The Nationals agreed to a well-above-slot deal with second-round pick Cole Henry, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post reports. The Louisiana State righty signed for a $2MM bonus that checks in nearly $700K north of the $1.307MM value of his No. 55 overall slot. Washington also agreed to a $500K bonus with third-rounder Holden Powell, per MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo (via Twitter). That checks in a bit shy of the UCLA closer’s $618,200 slot value at No. 94. With those two signings in place, the Nats have wrapped up their entire draft class — which they formally announced last night.
A draft-eligible sophomore, Henry was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 44 player in the class but regarded as a potentially tough sign (hence the over-slot deal). His collegiate career will come to a close with just 77 1/3 innings in the books, in part due to his sophomore status and the 2020 season shutdown but also due to some arm troubles his freshman year. He’s been great when on the mound, posting a 3.03 ERA with 95 punchouts against 24 walks.
Scouting reports give Henry credit for three average or better offerings, and he landed no worse than 72nd overall on any of the draft rankings from BA, MLB.com, FanGraphs, ESPN or The Athletic. That said, all scouting reports on him acknowledge that he could eventually land in the bullpen, with The Athletic’s Keith Law pointing to his “max-effort” delivery and freshman elbow soreness.
Powell is already a bullpen prospect but a good one. He’s been a buzzsaw since the start of his sophomore season in 2019, pitching to a 1.54 ERA with a gaudy 85-to-29 K/BB ratio in 58 1/3 frames. That includes an even more impressive (and, admittedly brief) showing in 2020, when he notched a 20-to-2 K/BB ratio in 9 1/3 innings. Both BA and MLB.com tab him as a pure reliever who won’t be tried as a starter. Thanks to his high-end fastball/slider combo, Powell could move quickly through the Nats’ system and knock on the door to the Majors sooner than most draft prospects.
The Nationals’ deals with first-rounder Cade Cavalli and comp pick Sammy Infante were already known, as was the case with their signings of fourth-round pick Brady Lindsly and fifth-rounder Mitchell Parker.