Every year I meticulously follow mock drafts, collect them, analyze them. And then every year the mocks seem to get thrown out the window once the draft starts, resulting in some shocking results. The Nats have been the beneficiaries of this in the past (see the Anthony Rendon draft), but for the past number of years they’ve mostly stayed true to form and picked a player that they were well known to be interested in. This is partly because Mike Rizzo has a very specific draft strategy/player development strategy in the draft (heavily focusing on college pitchers), partly because the Nats are not afraid to deal with players who are tied to Scott Boras as an advisor, and partly because the Nats seem to like “famous” players that suddenly start falling in the draft.
So, 2021 was no different. There were several shocks above the Nats, with players curiously rising (Frank Mozzicato and Sam Bachman) and players curiously falling (Khalil Watson and Ty Madden). And at #11, bucking practically every prediction made this spring, the Nats did NOT draft a pitcher and went with Brady House.
House was, in the early parts of 2020, an early prediction to go 1-1 in the 2021 draft class thanks to his standout performances on the showcase circuit. He’s a Georgia prep kid, an early commit to Tennessee, and he was a nationally known prospect well before he got to his senior season. As often happens with the more “famous” prospects, the shine wore off on House as he had some hiccups in the 2020 summer wood-bat circuits. However, he performed more than adequately in the spring 2021 season.
We saw this “prospect fatigue” with Kumar Rocker as well; how does he slip from also being a 1-1 candidate all the way to #10? People look for flaws in these famous prospects, not strengths, and when Rocker (for example) wasn’t as dominant as he normally can be in the CWS (pitching on short rest, mind you), suddenly there’s “concerns” and scouting departments end up outsmarting themselves. This is precisely how the Nats got Rendon in 2011 … and now its how we got House in 2021.
House was projected in multiple final mock drafts to go as high as #3. He’s a big kid 6’3″ with incredible power, the defensive chops to start at SS (even if we think he moves to 3B), and can also hit 96 on the mound. A great comp for him might very well be a Nolan Arenado; a guy with an amazing arm, a former SS who has become a perennial gold glover at 3B, and who has prodigious power.
Suffice it to say; I like this pick. Yes he’s a prep kid, meaning he’s of no real immediate help, but based on our 2021 team and the turnover we likely face this coming off-season, we may be entering a rebuilding phase anyway, and House could be part of a crew that helps kick-start the franchise in a few years.
Yes, we drafted a projected 3B when our current #1 prospect (Carter Kieboom) is also a 3B; it does not matter. You do not draft for need in MLB; you draft best player available and deal with positional flexibility later on. If we are somehow faced with the prospect of having both Kieboom and House pushing to product at the MLB level in a few years? We deal with it then, through a position change (3B to 2B, or keep House at SS, or move someone to a corner OF) or a trade.
Verdict: great pick, happy to have nabbed a great talent in the 1st round.