Nats take two centerfielders in 2nd round

Day one of the MLB Draft wrapped up shortly after midnight on Monday, with the Nationals adding two outfielders to their system. With their first selection, 58th overall (the compensatory selection for not signing 2014 2nd round pick Andrew Suarez), Washington selected Andrew Stevenson from LSU. At 69th overall, the Nats nabbed Blake Perkins from Verrado HS in Buckeye, Arizona.

CF Andrew Stevenson, L/L, 6'0" 185 lbs, DOB: 6/1/94
Junior - Louisiana State University

The Nationals predictably chose a signability guy in Stevenson with their first pick, because the team would not receive another compensatory selection in next year’s draft if he were to go unsigned. The lefty’s calling cards are his speed (70 grade) and fielding (70 grade), with the combination creating a Bermuda’s Triangle in center field for the Tigers’ opponents this season. He’s known for his instincts and crisp routes, not relying on just his speed to cover up his mistakes like we’ve seen with most Nationals centerfielders prior to Denard Span.

Some examples of Stevenson’s brilliance in the outfield:
With the good comes the not-so-good, and there are quite a few concerns with the 21 year old. Stevenson’s below-average arm will keep him from being elite defensively in the outfield, and his approach at the plate is far from a slam-dunk to succeed in the Major League (or even the minors). 

Much has been written about how his swing has improved since he hit .193/.289/.218 with 25 K’s in 143 PA in 2013, his freshman year at LSU. Beginning that summer in the Northwoods league, Stevenson reduced the amount of unnecessary movements in his swing, concentrating on slapping the ball all over the field. To some degree, the new approach worked, as he posted an overall triple slash of .342/.395/.441 over 848 plate appearances between two years of summer ball (the latter in the Cape Cod League) and two more at LSU. Over that time, Stevenson swiped 69 bases at a 76.7% success rate, but walked only half of the number of times he struck out, and posted a .099 ISO (not a typo). He’s not a power prospect by any means, but that still doesn’t mean his lack of it isn’t concerning; batters need some degree of pop to keep pitchers honest, and that’s simply not part of his game.
I won’t say I’m terribly impressed with the Stevenson selection, but will defer full judgment until he gets his first taste of pro ball. I hope that the plan is to get him slightly under slot (he was seen more as a 4th or 5th round pick) so the team can go after some high-ceiling talent in rounds 3 and 4.

Baseball America: 168th overall
ESPN/Keith Law: not ranked
FanGraphs/Kiley McDaniel: 87th overall
MLB/Jim Callis: 79th overall
Best case scenario: Ben Revere
More likely scenario: Tony Gwynn, Jr.

CF Blake Perkins, S/R, 6'1" 180 lbs, DOB: 9/10/96
Senior - Verrado High School (Buckeye, Arizona)
Committed to Arizona State University

Mike Rizzo and his squad of scouts doubled down on center field talent, grabbing a toolsy high schooler in Blake Perkins. He does everything reasonably well, with 50's all over his scouting report, but does not own an elite skill at this time.

Perkins' best skill at the moment is his 60+ grade speed, which plays up with his solid all-around game in center field. Buying in on Perkins in the second round means the team expects him to add more muscle to his currently lean frame, and as a result, more power (while at the same time hoping that added weight doesn't detract from his 60 grade speed).

Despite not having plus power at the moment, Perkins uses his solid bat speed to make consistently solid contact, and for that reason, Perkins does not need to add Bryce Harper power (or even Ryan Zimmerman power) for his game to play at upper levels. At the moment, his approach is mostly about spraying line drives, so we're hoping for 15-20 HR power here to go with good CF defense and decent speed.

Baseball America: 137th overall
ESPN/Keith Law: 97th overall
FanGraphs/Kiley McDaniel: 176th overall
MLB/Jim Callis: 162nd overall
Best case scenario: Austin Jackson
More likely scenario: Lastings Milledge

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