Nats add more pitching in first round
Washington selects Storen with 10th overall pick in Draft
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals added more pitching to their Minor League system, selecting Stanford University right-hander Drew Storen with the 10th overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday.
Storen was at his parents' home in Indiana when Commissioner Bud Selig made the announcement.
"I'm really excited to be a National. It's exactly what I wanted," Storen said. "It's great to be home and spend the time with my family and friends."
Storen, who is considered a reliever, was a 2008 Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and a First-Team All-Pac-10.
Storen emerged as a premier closer in his freshman campaign with eight saves. He was drafted by the Yankees in the 34th round in 2007, but he did not sign. In 28 appearances in '09, Storen was 7-1 with seven saves. In 42 2/3 innings, Storen permitted 18 earned runs on 34 hits with eight walks and 66 strikeouts.
"He has two-plus pitches and a developing changeup," acting general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He has a repertoire to start, but we are going to keep him in the bullpen role. That is where he is most comfortable. His makeup and character have led us to that decision.
"He is tough-minded, hard-nose pitcher. He wants to be challenged by coming out of the bullpen in the ninth inning. We believe he has the ability and repertoire to do it. That's the reason we took him."
Many believe that Storen will sign quickly. One baseball source went so far as to say that Storen will sign as early as this week. His advisor is Brodie Van Wagenen, the same person who represents Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and left-hander Jack McGeary. The deadline for the Nationals to sign Storen is Aug. 17.
"You know the relationship between [Van Wagenen] and the Nationals. It's very good.," the source said. "I don't expect the negotiations to take too long."
If Storen signs quickly, scouts believe that Storen will be in the Major Leagues before the season ends.
"I hope I can prove to them that I can be a contributor and help them win at the big league level," Storen said. "It has been my goal all year."
Storen becomes the first reliever to be drafted by the Nationals/Expos in the first round since Bill Bray in 2004.
Storen is the second player the Nationals selected in the first round Tuesday. Taking the player at the top of every scouting chart, Washington selected San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg, a Facebook friend of Storen's, with the first overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft.
The Nationals feel strongly that Strasburg can make an immediate impact in their rotation, maybe joining their Major League roster as early as September if he signs.
"Both pitchers possess outstanding makeup, outstanding skills and outstanding character, which is the hallmark of the players we have been putting in the system in Washington," Rizzo said about Strasburg and Storen.
With the 50th pick, the Nationals selected second baseman Jeff Kobernus of UC Berkley. Kobernus earned Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America and honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors in 2007. Through 50 games in '09, Kobernus was hitting .351 with eight homers, 40 RBIs, 17 stolen bases and 41 runs scored.
The Nationals used their third-round pick on Georgia's Trevor Holder. The right-hander made 17 starts for the SEC champions as a junior in 2008 and posted an 8-4 mark with a 4.41 ERA, 31 walks and 68 strikeouts in 98 innings pitched.
Holder was a second-team All-SEC selection and was drafted in the 10th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft by the Marlins, but did not sign. Through 13 starts in '09, Holder was 7-4 with a 4.68 ERA. In 77 innings, he permitted 40 earned runs on 80 hits with 27 walks and 61 strikeouts.
Round 1, Drew Storen, RHP, Stanford:
Storen dominated his competition in going 7-1 with seven saves and a 3.80 ERA in 28 appearances. In 42 2/3 innings of relief work, he tallied 66 strikeouts (13.9 strikeouts per nine innings) with only eight walks for an 8.3/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. During his pair of seasons with the Cardinal, Storen went a combined 12-4 with 15 saves and a 3.64 ERA in 59 appearances.
Round 2, Jeffrey Kobernus, 2B, University of California-Berkeley:
Often compared to Dodgers infielder Casey Blake, Kobernus is a hard-nosed infielder with speed who hit at a .341 (74-for-217) clip as a junior at the University of California-Berkeley. He ranked second in the Pac-10 with 20 stolen bases. In his three seasons with the Bears, he hit .324 with 12 homers, 89 RBIs and 44 stolen bases in 161 contests.
Round 3, Trevor Holder, RHP, Georgia:
Holder logged a .259 batting average against and tallied 72 strikeouts in 92 1/3 innings for an average of seven strikeouts per nine innings. During his four-season collegiate career, he won 22 games and fanned 223 batters in 313 2/3 innings.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.