Round 21: LHP Todd Simko, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Nats.com roundup: "Simko had a 4.31 ERA and walked 46 batters in 96 innings but set a school record with 10 wins."
Simko has an extraordinary backstory: as Andrew Masuda of KSBY reports, "Simko broke his neck and his throwing hand and nearly died in a major car crash when he was in high school. Now, five years later, he's a major league draft pick." The San Luis Obispo Tribune went into further depth on 3/21/07, writing that "an off-duty emergency doctor was riding a bicycle when he came upon the wreck and prevented Todd from being moved — an eventual life-saving move considering doctors later told Todd he might have been paralyzed or killed had his neck shifted a minimum of two millimeters." Crazy stuff.
In terms of Simko's actual performance, his 4.31 BB/9 and 6.38 K/9 make me a little wary, but he found a way to get things done with a 4.31 ERA and 10-6 record. I have yet to find anything about his pitches, velocity or potential.
Round 22: RHP Travis Henke, Arkansas-Little Rock
Nats.com roundup: "Henke worked out of the bullpen as a junior, but started 14 games with a 5.20 ERA as a senior."
Henke's numbers aren't incredibly impressive. His 5.20 ERA and 61 K in 90 innings are nothing really to brag about, but with 28 walks, he does have decent control.. When you're talking about 22nd round picks, you can't really go wrong, and scouts can certailny see tweaks in pitches and mechanics that I can't just looking at his stats. He is 6'6", so there is still some room for more power in his arsenal. Maybe his uncle Tom Henke can hook Tyler Clippard with some sweet specs, too!
Matthew Harris of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has a nice article about Travis and Tom's relationship.
Round 23: 2B Khayyan Norfork, Tennessee
Nats.com roundup: Norfork stole 43 bases in two seasons at Tennessee, where he hit .299."
Norfork's 2011 stat line: .332/.430/.483, 68 H/205 AB, 36 R, 15 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 37 RBI, 28 BB/35 K, 29/33 SB. 36 runs strikes me as a low number for a speedy player who reached base over 100 times, so maybe his base-running abilities need work. His base-stealing abilities are pretty sweet, though.
Grant Ramey of Go Vols Extra (3/24/11) has a nice article about Norfork's road to baseball. He devoted more effort to basketball than baseball all the way through high school, which makes his journey even more impressive. In the article, Norfork attributes his 2011 success to the Cape Cod League last summer, where he was forced to shorten his swing to have success with a wooden bat against 90+ MPH fastballs.
UT Sports TV has a nice video feature on him (5/10/11).
Round 24: LHP Kyle Ottoson, Arizona State
Nats.com roundup: The Nationals are the fourth team to draft Ottoson, whom the Rockies selected in 2008 (39th round), the Yankees picked in '09 (36th) and the Phillies took in '10 (48th)."
From Parker Cotton of the Greeley Tribune, 6/7/2011: "'The thing you always remember about Kyle was that nasty knuckle curve,' Danley said. 'None of our guys could hit it in practice and none of the opponents could either.' As for possibly signing with the Nationals, Ottoson said he spoke with the team’s area scout Mitch Sokol on Tuesday afternoon and said more negotiations would take place when ASU’s season is finished. 'Right now I’m excited about heading to Austin tomorrow and a chance to play in the College World Series,' Ottoson said. In the event Ottoson decides not to sign with the Nationals, he still has Arizona State to fall back on. 'If I don’t go to the Nationals, I’m having a great time at ASU and I love playing in the Pac-10, and I would look forward to coming back next season to help get us to the College World Series again,' Ottoson said. On the other hand, if he signs, he knows he would have to start in the minors, but that’s all part of the journey. 'That’s the first step,' Ottoson said. 'I’d be more than happy to go where they send me and get my road started.'"
2.18 ERA, 112 hits allowed, 43 BB/183 K in 153 innings in community college from 09-10. 3.40 ERA, 43 hits allowed, 20 BB/46 K in 50 and 1/3 innings for Arizona State this year. Solid pick.
Round 25: C Erick Fernandez, Georgetown
Nats.com roundup: The catcher consistently hit for average and finished his Georgetown career with a .325 mark."
From Andy Seiler, MLB Bonus Baby, 6/17/10: "Fernandez has been seen as a solid defensive catcher for some time, and he fits in nicely with the pick of Mayo, as they're more traditional defensive catchers in terms of size and strength."
