Opinion

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

Green, 18, from IMG Academy in Florida, stands out for his size — 6-foot-4, 225 pounds — and also his speed. Two National League scouts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to make official statements about opposing teams, predicted Green would stay in center field because of his range and strong arm. The right-handed hitter Green has shown power in all fields and has raised mild concerns about his production in metrics other than off-speed. But above all, he is still a teenager, meaning his selection shows faith in his promise and is a huge undertaking for the national player development staff.

In the year This was the nation’s top pick since they first picked Bryce Harper in 2010. Assumed that role in 2009 under general manager Mike Rizzo, Green is the club’s fifth top-10 pick, joining Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storn and Anthony Rendon. . And like his predecessors, Green will be an integral part of the Nationals’ rebuild. He is the son of Eric Green. Two-time Pro Bowl tight endAnd he was committed to the University of Miami.

“In the past, like Bryce Harper, Trainer, Juan Soto, they’ve all had prospects — I just feel like they know what they’re doing with their players,” said Green, who compared himself to Mike. Trout because “we can do it all the same way.”

“I just feel like I’m going to be one of those players who can get there. [majors] in near”

Juan Soto rejected a 15-year $440 million offer; Nats trade consideration

The slot price for the fifth pick is $6.49 million. It’s $1.73 million for the 45th pick. If the Nationals sign Green or Bennett to a bonus higher than their cap value, they will have less money to spread among their other 18 picks. The opposite is true if Green or Bennett’s end bonus is low. Washington’s total bonus pool is $11,007,900.

Bennett, 21 and standing 6-6, was a 2019 national 39th-round pick when he chose to enroll at Oklahoma. His fastball sits in the low to mid-90s, full of slider and changeup. The Nationals are hoping for at least some speed gains early in his professional career. They liked Oklahoma’s pitchers in recent drafts, Cade Cavalli (first round in 2020, now their top prospect) and Jake Irvin (fourth round in 2018, now impressive after Tommy John surgery).

Like Cavalli, Bennett attended Bixby High near Tulsa, where they were teammates before playing together in college. In the year As a redshirt sophomore in 2022, Bennett struck out 133 batters and walked 22 in 117 innings. His strong command was mentioned in most scouting reports.

“Mostly I’m a very fast-ball-dominant. I’ve got a good command. I can throw to both sides of the plate,” Bennett said Sunday night. “As long as it wasn’t off-speed, a change definitely felt good. I feel like I can drop that anyway. And then when things go well, I’m mixing in the slider to lefties as an out pitch, and I’ll reveal the curveball more, show it to hitters to respect.

Hours before Bennett and Green became the new members of the organization, The national team finished the first half with 31-63, MLB’s worst record. So the franchise situation – and Soto’s growing potential to sell This month or in the near future – more weight on what feels like an effective choice. But while Rizzo has often promised a quick reboot, several recent mock drafts have linked Washington to Kevin Parada, a 20-year-old out of Georgia Tech, with the fifth pick.

The logic is that Parada — or a proven college hitter like him — better served his desire to quickly build a contender around Soto. The organization is improving but still has a gap to hit in a thin system. Green thought he was more of a project than any other high-profile hitter who had faced a Division I pitcher for two or three years.

However, Parada was not above the team’s draft board. He eventually went 11th to the New York Mets. Before choosing the fifth, the citizens looked The Baltimore Orioles selected shortstop Jackson Holiday, the Arizona Diamondbacks picked up outfielder Drew Jones, the Texas Rangers picked up pitcher Kumar Roker and the Pittsburgh Pirates picked up infielder Termar Johnson. Once the Rangers selected Rocker, shocking to the industry, Washington zeroed in on Johnson and Green, according to multiple people familiar with their thought process.

Then the pirates basically made their choice. Green was a Washingtonian.

When it comes to position players, the Nationals like to build up the middle with pitchers, shortstops and infielders. Last year, the club took a short distance Brady House With the 11th pick last summer, they added outfielder Daylen Lill in the second round and acquired top prospect Kaybert Ruiz in the Turner/Max Scherzer trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Luis Garcia, 22, is trying to stay in the majors and at shortstop, where the club signed him to play outside the Dominican Republic in 2016. And in the most recent international signing period, the Nationals brought in shortstop Armando Cruz and an outfielder. Cristian Vaquero on big bonuses.

The green is the ultimate killer of those who are putting too much stock.



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