The Nationals began Day 3 of the First-Year Player Draft by selecting right-hander John Simms out of Rice University in the 11th round (346th overall) on Saturday.
Simms went 8-4 in 23 appearances (14 starts) for the Owls last season. He had a 2.61 ERA, two complete games and 90 strikeouts in 103 1/3 innings. The 21-year-old began his college career as a starter before moving into the bullpen as a middle reliever during his sophomore year.
Simms also has some international experience. Before enrolling at Rice, he spent the summer of 2010 pitching for the United States U-18 national team. He posted a 4-0 record and 0.96 ERA in four international starts, holding opposing hitters to a .133 batting average.
Simms has the size (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and solid performances at a top college program on his resume, but his stuff might be a bit short for him to be considered a sure-fire starter. His fastball usually hovers in the 88-90 mph range and he doesn't always maintain his velocity. Of Simms' secondary pitches, his changeup has a chance to be average and his breaking ball is inconsistent.
The Nationals also drafted Simms in the 39th round of the 2010 Draft. While he hasn't been the prospect that some thought he'd develop into after going from the Texas high school ranks to Rice, the Nationals are willing to bank on his track record and see if they can sign him before his senior season.
Nats select Bucky Dent's son in 22nd round
The Nationals continued to emphasize pitching on Day 3 of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, but perhaps their most notable Saturday selection was an unheralded infielder with a .134 batting average.
The Nationals used their pick at the end of the 22nd round, No. 676 overall, to select Cody Dent, a rising senior at the University of Florida. Dent's father, Bucky, was a three-time All-Star and 1978 World Series Most Valuable Player for the Yankees.
The elder Dent played for four Major League teams during his 11-year career. He won two World Series rings with the Yankees and is well known for his three-run home run in the 1978 AL East divisional round game against the Red Sox. He also managed the Yanks from 1989-90.
Cody Dent had a forgettable season for the Gators this year. He started 24 games, mostly at third base, and batted .134 with seven walks and four RBIs. He led the Gators with 10 sacrifice hits.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said before the Draft that the club would place an emphasis on pitchers, and that has certainly proven to be the case. Eight of Washington's first 12 selections were pitchers, including the team's first three picks on Day 3.
In the first 25 rounds, the Nats selected 13 pitchers, six infielders, four outfielders and one catcher.
Righty Cooper taken by Nats in Round 12
The Nationals continued Day 3 of the First-Year Player Draft on Saturday by using their 12th-round pick (No. 376 overall) to select Andrew Cooper, a right-hander from Sierra College in California.
Cooper, a Canadian native, went 13-3 with a 2.65 ERA in California community college play. He led the Big 8 Conference in wins and finished third in the conference with 56 strikeouts. The 21-year-old also was recognized as the Northern California Pitcher of the Year last season.
The 6-foot, 190-pound pitching prospect originally played shortstop at St. Anne High School in Ontario, Canada. He has a low-90s fastball and has reportedly said that he wants to get his professional career started "as soon as possible."
Cooper is the nephew of Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.
College righty Costa to Nats in 13th round
With their 13th-round selection, No. 406 overall, the Nationals on Saturday picked right-hander John Costa of Palm Beach State College.
Costa made just three appearances last year in his only season at the Florida community college. He was 1-0 and had 14 strikeouts in 13 innings.
Before attending Palm Beach State College, the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder played one season at Florida International University. In 22 appearances, he was 2-2 with 38 strikeouts and a 6.00 ERA. Costa attended Sumitt Christian High School in Lake Worth, Fla., where he lettered for four years and was named the Florida small school Player of the Year in 2011. He went 9-1 with a 2.52 ERA and pitched a complete-game six-hitter in the state semifinals during his senior year.
Costa was drafted by the Orioles in the 31st round of the 2011 Draft.
Nats tab shortstop Masters in 14th round
The Nationals used the 436th pick in Round 14 of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday to select David Masters, a shortstop from Central Arizona College.
From St. Louis, Masters began his collegiate career at the University of Arkansas, where he only had one hit in 14 at-bats as a freshman. He got more opportunities at Central Arizona College, batting .284 in 49 games with three home runs and 24 RBI. Masters is the school's fourth consecutive shortstop to be drafted.
If he doesn't sign with the Nationals, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound prospect will play at Missouri State University in 2014. He was previously drafted by the D-backs in the 50th round (No. 1,504 overall) of the 2011 Draft.
Masters is a second cousin of actor Jon Hamm.
In Round 15, Nats take college outfielder Ballou
In the 15th round of the First-Year Player Draft (No. 466 overall), the Nationals selected center fielder Isaac Ballou of Marshall University.
Ballou, a Smithfield, Va., native, set four individual records during his four-year career with the Thundering Herd. His career walks (129) and career triples (16) were new program highs, and his seven triples in 2011 and 43 walks in '12 also are school records. Ballou also ranks second in Marshall history with 64 career stolen bases.
A 6-foot-2, 205-pound outfielder, Ballou was an All-Conference USA first team selection last season after leading the team in eight statistical categories, including batting average (.328), on-base percentage (.438) and slugging percentage (.433). He scored 40 runs and stole 13 bases, each of which ranked fourth in the conference.
Ballou was drafted by the Pirates in the 36th round of the 2011 Draft. He is the seventh player in Marshall history to be selected in the first 15 rounds of the Draft.
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.