Fun fact: Fernandez was smart enough to achieve a 4.4 GPA at Georgetown, but still dons the tools of ignorance. Fernandez hit .315/.385/.478 this year with 16 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 14 BB and 21 K, throwing out 21 of 56 would-be base stealers (37.5%). More than just a token local kid getting picked in the middle rounds.
Round 26: SS Shawn Pleffner, Tampa
Nats.com roundup: Pleffner hit .366, drove in 39 runs and scored 42 of his own after playing two seasons at Tallahassee Community College."
The Gambrills, Md./Arundel HS native is big for a shortstop (6'4" 220), but I haven't seen anything that suggests he'll change positions. He hit .366/.454/.559 this season.
Round 27: LHP Bobby Lucas Jr., George Washington
Nats.com roundup: The 6-foot-4 left-hander struck out 11.92 batters per nine innings but went 2-8 with a 5.27 ERA in his first full season as a starter."
The Baltimore/Calvert Hall native's biggest critic is himself, according to Cory Weinberg of the GW Hatchet (4/21/11): "'I'm not overpowering. I really have to try to pitch. I can't rely on pure 'stuff.' I've embraced that more and more as I've gotten older so it's made me a better pitcher all around,' Lucas said. Lucas has developed his two-seam fastball, which darts and dives toward hitters, and complimented his repertoire with a slider that breaks in on right-handed batters. He has served Atlantic-10 hitters a steady diet of off-speed pitches, his four-seam fastball rarely breaking 90 miles per hour. 'Coming in from high school, where my fastball would get a lot of swings and misses, it was really demoralizing to come to college and see that your fastball isn't what it was, because everyone throws as hard,' Lucas said."
Round 28: RHP Kenneth Ferrer, Elon
Nats.com roundup: The Indians selected Ferrer in the 35th round last year, but he returned to Elon and went 5-3 with a 4.02 ERA."
The senior RHP threw 69 and 1/3 innings this year, allowing 67 hits, 38 BB and 50 K. Ferrer ended his Elon career with 4.98 BB/9 and 7.03 K/9, so he needs to improve his control. He limited opposing batters to 10 extra base hits as well. He apparently was throwing 93 MPH in high school (can't find any current velocity info), so the Nats should see him as a viable, quick-signing bullpen arm.
Round 29: C Sean Cotten, Tusculum College
Nats.com roundup: Cotten shattered the school record with 186 RBIs in his four-year career. He hit 35 career home runs and stole 34 bases, while also hitting for average."
Cotten is Tusculum's all-time HR, RBI, TB, BB and sacrifice fly leader. Can't find anything else on him at the moment other than that he also played some 1B at Tusculum.
Round 30: LHP Bryan Harper, South Carolina
Nats.com roundup: The Nationals' selected Bryce Harper's older brother for the second time after taking him in the 31st round of the '08 Draft. He pitched 18 1/3 innings and allowed 11 runs in his only season at South Carolina."
From MLB.com, 3/25/2010: "Harper comfortably throws in the 89-91 mph range and will occasionally touch 92 mph. He's got average movement on his fastball. Curve: It's a wide, hard, three-quarters, sweeping breaking ball, thrown 76-78 mph...particularly tough on left-handed hitters. Changeup: He has a very good feel for his changeup. Control: His walk rate hasn't been great, but his overall command is not bad. Poise: He's very competitive on the mound and seems to be able to pitch through it when he doesn't have his best stuff. Strengths: Good competitiveness on the mound, improving fastball, with maybe more in the tank. Good overall feel for pitching. Weaknesses: He doesn't always pitch like he's 6-foot-5, with a little drop and drive in his delivery. While it's not bad, he could use some refinement to his command. Tall, lanky lefties who can touch 92 mph aren't all that common, and Harper also has a pretty good feel for his breaking ball and changeup. He'll need to cut down on his walk rate a bit, but there's also room for growth in his frame and has some upside as he continues to learn how to pitch."
Bryce's big brother had an up and down 2011 season, with a 5.40 ERA to date in 18 and 1/3 innings. His 18 K looks good, but the 17 walks are a little disheartening. That being said, he only walked 29 in 65 and 1/3 innings in JuCo last year, so this year's control issues are likely an outlier due to a small sample size. Harper was excellent in limiting opposing hitters to singles, however, only allowing one double on the season and no triples or homers. Harper was drafted in the 27th round last year by the Cubs, but did not sign due to his commitment to South Carolina. It will be interesting to see if Harper turns down the Nationals, but if he signs, they will have quite a coup with an intriguing lefty arm in the 30th round.