The Nationals have less than three days to sign their picks from the 2010 draft, and with some players, that means jumping into the recruiting game like college programs do.
Enter Robbie Ray, a high school left-hander from Brentwood, Tenn., who throws between 90 and 92 mph, boasts a sharp changeup and pitched three perfect games last year. He only slid that far in the draft because he was already committed to the University of Arkansas, one of the country's pre-eminent baseball programs. The team brought Ray and his family to Nationals Park this weekend to show him "our campus," general manager Mike Rizzo said.
Ray threw a bullpen session, toured Nationals Park and watched batting practice in a Nationals jersey with his name and No. 3 on the back.
"He's got a full ride to the University of Arkansas, which is a very good baseball school and a good institution," Rizzo said. "We're just going to show him what we're all about. He's a 12th-round pick because he had a full commitment to a university. We see his ability as being great ability - a left-handed pitcher that our scouts and our scouting director just loved. Instead of just letting him go to school and blowing it off, we're making every effort to impress him with our organization and show him what professional baseball can mean to him down the road and give him an alternative to think about, rather than just going to the University of Arkansas."