Just about 15 minutes after the Nationals announced that they had signed right-hander Jake Johansen, their top overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, Johansen hopped on a conference call with reporters to discuss officially being added to the Nats’ system, his future plans and his performance at Dallas Baptist University in his three years there.
The 22-year-old right-hander, who the Nats took with the No. 68 overall pick in the draft, said that he got a really good feel from the Nats, including general manager Mike Rizzo and scouting director Kris Kline, when he worked out in D.C. this week.
He knew he wanted to start playing as soon as possible, and so just about 18 hours after he was drafted, Johansen and the Nats quickly agreed to a deal for slot money. He’ll report to the Nats’ minor league complex in Viera, Fla., on Sunday, and then will be ticketed for short-season Single-A Auburn.
“I wanted to go out and play as quickly as possible so I could increase my chances to possibly be up in the major leagues as soon as possible,” said Johansen, who referred to reporters as “sir” and “ma’am” throughout the conference call.
Johansen also had workouts with the Royals and Rangers prior to meeting with the Nats, but said he got a really good vibe from his time around the Nationals’ brass.
“It was different, just a different atmosphere and something that I was very pleased with,” Johansen said. “Just overall, very impressed with the organization.”
Johansen’s fastball is his calling card, reaching the upper-90s. The quality of Johansen’s secondary pitches has been questioned by scouts, but the 6-foot-5 righty says he feels he had a good feel for his changeup, curve and slider, a pitch that has cutter-type movement.
“I’m very comfortable throwing all my pitches, and I know they might not be the best pitches in my overall repertoire right now, but I know they’re very projectable and I have a lot to develop,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it. I’m very, very excited about the positive things that I’ve heard about the player development (system) with the Nationals. I have no doubt, I’m very confident that I’ll reach that potential.”
Johansen’s numbers at Dallas Baptist (7-6 with a 5.40 ERA in 15 starts this season, with 75 strikeouts in 88 1/3 innings) won’t wow anyone, but the big right-hander says he knows he brings more to the table than just his stat line.
“I think a lot of people can see my numbers, and unfortunately, I don’t think that the box score really necessarily depicts the type of pitcher that I am,” Johansen said. “I know that I am a late bloomer, and I have so much more room to grow and so much more to learn. This is my first season that I’ve been able to maintain in the starting rotation at a Division I program, and I maintained it throughout the entire year.
“I know that the amount of knowledge that I’ve learned right now is nowhere near the amount of knowledge that I’m about to learn in the Nationals organization, just in sequencing, execution and other areas. And I know that with the change from aluminum bats at the Division I level and the balls that we throw, changing over to the professional level with the wood bats and a different baseball, and a professional defense behind me, will minimize the amount of hits and earned runs that I give up.”
Getting Johansen’s deal done was a piece of cake, and Nats scouting director Kris Kline and assistant general manager Roy Clark said that they don’t expect any issues signing the rest of the players they’ve selected to this point.
Things will “probably go pretty smooth,” Kline said.