Results tagged ‘ Jake Johansen ’
The Washington Nationals farm system hasn’t so much met expectations in 2013 as it’s surpassed every one.
Ranked the No. 13 farm system overall in the preseason by Baseball America, the Nationals have surged to the third-best organizational record at 403-322 (.558) overall, trailing only Houston (.572) and San Francisco (.564). Three of Washington’s seven affiliates are playoff-bound, with a fourth in a close division race.
None of this is entirely unexpected either. Under the guidance of President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo, the Nats have gone from the Minor League cellar six years ago to a brief stint at No. 1 in last year’s Baseball America preseason rankings. Not to mention that this farm system has cultivated such talent as Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon. In fact, 11 players on Washington’s active roster have come through its Minor League system.
Perhaps most remarkable has been the Gulf Coast League Nationals, which have notched the most impressive mark in all of professional baseball. Since the season began on June 21, the Rookie-level entry has gone 48-9 (.842), better than even the tremendous run by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who posted a 47-12 (.797) record in the same span. The GCL Nationals lead their division by 24.0 games, have 13 more wins than the next best team in the league, and clinched their playoff spot long ago.
Obviously, such a run requires more than just luck. The GCL Nationals are tops in the league in most meaningful statistical categories. Their 2.49 team ERA and .279 team batting average pace the field, while their 5.52 runs per game is more than six-tenths of a run better than the next closest total. They boast the league’s leader and runner-up in ERA among qualifiers, 21-year-old righty Wander Suero (8-1, 1.65) and 20-year-old southpaw Hector Silvestre (7-0, 1.82). Righty Lucas Giolito, the Nationals’ No. 2 prospect, drafted 16th overall out of high school in 2012, has returned from Tommy John surgery and was recently promoted to Short-Season Auburn in the New York-Penn League after notching a 2.78 ERA and 25 strikeouts over 22.2 innings in the Gulf Coast League.
Like the GCL Nats, the High-A Potomac Nationals have put up ridiculous numbers in the Carolina League. Potomac is 81-51 overall, having already locked up a playoff spot by winning the Northern Division’s first-half championship with a 42-27 record. They’re currently 7.5 games up on Lynchburg in the second half, and will earn home-field advantage in all three Carolina League Division Series contests if they secure the second half title as well.
Cutter Dykstra has helped pace Potomac on its most recent tear. During the P-Nats recent 10-game winning streak (August 10-20), the infielder racked up a .316/.447/.421 line. He also reached base in a league-best 29 games, putting together an 18-game hitting streak in the process. Meanwhile, right-hander Blake Schwartz is 11-4 with a 2.56 ERA and leads the league with a 1.03 WHIP.
The Low-A Hagerstown Suns (77-53) are also headed to the postseason, while the Double-A Harrisburg Senators (72-63) are a half-game up in their Eastern League division, where the top two teams reach the playoffs. The Suns are pacing the South Atlantic League with 5.03 runs per game, benefitting from a fairly balanced lineup. They’ve also recently added 2013 draft pick Jake Johansen, who was 1-1 with a 1.06 ERA and a 9.4 K/9 rate with Auburn. The Senators, meanwhile, boast a pitching staff that leads the league with a 3.46 ERA. Nationals third-rated prospect A.J. Cole — who earned the save in the 2013 Futures Game — is sitting at 3-2 with a 2.58 ERA since being promoted in late July.
Though the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs have posted just a 65-72 record, they have their bright spots as well in prospects like Jeff Kobernus and Zach Walters. Kobernus served a brief stint in the big leagues and earned International League Player of the Week honors for the week of August 12-18. He leads the team and is second among Nationals farmhands with a .324 batting average. Walters, meanwhile, has slugged 29 home runs, 10 more than the next closest total in the organization. The infielder has posted a .531 slugging percentage on the season, especially impressive from the shortstop position.
The 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft concludes Saturday with rounds 11-50 taking place this afternoon. On Friday, the Nationals completed the first 10 rounds of selections, snagging eight amateur players to join their second-round selection Jake Johansen, who was taken on Thursday night. Here is a brief overview of the first 10 rounds of Washington’s latest draft class.
