"He'll touch 100," Washington Nationals' Scouting Director Kris Kline told reporters after the Nats selected Lucas Giolito with the 16th pick of the 2012 Draft. "He's got a power curve ball that's 80-85. Very good feel for his changeup. Tremendous size. Excellent leverage to his delivery." Had it not been for a sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in his final year in high school, Kline said, Giolito would never have been available in the middle of the first round. "When he's 100%, he goes top three in this draft," Kline said, "so it's kind of a no-brainer."
The right-hander eventually had to have Tommy John surgery after just one start with the Gulf Coast League Nats last season, which the Nationals accepted as a possibility when they selected him out of Harvard-Westlake HS in Los Angeles, California. But he's back on the mound already and getting a base of innings on his arm in preparation for next season, pitching for the GCL Nationals. Giolito made his sixth start for the Nationals' Gulf Coast League affiliate this afternoon, throwing 4.0 scoreless innings on the mound against the GCL Cardinals in which he struck out four and gave up just two hits.
In 12 2/3 innings so far this season, the now-19-year-old starter has given up 12 hits and seven runs, six earned with seven walks (4.97 BB/9) and 15 Ks (10.66 K/9). Nationals Director of Player Development Doug Harris told MASN's Byron Kerr in a recent article that Giolito's fastball was back up in the high '90s already:
"He has a well-above-average fastball that reaches the upper 90s," Harris said. "His curveball has very good depth with swing-and-miss capabilities. Giolito is a diligent worker and has good aptitude."
Giolito was the top-rated pitcher on Baseball America's Top 10 Nationals' prospect list last season. The right-hander was the Nats' top-ranked prospect on ESPN.com's Keith Law's Updated prospects list when he released it last month with the ESPN analyst noting that Giolito could be even higher on the list after this season if he impresses in the innings he pitches in the GCL. In Minor League Ball's John Sickels' prospect reviews, he noted that the velocity is back but not the command. Will Giolito be the Nats' top prospect on everyone's lists after this season?