The Nationals completed the first two days of the first-year player draft with 10 overall selections: seven pitchers, one catcher, one infielder and one outfielder.
Besides the first- and second-round picks, right-hander Mason Denaburg and left-hander Tim Cate, the Nationals picked five more right-handers: Reid Schaller and Chandler Day from Vanderbilt, Andrew Karp out of Florida State, Jake Irvin from Oklahoma and Tanner Driskill out of Lamar University.
Outfielder Gage Cunning, out of Arizona State, was selected in the fifth round and second baseman Carson Shaddy played for Arkansas-Fayetteville. Catcher Tyler Cropley, the eighth-round pick, attended the University of Iowa. Six of the first eight picks were pitchers.
Assistant general manager and vice president of scouting operations Kris Kline was very happy about the first two days of the draft for the Nats.
“A good day today. A lot of pitching and really happy with the top of our draft,” Kline said. “The first guy has a chance to be a front-line starter. Tim Cate has a chance to Be a No. 3. I feel like he owns the best left-handed breaking ball in the draft. Just a good day overall and I think we’ve done a good job getting ready for (Wednesday). We’re going to find some good big leaguers in day three (Wednesday).”
Kline said the opportunity to pick college pitchers becomes obvious after the first round because most high school players want the first-round money, and if that is not available will usually take the Division I scholarship offer instead of going pro.
“You get to a certain point in the draft and the high school kids become unsignable,” Kline said. “Mason Denaburg profiled, if he slid into LSU or one of the big programs in the country, he slides into the Friday night role. We see him as a potential front-line starter in the big leagues.”
We will start with a pair of Vanderbilt right-handers: Reid Schaller (3rd) and Chandler Day (7th).
National Crosschecker East, special assistant to the general manager Jeff Zona, had eyes on Vanderbilt pitcher Reid Schaller.
“He didn’t close for them, he didn’t start for them, but he worked in the middle innings,” Zona said. “And when he came in, he was 96 to probably 98 mph with a hard slider, and sometimes pitchers like that, they’re hoping to maybe come back for the next year and establish a Friday night, Saturday night. And we just felt like it was time to jump him and take him now and get him into our system. We were fortunate to get him.”
Kline had an even stronger projection for Schaller.
“I think this is going to be a steal,” Kline said. “You got a kid that touches 100 mph, shows an above-average breaking ball. These guys see him as a starter. Solid pick right there.”
Zona said Day could convert from closer to starter with the Nats.
“The other kid, Chandler Day, he was their closer,” Zona said. “We think he can start, so we took a shot on him in the seventh round, which, like I said, Vandy is a great program. High competition, and they’re going to end up going maybe close to the (College) World Series.”
2B Carson Shaddy, Arkansas-Fayetteville
“I saw him briefly. He’s a kid that can really swing the bat,” Kline said. “Not sure exactly where he’s going to play, but if he hits like we think he’s going to hit, we’ll find a spot for him. Good-looking hitter, got a little power.”
C Tyler Cropley, Iowa
“He’s a really athletic catcher,” says special assistant to the general manager Terry Wetzel. “He played a lot of different positions, but he’s improving behind the plate.
OF Gage Canning, Arizona State
“Gage is going to play in the big leagues,” Kline predicted. “For me, he’s your classic over-achiever, plays like his hair’s on fire, you know, running around, Adam Eaton-type guy. Can really run. He’s not going to be a power guy in the big leagues, but he hit for some power this year, I think he hit, for a career, 25 triples (over three seasons). He’s the guy you are going to have to tear the jersey off his back to get him to leave because he’s not going to do that. Good-looking kid and good tools.”
RHP Tanner Driskill, Lamar
“He was a senior,” Kline said. “A slender, athletic kid up to 94 mph, but he has weapon in the split-finger that he commands really well. Good-looking kid.”