On the second day of the draft, which covered rounds three through 10, the Nationals added three pitchers, three outfielders, a catcher and a first baseman.
In the third round, the Nats selected high school catcher Jakson Reetz. Washington then selected three college right-handers consecutively in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds - Robbie Dickey (Binn College), Drew Van Orden (Duke) and Austen Williams (Texas State).
The Nats drafted center fielder D.K. Carey (Miami) in the seventh round, left fielder Jeff Gardner (Louisville) in the eighth, first baseman Austin Byler (Nevada) in the ninth and right fielder Matthew Page (Oklahoma Baptist) in the 10th.
Kris Kline, the Nationals’ assistant general manager and vice president of scouting, discussed the team’s draft so far via conference call.
Kline pointed to left-hander Andrew Suarez, the second-round pick out of the University of Miami, as one of the early highlights.
“We just tried to take the best player available,” Kline said. “We got Suarez from the University of Miami, who we loved - a big lefty, a physical kid, up to 97 (mph) with a plus slider and a plus changeup that commands his stuff very well. After that, we took some pitching, some seniors that we felt were going to big leaguers in some capacity, they’re going to play in the big leagues on some level. Otherwise, we would not have considered or taken them in those spots.”
Kline went into greater depth on Suarez, who had labrum surgery that cost him the majority of his freshman year in 2012. Kline, however, called the procedure minor and pointed out that Suarez has missed no time since.
“That gives us a comfort level,” Kline said. “We’re never going to take a hurt guy ... unless we feel he’s going to get to the big leagues quick.
“He’s healthy right now, 100 percent.”
Kline was also glad the Nats were able to get Reetz in the third round after the Nebraska native was projected to go in the second.
“Yeah, very excited. This is a high school catcher that we love,” Kline said. “A power bat, he’s got a really good feel to hit. The catching skills are probably along the lines, maybe a tick better than (former Nats prospect and current A’s catcher) Derek Norris at the same time. So we feel we have the right people to help him progress in that area and I think you’re looking at an offensive catcher at the big league level down the road.”
Kline didn’t look at any of the Nats’ picks as steals, except for maybe Reetz.
“We got some left-handed power bats that we like, some guys that actually have a really good feel to hit in Gardner and Byler. Page was the NAIA Player of the Year,” Kline said.
“So any surprises? No. We were very excited to get the catcher, Reetz, that’s for sure, and the pitching we got are all guys that have good bodies, good delivery, velocity and a second pitch.”
Dickey, the Nats’ fourth-rounder out of a junior college in Texas, had planned to transfer to Texas State, but Kline is confident Washington will be able to sign him.
“I think we’re going to get that done. The kid’s very excited,” Kline said.
Nats scout Jimmy Gonzales described Dickey as a strong right-handed pitcher with a great body, great character and a solid breaking ball. Gonzales said the organization feels he’s going to be a starter for the club.
In all, nine of the Nats’ 10 selections have been college players so far, which goes along with their draft history.
Kline said the team isn’t scared of taking high school players as long as they profile as a college guy.
“We like high school players,” Kline said. “We’re just trying to take the bast players available.”