Nats lose pitching prospect Sharp to Marlins in Rule 5 draft

SAN DIEGO - The Nationals lost right-hander Sterling Sharp to the Marlins in this morning’s Rule 5 draft, ending a wildly eventful Winter Meetings with the departure of a promising-but-raw pitching prospect.

Sharp was the third player selected overall in the Rule 5 draft, which gives clubs the opportunity to acquire prospects from other organizations who were left off their 40-man rosters this winter. The caveat: Any drafted players must remain on their new club’s major league roster for the entire season or else be offered back to their prior club.

baseballs-generic-art-nats.jpgThe Nationals decided to take a chance on leaving Sharp unprotected - the only minor leaguer they added to their 40-man roster last month was left-hander Ben Braymer - even though it seemed likely he’d be scooped up by another organization. They’ll now hope he doesn’t pan out quite as well or as quickly as the Marlins hope and perhaps get him back within the year.

“When we have to go through this process, it’s an evaluation,” assistant general manager for player development Mark Scialabba said. “You’re evaluating everything. We’re certainly proud of the development process with Sterling. It was a great draft. But at this point, there were a number of factors that go into that. But ultimately, we made this decision and we’ll see how it works out.”

Sharp, 24, was something of a diamond in the rough from the Nationals’ perspective. A 22nd round pick in the 2016 draft, he posted a sub-4.00 ERA in each of his four seasons in the minors. He posted a 3.53 ERA and 1.295 WHIP with 52 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings this year for three affiliates, including nine starts at Double-A Harrisburg.

Sharp was selected by the Nationals to pitch in the Arizona Fall League and garnered more attention when he posted a 1.50 ERA and 0.917 WHIP across 24 innings against the upper-level prospects who participate in that end-of-season league.

The Marlins must pay $100,000 to the Nationals to draft Sharp. If he doesn’t remain on their big league roster the entire 2020 season, they must offer him back to Washington for $50,000.

The Nationals didn’t select anyone in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft, which is nothing new. They haven’t drafted a player since 2010, when they took right-handers Elvin Ramírez and Brian Broderick but wound up sending both back to their previous clubs.

The Nats did select one player in the minor league portion of this year’s draft: shortstop Manuel Geraldo, a switch-hitting 23-year-old from the Giants’ system who batted .255 with 22 doubles, five homers, 53 RBIs and 18 stolen bases for the Single-A San Jose team last season.

The club wound up also losing a shortstop in the minor league portion of the draft: David Masters, who was selected by the Cubs after hitting .256 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs in 82 combined games at short-season Single-A Auburn, Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg.

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