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Third-, fourth-rounders agree

A little draft-pick signing news.

The Nationals have really gotten to work this week signing their top-5 picks. Two more agreed today: Daniel Espinosa, the third-round selection (87th overall) and Graham Hicks, the fourth-round pick (121st overall). Espinosa is a shortstop from Cal State Long Beach, the same college that produced Troy Tulowitzki and Bobby Crosby. Hicks is a left-handed pitcher from George Jenkins High School in Lakeland, Fla.

I'll have a bit more on this to come, plus some info on their bonuses once I get it.

Now, the Nats have signed all of their top-10 picks but for one, Aaron Crow, the first-rounder.

Here are the respective bios of the newest signees, per Baseball America...

ESPINOSA

Espinosa is one of the most distinctive players in college baseball with his strong, mature build and slightly bowlegged "egg beater" running style. Long praised by scouts for his work ethic and hustling style of play, Espinosa gets maximum results out of average tools. One scout compared him to former Cal State Fullerton infielder Justin Turner, though with a bit more athleticism. Defensively, his range is fair and his glove work is unorthodox, but he does possess a strong arm. While he handled shortstop well for Team USA last summer, Espinosa is not a pure shortstop and may be better suited to second base or as a utility player. His intelligent and aggressive baserunning masks raw speed that is only average. A switch-hitter, Espinosa has always been stronger from his natural right side, but improved from the left this year. He takes a wicked cut at anything close, and when he squares a pitch up he can produce screaming drives to all fields. Most scouts want to see more plate discipline and patience from Espinosa, who's considered a streak hitter. His lack of overwhelming tools will keep him out of the first two rounds, but he has a lot of attributes scouts love, including the knack to make those around him better.

HICKS

Lefthander Graham Hicks significantly improved his draft stock with an impressive performance at the Florida high school all-star game. Hicks showed a fastball up to 92 mph and plus pitchability with his curveball and changeup as well. All three are average pitches at worst with potential to improve. Hicks is a projectable 6-foot-5, 170 pounds with room to add strength and velocity to his fastball.

By Chico Harlan  |  August 11, 2008; 3:37 PM ET
 
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Comments

I really wish the Lerners weren't so cheap, and were actually following through on their supposed plan of building through the draft....

Posted by: Deep Fried Screech | August 11, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Non-Confrontational Ben, the style of writing is so different between you and Angry Ben that I can't believe anyone confused you.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 11, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Bravo, bravo

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | August 11, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Well, I am not angry right now. Terrible as the Nat's are playing as we speak, tough as it is for Mock to have to leave the game on that terrible bit of fielding, right now I am happy, because we are two steps closer from another good draft.

Posted by: Non Confrontational Ben | August 11, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Fantastic! This is starting to look...like...well..a plan.

Now let's get Crow and a few suprizes and continue the momentum from last year's draft and our recent additions.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | August 11, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

At this point, with picks 2-10 signed, you have to think that the stubborn side of the negotiations for Crow isn't the Nats. Seems that they've been more than willing to work with guys. I understand the viewpoint that you gotta sign the picks for the plan to work, but I don't believe it is productive if the Nats are pegged as a team who just bellies up to draftees.

Posted by: Cavalier | August 11, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Anyone watching the game? The walks just keep on coming. At least it won't be a shut-out.

Posted by: Patty | August 11, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Good news - they're still apart on Crow, but hopefully when some of the other top-ten picks dominoes fall (Smoak, etc.) there will be some movement. Both sides have incentive to want to get a deal done.

Posted by: Highway 295 Revisited | August 11, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

It's in both Crow's and the Nationals' best interests to get the deal done. We still have only heard rumors of what Crow wanted, nothing concrete from his folks and the Nationals have not leaked any demands. Both of which tell me that things are moving and no one is being too unreasonable.

MLB put this signing deadline in place with the idea it would keep the negotiations from dragging on too long. All it did was make many of the first round deals wait until the last possible second to get done.

Posted by: Brian | August 11, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

these signings give the fans hope of better times than what we're currently experiencing.

Posted by: natsscribe | August 11, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

First buscones, now this? What is going on with this team and its scouts? ..from ESPN.com....

