Nats ten best draft picks in team history

Nats ten best draft picks in team history
June 3, 2013, 3:45 pm
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With the 2013 MLB Draft coming up on Thursday, June 6, we will be taking a look at the Nationals' history in the draft over the next few days. Here's how we rank the ten best draft picks the Nats have made since bringing baseball back to the city of Washington.

10. Alex Meyer, SP – 2011: 1st round, 23rd overall
Yet to make MLB debut

Alex Meyer has yet to pitch in a major league game, but by all accounts is a top pitching prospect who could someday be a front of the rotation starter. He also helped land the Nationals their current starting center fielder in Denard Span. Now, whether the trade really worked out for the Nats can’t be determined at this point. But to get a starting quality outfielder who plays defense like Span shows the value of Meyer. What they currently get out of Span is more than worth the 23rd pick in the draft.

9. Craig Stammen, RP – 2005: 12th round, 354th overall pick
MLB career stats: 18-14, 4.13 ERA, 134 games, 360.0 IP

Picked out of the University of Dayton, Stammen was a nice surprise in the minor leagues and made his MLB debut in 2009. He began as a starting pitcher, but struggled in the role and was sent back down to Triple-A. He came back towards the end of 2011 to try his hand at coming out of the bullpen and found a more comfortable spot. Now Stammen is one of the most indispensable relief pitchers on the Nationals’ roster, a reliable commodity whether they need him to get one out or spell a starter for four innings of work.

8. Tommy Milone, SP – 2008: 10th round, 301st pick
MLB career stats: 19-15, 3.82 ERA, 47 games, 285.0 IP

Though most of his success hasn’t been in a Nats uniform, Tommy Milone was a terrific pick for the organization. He was solid in the minors so the Nats decided to showcase him down the stretch of the 2011 season. They were then able to use him as the centerpiece in a 2012 offseason trade to land All-Star lefty Gio Gonzalez. Milone has gone on to have success with the Oakland Athletics and Gonzalez has been just what the doctor ordered in Washington. Not bad for a tenth round selection.

7. Drew Storen, RP – 2009: 1st round, 10th pick
MLB career stats: 13-9, 3.12 ERA, 188 games, 184.2 IP, 53 SV

The Nats took Storen with a compensatory pick from the season before after failing to sign relief pitcher Aaron Crow. Storen was quick to the majors and has made a significant impact over the last few years, particularly in 2011 with 43 saves. He is going through some troubles nowadays with a 4.18 ERA this season, but all in all a solid choice at tenth overall. 

6. Ross Detwiler, SP – 2007: 1st round, 6th pick
MLB career stats: 18-26, 3.63 ERA, 80 games, 382.1 IP

Being considered as a great draft pick for the Nationals is about the exact opposite of where Detwiler would be if this list were made two years ago. Picked sixth overall, the lefty starter was a large disappointment for several years, but bloomed late and is now a big part of the Nationals’ future. He was always tall with mid-90s heat from the left side, and now has command of his pitches and confidence on the mound. 

5. John Lannan, SP – 2005: 11th round, 324th pick
MLB career stats: 42-53, 4.05 ERA, 137 games, 798.1 IP

Lannan isn’t an ace or a top of the rotation guy by any means, but considering where he was taken, he produced major value. This was perhaps best shown in 2012 when he came up to the majors to take Stephen Strasburg’s rotation spot. He filled in admirably and helped stabilize the Nats’ rotation amid trying times. Lannan was an Opening Day starter for the Nats and was their most reliable pitcher for several years. Things didn’t work out in the end between the two sides, as he walked in free agency, but Lannan’s time in Washington far exceeded the expectations for where he was picked.

4. Jordan Zimmermann, SP – 2007: 2nd round, 67th pick
MLB career stats: 32-29, 3.32 ERA, 92 games, 559.0 IP

Picking Zimmermann is probably one of the best decisions the Nationals’ front office has ever made. They selected an ace who has become one of the best pitchers in the league, and he didn’t fall into their lap like Stephen Strasburg did. Zimmermann was unheralded enough to fall out of the top 65 picks and was developed into who he is now. They projected his talent, noting his command and character, and plucked a franchise cornerstone who really should have been picked much higher. If the 2007 draft were done over, Zimmermann would easily be a top five pick. 

3. Stephen Strasburg, SP – 2009: 1st round, 1st pick
MLB career stats: 24-15, 2.85 ERA, 57 games, 325.2 IP

After losing 102 games in the 2008 season, Washington was awarded the number one pick in a draft that was all about one guy. Stephen Strasburg was considered the best pitching prospect in ages with triple digit heat and a ready-made repertoire of plus pitches. He made for an easy choice and, looking back, there wasn’t a whole lot of talent at the top of the 2009 class. Mike Trout did go 25th that year, but he wasn’t considered a candidate for number one overall. Strasburg has battled some injuries, most notably involving his 2010 Tommy John surgery, but has already been an All-Star and a Silver Slugger in his brief tenure (just 57 games) in the majors.

2. Bryce Harper, OF – 2010: 1st round, 1st pick
MLB career stats: .274 BA, 34 HR, 82 RBI, 127 R, 183 games

The Nationals had the good fortune of having the first overall pick to get Strasburg, and they may have been even more fortunate to have it the following year. The 2010 draft class was absolutely stacked with Harper, Manny Machado, Matt Harvey, and Chris Sale all picked in the top 13. The Nats, however, couldn’t pass up a talent as rare as Harper who was projected as an MLB superstar from the age of 16. Harper has since been an MLB All-Star and N.L. Rookie of the Year, and at age 20 is still likely a few years away from reaching his prime. It seems only a matter of time before he is clearly the top choice for this list.

1. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B – 2005: 1st round, 5th pick
MLB career stats: .287 BA, 159 HR, 621 RBI, 1033 games

The Face of the Franchise as he’s called, Zimmerman was the first draft pick the franchise officially made as the Washington Nationals. Zimmerman has since gone on to be an All-Star and win both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger at third base. The Nationals hit it big with a local guy as Zimmerman hailed from the University of Virginia, but truthfully it would have been hard to mess up the pick. Also taken in the first round that year were Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce and Jacoby Ellsbury. It was a nice year to be looking for a franchise cornerstone and they found one.