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Nats draft right-hander coming off Tommy John surgery

Jun 5, 2014, 9:53 PM EDT

AP AP

Updated at 12:07 a.m.

The story of the Nationals’ latest first-round draft pick should sound quite familiar to those who have followed this franchise over the last five years.

Right-hander Erick Fedde, taken with the 18th overall pick in Thursday night’s MLB Draft, comes from Las Vegas, where he was high school teammates with none other than Bryce Harper. He’s represented by Scott Boras. He’s a tall, power pitcher who entered this season at UNLV touted as one of the best arms in the college game.

And he just had Tommy John surgery. Two days ago.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has never shied away from Boras clients, nor pitchers with a known injury history. The organization has made eight first-round draft picks since 2009, and six of those picks were represented by Boras: Stephen Strasburg (2009), Bryce Harper (2010), Anthony Rendon, (2011), Alex Meyer (2011), Brian Goodwin (2011) and now Fedde in 2014.

The lone exceptions during that time: Drew Storen (2009) and Lucas Giolito (2012), who are both represented by CAA. And Giolito, a tall right-hander with a 100 mph fastball, was known to have an elbow injury when drafted and wound up having Tommy John surgery within months of his selection. There were also injury concerns at the time about Rendon, who slipped to the No. 6 pick in 2011 after other clubs were worried about his shoulder and ankle.

This time, the Nationals took the unprecedented step of drafting a pitcher who had the all-too-common ligament replacement surgery earlier this week. Fedde had the procedure done Tuesday in Los Angeles by orthopedist Neal El Attrache, about one month after his junior season at UNLV was cut short (he finished 8-2 with a 1.76 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 11 starts, earning Mountain West Pitcher of the Year honors).

Recovery time is expected to be 12-to-18 months.

“We don’t take hollow chances,” Rizzo said. “We do a lot of research. We do a lot of background checks. Obviously, we’re hand-in-hand with our medical team here. We think our medical team is some of the finest in the game. We’ve had very good success in rehabbing these types of players.”

“Everything in the elbow is clean,” Fedde told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We expect a full recovery.”

A 6-foot-4, 180-pound right-hander, Fedde boasted a mid-90s fastball and sharp slider before his injury, throwing from a high-three-quarters arm slot. The 21-year-old also was an all-state soccer player and state champion at Las Vegas High School, where he played baseball alongside Harper.

“We got a great one DC!” Harper posted on his Twitter account shortly after the selection was made.

The 21-year-old Fedde, named a Louisville Slugger Second-Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball this season, pitched last summer for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. Nationals vice president of scouting operations Kris Kline first saw him pitching for Team USA, then attended his first start this season at UNLV, yet emerged with spirits low. Why?

“I walked out of there thinking we’ve got no shot of getting this player,” Kline said. “Because he was a top-5 guy. … When I left there, in my mind, he was a definite candidate to be a front-line starter in the big leagues. I still feel that’s what he is. The guys that we could have taken behind him, with Erick being healthy post-surgery, we still feel like he’s the better guy. I think it was an easy pick for us there.”

The Nationals have until July 18 to sign Fedde and all other draft picks. Given Boras’ history, negotiations figure to go right down to the wire. The organization has a total pool of approximately $5.275 million to spend on their top 10 picks without being subject to penalties. The recommended slot signing bonus for the 18th overall pick is approximately $2.145 million.

“Obviously we’ve dealt several times before (with Boras),” Rizzo said. “I don’t know if that’s a comfort level, just because we’re comfortable dealing with each other. We’re not sure. We’re going to begin the process and see if we can get him out, get him signed and get him rehabbing so he can take the next step toward seeing him pitch here at Nats Park.”

Until he signs, Fedde will be rehabbing under a program run by the Boras Corp., though the Nationals expect to be kept in the loop on all developments. Once he’s officially a member of the organization, he will report to Viera, Fla., and start the long road back under the tutelage of the Nationals’ minor-league rehab coordinators.

“Truly blessed to be picked by such an amazing organization!” Fedde posted on his Twitter account. “Can’t wait to be back on the field to show they made a great decision.”

The Nationals drafted yet another pitcher with a history of injuries with their second-round pick Thursday night, selecting left-hander Andrew Suarez from the University of Miami.

Suarez, the 57th overall pick, went 6-3 with a 2.95 ERA in 16 starts this season for the Hurricanes, striking out 87 while walking only 15. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound lefty missed his freshman year in 2012 after surgery to repair a labrum tear in his shoulder.