RD. PICK NAME POS. HT. WT. B-T SCHOOL
2 68 Jake Johansen RHP 6’6” 235 R-R Dallas Baptist
3 105 Drew Ward 3B 6’4″ 210 L-R Leedy (OK) HS
4 136 Nicholas Pivetta RHP 6’5″ 210 R-R New Mexico JC
5 166 Austin Voth RHP 6’2″ 210 R-R U. Washington
6 196 Cody Gunter 3B 6’3″ 195 L-R Grayson Cnty (TX) JC
7 226 James Yezzo 1B 6’1″ 190 L-R U. Delaware
8 256 David Napoli LHP 5’10″ 180 R-L Tulane (LA)
9 185 Jake Joyce RHP 6’0″ 185 R-R Virginia Tech
10 316 Brennan Middleton SS 6’0″ 185 R-R Tulane (LA)
Check out our detailed report of Johansen, who took no time at all in becoming the first player of the draft class to sign with the club. In the meantime, here’s more on some other notable names on the list. Drew Ward is a unique case, having graduated high school early to make himself Draft eligible after what would have been his junior year. Already 6’4”, 210 pounds at just 18 years of age, the Oklahoma University commit is the highest position player selected by Washington this year.
The Nationals also selected a pair of junior college pitchers as well as a pair of Tulane University teammates on the second day of the Draft. But perhaps the player who stands out the most from the college ranks is seventh-rounder James Yezzo, a left-handed hitting first baseman who becomes the first player selected out of the University of Delaware since 2010. Yezzo led the Colonial Athletic Conference in a host of offensive categories on his way to Conference Player of the Year honors and a first-team All-American selection by Louisville Slugger.
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft concludes Saturday night while the Nationals are taking on the Twins.
When fans of teams other than the Nationals think of Washington’s recent First-Year Player Draft history, they tend to focus on the pair of No. 1 overall picks, Stephen Strasburg from 2009 and Bryce Harper a year later.
However, Nationals fans know as well as anyone how important the second round of the draft can be. They drafted Jordan Zimmermann in the second round in 2007 out of little-known Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and two years later found another big leaguer in the recently promoted Jeff Kobernus. When their first pick came around at No. 68 this year, took the route they traveled six years ago, again daring to dream on a powerful, right-handed arm from a small school in Jake Johansen, a 6-foot-6 hurler out of Dallas Baptist University.
There were differing opinions of Johansen from the draft experts, but ESPN’s resident guru Keith Law had the Allen, Texas native ranked 63rd on his board heading into Thursday night. The Nationals liked what they saw, especially Director of Scouting Kris Kline, who watched Johansen pitch twice in games this year before inviting him to a workout in D.C. earlier this week.
“This is what we seek when we go out to the ballpark every day,” said Kline of finding a player like Johansen among the countless hours of driving around the country scouting amateur players.
Kline does not like to make Major League comparisons when discussing draft selections, but he conceded that Johansen’s arm action and delivery very were similar to that of Josh Beckett, another hard-throwing Texan.
With a fastball that can top out in triple digits, Johansen’s upside is obvious. Kline says he usually sits around 94 with his fastball, which is complemented by a pair of breaking balls – a hard cutter/slider that he throws around 88-90 and a curveball. Kline suggests that the former is already an out pitch, but sees both developing as the Nationals coaching staff gets a chance to work with him.
“There’s no reason why, with a few tweaks from our staff, this guy can’t be a front-line guy,” said Kline, who went on to compare him to Washington’s first selection in last year’s draft. “If you put him next to (Lucas) Giolito, you’ve got some pretty good-looking bookends.”
Of course, the Nationals had the different experience of patiently sitting through more than four hours of proceedings before they could finally make their pick. While that’s a good thing in the larger view of it all – drafting later means you’re performing better on the field at the Major League level – it was nonetheless a relief to finally be able to choose the player they hoped would be available after all that time.
“I’m glad he fell into our laps at 68,” said Kline. “When I called him up, I said, ‘Are you as excited as I am? I’ve been waiting all night for this.’”
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft continues Friday at 1 p.m. with selection number 74. The Nationals next selection does not come until the 105th pick.