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Washington Nationals select Elijah Green in MLB Draft

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With the fifth pick in the MLB Draft, the Washington Nationals selected outfielder Elijah Green on Sunday night, landing 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.

Green, an 18-year-old from the IMG Academy in Florida, stands out for his height – 6-foot-4, 225 pounds – and his speed. Two National League scouts, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to do so publicly about opposing teams, projected that Green would stay in center field because of his reach and with his strong arm. A right-handed hitter, Green showed power across the board and raised slight concerns about his production against off-speed pitches. But more than anything, he’s still a teenager, which means the pick is both a show of confidence in his promise and a big task for the Nationals’ player development staff.

It was the Nationals’ highest pick since they first picked Bryce Harper in 2010. Under general manager Mike Rizzo, who assumed the role in 2009, Green is the club’s fifth selection in the top 10, joining Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen and Anthony Rendon. . And just like those who came before him, Green will be a vital part of rebuilding the Nationals. He is the son of two-time Pro Bowl tight end Eric Green and is committed to the University of Miami.

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

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

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The slot value for the fifth choice is approximately $6.49 million. For the 45th pick, it’s $1,733,900. If the Nationals signed Green or Bennett with a bonus above their slot values, they would have less money to spread among their other 18 selections. The reverse is true if Green’s or Bennett’s potential bonus is lower. The entire Washington bonus pool is $11,007,900.

Bennett, 21 and standing at 6-6, was the Nationals’ 39th-round pick in 2019 when he opted to enroll in Oklahoma. His fastball, complete with a slider and changeover, is in the low to mid-90s. The Nationals are hoping for at least some velocity gains early in his pro career. They liked Oklahoma pitchers last draft, grabbing Cade Cavalli (first-rounder in 2020, now the team’s top prospect) and Jake Irvin (fourth-rounder in 2018, now impressive after Tommy John surgery) .

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

A few hours before Bennett and Green became the organization’s newest member, the Nationals finished the first half at 31-63, the worst record in MLB. So the state of the franchise and the growing potential for Juan Soto to be traded this month or in the near future added weight to what already looked like a solid pick. But with Rizzo often promising a quick restart, many recent drafts have connected Washington to Kevin Parada, a 20-year-old wide receiver from Georgia Tech, at five.

The logic was that Parada — or a proven college hitter like him — best served the desire to quickly build a competitor around Soto. The organization also has a gaping batting void in an improving but still thin system. Green thought he was more of a draft than any high-ranking hitter who faced Division I pitchers for two or three years.

Still, Parada was never at the top of the team’s selection committee. He eventually went 11th to the New York Mets. Before picking fifth, the Nationals watched 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 go with infielder Termarr Johnson. Once the Rangers picked Rocker, an industry shock, Washington focused on Johnson and Green, according to multiple people with knowledge of their thought process.

Then the hackers basically made the selection for them. Green was the guy from Washington.

When it comes to positioning players, the Nationals love to build in the middle with receivers, shortstops and center backs. In the past year, the club took shortstop Brady House with the 11th pick last summer, added outfielder Daylen Lile in the second round and acquired top prospect receiver Keibert Ruiz. in the Trea Turner/Max Scherzer trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Luis García, 22, is at the majors and is trying to stick to shortstop, the position the club signed him to play out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. signing, the Nationals brought in shortstop Armando Cruz and outfielder Cristhian Vaquero on massive bonuses.

Green is just the last batter they put a lot of emphasis on. Needless to say, his development will be key.