Nationals could select UNLV pitcher in first round of tonight’s draft

The Nationals have hit the pot of gold when it comes to the First-Year Player Draft. Three recent first-round picks, two of them No. 1 overall selections, are starters for the team right now. Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon are considered by many, including ESPN’s Jim Callis, the best three-year run in the First-Year Player Draft ever.

The Nationals have built their system behind strong pitching. They have also sent off top prospects like Alex Meyer to get starters like Denard Span. Pitching is the backbone of a top major league system. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports believes the Nationals will go that way again in the draft tonight, which begins at 6 p.m. on MLB Network.

FeddeUNLV.jpgHeyman writes in his latest mock draft:

“They’ve had good luck with Scott Boras players, and better luck with Tommy John patients, from Jordan Zimmermann to Stephen Strasburg to draftee Lucas Giolito. So hard-throwing UNLV right-hander Erick Fedde, who’s being advised by Boras and who would have gone higher had he not gone under the knife, makes sense. The pick: Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV”

Fedde had an 8-2 record with a 1.76 ERA in 11 starts for the Rebels. He had 82 strikeouts and 21 walks. He underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Keith Law from ESPN also has the 6-foot-4, 180-lb. Fedde going to the Nationals at No. 18.

UNLV head coach Tim Chambers had nothing but high praise for the right-hander. If you recognize Chambers’ name, he was the College of Southern Nevada coach while Harper was there.

“Great competitor with tremendous work ethic,” Chambers said of Fedde. “He is the hardest worker I have ever coached in 27 years.”

The Nationals might also like left-hander Sean Newcomb from the University of Hartford. Top left-handed prospect Matt Purke is out at least one year after Tommy John surgery and their other coveted, southpaw Sammy Solis, is on the disabled list with elbow discomfort.

Photo courtesy of Steve Spatafore/UNLV

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