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Rush to Judgment: 2021 Nats Draft Class

With all affiliates except for Triple-A Rochester and the Dominican Summer League Nats done for the season, all of the Washington Nationals' 2021 Draft picks have completed their first stints of professional baseball. So on that note, let's break down how they performed, with multiple caveats.

This is just a fun exercise for those seeking immediate feedback on the Nationals' most recent Draft haul. The sample sizes are small. Players who performed well are not destined for stardom, nor are those who struggled doomed to a failed professional baseball career. This is also graded on a curve. A 12th-round pick is not faced with the same expectations as a first-rounder. So, these grades factor in where a player was selected, how much they signed for and their relative performance on the field.

Let's begin.

Round 1: SS Brady House, Winder-Barrow HS, Winder, Ga.

Arguably the best power hitter in the Draft, House did not disappoint, slashing .322/.394/.576 with four home runs for the FCL Nationals. There's nothing to complain about here. House was the best player on the board and the Nats were thrilled to be able to select him. Their system is devoid of power hitters and House immediately gives them their best infield prospect since Trea Turner. House's ability to hit pro pitching right from the jump is extremely encouraging and he possesses true star potential. He will be fun to watch. The only thing preventing the highest possible grade is a little bit of a slow finish offensively and defensively.

Grade: A

Round2: OF Daylen Lile, Trinity HS, Louisville, Ky.

For a player billed as one of the best pure hitters in the high school class, that didn't necessarily manifest itself right away. Lile posted a disappointing .219/.363/.250 slash line with only two extra-base hits. He showed an affinity for drawing walks, leading to a solid on-base percentage, but 20 strikeouts in 80 plate appearances negates that. Lile's performance is hard to judge fairly, however, as he was exclusively a designated hitter, suggesting he wasn't playing healthy.

Grade: B-

Round 3: 1B Branden Boissiere, University of Arizona

Considering Boissiere's pedigree coming from one of the best college programs in the country, his first foray into professional baseball has to be considered a disappointment. Profiling as a more of a good hitter than a power hitter for his position, Boissiere slashed a discouraging .200/.299/.294 in 25 games at Low-A Fredericksburg. He probably wished the season extended beyond the final game, as he homered and doubled in the FredNats' finale. On top of the offensive struggles, Boissiere committed five errors in 17 games at first base.

Grade: C-

Round 4: LHP Dustin Saenz, Texas A&M University

Saenz delivered a ho-hum professional debut. Not much really stands out. A 4.73 ERA and 1.50 WHIP aren't great, but 16 strikeouts in 13.1 innings is solid, and a 2.29 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio is very good. The sample is small and we'll have to wait until next year to get a better idea.

Grade: B-

Round 5: OF T.J. White, Paul M. Dorman HS, Roebuck, S.C.

An impressive physical specimen with serious power potential, White profiles as the type of boom-bust pick with which the Nats usually go bust. But White's pro debut provided plenty of reason for optimism with this selection. White slashed .283/.356/.547 with four homers in the FCL and didn't commit an error in either corner outfield spot. Given his size and organizational need, it's possible he could move to first base down the line, but the bat is very encouraging either way.

Grade: A

Round 6: LHP Michael Kirian, University of Louisville

Kirian fits the mold as a long reliever/swing man type and all seven of his appearances were three innings or shorter. Kirian performed well if unspectacularly, posting 3.55 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, with low strikeout and walk numbers. He has a fairly safe reliever profile, but not much ceiling.

Grade: B

Round 7: OF Jacob Young, University of Florida

Young is a speedster who played infield and outfield at Florida, but exclusively outfield as a pro. Young is slight but fleet of foot, going a perfect 13-for-13 in stolen base attempts for the FredNats. Unfortunately, it's hard to envision him being able to put that speed to good use considering his .208/.283/.267 slash line. His speed is his only carrying tool and he's going to have improve every other aspect of his game to move up the ladder.

Grade: C-

Round 8: 1B Will Frizzell, Texas A&M University

Frizzell is a bat-only guy with massive power who put up a huge final season for the Aggies. He played well for the FCL Nats, but didn't play enough to garner a fair evaluation, slashing .313/.353/.500 in only 34 plate appearances.

