Four of the Washington Nationals' Top 10 pitching prospects (according to Baseball America) have yet to throw a competitive pitch this season as they return from a variety of injuries. Three of them, 2012 1st Round pick Lucas Giolitio, 2011 3rd Round pick Matt Purke and 2010 2nd Round pick Sammy Solis are recovering from surgery. Giolito and Solis had Tommy John surgery. Purke had surgery, as the Washington Times' Amanda Comak reported last October, "to relieve bursitis and clean out scar tissue," in his left shoulder. All three are in different stages of recovery, but each is expected to get some work in this year. Nats' GM Mike Rizzo upated everyone on the three of them on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s "The Mike Rizzo Show" with Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier this morning, starting with the now-18-year-old Giolito.
The 16th overall pick in the '11 Draft injured his elbow in his final year at Harvard-Westlake HS and the Nationals drafted the 6'6'' right-hander who'd touched 100 mph with his fastball knowing there was a risk that he would end up needing Tommy John. Giolito threw just two innings with the Gulf Coast Nationals last year before he suffered a tear and was forced to undero the procedure.
He took a big step in the recovery process recently. "Lucas Giolito threw 30 fastballs for the first time, I think two days ago," Rizzo announced on 106.7 the FAN in D.C., "and everything was fine. He's starting his slow progression to pitching again. That was the first time he climbed up on the mound and actually threw fastballs. So, that's where Lucas is right now, he's in great shape and he looks really good."
As for Solis and Purke? There was real good news on Solis. "Sam Solis threw a 29-pitch simulated game," Rizzo said, "And was up to 90-92 [mph] velocity-wise which is good for his first game and Matt Purke threw a two inning simulated game also and was 93-94 [mph], so those are all positives and the guys are on their way back to pitching competitively.
When Nats' manager Davey Johnson talked about the pitching in the organization this past winter, he told reporters, including the Washington Post's James Wagner, that the next wave of talented arms in the system would likely pitch at Double-A this season. Assessing the situation within the organization heading toward Spring Training, Johnson said they were strong, but, "... the only area we’re a little short in is starting pitching. A lot of the studs are coming back from injury are probably in Double A, [Sammy] Solis and [Matt] Purke."
Though he didn't find out where they would start the season when they're ready to pitch competitively, MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr wrote this afternoon that he was told by sources that both Solis and Purke could be pitching somewhere in the Nats' system by the end of May.
One source told the MASN reporter that Solis was, "... still 'several weeks' from returning to games, and it appears that will take place in the 'second half of May,'" while Purke is said to be, "'a tick behind the Solis timeline," and likely due back late this month.