicks (4) has more upside with a projectable 6-foot-5 frame and a curveball that grades as solid-average now.

ODDS AND ENDS

Best Pro Debut: Atwood allowed 52 baserunners and struck out 60 in 52 innings at short-season Vermont, going 2-1, 2.41. Higley hit .346/.486/.458 while Demny went 4-0, 2.50 with 40 strikeouts in 36 innings to help the Nats win the GCL championship.  >>  Best Athlete: Hood has four above-average raw tools and enough athletic ability to get a football scholarship to Alabama. Only his arm rates below-average. A Washington, D.C., native, Jones has a lean, athletic frame and needs to add strength to fulfill his projections.  >>  Most Intriguing Background: Nieto and his family came to the U.S. from Cuba when he was 8; he teamed with No. 3 overall pick Eric Hosmer (Royals) to help American Heritage HS win both a Florida state championship and Baseball America's final No. 1 ranking. 2B Steve Lombardozzi (19) is the son of the ex-Twins second baseman of the same name.  >>  Closest To The Majors: Espinosa has to prove he can hit with wood but has the glove to move quickly. Atwood could do the same thanks to his polish and secondary stuff.  >>  Best Late-Round Pick: Ramirez got $1 million at the signing deadline to sway him from a Tulane scholarship.  >>  The One Who Got Away: The Nationals and Crow, advised by the Hendricks Bros., badly misjudged each other, leaving them too far apart on deadline day, and they weren't able to bridge the $500,000 gap by the deadline.