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NATS STOCK UP ON HIGH SCHOOLERS

[June 6th] -- So much for drafting players who are "ready now."

The Washington Nationals, who last year drafted mature college players to shore up a barren major league roster, went the other direction in the team's second draft since moving to D.C. It wasn't a surprise, however, as this year's group was neither deep nor full of college players ready to make an impact.

1st Round (15th player): Christopher Marrero (OF) 6'3", 210 lbs (R/R) Marrero is considered a power hitter who is going to hit a lot of home runs while striking out lot as well (does Brad Wilkerson come to mind?) .... he came to Washington last month and put on a "tremendous display" at RFK for Jim Bowden and Tony Taveres .... Marrero was considered by several scouts to be the #1 player in the draft at the beginning of the 2006 season .... although he was a third baseman at Monsignor Pace High School, he is probably going to begin his career as an outfielder .... hit 5 homers and drove in 16 RBI's in just 36 at-bats for the Pan Am junior team .... his brother Christian plays in the Braves minor league system,

1st Round (22nd player): Colton Willems (RHP) 6'4", 175 lbs Williams has three "plus" pitches, all good enough to ensure that he will at least begin his career as a starting pitcher .... his fastball is in the mid 90's but can reach 98 mph when needed .... was named the "most advanced" of all Florida school boy pitchers in the draft .... ranked with the #3 high school fast ball, and was listed as having the third best "command" of all high school pitchers in 2006. .... has a very fluid motion with a very high leg kick .... struck out 72 in 40 innings this past year .... a scout says of Willems, "I think he has a good looking, young, projectable prospect. He has the potential to be a #3 guy in someone's rotation, maybe even a #2 if he works on his curve."

2nd Round: Shawn Black (RHP) 6'3", 185 lbs Black is the youngest player in the draft, having turned 18 just two days before the draft .... fastball consistently hits 95 mph .... his curve is "okay" but can be a "plus" pitch in time .... MLB.com projected him as going as high as #15 (to the Nats with their #1 pick)

3rd Round: Stephen England (OF) 6'3", 200 lbs Is considered to be in the "Grady Sizemore" mold .... Has tremendous power potential but lacks approach to be consistently good at this point in his career .... can also play 3rd base and first.

Certainly, there isn't anyone here who is going to make a difference for now, but some of them should be close to being ready when the Nationals move into their new stadium. If stocking the minors was their intent, then mission accomplished. It'll be interesting to see if the team is comfortable with their choices, or will they begin the process of trading veterans for prospects as well.


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