PHILADELPHIA -- For the first time since the 2006 season, the Nationals do not have a top-10 pick in the First-Year Player Draft. And that's a good thing, as their improvement at the big league level is the reason, leaving them with the 16th overall pick.
In the past, the Nationals had an idea who they were going to select and how much money they were going to spend. As recently as last year, they were known to overpay their top Draft picks, but that will change starting this year because of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"It was easier, I guess, in the years we took Bryce [Harper] and Stephen Strasburg," scouting director Kris Kline said. "We are in the middle of the pact this year. We are in a Draft that doesn't have nearly as much depth. It's not bad, but it has been better. But it is what it is, and we'll put our top 16 guys together on the board.
"It's different in the respect that we can't extend ourselves on dollars because of the new CBA. Last year, we had the foresight to realize that it was the last year we could do that. We took advantage of it, and that doesn't happen without our owners stepping up and supporting what we were trying to do."
Since moving to Washington after the 2004 season, the Nationals have had a reputation of focusing on pitching in the Draft. Chances are, the game plan will remain the same.
Live coverage of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday, at 6 p.m. ET on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following@MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
In about 50 words
After trading pitchers Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole and Tommy Milone to A's for left-hander Gio Gonzalez this past offseason, the Nationals are looking to add depth to the farm system. Kline, general manager Mike Rizzo and the rest of the staff are currently scouting players for the Draft.
"We gave up some pitching, so we have to replenish the system to replace the guys that are gone," Kline said.
"I hope a couple of teams do something kind of crazy where they take a player that forces the top of the Draft down to us, and I'm kind of counting on that," Kline said. We approach this Draft like every other Draft, trying to get the best possible player for this organization."
The previous three years, the Nationals had an idea who they were going to select because they were high in the Draft order. It's anybody's guess who they could select this year, but outfielder David Dahl of Oak Mountain [Ala.] and left-hander Andrew Heaney of Oklahoma State could be available.
The Nationals have been looking for a center fielder who can hit from the left side. Dahl fits that profile. Heaney is a power pitcher, who has 140 strikeouts in 118 1/3 innings Oklahoma State.
nationals' bonus pool
* Rank in terms of total bonus pool $
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
The Nationals are known to take the best player available in the Draft, but Kline said they plan to stockpile the system with power arms. They are also looking for left-handed hitters who can play the corner-outfield spots.
"Once we get into the later rounds, we'll fixate on those positions," Kline said about the corner outfielders.
It would not come as a surprise if the Nationals overstocked their system with pitchers. After selecting third baseman Anthony Rendon with their first pick last year, nine of their next 11 selections were pitchers.
Recent Draft History Rising fast
Infielder Jeff Kobernus is Washington's second baseman of the future. Drafted in the second round in 2009, Kobernus is already at Double-A Harrisburg and is considered one of the best defensive second basemen in the Eastern League. Before getting hurt, Kobernus had been consistent with the bat and was among the league leaders in stolen bases.
Nationals' recent top picks
Class A+ Potomac (Nats)
Left-hander Daniel Rosenbaum was not considered a prospect after being drafted in the 22nd round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. Today, he is arguably the best pitching prospect in the organization. Entering Thursday's action, Rosenbaum was 6-1 with a 1.61 ERA and 10 walks in 69 1/3 innings for Harrisburg. If he keeps it up, he could be in the big leagues by next year. If he keeps it up, he could be in the big leagues by next year.
In The Show
Harper, 19, was the first overall pick in the 2010 Draft. On April 28th of this year, Harper was promoted to the big leagues and is one of Washington's better players. Entering Friday's action, Harper was 31-for-113 (.274) with four home runs and 11 RBIs. He already leads the team in triples with four, and he's hit up and down the lineup.