When Nationals second-round pick Jake Johansen went to D.C. to work out for the Nats leading up to the draft, general manager Mike Rizzo and scouting director Kris Kline told him that they viewed him as a starter, which went contrary to what Johansen was hearing from other scouts, who projected him as a reliever at the pro level.
That was something that immediately stood out in the 22-year-old’s mind.
“I logged it away and I was just hoping that the Nationals would be able to get the chance to draft me,” Johansen said. “I was extremely, extremely happy. Just ecstatic about the opportunity that they chose to take me with their first overall pick in the 2013 draft in the second round.”
Johansen said that even though some scouts question whether his secondary pitches are effective enough to play at the next level, he feels comfortable with his curve, changeup and slider, and sees them as having room to become more advanced.
In order to have success as a starter in pro ball, Johansen will need to develop those pitches, but he doesn’t see that as being an issue.
“Honestly, I also view myself as a starter, and just to hear the words from Mr. Rizzo and Mr. Kline about how they project me as a starter in their organization is extremely motivating,” Johansen said. “Just pushes me that much further to exceed their expectations and reach my full potential. I definitely do see myself as a starter. I feel like I have some pretty good intangibles with my overall body size, I’m able to maintain velocity throughout the majority of the start, if not increase velocity in the later innings.
“And I know I’m durable to last. I have four pitches that I can command decently well, and I know that I can get them in there for a strike. I feel I have great composure and presence on the mound, that a starter needs.”
A couple quick notes on the Nationals’ other picks yesterday:
* Scouting director Kris Kline said that all of the Nats’ picks on Day 2 of the draft would likely report to either short-season Single-A Auburn or the Gulf Coast League once they’ve been signed and are cleared to start playing for an affiliate.
* If there’s one player who would be advanced enough to possibly play at a higher level right now, Kline feels it’s seventh-round pick James Yezzo from the University of Delaware. Kline said that Yezzo reminds him of a hybrid of three major leaguers - Yonder Alonso, Erubiel Durazao and Laynce Nix - a feels that Yezzo would be able to hit at a higher level immediately.
* Sixth-round pick Cody Gunter, a third baseman out of Grayson County College in Texas, has done some pitching, but the Nats plan to use him strictly as a position player.
* Third-rounder Drew Ward is an interesting prospect. He was originally going to graduate from high school in 2014 but reclassified in order to make himself draft eligible earlier. Ward played shortstop in high school but the Nats plan to move him to third base. They’ve known that Ward would be entering the draft early for a little bit now and have been monitoring him carefully, feeling he has an advanced approach for a kid his age.