  1. David Proctor - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    The Mets just got swept by the Cubs. The Cubs hadn’t swept a team the entire season.

    • NatsLady - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:36 PM

      Be nice if the Cubs could do that to the Marlins, since the Rays are USELESS!

      The entire NL East is on the road for the weekend.

  2. unkyd59 - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    Another Ace, in the hole…?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:49 PM

      That’s the hope and 2014-2015 is a rehab year.

  3. David Proctor - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:48 PM

    Interesting quotes in the Post.

    “We were digging deep there for a while and searching,” Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard said. “We had to take a look in the mirror. We all know what happened last year. We’re very aware of that, and didn’t want it to happen again this year.”

    And even Sorano had something interesting to say.

    “Zimmerman’s return deepened the lineup and lifted the entire roster. “When he came back, the team took on a different air of competition,” said closer Rafael Soriano, who notched his 12th save.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/doug-fister-washington-nationals-complete-sweep-of-phillies-with-a-4-2-win/2014/06/05/d03a9718-ecff-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:53 PM

      The team seems very united in that thought that RZim changes the whole lineup. The trade-up in offense going from RZim over McLouth is huge.

      Span has picked up his game and Espi has done the same with his.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        Well, he *is* the FoF.

        Hey Mark or someone who knows: how does Fedde pronounce his last name? “FEDDY” or “FED” or FEDDEH” or something else?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:14 PM

        I believe “Feddy”

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:49 AM

        “Span has picked up his game and Espi has done the same with his.”

        I think Desi has, too, just as he did last year, on defense, at about this time in the season. The left side of the Nats defense is now solid, even spectacular, at times.

        La Roche is the only guy in the IF whose defensive game has slipped, but no one seems to go nuclear when Moses messes up. Probably because the guy has been golden with the stick, like last night, driving in the winning runs for Fister’s win.

        Zim seems to be more comfortable, too, not having to worry about blowing up an inning on a routine play. He won’t win any gold gloves out there in LF, but who cares? It’s a much better situation on both defense (to hide him out there, with Rendon at 3rd), and on offense, with a care-free Zim swinging away at the plate.

        If I were a Nats starter, I would be feeling a whole lot better about pitching for that team.

  4. Danny - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:20 PM

    Nats are about to pick #57 soon!

  5. Danny - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    Nats take Andrew Suarez LHP Miami at #57.

    • Danny - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:28 PM

      ESPN comment on Suarez: could be fast track guy as a southpaw, but limited upside.

    • David Proctor - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:29 PM

      Another injured pitcher. He’s healthy now, but had labrum surgery a couple years ago.

  6. Hiram Hover - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:33 PM

    I had forgotten MW was a Running Rebel as well–another connection to the Nats.

  7. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    RIzzo sure does love his pitchers.

    • Section 222 - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:34 AM

      Yup. You can never have enough young pitching. And they are very valuable trading chips as well, as we found with Meyer/Span, and Ray/Fister.

  8. David Proctor - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    From the Phillies newspaper:

    “The week in Washington began with the home team getting their franchise cornerstone, Ryan Zimmerman, back in the lineup and with the visiting team fading fast in the National League standings.

    A young, pitching-heavy Nationals team built to return to the playoffs – and eventually bring its city a World Series trophy – gained steam as the week continued. The Phillies, meanwhile, have gone from looking like a team that can’t score on a nightly basis to a team that doesn’t know how to win.”

    Ah, schadenfreude.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:37 PM

      Funny–in the way that the suffering of others can be….

      I don’t get that last line tho–if you cant score on a nightly basis, don’t you already not know how to win? Or have they sunk so low that they don’t understand that you have to score to win?

    • natsfan1a - Jun 6, 2014 at 8:47 AM

      Would you care for some more schadenfreude? Here you go. You’re welcome.

      http://www.thegoodphight.com/2014/6/5/5784170/those-days-are-gone-nationals-4-phillies-2

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:31 AM

        Thanks! I came for the schadenfreude, and stayed for this line about a former Phoolie:

        How about a Kevin Frandsen beard report? Kevin Frandsen’s beard is now out of control. But his impression of a depression era boxcar trawling drifter is very impressive.

      • natsfan1a - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:43 AM

        After I landed there, I read a couple of the posts. There were some really funny comments. Laughed out loud at the post and comments about holding team meetings. Clever. (I should perhaps point out that there is some NSFW language.)

    • nats106 - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      How I wish the same article would appear in the Atlanta Journal Constitution 2 weeks from now.

    • dcwx61 - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:08 AM

      Thanks NL..

