|Photo via DBUPatriots.com|
It may have taken the Nationals almost five hours on Thursday night to make their first pick of the 2013 MLB Draft, but they wasted no time in signing him.
Second round selection Jake Johansen has already agreed to a deal with the Nats after being taken with the 68th overall pick. The quick turnaround had to do with the new CBA and its system of contract rules, but also an urgency on the part of the player to get started.
"I wanted to go out and play as quickly as possible so I could increase my chances to possibly be up in the major leagues as soon as possible," Johansen said.
The 6-foot-6 right-hander from Dallas Baptist University knew of the Nationals' interest in him after visiting this past week with members of their front office. He was impressed with the team's positivity and vision, as well as their track record with young pitchers.
"I was just hoping the Nationals would get the chance to draft me," he said. "With all the positive things I've heard about the player development of the Nationals, I have no doubt, I'm very confident that I will reach that potential."
Nationals scouting director Kris Kline said the Nats plan to develop Johansen as a starter. He has a fastball that reaches 100 miles per hour, but needs to work on his secondary pitches to reach that goal.
Having the Nationals express confidence in him and his future was something that stood out for the 22-year-old Johansen.
"I also view myself as a starter," Johansen said. "Just to hear the words from [Mike] Rizzo and Mr. Kline about how they project me as a starter in the organization is extremely motivating. It just pushes me that much further to exceed expectations and reach my full potential."
Johansen explained why he thinks he can be a starter at the MLB level by citing his size and ability to maintain velocity late in games. At 6-foot-6 he weights 235 pounds and says he is still growing into his frame.
Johansen acknowledged the fact he has to improve his off-speed stuff if he wants to reach his potential and was candid about how he can be better.
"I'm very comfortable throwing all of my pitches," he said. "I know they may not be the best pitches in my overall repertoire now, but I know they're very projectable and I have a lot to develop. There's no doubt about it."
Johansen is considered a raw talent as his numbers at Dallas Baptist were rather poor for a second round pick. He went 7-6 with a 5.40 ERA in 88 1/3 innings as a redshirt sophomore this season.
Johansen says he is much more than the numbers may show.
"I don't think the box score depicts necessarily the type of pitcher that I am," he said. "I know that I am a late-bloomer and I have so much more room to grow and so much more to learn."
Johansen is already familiar with the Washington area having played for the Front Royal Cardinals in the Valley Baseball League. Living just down I-66, Johansen traveled to D.C. several times to take tours and visit.
"It's an incredible city," he said. "I know it's very historical, and an amazing place to begin my career."