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06/06/2006 4:38 PM ET
Outfielder Chris Marrero tabbed as first of four prep players selected by Washington in first three rounds of 2006 First-Year Player Draft
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The Washington Nationals today selected outfielder Chris Marrero (first round, 15th overall, Monsignor Pace [FL] High), right-handed pitcher Colton Willems (first round, 22nd overall, John Carroll Catholic [FL] High), right-handed pitcher Sean Black (second round, 59th overall, Lenape [NJ] High), Stephen Englund (second round, 70th overall, Bellevue [WA] High) and Stephen King (third round, 91st overall, Winter Park [FL] High) in the first three rounds of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. Nationals Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden, Director of Player Personnel Bob Boone and Director of Scouting Dana Brown made the announcements.

Marrero entered the 2006 season as a Baseball America Pre-Season High School First-Team All-American, and went on to hit .410 with 11 home runs, 33 RBI and 23 runs scored for Monsignor Pace. Four of his 11 homers came in the postseason, and he earned Florida State 4A-1A First-Team honors. His Monsignor Pace club, which won the 4A Florida state title in May, is currently ranked eighth in the nation according to Baseball America.

Marrero, who was rated by Baseball America as the second-best high school prospect going into the season (the No. 1 prospect among high school position players), earned First-Team All-Dade County honors as a junior in 2005 after batting .430 with seven homers, 30 RBI and 20 runs scored. He helped Team USA's youth squad win a silver medal at the 2004 Pan-Am Championship Qualifier in Lagos De Moreno, Mexico, leading the tournament with five home runs and 16 RBI while going 15-for-36 (.417). He also played for the East club in the AFLAC All-American Classic last August, going 1-for-4 with two RBI.

The 17-year-old, who was rated by SchoolSports.com as the nation's No. 11 high school baseball prospect in the Class of 2006, was also rated by Baseball America as having the second-best arm strength among high school players eligible for the draft. Chris' brother, Christian, was drafted by the Braves in the 20th round in 2004 and by the White Sox in the 22nd round in 2005.

Willems entered the 2006 season as a Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball (Louisville Slugger) Pre-Season First-Team High School All-American. The 17-year-old is also rated by Baseball America as having the third-best fastball and the third-best command among high school players eligible for the draft.

Willems posted a 7-1 record and a 0.68 ERA over 51.1 innings as a senior this year, striking out 99 and allowing just eight walks 912/4/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio). He gave up just 19 hits all season, limiting opponents to a .103 batting average. Willems was selected by the Florida Athletic Coaches Association to pitch in its All-Star Games the last weekend in May. The FACA selected about 80 players throughout the state to the event's four teams.

Willems played for the East club in the AFLAC All-American Classic last August, striking out four over 3.0 scoreless innings of relief. He also participated in the inaugural Cape Cod High School Classic, which brings together the 36 best high school rising juniors and seniors in front of a large group of pro scouts and college coaches. This fall, he earned Most Valuable Pitcher honors at the '05 World Wood Bat Association's 17-and-under National Championship, tossing a three-hit shutout in the semifinals. The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder went 6-2 with a 1.68 ERA as a junior in 2005 to earn First-Team All-County and Class-2A All-State Honorable Mention honors. He also had 69 strikeouts while allowing just 14 hits in his 53.2 innings of work.

Willems, who is rated by SchoolSports.com as the nation's No. 6 high school baseball prospect in the Class of 2006, helped Team USA's youth squad win a silver medal at the 2004 Pan-Am Championship Qualifier in Lagos De Moreno, Mexico, recording one save and tossing 4.2 scoreless innings.

Black went 4-1 with one save and a 1.66 ERA for Lenape (NJ) High as a prep senior. Ranked by Baseball America as the draft's No. 69 prospect, Black throws three pitches: a fastball, curve and changeup. His fastball has touched 95 and, thus, he averaged 14.0 strikeouts per 9.0 innings his senior season. Black is 6-foot-3 and weighs 185 pounds.

In a head-to-head match up with shortstop Bill Rowell (Baltimore's top selection, ninth overall, in today's draft) earlier this season, Rowell went hitless in three at-bats. Black has signed a non-binding letter of intent to attend Seton Hall University, which happens to be the alma mater of Nationals Scouting Driector Dana Brown.

Englund, who celebrates his 18th birthday today, was tabbed as a Baseball America Pre-Season High School Third-Team All-American entering the 2006 campaign. He batted .352 with four home runs, 16 RBI and six stolen bases in just 54 at-bats this season for Bellevue. Englund, who stands 6-foot-3, 200 lbs., played shortstop during his high-school career, but was drafted by the Nationals as an outfielder. Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield and Chipper Jones are examples of players that played shortstop in the prep ranks, but enjoyed all-star seasons and careers at other positions.

King, 18, came into the draft as the No. 42 prospect according to Baseball America, and was the third-best defensive player among high school players eligible for the draft according to the same publication. The right-handed hitter earned All-Metro Conference honors and All-Central Florida Team honors this season after batting .355 with five home runs and 23 steals.

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