A former Washington Nationals part-time scout is at the center of a probe by Major League Baseball that has led to the firing of one scout and could result in disciplinary action against at least seven others, ESPN.com has learned.

Frank Falzarano, 54, of Long Island, pleaded guilty in April to felony enterprise corruption and gambling charges and is to appear Sept. 24 in Queens County, N.Y., Supreme Court. Falzarano, who is presently free on $200,000 bail, faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Sources close to the bookmaking probe identified one of the alleged bettors as Alan Marr, a respected high-ranking scout fired by the Baltimore Orioles last month. Marr acknowledged knowing Falzarano, but declined further comment when reached by ESPN.com at his home in Sarasota, Fla.

The investigation has identified "seven or eight" other scouts who bet through Falzarano, though it's possible that number could grow as New York City police continue to pursue the case. Major League Baseball's newly formed investigative unit is also assisting law enforcement.

Posted by: leetee1955 | August 11, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

@leetee - That's an old story from last year.

Posted by: Brian | August 11, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to try to use "plus pitchability" as much as possible in my everyday life.

Ye gods, what a phrase.

Posted by: Scooter | August 11, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

WORST TEAM EVER! They must be the worst team in the history of MLB with the bases loaded.

Posted by: Bruce | August 11, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I really don't understand why Crow thinks he's such hot sh*t. Teams before us didn't pass on him b/c of signability concerns. They passed on him, the player. He fell where he should have fallen. Get over it, now sign. thanks.

Posted by: 756* | August 11, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Bruce sounds an awful lot like Angry Ben...

Posted by: conspiracy theory | August 11, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Evan Longoria was also a shortstop at Long Beach State.

Posted by: 756* | August 11, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

a very nice appearance by Mr. Shell. 1.1IP, 0H, 0ER, 3K, 1BB

For now, I'd be ok with Shell/Rivera/Hanrahan as the go-to sequence for winnable games next year. Of course, it would be nice to actually *have* some winnable games next year...

Posted by: nat in beantown | August 11, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

a lot of the situation with crow could be agent-driven. the agent doesn't emphasize that nine other teams passed on the player, but that he was a TOP TEN draftee. it all depends on how you look at the situation.

Posted by: natsscribe | August 11, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Craig Counsell? Really? A double?

Posted by: Offense/offensive | August 11, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Boras, right?

Posted by: 756* | August 11, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

manny might as well start warming up "gasoline alley" ayala.

Posted by: natsscribe | August 11, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Hey Nationals! Pay attention! This is how you're _supposed_ to hit when the pitcher can't hit the strike zone to save his life!

Posted by: (I wish I were actually) Lenny Harris | August 11, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Charlie Manning is a nightmare this series. Boy will it be good to get out of Milwaukee.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 11, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Is it almost over? This is brutal.

Posted by: Patty | August 11, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Hey look! AK just struck out. We never see that.

Posted by: Patty | August 11, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

"Hey Nationals! Pay attention! This is how you're _supposed_ to hit when the pitcher can't hit the strike zone to save his life!"

That actually sounds like the instruction Lenny gives.

Posted by: Good...That swing looks good...yeah, just like that... | August 11, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

On the plus, Mock looked a lot better than the line suggests. Nice to see a Nat's pitcher actually strike someone out.

Christ I need a gin!

Posted by: Ben | August 11, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Remember way back on Friday when I said this weekend would tell us if the 6-1 August run meant a dramatically improved team or craptastic opponents?

Please pick (b).

Posted by: A Cautious Optimist | August 11, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

The line about Espinosa not being overwhelingly gifted athletically, getting the most out of his skills, the aggressive swing - to me, it sounds like Dustin Pedroia, who was a 2d round pick. But he does not sound like a Rizzo/JimBo boy. We go with speed and unrefined skills (tools). I'll be interested in seeing if he gets a legit shot at 2d base, since the organization has got their dream 2d baseman in Boni.

Posted by: PTBNL | August 11, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

happy thoughts. happy thoughts. happy thoughts.

- Lastings is .419/.486/.871 in August. His hit today extends his streak.
- Nine out of top ten draft picks. Combines very nicely with last few years. And we still have a few days left to close the deal with some others.
- Lannan's been just as good as Lastings in August: 13IP, 2ER, 14K, 1.38 ERA

...happy thoughts...

