Nationals select eight players on second day of MLB’s 2015 Draft

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by Kyle Brostowitz

The Washington Nationals selected eight players on the second day of Major League Baseball’s 2015 First-Year Player Draft.

Assistant General Manager & Vice President of Scouting Operations Kris Kline said the Nationals are always focused on taking the best player available in the draft.

“Once we got past the first group there, we tried to focus on some pitching. We got two or three quality left-handed arms,” Kline said. “We are always trying to take the best player available and obviously money is a factor at this point and we have to be careful with that, and that’s kind of how it played out this year. We’re very excited about it through.”

The Nationals kicked off the action by selecting outfielder Rhett Wiseman (Vanderbilt University) with their third-round pick (103rd overall).  During the regular season, Wiseman ranked among Southeastern Conference hitters in runs scored (2nd, 66), total bases (4th, 149), walks (T6th, 39), home runs (T6th, 14) slugging percentage (8th, .567), hits (9th 83) and triples (10th, 4). His .318 batting average ranks second on the club and his 14 home runs are tied for second.

Omaha, NE - JUNE 24:  Rhett Wiseman #8 of the Vanderbilt Commodores singles against the Virginia Cavaliers in the first inning during game two of the College World Series Championship Series on June 24, 2014 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

Omaha, NE – JUNE 24: Rhett Wiseman #8 of the Vanderbilt Commodores singles against the Virginia Cavaliers in the first inning during game two of the College World Series Championship Series on June 24, 2014 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

In the fourth round, the Nationals selected right-handed pitcher Mariano Rivera Jr., the son of former Major League great Mariano Rivera. Rivera Jr. went 5-7 with a team-leading 2.65 ERA (25 ER/85.0 IP) in 14 games (14 starts) for Iona College. He was named 2015 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Pitcher of the Year after leading the league with 113 strikeouts and posting a 1.81 ERA in conference play.

“I really like this kid and our scout John Malzone, he tracked him a lot this year,” said Washington’s National Crosschecker, Jeff Zona. “He sits mid-90s with his fastball with a power 80 mile per hour curveball. It was very impressive. He was one of my favorites and I think we got a good one.”

rivera

As expected, Rivera Jr., has garnered much attention for being the son of one of the greatest closers in Major League Baseball history. “As scouts, anytime we go watch a kid that has Major League bloodlines – you look at the Boone family – there is something to be said for that,” Kline said. “It is a positive thing and the fact that Mariano’s kid is as good as he is right now, I’m sure his father had a lot to do with that. He has the genes. He’s not a tall kid, but he’s got big shoulders, long arms, big hands and that really helps as far as the durability for that size. His stuff is above average to well above average at times.”

The Nationals selected lefthander Taylor Hearn out of Oklahoma Baptist University with their fifth round pick. Hearn went 9-0 with a 3.50 ERA in 15 games/13 starts in 2015. He struck out 71 batters in 64.1 innings pitched. His nine wins ranked tied for third in the Sooner Athletic Conference and his 71 strikeouts were good for tenth.

In the sixth round, the Nationals selected the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Pitcher of the Year, Matt Crownover, a left-handed pitcher out of Clemson (SC) University. He led the ACC in wins (10), ranked second in ERA (1.82), and was third in strikeouts (108).

On Crownover, Kline said: “He ended up being the ACC Pitcher of the Year and his numbers for his career are outstanding. In the end, as a professional, you’re probably looking at a four or five starter or possibly a bullpen guy that can fill multiple roles. The stuff is good – up to 92 mph – with solid secondary stuff. He really knows how to pitch.”

The Nationals selected Nicholls (LA) State University left-handed pitcher Grant Borne with their seventh round pick. Borne led the Southland Conference with a 1.39 ERA and ranked fourth in the league in strikeouts (93). He went 6-5 in 15 starts.

In the eighth round, the Nationals selected Oklahoma State reliever Koda Glover. The right-handed Glover posted a 1.90 ERA (5 ER/23.2 IP) in 23 appearances out of the bullpen in 2015. He struck out 28 against just seven walks.

Washington selected the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year, University of Illinois first baseman David Kerian in the ninth round. At the time of the announcement, Kerian led the Big Ten in average (.383), home runs (13), slugging percentage (.661) & on-base percentage (.467).

Kline on Kerian: “He’s a switch hitter with an advanced approach to hitting, and area scout Steve Arnieri spent a lot of hours with this kid. Steve was really excited about this kid. He ended up being the Big Ten Player of the Year.”

In the tenth and final round of the day, the Nationals selected Taylor Guilbeau out of the University of Alabama. Guilbeau went 3-6 wth a 3.69 ERA in 15 starts during his senior season at Alabama.

Over the first two days of the three-day Draft, the Nationals have selected a total of ten players: two right-handed pitchers, four left-handed pitchers, three outfielders and one infielder. Of Washington’s ten selections, one came from the high school ranks and nine from four-year universities.

 

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