Washington Nationals Select Elijah Green in MLB Draft

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With the fifth pick in the MLB draw, the Washington Nationals selected outfielder Elijah Green on Sunday night, bringing in a top high school player for the second year in a row. Then, with the 45th pick in the second round, they added Jake Bennett, a left-handed pitcher from the University of Oklahoma.

“When you get this type of person and these skills where we did, we’re all excited,” Kris Kline, the Nationals’ assistant general manager in charge of amateur scouting, said of Green. “I mean, this guy could be an impressive superstar.”

Green, an 18-year-old from Florida’s IMG Academy, stands out for his size — 6-foot-4, 225 pounds — and plus speed. Two National League scouts, speaking on condition of anonymity as they are not authorized to do so publicly about opposing teams, predicted Green could remain in midfield due to his reach and strong arm. However, Kline predicted that he will likely move to a corner spot after starting in the middle of the Nationals system. As a righthanded batter, Green has shown strength on all fields and has expressed slight concerns about his adjustments to off-speed pitches. But above all, he is still a teenager, meaning the choice is both a vote of confidence in his promise and a big task for the player development staff.

This was the Nationals’ best pick since they first picked Bryce Harper in 2010. Under General Manager Mike Rizzo, who took on that role in 2009, Green is the club’s fifth top-10 roster, alongside Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen and Anthony Rendon. . And like those before him, Green will be a crucial part of rebuilding the Nationals. He is the son of Eric Green, a two-time Pro Bowl tight end, and was committed to the University of Miami.

“Just the past they had future prospects like Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, Juan Soto, all of them — I feel like it just shows they know what they’re doing with their players,” said Green, who compared himself to Mike Forel because “Actually, we can all do it the same way.”

“I just feel like I can be one of those players who can do the [majors] soon.”

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The closing value for the fifth pick is $6.49 million. For the 45th pick, that’s $1.73 million. If the Nationals sign Green or Bennett for a higher bonus than their closing values, they would have less money to spread over their other 18 selections. The opposite is true if Green or Bennett’s final bonus is lower. Washington’s full bonus pool is $11,007,900.

Bennett, 21 and tall 6-6, was the 39th round of the 2019 Nationals when he chose to enroll in Oklahoma. His fastball, supplemented by a slider and a change-up, is in the low to mid 90s. The Nationals are hoping for at least some speed gains at the start of his pro career. They’ve loved Oklahoma pitchers in recent checkers, grabbing Cade Cavalli (first round in 2020, now their best prospect) and Jake Irvin (fourth round in 2018, now impressive after Tommy John’s surgery).

Like Cavalli, Bennett attended Bixby High near Tulsa, where they were teammates before playing in college together. As a sophomore in the red shirt in 2022, Bennett struckout 133 batters and walked 22 in 117 innings. His strong command is mentioned in most reconnaissance reports. Kline called Bennett’s change his “business card.”

“For the most part, I’m pretty fastball dominant. I’ve got that down well. I can throw it on either side of the board,” Bennett said Sunday night. feeling. I feel like I can throw that into any count. And when things go right, I mix the slider as an out-pitch for left-handers, and curveball more flip it, show it so hitters respect it.

Hours for Bennett and Green became the organization’s newest members, the Nationals finished the first half at 31-63, the MLB’s worst record. So the franchise’s condition — and the growing potential that Soto is trading this month or in the near future — added weight to what already felt like a consistent choice. But because Rizzo often promised a quick restart, many recent mock ladies linked Washington with Kevin Parada, a 20-year-old Georgia Tech catcher, with the fifth pick.

The logic was that Parada — or a proven college hit like him — best fulfilled the desire to quickly build a contender around Soto. The organization also has a gaping void of batters in an improving but still thin system. Green appeared to be more of a project than a high-ranking batter who spent two or three years dealing with Division I pitchers.

Still, Parada was never at the top of the team’s design board. He eventually went 11th to the New York Mets. Before finishing in fifth place, the Nationals saw the Baltimore Orioles select shortstop Jackson Holliday, the Arizona Diamondbacks take outfielder Druw Jones, the Texas Rangers take pitcher Kumar Rocker and the Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Termarr Johnson. Once the Rangers chose Rocker, a shock to the industry, Washington turned to Johnson and Green, according to several people knowledgeable about their thought process.

Then the Pirates basically made the roster for them. Green was Washington’s husband.

When it comes to position players, the Nationals like to build through the middle with catchers, shortstops and centerfielders. Last summer, the club took 11th pick shortstop Brady House, added outfielder Daylen Lile in the second round and acquired catcher Keibert Ruiz, a top prospect, in the Trea Turner/Max Scherzer trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Luis García, 22, is in the majors and is trying to hold on to the shortstop, the position the club signed him in 2016 to play out of the Dominican Republic. Cristhian Vaquero on huge bonuses.

Green is just the last batter they put a lot of stock in. It goes without saying that its development will be key.

“Elia has the opportunity to be a five-tool pack at the Major League level,” Kline said. “And when I say five tools, I mean five above-average tools.”

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