2011 Draft Report Card: Washington Nationals


The Nationals spent big—and it was worth it. They had baseball's best draft, getting the top hitter (Rendon), an electric arm (Meyer) and a top athlete (Goodwin) in the top 34 picks, then signing Purke.
Bonus Spending: $15.0 million
BEST PURE HITTER:  The Nationals got the best bat in the draft with the No. 6 pick, which wouldn't have happened had 3B Anthony Rendon (1) not been slowed by a shoulder injury in the spring. With his swing, bat speed, hand-eye coordination and strike-zone discipline, it will be a surprise if he's not a .300 hitter. BEST POWER HITTER:  Rendon's pure hitting ability stands out more than his strength, but he should have enough power to hit 25 homers a season. 3B Matt Skole (5) offers solid lefthanded pop. FASTEST RUNNER:  OF Billy Burns (32) has close to top-of-the-line speed and is a more advanced basestealer than OF Brian Goodwin (1s), a well above-average runner. BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER:  Rendon also has Gold Glove-caliber skills at third base, though a position change may be in his future with Ryan Zimmerman in Washington. SS Deion Williams (16) is raw, but he has a tremendous arm and quick feet.


BEST FASTBALL:  RHP Alex Meyer (1) is as intimidating as it gets on the mound, with his 6-foot-9 frame and a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and reaches triple digits on occasion. Before he had shoulder problems in the spring, LHP Matt Purke (3) had a nearly as effective heater, pitching at 91-94 mph and touching 96 with life. BEST SECONDARY PITCH:  When he maintains his arm slot, Meyer can deliver a slider that's a true plus-plus pitch. Purke has an above-average slider when healthy.


BEST PRO DEBUT: None of the Nationals' first five picks signed in time to play pro ball. Skole hit .290 and led the short-season New York-Penn League with 48 RBIs. BEST ATHLETE: Goodwin has five-tool potential and can stick in center field if he improves his reads and jumps. MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND: Washington selected LHP Bryan Harper's (30) brother Bryce with the No. 1 overall pick in 2010. Skole's brother Jake went 15th overall to the Rangers in the same draft. Williams' grandfather George Scott and RHP Travis Henke's uncle Tom both made multiple all-star teams during 14-year big league careers. Burns' father Bob is a former NFL running back. CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: Rendon and Purke both received big league contracts and won't need surgery, so the Nationals expect them in D.C. in short order. BEST LATE-ROUND PICK: Burns has the speed to make a difference in center field and on the bases. He took up switch-hitting in instructional league. THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY: RHP Hawtin Buchanan (19) is 6-foot-8, 230 pounds and already can get his fastball up to 93 mph. He ultimately decided to attend Mississippi. LHP Brett Mooneyham (38) was a potential first-round pick before missing the entire 2011 season after needing surgery on the middle finger of his pitching hand. He returned to Stanford.