The 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft continued with rounds 3-10 Friday afternoon. Here’s a look at Washington’s seven selections:
At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Reetz is known as a hard-nosed competitor and a tremendous athlete behind the plate. He was named the 2013-14 Gatorade Nebraska Baseball Player of the Year after hitting .487 with eight home runs, 37 RBI and 37 runs scored in 2014. Reetz was rated by Baseball America as the No. 62 overall draft prospect (No. 1 in Nebraska) in this year’s draft class. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Nebraska. When he inked with the Cornhuskers, he was rated the No. 28 overall recruit in the country, and was named a 2013 Perfect Game First-Team Underclass All-American.
Nationals Assistant GM & VP of Scouting Operations Kris Kline: “We’re very excited (about Reetz). He’s a high school catcher that we love. Power bat, (and) he’s got a great feel to hit. Catching skills are maybe a tick better than (Oakland A’s catcher and former Nationals prospect) Derrick Norris at the same time. We have the right people to help him progress in that area. I think you’re looking at an offensive catcher at the big-league level down the road.”
Robert Dickey – Right Handed Pitcher – Blinn (TX) Junior College / Austin, TX – 4th Round (124th overall)
Dickey helped lead Blinn Junior College to its first Junior College World Series since 1992, going 9-4 with a 2.74 ERA (26 ER/85.1 IP) in 14 starts for the Buccaneers. He struck out 100 batters while walking just 44. Entering the season, he was rated by Perfect Game USA as the No. 1 overall junior college prospect in the nation. He’s noted for strong makeup and mound presence. He signed a National Letter of Intent with Texas State University.
National/Midwest Crosschecker Jimmy Gonzales: “Robert is very excited to be a National. He’s a strong right-handed pitcher. Great body, great character, plus fastball and a solid curveball. We feel he’s going to be a starter. He expressed a lot of interest in wanting to play for us.”
At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Van Orden leans on his fastball and slider command to get batters out. He ranked 6th in the Atlantic Coast Conference in strikeouts (91) and paced the Blue Devil staff in innings pitched (87.1), strikeouts and games started (14). Van Orden went 6-5 with a 3.19 ERA (34 ER/87.1 IP) while allowing opposing hitters to post a .219 average against him in 15 games/14 starts during his senior season. He was selected to the ACC All-Tournament Team after tossing his first career shutout in Duke’s 6-0 win over Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament.
Austen Williams – Right Handed Pitcher – Texas State University / Fort Worth, TX – 6th Round (184th overall)
Williams was named All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team after finishing third in the conference in strikeouts (96) and tied for third in wins (8). Standing 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Williams was 8-3 with a 3.65 ERA (40 ER/98.2 IP) in 15 starts for the Bobcats. He struck out 96 batters and hitters posted a .239 batting average against him.
Dale (D.K.) Carey – Center Fielder – University of Miami (FL) / Marietta, GA – 7th Round (214th overall)
Carey is seen as a plus defender and is considered one of the best pure athletes in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. He stands 6-foot-2, weighs 207 pounds, and ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in runs scored (53), as well as ranking fourth in hits (75). On the season, he led the Hurricanes in hitting .305 (75-for-246) and doubles (16) while clubbing seven home runs, 29 RBI and 16 stolen bases. Carey was named Second-Team All-ACC following the 2014 season.
Kris Kline: “Dale was a kid we felt, when he was young, that he was going to be a really good player. He struggled throughout college a bit. We noticed that he simplified his approach, he slowed the game down. He’s a really good defender — throws well, runs well. It’s been encouraging to see him progress to the point to do what we feel he is capable of doing. We’re very excited to have him as part of our system.”
A three-time All-Conference selection (Big East/American Athletic Conference) throughout his career, Gardner was named the 2014 AAC Player of the Year after hitting .326 with 20 doubles, nine home runs and leading the league with 67 RBI and a .551 slugging percentage. He was a two-time AAC Player of the Week and was recently named a Collegiate Baseball Louisville Slugger Second Team All-American.
Austin Byler – First Baseman – University of Nevada-Reno / Peoria, AZ – 9th Round (274th overall)
Byler, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound first baseman, led the Mountain West Conference and ranked seventh in NCAA Division 1 with 14 home runs. He also led the MWC in slugging percentage (.624) and total bases (138), while ranking fourth in on-base percentage (.420), runs scored (51) and fifth in RBI (47). Byler was a First Team All-Mountain West selection and a two-time MWC Player of the Week. He hit .326 with 14 doubles, five triples, 14 home runs, 47 RBI and 51 runs scored in 57 games this season.
Matt Page – Left Fielder – Oklahoma Baptist University / Redwood City, CA – 10th Round (304th overall)
Page was a two-time NAIA First-Team All-American, two-time Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Year as well as the 2013 NAIA Player of the Year. Standing 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Page hit .381 with 26 doubles, six triples, 11 home runs, 84 RBI and 78 runs scored in 64 games played in 2014. His 26 doubles were second-most in NAIA, while his 84 RBI were good for third.
For more on who the Nationals selected in the first and second rounds, click here.
The 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft will conclude on Saturday.
by Amanda Comak
It wasn’t long after Matt Williams was named the Washington Nationals manager last fall before he began to figure out where his help might be needed most in the D.C. community. Little more than a month after he was appointed as the fifth field manager in Nationals history, Williams found himself enjoying lunch at the Red Porch on a cool day among men with whom he shared an interest: teaching the game of baseball.
Williams welcomed a group of District of Columbia Public Schools varsity baseball coaches to Nationals Park that day, and talked with them about the challenges they face in trying to foster the game in the District.
A few months later, each coach received a letter from Williams.
“As a leader of a team, I am aware of the challenges that you face as a coach,” Williams wrote to each coach. “While neither I, nor the Washington Nationals, will have a solution to all of your struggles, I am interested in helping you achieve success.
“One of the challenges that resonated with me during our question-and-answer session was your need for baseballs. Therefore, I’d like to give you 30 practice baseballs for your team’s use during the remainder of this season. Hopefully these baseballs will be of help to you and your kids.”
Last week, as a follow-up to that first meeting, a group of those same coaches enjoyed the Nationals game against the Marlins.
“They’re teaching our young baseball players how to play the game and it’s hard for them to have support,” Williams said last week. “There’s very little funding. They work long hours. They have to find places to practice and they have to find baseballs, so I’m helping them do that. I just want to help them coach and help them teach.”
Williams, who made good on his promise and donated 30 practice baseballs to each team, welcomed the coaches onto the field during batting practice. He set each coach and an assistant up with tickets to the game, and offered each $20 in Nats Bucks to use within the ballpark that night.
“At times, coaching may feel like a thankless job,” Williams wrote. “However, as mentors to student-athletes, you have a sizable impact on these kids’ lives. I am incredibly grateful for the time and energy that you commit to the youth in our community.”