The Nationals added three pitchers in the Rule 5 draft this morning, taking Mets right-hander Elvin Ramirez in the first round of the major league phase and taking Cardinals righty Brian Broderick in the second round of the major league phase. In the Triple-A phase of the draft, they took Twins right-hander Michael Allen.
Ramirez, seen as one of the top players in the Rule 5 draft, will be strictly a reliever for the Nationals and will get a shot to make the team out of spring training, Rizzo said. They sent three scouts to watch him in the Dominican Winter League, where he played for Single-A Vermont pitching coach Franklin Bravo.
He throws in the high 90s and has a hard slider, though he's struggled with control and has walked too many batters. But he's got a power arm and fits well on a team that is trying to collect as many of those for its bullpen as it can. The one difference between Ramirez and, say, Cole Kimball, is that if Kimball struggles, the Nationals can send him to the minors. They wouldn't have that luxury with Ramirez unless they work out a trade with the Mets. He'll get a shot this spring, though.
"He's finally figured out the strike zone, and he's been very consistent in the strike zone," Rizzo said of Ramirez. "The later portion of the minor league season and this winter, he's taken it to a different level. In 26 innings, I think he's got four walks. He's a big power-armed guy that we hope helps us in the bullpen this year."
Rizzo also said Broderick would get a shot to make the rotation out of spring training, though it's hard to see that happening. But there's not much else Rizzo can say when his only resource, at this point, to keep the right-hander is to leave him on the big league roster.
Allen struggled in the Twins' system last season, but has posted good strikeout totals in the minors. "He's a nice piece to add to our inventory," player development director Doug Harris said.