      I guess Rizzo had something to do with some of those Arizona picks.

  9. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:55 PM

    so guy in the Rockies game hits a pinch hit inside-the-park home run, gets in without even a slide, and then does a few pushups in the dugout…

  10. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:56 PM

    Nice picks Rizzo! Hopefully we sign all of them soon and star their pro career.

  11. mlblogsnatsfan - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:01 AM

    I like the second round value in Suarez better than the 1st round round pick Fedde.
    http://www.baseballamerica.com/college/college-top-100/
    I really wish we could have got a bat like Zimmer or Gillaspie at #18, both of which were available for the Nats and taken within the next three picks

  12. laddieblahblah - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:08 AM

    Mike has not always been successful with picking guys who are “damaged” in some way. Rendon is probably the most successful, but Matt Purke and Sammy Solis just cannot stay healthy. Solis is already in his mid-20s and seems no closer to the bigs than the day they drafted him, and he just went on the DL, again, with elbow problems (he had TJ about 2 years ago).

    Matt Purke was projected as a no.1 or no. 2 starter when the Nats selected him, but that poor guy can’t stay healthy for more than a start or two, either, and is now slated for a TJ of his own.

    The clock is running out on both Purke and Solis, and the Nats have got absolutely nothing from either.

    And then there was the years-long soap opera with Chien Ming Wang.

    Naturally, I hope both Fedde and Suarez get healthy, and stay that way. From what I’ve read, Fedde is a real talent, and several pre-draft mock scenarios had the Nats taking him with the 18th pick. He wants to be a Nat, too, which is a big plus. If any organization can get him healthy and productive, it is the Washington Nationals.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 6, 2014 at 8:17 AM

      Even healthy guys are a crap shoot.

      BTW, Gatewood went 41st pick. 23 picks after Nats had been tied to him at #18. Surprised that many teams passed on him. I project him as a corner OF and a bug power bat. Teams concerned on his swung and miss and lack of OBP.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if he chose College and works on his game and reenters the Draft

      • knoxvillenat - Jun 6, 2014 at 8:41 AM

        ” a bug power bat”

        Ghost……what do you mean by this?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:36 AM

        Knox, too early for me. Big not bug. Sorry. That i and u buttons are too close together on the keyboard.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:37 AM

        I did the same with swung as that should be swing and miss.

      • masterfishkeeper - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:39 AM

        I could use a bug power bat in my backyard, to deal with the mosquitos this time of year.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:42 AM

        LOL, I bet you could. Good lick to that! ;)

    • therealjohnc - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      That guy Giolito seems pretty good. That’s certainly a success so far.

      And Chien-Ming Wang was not a draft pick, but hey.

  13. Jeff - Jun 6, 2014 at 6:29 AM

    Suarez needed with so many
    Injured or stalled LHPs in farm

  14. chapjim - Jun 6, 2014 at 7:26 AM

    Fedde is 6’4″ and 180 lbs. He might want to beef up his lower body — add some more butt — while his elbow is recovering.

  15. natsguy - Jun 6, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    Labrum surgery hmm? Another Purke? Why do we keep drafting so many bum arms? I understand once in a while but every year. None of them have panned out. Rendon has but he’s not a picher. Even Giolitto is being coddled (hidden) this year. He might even be hurt. Nobody seems to know.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      Purke had an active injury that limited his playing time in the year the Nats drafted him. Suarez is 2 years away from surgery and pitched successfully in both 2013 and 2014.

      It’s really not the same.

    • jd - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      Natsguy,

      The Labrun surgery was in 2012 and Suarez has pitched well since his return.

      The reason the Nats keep drafting players with some health risks is that they get much better value at a lower draft position. Giolito would never have been available had he not been hurt, Fedde would have gone much higher had he been healthy.

      Sometimes it doesn’t work like with Purke but it’s still a sound policy.

    • quixote2030 - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      Regarding Giolito, they are skipping starts with him to try and limit his innings over a full season. I don’t think that really qualifies as coddling. You also seem to imply that maybe they are just hiding a fresh injury, but he was back on the mound three days ago and pitches 3 innings with 5 SO, no ER, no BB, and 3 hits. I think he’s fine, and I think on Giolito everyone is going to end up being very pleased with the value we got there.

      I still have some hope for Solis. He’s showed well at times when he can stay healthy, but we’ll see. Purke is a different story. I don’t know that he’ll ever be the same guy that he was in college. You can’t win them all.

