18-year-old Washington Nationals' 2012 1st Round pick Lucas Giolito made his first professional start last week. The towering right-hander injured his elbow in his senior year of high school, suffering a strain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm which caused the pitcher to drop from the top of the draft, where he was expected to go before the injury (which did not require surgery) to 16th overall where the Nats selected him.
D.C. GM Mike Rizzo told reporters on the night of the draft that the he and his staff had checked Giolito's elbow out and were confident in what they had seen. "The elbow is good," Rizzo said, and the pitcher had already begun rehabbing. "He's been throwing on flat ground. He's been long-tossing and doing a throwing program so we feel confident about [his health] and he feels confident about it and we'll see once we get our hands on him [and get him] in our uniform we'll see where he's at."
Before last week's start, Giolito was in Florida working with the Nationals' rehab coordinators to build up strength, but according to a report from ESPN.com's Keith Law, in the second of two innings the right-hander threw, "Giolito's velocity dropped off substantially... and he was pulled from the game for further evaluation."
The Nationals, again according to ESPN.com's Mr. Law, will be sending their top pick from the last draft to see Dr. Lewis Yocum. As noted in an article here last week, before Giolito's first pro start, part of the reason the pitcher was comfortable signing with the Nationals was that they've had a lot of history dealing with elbow injuries, so while the setback is a disappointment, it's not wholly unexpected. More info when it's available...
• Update: Nats' GM Mike Rizzo spoke to members of the D.C. baseball press about Giolito this afternoon:
Rizzo on Giolito: "We knew when we drafted him this was an issue." Said if he needs Tommy John the team won't delay it.— Amanda Comak (@acomak) August 20, 2012
Rizzo says Lucas Giolito felt soreness during Tuesday's start. Saw a team doctor, getting 2nd opinion from Dr. Yocum. Tommy John possible— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) August 20, 2012
Rizzo: Giolito had "soreness" in elbow after GCL start last week. Examined by team doctor, going to Yocum for 2nd opinion.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) August 20, 2012