10/26/2007 10:45 AM ET
Nationals' 2007 Draft rated by Baseball America as Best in Industry
The Washington Nationals' 2007 Draft class was today named the "Best Draft in the Industry" as part of Baseball America's annual Draft Report Cards. The classes were rated by Baseball America editor and chief John Manuel and executive editor Jim Callis, both of whom "spoke to various scouting directors and scouts to evaluate each team's Draft effort."
Among the Nationals' highlights in Baseball America's report card:
OF Michael Burgess (first round/supplemental), ranked fourth among high-school players in Best Pro Debut. Burgess was also ranked fourth among Best Power Hitters (all players)
LHP Josh Smoker (second round/supplemental), ranked third in Best Secondary Pitch and Closest to the Majors (high school players)
LHP Jack McGeary (sixth round), ranked fifth in Best Secondary Pitch
LHP Ross Detwiler (first round/sixth overall), ranked first in Closest to the Majors (college players)
A look at Baseball America's Nationals Draft capsule:
Best Pro Debut: Burgess (1s) hit .318 with 11 homers, leading the Gulf Coast League in on-base (.442) and slugging (.617) percentage and ranking as the league's No. 1 prospect. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (2) went 5-2, 2.38 with 71 strikeouts in 53 New York-Penn League innings, while polished RHP Adrian Alaniz (8) went 8-2, 2.39 with a 62-8 K-BB ratio in 60.0 innings in the NY-P.
Best Athlete: OF Jake Smolinski (2), a quarterback in high school, has solid athletic ability and a blue-collar mentality. Zimmerman (2) was a two-way player in college and starred in football and basketball in high school.
Best Pure Hitter: Smolinski, whose pro debut was truncated when a foul ball off his bat cracked a bone in his foot. He has good balance at the plate and a fine approach.
Best Power Hitter: Burgess. C Derek Norris (4) has above-average power potential.
Fastest Runner: CF Brandon Whiting used his plus-plus speed to lead NCAA Division I with 73 steals in the spring.
Best Defensive Player: Nationals assistant GM Bob Boone, who knows a thing or two about catching raves about Norris' agility and arm strength.
Best Fastball: Detwiler (1) has arm speed and leverage in his 6-for-4 frame, allowing him to throw 90-96 mph fastballs with nasty sink. Zimmerman worked from 90-94 while recovering from a broken jaw and pulled wisdom teeth this spring.
Best Secondary Pitch: Smoker (1s) and McGeary (6) had two of the best curveballs in the entire draft. Smoker also has a quality splitter and may have too many pitches (six) for his own good, so Washington will try to pare down his repertoire.
Most Intriguing Background: OF Garrett Bass' (42) father Kevin was an all-star outfielder, and his brother Justin signed this summer as the Angels' 21st-round pick. RHP Devin Drag (37) beat out Zimmermann for the NCAA III Division pitcher of the year honors after going 16-0, 2.41 at Chapman (Calif.).
Closest to the Majors: Detwiler became the first player from the 2007 Draft to advance to the big leagues, working a scoreless inning against the Braves.
Best Late-Round Pick: Patrick McCoy (10) is a 6-foot-4 lefty with the potential to have a plus fastball and breaking ball.
The One Who Got Away: It almost wound up being McGeary, who agreed to a $1.8 million bonus minutes before the signing deadline. Washington never got close with LHP David Duncan (23), who could become an early-round pick after returning to Georgia Tech.
Assessment: The Nationals had the best Draft in the industry. Landing three left-handers like Detwiler, Smoker and McGeary is a rare feat, and Washington backed them up with Burgess, Zimmermann, Smolinski and Norris.
Also today, the Bill James Handbook 2008 issued a press release that ranked third baseman Ryan Zimmerman as the No. 11 young player in baseball under the age of 30. The same publication also lists the Nationals "as the No. 13 team in all of baseball for young talent, just below the Twins and Phillies and just above the Padres and Angels." The BJH 2008 cited "Chad Cordero, Matt Chico, Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez as additional young talent now playing with the team."