Nats draft Rice righty Simms for second time

Nats draft Rice righty Simms for second time

The Nationals began Day 3 of the First-Year Player Draft by selecting right-hander John Simms out of Rice University in the 11th round (346th overall) on Saturday.

Simms went 8-4 in 23 appearances (14 starts) for the Owls last season. He had a 2.61 ERA, two complete games and 90 strikeouts in 103 1/3 innings. The 21-year-old began his college career as a starter before moving into the bullpen as a middle reliever during his sophomore year.

Simms also has some international experience. Before enrolling at Rice, he spent the summer of 2010 pitching for the United States U-18 national team. He posted a 4-0 record and 0.96 ERA in four international starts, holding opposing hitters to a .133 batting average.

Simms has the size (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and solid performances at a top college program on his resume, but his stuff might be a bit short for him to be considered a sure-fire starter. His fastball usually hovers in the 88-90 mph range and he doesn't always maintain his velocity. Of Simms' secondary pitches, his changeup has a chance to be average and his breaking ball is inconsistent.

The Nationals also drafted Simms in the 39th round of the 2010 Draft. While he hasn't been the prospect that some thought he'd develop into after going from the Texas high school ranks to Rice, the Nationals are willing to bank on his track record and see if they can sign him before his senior season.

Tom Schad is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.