The Washington Nationals went back to an old trick Thursday in the first round, selecting a player who never would have dropped to them without an arm injury in UNLV right-handed pitcher Erick Fedde.
Fedde was slated to go a higher, possibly in the top 10, before it was announced that he required Tommy John surgery. Nationals fans will remember a similar situation surrounding the selection of Lucas Giolito, the 2012 pick who was expected to go No. 1 overall before hurting his elbow. While Giolito didn't require surgery until after the draft and Fedde has already been drafted, it fits the profile.
Fedde has a heavy fastball, produces a lot of ground balls and can break a lot of bats. He sat in the low 90s but could reach back for 96 when he needed it. His slider is a second plus pitch that disguises itself as a fastball, giving hitters little time to react to its break. His third pitch is a change up, which needs work, but most draftees need to round out their arsenals. He maintains his velocity well -- or did pre-surgery -- though his mechanics could fall apart later in games.
The Nationals are an experienced club in terms of rehabbing guys from Tommy John, so this is a good match for the player. It's possible Fedde adds velocity, but don't necessarily credit that to the surgery, as he had room in his frame to grow and add strength, something the Nationals will hope he can do during rehab.
We should also note that Fedde is once again reunited with high school teammate Bryce Harper, something that wasn't lost on the Nationals superstar:
Just another reminder of how young Bryce Harper is, that his teammate in high school just got selected in the first round of the draft.