    • jd - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      Giolito is fine. They shut him down (smartly) for 4 weeks in order to manage his innings. You can call it coddling. I call it intelligent. The kid is not quite 20 and when he finally gets to the bigs, probably in 2016 you want a top of the rotation healthy guy. If I’m a young pitcher I would love to work for an organization which takes care of me the way the Nats do.

      • NatsJim - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:33 AM

        But we heard repeatedly during the Strasburg shutdown debate, from the Nats themselves, that you do NOT shut down a pitcher mid-season and then start them back up. You keep them on a regular season until the innings are burned and then you shut them down for good. At least that’s what they said in 2012.

      • NatsJim - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        **keep them on a regular schedule, not regular season… 8)

      • 6ID20 - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:56 AM

        They didn’t shut Giolito down. He’s still throwing, just not in games. They didn’t have the luxury of doing this with Strasburg in 2012 because he would have taken up a valuable spot on the 25 man roster while he was throwing but not pitching in games.

      • jd - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        61D20,

        You are exactly right. It’s an apples and oranges debate. Strasburg was in the majors, contributing mightily to a team which ended up in the playoffs. Unlike Stras, Giolito was drafted out of high school and is not quite 20.The focus with him can be 100% development. Winning games is pretty much irrelevant with him for a while yet.

      • DaveB - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:20 PM

        I think some reports did come out (I can’t remember where) that some fairly minor arm soreness was involved in their decision to skip some starts and “manage innings” for Giolito at that time.

        I think part of the reason they never jumped through hoops to skip or shorten starts etc. for Stras was they probably expected (or at least would not have been surprised) some kind of DL stint to come along and handle it for them, and wanted to make sure that they could get a full, normal growth in innings in before the end of the season.

        Similarly for Giolito, it’s just sound practice to shut him down quickly with any soreness since they have a full season and limited innings to use.

  16. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    Nats play 4 games against the Giants and will face Tim Hudson on Thursday. The Nats will only skip Lincecum who the Nats have always hit well.

    After that the Nats head to St Louis.

    10 games on the road and this should tell us what the Nats really are.

    The Nats are 1 man down missing Bryce Harper. Gio looks to fit into the rotation at the end of the Giants series.

    SFG has pulled away in the NL West with a 8 1/2 game lead on the Dodgers who are 31-30 and have the largest payroll in the Majors. Talk about unhappy times in Tinseltown.

    First order of business is San Diego this weekend. No time like the present to keep the momentum going!

    • masterfishkeeper - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:37 AM

      Looking way ahead, it looks like the Nats might miss Wainwright and Wacha in St. Louis. Sort of makes up for not getting to hit against Lincecum.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        Masterfishkeeper, I hope you’re right! How nice would that be to miss those 2!

  17. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    The 2008 Draft is a good indication of how Drafts go.

    1 future HOF in Buster Posey chosen 5th overall. 12 players from that1st round Draft still haven’t played a game in the Majors. 1st overall pick Tim Beckham hasn’t developed yet. Of the High Schoolers taken in that 1st round Draft only Brett Lawrie and Eric Hosmer have had WAR above 1.0 cumulative. Odorizzi is as close as you can get to a successful HS pitcher from that 1st round and his cumulative WAR is 0.4

    Wade Miley drafted out of College in the 1st round of 2008 leads that 1st round class as their best pitcher and he was chosen #43 as a supplemental pick for Livan Hernandez!

    The Draft is a crap shoot. Every year in hindsight you wonder how 75 picks passed teams before HS slugger Mike Stanton was picked or Freddie Freeman 2 spots after Stanton. Where’s Jake Smolinski who the Nats chose 6 picks before Stanton in 2007.

  18. natsguy - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    There have been a lot of rumors that Giolotto has had shoulder stiffness. Still not one of the bum arm pitchers has gotten anywhere. Show me one. And I don’t count Strasburg. Labrum surgery is major surgery.

    • jd - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      Jordan Zimmerman, Taylor Jordan, Adam Wainwright, AJ Burnett,Chris Carpenter,John Lackey,Jamie Moyer,John Smoltz,

      This is just at top of my head without looking. In fact the successful recovery rate from TJ surgery is 85%. That’s not opinion, that’s documented evidence.

      Your point about Labrun surgery is well taken but you fail to note that the pitcher in question has been back and pitching well for 2 years.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        I think Natsguy meant “bum arms the Nats have drafted” rather than pitchers who’ve recovered from TJ, overall.

        Maybe Ryan Mattheus would be a good counter-example, tho he wasn’t drafted, but traded for, while out for TJ. They got some good value out of him, and may well get more.

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