"We are the talk of the industry." Nats GM Mike Rizzo on signing his top five draft picks.

As the midnight deadline to sign 2011 amateur draft picks approached, the Washington Nationals still had not announced the signing of any of their top four draft picks.  But mere moments after the deadline passed, various national sources revealed what most Nats fans hoped would be the outcome: that the Nationals did indeed sign all four of their top draft picks, making the Nats' 2011 draft class one of the most impressive in recent memory.

The Nationals added 3B Anthony Rendon (four year Major League deal with club option, $7.2 million), RHP Alex Meyer ($2.0 million bonus), OF Brian Goodwin ($3.0 million bonus) and LHP Matt Purke (four year Major League deal at roughly $4.0 million).  Nats GM Mike Rizzo indicated the four would all report to the Nats training facility in Viera, FL to assess their fitness and conditioning before assigning them to a minor league affiliate.

For biographies of the players, please check out our profile of Rendon here, Meyer and Goodwin here and Purke here.

Earlier in the evening, the Nats signed fourth round pick Kylin Turnbull, a 6'4" left-handed pitcher from Santa Barbara (CA) CC.  Turnbull is described as a big, projectable lefty with a low-90s fastball.  He also features a slider and splitter that "have potential", according to one scouting service.  He was committed to the University of Oregon, but signed with the Nats for $325,000, just $100,000 more than the MLB slot recommendation.

Rizzo spoke openly about his pleasure in getting the top four draft picks under contract.  "It feels great.  Our scouting staff worked extremely hard to identify the talent.  It's often a difficult time-consuming, grinding process to get them signed.  But we have to thank our ownership for allowing me, and Roy Clark, to be very aggressive in this draft, to go after and sign some of the top talent in all of amateur baseball.  And for us to land what we believe are four first-round picks and pay them accordingly is a testament to the commitment of winning here in Washington."

"As far as number of quality impact players this is probably the first draft that I've ever been associated with that we can really look back at this thing and figure out that we did get four players that we had first-round numbers on coming into the draft."

The Nats gave both Rendon and Purke Major League deals, meaning they'll be assigned to the 40-man roster and receive an invitation to big league spring training next season.  For Rendon it was a formality, as he is expected to make the jump very quickly as an accomplished fielder and the top bat in college baseball last season.  For Purke, who could very well have been one of the top five picks in next year's draft had he failed to sign, the big league contract was further incentive to come to a deal.

"I've never done two Major League deals in the same draft," Rizzo said.  "I've only done a handful of Major League deals in all the drafts I've ever been associated with. But we felt that these two players are close to the big leagues.  They're extreme talents, and for us to fit them in and get them done we felt that the Major League contract was the way to go."

Rizzo was effusive in his praise for his new cadre of prospects.  "We see all these guys as fast-track -- they're college players, so we feel good about their developmental curve.  Their ceilings are enormous, their talents are enormous and we're happy to have them in the fold."

"We're the talk of the industry right now," Rizzo said.  "Before we signed these players we had a minor league system that the needle was heading north in a big, big way, and this just solidifies us as one of the great scouting and player development organizations in baseball.  We feel really good about ourselves tonight."

Both Rendon and Purke had injury issues last season, but were cleared by Nats team doctors.  Purke even consented to an MRI arthogram, an enhanced procedure where dye is injected into the joint for a better evaluation.  Rendon  not only was examined by Nats doctors, but cleared by noted shoulder specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum in California.

"This is my 27th year in the draft, and I have never -- it's the best draft I've ever been a part of," Nats Scouting Director Roy Clark said after the announcements.  "I think this is huge day in the franchise history of the Washington Nationals."

Rizzo indicated that the team was "very, very close" with Purke after visiting with him over the weekend at his home in Houston, but with the other three players things came right down to the last minute.  "Close. Right down to the buzzer," Rizzo described it.  Rizzo described the anxiety level about signing all four players as, "High.  It was high anxiety."

Rizzo might have been suffering from high anxiety right down to the deadline, but the Nationals ownership gave Rizzo the ammunition to be aggressive with the draft picks and even more aggressive signing the players.  As with any draft scenario, only time will tell if the money was well spent.  But you don't give yourself the option of evaluating the players if you don't bring them under contract.  In this instance, the Nationals scored big time last night.

Rendon was the undisputed "best college bat" with gold glove caliber defense at third base.  Alex Meyer is a 6'9" fireballer with a devastating slider.  Brian Goodwin is a five-tool outfielder that some scouts said could have been a top-five pick next year.  And Matt Purke, the lefty that "fell" to the third round due to signability issues and tendinitis in his shoulder his sophomore year, could turn out to be the best of all of them.

Time will tell.  Rizzo and the Lerners bought that time last night.