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Bowden Says That McGeary Will Play Full Season

Since the day he was drafted in 2007, Jack McGeary has been the most unorthodox of Washington prospects. A sixth-round pick, he was paid like a first-round pick -- with a $1.8 bonus. He'd just graduated high school, and wanted to go to Stanford. But because of Washington's offer, McGeary, a left-handed pitcher, tried a delicate compromise: He would go to college, but also be a professional ballplayer. So, during his school year, he couldn't play baseball for the Cardinal. And he couldn't play in the minors until June, after his school year had ended.

Well, Nats GM Jim Bowden said yesterday in a radio interview with Baseball Prospectus's Will Carroll that McGeary has decided to play baseball full-time this season. Such a decision would accelerate McGeary's career development, and boost the odds that Washington's 2007 draft gamble turns into a big reward. Those in the McGeary camp, though, are emphasizing that no official decision has yet been made, and that McGeary remains at Stanford for the time being. "It's rumor at this point," McGeary's father, Pat, said this morning. "I think it would be premature for me to say anything."

In a recent list, Baseball Prospectus named McGeary, 19, as Washington's fifth-best prospect -- but that was a projection that assumed he'd be playing half-seasons for the next two years, until his graduation from Stanford in 2010. By most accounts, McGeary has the talent of a first-round pick.

If you want to hear the Bowden interview, follow this link. The comments on McGeary come at about the two-third point.

I have transcribed the full exchange.


Carroll: One of the more fascinating prospects in your system is lefty Jake [sic] McGeary. You gave him a big bonus out of high school, but he's still going to Stanford, so last year and for the next two coming he's not available for you until June. Can you talk about some of the development challenges that creates and what about his talent made you comfortable with that unique situation?

Bowden: Well, sure Will, first of all, you're wrong with your information. Jack has told us that he wants to play baseball full-time now, so we expect him to report to spring training on time and continue a full season of his development. And we said when we signed the player that we felt after a short period of time that he would decide to play baseball full-time. So we were very pleased when his agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, informed us that Jack had made a decision to do that. We're very excited about it. Obviously he's a strong, big left-hander. He's only 19 years old, he'll throw it 88 to 91 mph, he's got an incredible curveball that buckles you, he's got a chance to be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter in the big leagues. His make-up is off the charts -- I mean, you can't find better make-up than this kid. He's extremely brilliant, intelligent, he makes adjustment. And you know, he went in the Gulf Coast League, he led the league in strikeouts with 64, he led the league with 12 starts and of course second in innings pitched with 59-2/3. He punched out 9.7 guys per nine innings. So, for a young kid to accomplish that as a teenager we were very pleased. He's dedicated, and this is a guy who really in a short period of time is the type of guy that, being left-handed, has the potential to fly through an organization.

By Chico Harlan  |  January 24, 2009; 12:06 PM ET
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New posted

Catching up here. My job makes it impossible to keep up during the week.

I thought Boz's column was his usual overstated dreck that misses the point. His chief complaint is that the Lerner's are not opening their wallets to sign free agents. I frankly do not see any likely scenario where signing any of these so called high profile free agents makes sense. It is clear that none of them would come here unless paid well over the market rate. The Nats are approaching a point where throwing the salary structure out of whack would do serious long term damage to the organization. If you overpay for Dunn, that would make signing Zimmerman, Dukes or any of the other young 'uns that much more difficult. In addition there is no proof that the Nats haven't made good offers. Perhaps these guys just don't want to come here and play for a short term loser.

The place where the bulk of the criticism should be directed is at Jim Bo and Rizzo. Someone needs to ask Jim Bo publicly who the first of his hitter draftees will be to make an impact at the major league level. I heard him asked that question last summer, and the best answer he could come up with was, " Well, Ryan Zimmerman's already doing it, and I love this kid Destin Hood." The point is that he and the supposed genius Rizzo have not drafted well. Somebody said that Marreo hasn't backslided because he would have hit .250 with 22 HRs in A ball last year if healthy? Come on, those are not stud stats in the low minors.

The judgment that needs to occur at the end of 2009 is not whether the big league team adds a few overpriced veterans and goes from a 59 win team to a 72 win team. I want to see significant progress from the guys that Jim Bo and Rizzo have drafted, and I want to see them sign all their high draft picks. If that doesn't happen, a change needs to be made. That's what Boz should have focused on, not the Lerner's cheapness. To me that was just a demagogic way of attracting readers.


Posted by: db423 | January 24, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

This post troubles me on two levels.

1. As a former high school baseball coach, I was really excited to see the Nats break ground with the type of contract they offered McGeary. It's the best of all worlds for player and orgranization. It gives a kid a real shot at getting a great education while still being developed through major league instruction and having his arm protected by someone who is looking out for his long term interests. For whatever reason, this arrangement didn't work out well for him. I heard that McGeary feels very isolated at Stanford, so that might be it. I also heard that Stanford's head coach was a jerk to him so that may have had something to with it.

