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With the draft over, 'the hard part' begins for the Nationals

The Nationals concluded their draft Tuesday, one painstaking process that only yielded to another painstaking process. "This," amateur scouting director Kris Kline said, "is the hard part."

Kline referred to actually signing the 50 players the Nationals drafted. So far, the Nationals have signed one player -- University of Hawaii catcher David Freitas, a 15th-round pick -- and reached agreements with 13 other players, Kline said. For the players who have agreed, the signing is virtually a formality.

"We put a big dent in it," Kline said. "We made a lot of progress."

Kline said the Nationals' emphasis is on signing college seniors and the Nationals' top 10 picks. The Nationals aren't likely to make tangible progress on what promise to be the three toughest, and most high-profile, choices to sign before the Aug. 15 deadline until later in the summer: first overall pick Bryce Harper, second-rounder Sammy Solis, a left-handed pitcher from the University of San Diego, and fourth-rounder A.J. Cole, a right-handed, high school flamethrower from Florida. Kline also assumed 12th-round choice Robbie Ray, a right-handed high school pitcher from Tennessee, would require General Mike Rizzo's involvement.

While those players will be most challenging to sign, the Nationals are already starting the process.

"We're working on it every day," Kline said. "There's constant communication between agents and family and the kids. It's like this every year. They're going to wait to see what they other guy got. We're going to work on it every day."

Kline said he planned to hear from the agent representing Rice shortstop Rick Hague, a third-round choice, later this afternoon. "I'd like to get that one done as quick as I can," Kline said.

By Adam Kilgore  |  June 11, 2010; 3:02 PM ET
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