Posted by: nat in beantown | August 11, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Seriously? We now have 2-10??? That's AWESOME! I am so laughing at all you chicken littles who were convinced A MONTH AGO that we wouldn't sign anyone.

It gives us way more leverage now and puts that much more pressure on Crow. Don't back down Kasten!!

Posted by: NatsNut | August 11, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Luis Ayala is awful! Booo!! Fire Ayala!

Posted by: any given Monday... | August 11, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

@PTBNL

actually, espinosa is more of a rizzo player than a jimbow player. the only types of players jimbow likes to draft are the "tools" guys who he projects to bat in the middle of the order and hit 30 hr's while striking out 120-150 times per year. that's one reason the reds had such sporadic offense while he was gm, too many of the same types of players in the lineup.

Posted by: natsscribe | August 11, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Great news on the two just announced picks. Especially for the High-schooler; to pull him away from a scholarship this late in the game is great work.

Posted by: Sec131 | August 11, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Gawd, where's Father Flynniegan when you need him?

Posted by: leetee1955 | August 11, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Encouraging, but current strategy still means at least 2-3 more years of 100 defeat seasons. Is this town prepared for that?

Posted by: ohplease | August 11, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

At least we have the Rockies coming to town at the end of the week...

Posted by: Offense/offensive | August 11, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Sports fans have short memories. Some hypothetical team could go 6-1 and then lose 4 straight and everyone would flip out. But I bet if that team were to win four in a row again, all would be forgiven.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 11, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Try forgiving 44-75.

Posted by: ohplease | August 11, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Say four hail Mannys and call me in the morning.

Posted by: NR Father Flynniegan | August 11, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Actually, looks like Ayala went 1-2-3. Too bad we couldn't put up 7 runs in the 9th inning to get the win.

OK - done with the Brewers, ouch! Let's move on...

Posted by: Patty | August 11, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

18-25 the rest of the way means 100 defeats, but can they win 18 more games?

Posted by: ohplease | August 11, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

2-3 more seasons of 100 losses? No way. I don't believe it. I think this team will improve every year a little at a time. We're Rizzo's now remember.

Posted by: Ben | August 11, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

BTW - for those of you who consistently bring him up, did you guys even see that Adam Dunn got dealt to the D-backs?

Posted by: Patty | August 11, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

OMGTHESKYISFALLING!! CHEAPLERNERSWONTSIGNPICKS!!

errr....

as i've said all along, wait until 8/16 to judge whether they've done well signing picks. it makes no sense to panic weeks ahead of the deadline.

Posted by: 231 | August 11, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Good news on the signings. Good, too, to have Milwaukee in the rear-view mirror.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 11, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

>"Encouraging, but current strategy still means at least 2-3 more years of 100 defeat seasons. Is this town prepared for that?"

umm... the Washington Nationals (v3.0) have never lost 100 games. I'd doubt they will this year, either. They'd have to play .441 ball to do it, but I'm betting they can handle that.

Posted by: nat in beantown | August 11, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Why in the blue blazes would we bring Aaron Boone back to finish the season? for a non existent playoff run? Play the kids!

Posted by: Daniel Boone | August 11, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Then why is it on ESPN's front page?
________________

@leetee - That's an old story from last year.

Posted by: Brian | August 11, 2008 4:18 PM

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | August 11, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Hello, leetee, hello all - Mercifully, I had to work. Yesterday's game was a 14-inning nail-biter we should've won. Today - well, it was better than this: my daughter's pal Faustine "FoFo" Merret, who won gold in Athens, was windsurfing in Qingdao, a port city 300 miles south of Beijing, and a place much hotter and less windy than her native Brittany. She came in 7th in the 1st race, was disqualified in the second, and will have to climb out of a huge hole to medal. Winds are so light that she has to "pump" her sail into the wind to generate speed.

What she's going through: It's hot, 97% humidity, the winds are light, and the Chinese have employed thousands of fishing boats to catch and keep at bay a huge green algae bloom 4-5" thick, vast patches with plants growing out of them, which stop a racing sailboat like it's run aground.

