With their fourth round pick in the MLB amateur draft, selecting highly touted high school pitching prospect A.J. Cole. According to our MLB draft blog MLB bonus baby and Brian Oliver of Nationals Farm Authority, Cole could turn out to be something of a steal.
As one of the top prep arms in the class, he features one of the best pure fastballs that we have seen in a number of years for such a projectable frame. Jacob Turner threw gas like this last year, but the general consensus was that Turner was close to finishing his physical growth. Cole, on the other hand, remains supremely projectable, and he could be a true ace when everything is said and done. His fastball is currently a low- to mid-90s pitch, most commonly sitting 91-94, but he’s been clocked as high as 98 last summer, not an uncommon occurrence. It’s already a plus pitch, and it gets a true 70 future grade from some scouts. His breaking ball is an excellent curveball with plus shape, and it should be a plus pitch with consistency after enough repetitions. He’s also thrown a solid changeup that rates as a future solid-average pitch, and if it gets there with consistency, he could be special. He’s a probably top twenty pick, and he should garner more than slot money outside of the top ten picks.
That doesn't sound like your typical fourth round draft pick. If Cole can cash in on the physical tools he allegedly has, he could turn out to be a very productive major league player; which is excellent value in the fourth round. He figures to be another addition to the impressive stable of young arms the Nationals have built in the last few drafts.
With heir fifth round pick, the Nationals went a little safer, selecting Texas St. SS Jason Martinson. Here's the book on Martinson.
He’s not considered a longterm option at shortstop for anyone, and he lacks the pop to play third base, so he fits best as a potential utility player for teams with the ability to play most infield spots and the corner outfield spots. His hit tool is an average tool, and he backs it up with below-average raw power. He does have gap power, though, and he qualifies for the label of doubles hitter. He’s going to make a living testing those gaps, so keeping that hitting approach isn’t widely criticized.
It might be hard to get excited over that description, but it appears the Nationals are trying to build a deep and complete team. Not everyone is going to be the star player, you need solid role players and consistent help off the bench to be successful. While Martinson might not be the SS of the future, he could prove to be an excellent option off the bench at a number of positions.