Las Vegas might never get a Major League Baseball team of its own, but the nation’s capital is becoming a surrogate home for our city’s top talent. When the Washington Nationals selected UNLV junior right-handed pitcher Erick Fedde with the No. 18 overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft on June 5, he became the latest Vegas-related link to the team, joining All-Star outfielder and former Las Vegas High School teammate Bryce Harper, and Nationals manager Matt Williams, the greatest player in UNLV history.
Fedde, the Mountain West Conference Pitcher of the Year, was still available to the Nationals at No. 18 only because he underwent Tommy John elbow surgery two days before the draft. Fedde, who went 8-2 with a 1.76 ERA with the Rebels before being sidelined with three weeks left in the season, was projected to be a top-10 pick before his injury. Despite an expected recovery time of 12 to 18 months, Fedde became the third first-round draft pick ever from UNLV, joining Williams, who was taken third overall by the San Francisco Giants in 1986, and pitcher Donovan Osborne, who the St. Louis Cardinals drafted with the 13th pick in 1990.
The Nationals’ ties to Las Vegas don’t end with Fedde, Harper and Williams. The team also has former Cimarron-Memorial High infielder Zach Walters, who was recently sent down to Triple-A Syracuse after playing in 27 games with Washington, and former Las Vegas High and College of Southern Nevada left-handed pitcher Bryan Harper (older brother of Bryce) in its organization. And that’s the kind of playing hardball on Capitol Hill that we can all root for.