The Brits describe the event as follows:
The windsurfers in the RS:X classes face the toughest physical challenge of all, where the light winds, heat and humidity of Qingdao will take their toll on even the fittest sailors.

Athens bronze medallist Nick Dempsey, competing at his third Olympic Games for Team GB, explains the physical nature of the class:
“It’s pretty tough, we do 11 races over six days, two races a day at generally about 35-40 minutes a race. In heart rate terms, you’ll sit there above 90-92 per cent of your maximum heart rate so you’re on that threshold of your maximum endurance for those 40 minutes and we do two races a day.
“I don’t know what other sports would compare to that to but it’s probably like doing two 10,000m races in a day. You do two races flat out, then the same again the next day and the same again the next day for five days and then one race at the end which is worth double points and non-discardable. It is very, very hard.”

Posted by: flynnie | August 11, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

We need Los Doces Ocho for hope and fresh air! I've turned down tickets - fancy tickets - for Wednesday night. The fam would rather stay home and watch the Olympics than go to lots of trouble and $$$ to see a loss to the Mets. Winning is supposed to be irrelevant to caring, but it's not.

Posted by: flynnie | August 11, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we can cut Boone and someone else can sign him like Lopez and Lo Duca

Posted by: cut em all | August 11, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Evan Langoria and Carl Crawford are both on the DL for the Rays, Adam Dunn just got traded to the D-Backs. I think we can work out a deal to trade Kearns to the Rays for prospects (sorry Tampa you can't have Dukes back) and we can bring up Bernadina from AAA or Daniels from AA.

We can still sign Dunn as a FA from ARI this off-season, I don't think it's a great idea, but I would love to see us get a lefty power bat that can play OF AND 1B. I don't know who else would fit that bill besides Dunn...

Posted by: estuartj | August 11, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

How about some nominations for the Nats All Futures Team, only rule of eligibility is you have to be in the organization (no Crow, yet) and not on the 25 man roster. My picks;

2. Nieto
3. Marrero
4. King
5. ???
6. Gonzalez
7. Hood
8. Perez
9. Burgess

1. Zimmermann
2. Detwiler
3. Wilems
4. Smoker
5. McGeary

Posted by: MO Nats Fan | August 11, 2008 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Don't think anyone would give us good prospects for Kearns

Posted by: AK's agent | August 11, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Who said anything about GOOD prospects?

Posted by: estuartj | August 11, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we can get Glen Gibson back from the Rays, so we would have taken Dukes off their hands in exchange for them taking Kearns (and his $9mil) of ours...

Posted by: MO Nats Fan | August 11, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Okay now, everybody click your heels together and repeat after me: There's no place like home. There's no place like home. Maybe a return to the friendly confines of Nats Park and some home cookin' will help our guys to get their groove back.

Posted by: natsfan1a (channeling Glinda) | August 11, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

No to Dunn... NONONONONONO!!! His #'s are inflated by that bandbox he's played in (the great American sandlot) - see Kearns, A. & the late lamented Lopez, F. as a cross-reference. Also, he's not much better in the field than Wily (noMo) Pena. We have a decent OF for the immediate future, and some promise in the minors. The last thing this team needs is a long-term deal on a LF with inflated power numbers & nominal skills otherwise.

Posted by: BIM | August 11, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

@MONF: Hmmm. Didn't C. Crawford just go down hurt? If their really believe their future is now, they could be willing listeners, but are probably looking for a CF.

Posted by: BIM | August 11, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

And by the way - Completely suprised by the Espinosa signing! Hope we didn't go overboard on him. Glad we finally came to terms with Hicks - he just needs some good coaching early to keep his mechanics cleaned up & he could be a keeper.

Posted by: BIM | August 11, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

BIM, I'm not an advocate of signing Adam Dunn, but his numbers aren't inflated by playing in Cincy, his home and away HR numbers are even...with his power it doesn't matter where you play he'll get his dingers (and his 150 Ks too).

Posted by: estuartj | August 11, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

I could see a Dunn/Milledge/Dukes OF for 2009, if Young/Johnson can't go then Dunn goes to 1B and we're no worse off in the outfield then we are right now...

