In an interview with 106.7 the FAN's Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier Tuesday afternoon, just-turned-18-year-old Washington Nationals' 2012 1st Round pick Lucas Giolito told the hosts that when he visited Washington, D.C. and Nationals Park for the first time this past June, during the Nats' series with the New York Yankees, he still hadn't quite made up his mind about signing with the team that selected him 16th overall in this year's draft. "I was completely up in the air at that point," the 6'6'', 240lb right-hander said, "So that trip, being able to come out, being able to feel a part of it, being able to meet all those people, it was really, really cool. It was a great opportunity and I'm glad I came out that time and I'm happy to be here again."
Giolito, who was in D.C. yesterday for his official introduction to the nation's capital, signed with Washington just moments before last week's deadline to sign this year's pick, agreeing to a $2.925M dollar deal with a team he told the 106.7 the FAN hosts he thought was, "... so up-and-coming and such a great organization."
The towering right-hander whose senior year at Harvard-Westlake (HS) in California was cut short by a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, finished his final year in school with a (9-1) record, 78 K's (9.98 K/9) and a 1.00 ERA in 70.1 IP. In a brief press conference with reporters in the Nationals' dugout Tuesday afternoon, the Nats' top pick talked again about how excited he was to officially be a part of the organization. "It feel really good. The process [of signing] went pretty well obviously," Giolito told reporters, "But I had the opportunity to go to UCLA, play there, play for [Bruins' Head Coach] John Savage. So that was obviously something that I really heavily considered, but I feel like I made the right decision and I'm really excited to get started."
The Nats and the 2012 1st Round pick agreed on a deal within a minute of last Friday's 5:00 pm EDT deadline. As Giolito told the Los Angeles Times' Eric Sondheimer last week, "'It's pretty funny. There was 30 seconds to go.'" The last moments got a little intense the right-hander admitted yesterday. "The last couple minutes got a little hectic," Giolito said, "But it was... I got a little nervous there, but for the most part it went really well and I'm glad that it all worked out in the end."
"I got a chance to visit out here a couple of week's ago, to meet some of the guys and see the city," Giolito explained when asked why he'd chosen to sign with Washington instead of going to UCLA, "And I think D.C. is one of the best cities I've ever been to. It's unreal, being able to see the monuments and being able to meet certain people, it's really cool." Starting his career and getting all the contract issues out of the way was a "huge relief" according to the right-hander, "Now I get to be able to put all my focus into rehabbing and then getting better and making my way up through the system."
The strain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow caused Giolito's stock to drop, resulting in his being available when the Nats picked 16th overall. For the Nationals, as Assistant GM Roy Clark explained on the night of the draft, finding Giolito available when Washington's 1st Round pick arrived made it an easy decision. "Up to 98 [mph] with a plus breaking ball and real good change up...," Clark said, "6'6''... again, a top-of-the-rotation guy that you can get at 16, our doctors' reports, everything was fine. It was a no-brainer for us."
"It feels really good right now," the right-hander said when asked how the elbow felt now. "The rehab's been going really well and the elbow feels really strong and my arm feels really strong. I feel really good about pitching really soon and we'll see how it goes." He's not back on the mound yet, but D.C. GM Mike Rizzo, who joined the Nats' draft pick for the press conference, said that Giolito was going to leave for the Nats' facilities in Florida and start working towards throwing off a mound again soon. "He's leaving for Viera, Florida tomorrow," Rizzo said, "to start his professional career."
"We're going to assess him on the mound," Rizzo explained and have him work with the organization's pitching coordinator Spin Williams with the goal of eventually going from, "... flat ground and long toss to getting on the mound and hopefully [seeing] some competition if not during the regular season [then] in the Instructional League."
Giolito said the injury to the elbow didn't really affect his decision-making process, telling reporters it was more about choosing between attending college and starting a professional career. He was clearly happy and maybe a little overwhelmed by the attention yesterday. "Being able to wear this jersey," Giolito said pointing to his no.30 Nats jersey, "To wear the hat, it makes me feel like part of the team, and it makes me want to work that much harder to get up here as soon as I can."
• Leftover Quote: Giolito on Samuel L. Jackson - "My dad's played golf with him a bunch of times and he's actually friends with Sam, but I was able to meet him and talk to him a couple years ago and I've actually gotten a couple presents from him. I got a signed Mace Windu light saber, the purple one, those are [the] kinds of things I have hanging up in my room."
Shout out to @LGio27! The real FASTBALLAFAHKKHA!!!!!!— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) July 15, 2012
• Lucas Giolito on MASN:
• Listen To 2012 Nats' 1st Round Pick Lucas Giolito With Holden Kushner And Danny Rouhier On 106.7 the FAN In D.C.: