WASHINGTON -- In need of an extra set of eyes for the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, the Nationals hired Deric Ladnier as a national crosschecker and special assistant to general manager Jim Bowden on Monday.
The Nationals have been pursuing Ladnier since he was let go by the Royals last September. Ladnier spent nine seasons as senior director of scouting for the Royals. During his tenure in Kansas City, Ladnier oversaw eight First-Year Player Drafts while stocking the organization's Minor League system with prospects such as infielder Alex Gordon and pitcher Zack Greinke.
Ladnier will continue to reside in Missouri.
"He has developed into one of the best scouting directors in the game," Bowden said of Ladnier. "We had a long interview process with him. He is really comfortable joining Mike Rizzo, Dana Brown, Bob Boone, Kris Kline, Jimmy Gonzalez and myself. We are very blessed to have a tremendous evaluator to help us with the Draft and trades. He will help us evaluate our farm system. It's an elite mind we are able to go get."
The Nationals have two first-round picks -- the first overall and 9B -- in 2009 and Ladnier acknowledged it will be a challenge to select the right players.
"Sometimes, it can be difficult because of the pressure put on the No. 1 selection and a No. 2 selection. The reality of it, as you do with all your picks, you have to be correct," Ladnier said. "You saw David Price [the Rays' No. 1 pick in 2007] pitching in the American League Championship last night. Those types of players -- when you are selecting that high in the Draft -- they could impact your organization, hopefully sooner rather than later.
"So there is an enormous amount of pressure, let alone the financial investment that you have to put into those players. It's critical that you are right on those guys. My role is just to support Dana, Mike and Jim and give my feedback based on the experience that I have."
Ladnier, 44, began his scouting career as an area supervisor with the Braves in 1991 and advanced within the organization until he was named director of Minor League operations in 1996, serving as a regional supervisor and assistant director of scouting and player development along the way.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.