Posted by: MO Nats Fan | August 11, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

@leetee & Brian

As far as I can tell, the news about the gambling operation is current, BUT the good news is, this guy was NOT a member of our organization, taken from the story:

"Falzarano was last affiliated with baseball in 2006, when he served as a part-time area scout, known in baseball circles as a "bird dog." His contract with the Nationals was not renewed after that season. He reportedly also had scouted on a part-time basis in the past for the San Francisco Giants and the Florida Marlins. "

So I don't know that this tarnishes us at all, because that's right when the Lerner's were able to take control. If anything, MLB needs to investigate...itself?

Posted by: NattyDelite! | August 11, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

It's not the HR's that cause my concern, it's the BA/OBP/OPS and his lack of range in LF that bother me. A season of Dunn in LF would either take 3" off Milledge's height, or would churn through 2-3 CF replacements due to the amount of extra ground they would have to cover. I equate part of Junior's & Freel's combined injury problems to just that. I don't want to see this team pony up $12 - $16M a year over 5 to 8 years for a 1-trick pony. Just my opinion.

Posted by: BIM | August 11, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Teix is still my choice at 1B and with what the 2008b Nationals have been showing, Sabathia and Sheets aside, I think we're ready for it.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 11, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

"If anything, MLB needs to investigate...itself?"

Yeah, or the current GM of the Mets, who, coincidentally are coming to town this week. Gee, I wonder if the Post will cover this? Naah.

I don't think it's a surprise that our new young Nats can't hit top-shelf pitching in Sabathia (who just came over from the AL, it's not like we have a litany of vets who can tell the young guys how to approach him ... OK, it's not like we have a hitting coach that can do that either, but still) or Sheets (ummm, can't think of a great excuse here either, but didn't the Brewers used to be in the AL?)

For no good reason I'm high on Espinosa. I like baseball competence more than unrealized potential. I'm predicting he gets a September call-up next year and spends at least a few years as a fan favorite even if he's a #7 hitter and ends up being a Mark Lemke/Craig Counsell type, one who is "out of a job every January, and in the playoffs every October."

Posted by: Bob L. Head | August 11, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm not that crazy about acquiring Dunn either but if he were to considered solely or primarily as a 1B that would make a little more sense. Manny and JimBow agree that we need power more than anything else and there aren't too many other options out there. Stick Dunn at 1B and let Nick be his defensive replacement & the club's #1 pinch hitter. Maybe he could last a full season if limited to those roles.

Posted by: CapPeterson | August 11, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

[quote=BIM]It's not the HR's that cause my concern, it's the BA/OBP/OPS and his lack of range in LF that bother me.[/quote]

eh? BA i understand. lack of range i understand.

but his OBP is 373 and his OPS is 901. significantly better than anyone on this team and right up there in the upper echelons of hitters.

i'm not going to advocate for him cuz i think we have enough guys who strike out too much. but let's be fair to the guy, his OBP and OPS are top notch.

Posted by: 231 | August 11, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

The nats have NO shot at Tex. None. They'd have to shell out at least $300 mill to get him. WHy would he play for them? 9,000 people watch the games, the team shows no progress in four seasons, the front office is a joke around baseball. Forget about it.

Posted by: luv da nats | August 11, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Tex can win world Series with Angels he will be willing to stoop to our level. I'd say if you can get him to come here I would hope the Lerners would pony up the bucks.

Afterall, our biggest need right now is a 1B

Posted by: If Tex wins world series | August 11, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse

@231: OK, I'll give you OPS on Dunn. I just think he would demolish one (or more) CF's over the course of whatever contract the Nats' might offer him; And a 3B or SS as well. I also don't think putting at 1B is a viable option, because he'll quickly develop the range of DaMeat.

Posted by: BIM | August 11, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

gotta give me OBP, too. :P

interesting comment from gammons on the latin american payoff scandal:

[quote]Then, if as rumored, the Washington Nationals end up being involved, the Commissioner's Office will have to answer, since they owned the team; no one believes that anyone in the office knew what was going on any more than Reinsdorf, as loyal as any owner in any sport, knew what David Wilder, the White Sox's senior director of player personnel, was doing. [/quote]

Posted by: 231 | August 11, 2008 8:46 PM | Report abuse

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