Top college pitcher expects Nationals to draft Harper, awaits own draft fate
Although the Washington Nationals are expected to choose 17-year-old, junior college catcher Bryce Harper with the top overall selection in today's draft, it would be a departure from the organization's history. Since General Manager Mike Rizzo joined the front office in the summer of 2006, the Nationals have had five first-round picks. All have been used on pitchers, and four have come from college.
The top college pitcher available in this year's draft is believed to be Mississippi left-handed starter Drew Pomeranz, who is 9-2 with a 2.24 ERA, 139 strikeouts and 49 walks in 100.2 innings.
"I've been told I was in the mix by the Nationals, but like everyone else, I think Bryce Harper is going first," Pomeranz said. "All the hype around him, that's usually what happens."
Pomeranz has no expectation about when or where he will go, because he said the teams do not know until they see how the board falls. Pomeranz said just about every team has been through Oxford, Miss., including the Nationals. He has spoken to the area scout, who told Pomeranz that Pomeranz was in the mix for the Nationals' pick and praised Pomeranz as the top college pitcher in the draft. General Manager Mike Rizzo spoke to the team in the autumn, but Pomeranz said Rizzo was not there to specifically see him, and that the two did not speak.
"He was just telling us we look like a good college team," Pomeranz said. "He was talking good about our program and the facilities that we have. He just stopped and talked to us. it was pretty cool."
At 6 feet 5 and 231 pounds, Pomeranz has a big frame and a track record of success in the SEC. He was named the conference's top pitcher, and mixes a fastball that tops out around 93 mph with a curveball that sits in the low 80s. He occasionally throws a changeup.
Pomeranz might have pitched his final collegiate game on Friday in the NCAA Regionals in Charlottesville. Pitching on abnormally long rest, he threw seven shutout innings in a 10-5 win over St. John's before leaving the game in the eighth inning after allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking three. It was not his finest outing, and a St. John's player said Pomeranz's curveball was not as strong as usual. St. John's Coach Ed Blankmeyer also said Pomeranz was not on his "A-game" and needs to keep his curveball sharp to remain effective.
"Seven shutout innings, and he continues to amaze me in the brilliant career that he's had," said Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco. "Probably wasn't as sharp with his command. But it's amazing how critical we are of him. It's really unfair. He just doesn't give up runs."
Pomeranz saw Harper take batting practice while playing for the U.S. national team. He has not compared himself to Harper and tries to keep his expectations level heading into Monday.
"He's in JUCO, I'm in D-1, SEC, so it's not really comparable, I guess," Pomeranz said. "In the draft, those early picks, it's all about who they want. Do they want a pitcher, a catcher, this guy, that guy or whatever. But he's a good player from what I hear."
June 7, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
Categories: Bryce Harper
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