Grade: I

Round 9: RHP Cole Quintanilla, University of Texas

A college closer at Texas, Quintanilla is the type who could move fast through the system for a later pick. His first pro stint was up and down, posting a 3.86 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and two saves in six appearances. He showcased a 95-plus-mph heater and solid secondary offering.

Grade: B

Round 10: 2B Darren Baker, University of California

Dusty's son is built nothing like his father, but his first pro season provided optimism for a later pick. Baker is likely limited to second base, but maximizes the tools he possesses. A slight and sleek lefty hitter, Baker slashed .333/.375/.407 and showed off impressive defensive chops, as well. His path to the big leagues is limited, but there is a path to a supporting role. Not many 10th-rounders can say that.

Grade: A-

Note: Picks in Rounds 1-10 are subject to a bonus slot system in which every cent a prospect signs for counts toward the team's allotment they can use to sign picks. Players selected after the 10th round only count toward that allotment if they sign for more than $125,000. That didn't factor into this year's draft haul for the Nats.

Round 11: RHP Marc Davis, Florida SouthWestern State College

Davis struck out 12 over 9.1 innings pitches, but walked nine, allowed a lot of baserunners and a lot of fly balls.

Grade: C

Round 12: LHP Andrew Alvarez, Cal Poly

Well, here's a potential under-the-radar selection. Alvarez posted a 1.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 2.00 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio with 12 strikeouts over nine innings. He allowed the one run in his pro debut and was spotless after that, including two scoreless frames with four punchouts in his final appearance. More, please.

Grade: A

Round 13: RHP Mack Anglin, Clemson University

Anglin was considered a top-300 Draft prospect and the Nats didn't have the pool money to sign him, so he went back to Clemson.

Round 14: LHP Erik Tolman, Arizona State University

Tolman signed for $125,00 but underwent Tommy John surgery after pitching in only three games for the Sun Devils last season.

Round 15: OF Jaden Fein, San Diego State University

Admittedly, Fein was probably playing a bit over his head with the FredNats and would have benefited from a short-season league. He struggled mightily offensively at Fredericksburg with a .151/.232/.233 slash line.

Grade: C

Round 16: RHP Jack Sinclair, University of Central Florida

Nothing stands out from Sinclair's first taste of pro ball other than his 3.40 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio.

Grade: B-

Round 17: RHP Brendan Collins: UNC-Greensboro

Bad numbers across the board minus 13 punchouts in 8.2 innings pitched.

Grade: B-

Round 18: C Steven Williams, Auburn University

Listed as an outfielder on Draft day, Williams split time behind the plate and in the outfield at Auburn. It seems the Nats envision him as a catching project. And the early numbers are intriguing. Williams notched an impressive .256/.383/.410 slash line for an 18th-round pick. However, he did struggle mightily behind the plate as he transitioned to catching full time, with five passed balls and opposing runners going 11-for-11 on stolen-base attempts. But for an 18th-rounder, there could be something to work with here.

Grade: B

Round 19: RHP Riggs Threadgill, McLennan Community College

Threadgill didn't pitch this season, but I'm willing to give this pick an A based entirely on his name.

Round 20: C Elie Kligman

Kligman made waves as one of only two orthodox Jewish baseball players selected in the 2021 Draft, but he opted to play collegiately at Wake Forest University.

Overall Draft Grade:

Most Draft classes are dependent on the guys taken at the very top as most of these players won't make the Major Leagues. The Nats seem to have connected with the Brady House pick, though he's still only 18 and will face a much stiffer challenge next season in full-season ball. It seems safe to say that this class will be graded on the player House becomes. If he turns into a star, nothing else really matters. And while House is extremely exciting to dream about, there's not a lot of ceiling among the rest of this haul outside a healthy Dalen Lile and possibly T.J. White. There's a lot of 40-grade tools with players who possess narrow paths to supporting roles down the road. There's a lot of pressure on House to carry this group.

Grade: B-


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