2. JimBo has once again stated something publicly that the player himself was ready to say or didn't know about - a little like the Cordero thing. McGeary and Van Wagenen have got to be furious. Nice job JimBo.


Posted by: db423 | January 24, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Bowden's comments sounded like they came from Van Wagenen (the agent McGeary shares with RZimm). It's probably a good move for McGeary (who will turn 21 this year); he starts playing pro-ball full time, knowing the t the Nationals' are still on the hook for his college education.

BTW, who went to the NatsFest in Woodbridge this morning? I was there, but bailed before getting inside the park (didn't layer enough to compensate for the wind).

Posted by: BinM | January 24, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Read the quote, #4. It was Van Wagenen himself who informed Bowden that McGeary would be going full-time. It's the kid's father who's the one saying "hey, wait a minute." But as we all know, from real life as well as the Crow incident, fathers are often the last to know of the plans their college-age sons are making for their lives.

This is as different from the Cordero thing as night and day.

Posted by: nunof1 | January 24, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

db, one thing about your first post puzzles me, given your subsequent statement that you used to coach. Don't you agree that the development of guys like Zimm and Dukes is retarded by playing on a miserable team? Similarly, young pitchers who think they have to be too fine because they have no margin of error (i.e. no run support) and who rarely get to pitch with a lead are hurt by developing in that environment. Isn't that a reason to bring in some vets, even if it only improves the team from 59 to 72 wins? The young guys need to have veteran leadership to learn from, and to support them as they develop.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 24, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

At some point even those of us who think Bowden has done a good job with limited resources grow tired of the lack of restraint with his premature statements on personnel issues. It's not respectful.

Not that he is not under significant pressure to defend the realm. Rankings of farm systems are extraordinarily subjective and relative. Presumably every team tries to improve and/or sustain their farm system. The Expos were ankle and foot below every other team by the time they came to Washington. When you start that low, you can improve a system a good deal before you actually start passing competition. Subjectivity moved them up the rankings to 9th in 2008 by Baseball America's and back to 21 by Baseball America's understanding. Keith Law so clearly has made his war of commentary against Bowden personal, that his evaluation is discredited. He picked a position and then tried to defend it rather than trying to make an honest evaluation. John Sickles evaluation seems to be much more in line wiht Baseball America's.

I really don't know what Bowden is supposed to do differently if the owners don't give him the resources to pursue free agents. Perhaps its true that you have to pay 20 percent more for the first free agent, but perhaps the second signing is at 15 percent more, and the thrid at 10 percent more. The hope is that at some point, the team becomes attractive enough to pay 20 percent less. But you have to prime the pump.

Posted by: natbisquit | January 24, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

With regard to the event this morning, yes I went and I stuck around to the end. It was cold. They were quite challenged logistically with the cold, the wind, and the limited in door space to conduct the event. But, in the end I got through and was happy to exchange a few words with the players and Manny Acta. There is still too little thought put into the planning of these events, but I appreciate the individual efforts.

Posted by: natbisquit | January 24, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse


Good on you for hanging in there - I'm clearly becoming a wimp, despite coming from Utah. Did you bump into any other NJ regulars (that's what I was hoping to do, just to place a face with the non-de-plume)?

Posted by: BinM | January 24, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Nats in '12? Strasburg, Zimmerman, McGeary, Lannan and Martis? Sounds like a rptation with potential, Perhaps, there will be some solid, veteran hitters surrounding them?

Posted by: fischy | January 24, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

BinM, I was there with my husband and a baseball buddy. Sorry to have missed you and natbisquit. I ran back to the car at one point to get a hoody for additional layering under my windbreaker. I did neglect to bring a hat, though. A miscalculation on my part.

I also appreciated having the opportunity to exchange a few words with the players, Charlie (Bang! Zoom!) Slowes, and Manny Acta. High points for me were getting to chat and have a pic taken with the skipper; having a pic taken with Ryan Zimmerman; and having a pic taken with the Mills Cup Trophy (no offense to the aforementioned fellows).

Some people were disappointed that Zimmerman was not signing (a contractual restriction, evidently). We attended a caravan event the winter after he was drafted and he was signing autographs then. Evidently the contract was not in force at that point.

I found the employees (both P-Nats and Washington Nats today, I think) to be congenial and accommodating for the most part. Although the event was scheduled to run from 10-11, they were processing the remaining fans who were in line when we left at 11:30.

The complementary Glory Days spread was tasty (thumbs up from me on the on the BBQ sandwich, coleslaw, and brownie; my hubby was not so enthusiastic about the mac & cheese. Maybe my home cookin' version has spoiled him - heh).

All in all, an enjoyable event. Hope that a Pfitz visit will become a caravan tradition. We're looking forward to tomorrow's fan fest.

Oh, and we whined to Charlie about the radio reception.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 24, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

stay in school.

Posted by: 6thandD | January 25, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

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