"I mean this kid's been up to 100 [mph]," Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Operations Kris Kline, who was then the Scouting Director, told reporters after the Washington Nationals made right-hander Lucas Giolito the 16th overall pick of the 2012 Draft. "He'll touch 100. He's got a power curve ball that's 80-85. Very good feel for his changeup. Tremendous size. Excellent leverage to his delivery." Though he suffered an elbow injury in his final year at Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City, CA, the Nats were comfortable with the risk of selecting the pitcher. "When he's 100%, he goes top three in this draft," Kline said. "So it's kind of a no-brainer."
"He's a power body and a power arm with three plus pitches across the board and a real competitive side and he's a great person," Nationals' General Manager Mike Rizzo added. "He's a great kid with a great character and a great makeup."
Rizzo loved Giolito's stuff as much as the Nats' scouting director did. "He's got a power 12-6 curve that's anywhere from 82-to-85-86 mph at times, and he's got a feel to pitch. He's not a thrower. He's got a touch and comes at you with that 6'6'' frame. He comes at you downhill and he's coming hard."
Giolito got just one start in before the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow did tear, but he had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and worked his way back onto the mound this past summer in time to make eight starts for the Gulf Coast League's GCL Nats over which he was (1-1) with a 2.78 ERA, a 2.32 FIP, 10 walks (3.97 BB/9) and 25 Ks (9.93 K/9) in 22 2/3 IP. He then moved up to the NY/Penn League's Auburn Doubledays, for whom he was (1-0) with a 0.64 ERA, a 3.41 FIP, four walks (2.57 BB/9) and 14 Ks (9.00 K/9) in three starts and 14 IP.
Baseball America's Aaron Fitt had Giolito atop BA's list of the Washington Nationals' Top 10 Prospects for 2014 when they released their list this past November.
The 19-year-old right-hander was the highest-ranked of the two Nationals' prospect, along with RHP A.J. Cole, on MLB.com's Top 100 when they put him at no.44 on the list when it was released last week. Their scouts noted in the write-up that, "If he can stay healthy, Giolito has as much potential as any pitcher in the Minor Leagues."
Baseball Prospectus' writer Jason Parks had Giolito ranked 13th on their list of the Top 101 Prospects when it was published this week. A.J. Cole, 22, was the only other prospect to join Giolito on MLB.com's list, landing at 69 on MLB's list and he was ranked 53rd on BP's Top 101. Brian Goodwin, the Nationals' 2011 1st Round pick, was the only position player from the organization to crack BP's Top 101, landing at no.86, but he didn't make MLB's Top 100 after being ranked 52nd overall on their list last winter.
Giolito, Cole and Goodwin all made ESPN.com's Keith Law's Top 100 Prospects list when it was released this morning with the Nationals' top-ranked right-hander no.21 overall, Cole at no.65 and Goodwin at no.83.
There were five Nats' prospects on Mr. Law's list last winter with Anthony Rendon (no.28), Goodwin (44), Giolito (77), Cole (89) and Nathan Karns (99) all making the Top 100. Rendon and Karns both debuted in the majors in 2013.
Giolito made a big jump. Law writes that the right-hander was back up to the high-90's with his fastball, flashed a "plus-plus" curve and though his change needed work, he noted that it looked better the last time Giolito threw, in the instructional league this past September. Giolito, according to the ESPN writer, projects to be a no.1 starter in the near future if he continues to progress.
A.J. Cole, the Nationals' 2010 4th Round pick, made 18 starts for the High-A Potomac Nationals this season, putting up a 4.25 ERA, a 3.54 FIP, 23 walks (2.13 BB/9) and 102 Ks (9.43 K/9) in 97 1/3 IP. In seven starts for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, the 6'4'' right-hander was (4-2) with a 2.18 ERA, a 2.56 FIP, 10 walks (1.99 BB/9) and 49 Ks (9.73 K/9) in 45 1/3 IP. ESPN.com's Mr. Law writes that Cole is working with a 93-97 mph fastball, "power slurve" and a change and could develop into a middle of the rotation arm.
Brian Goodwin, 23, put up a .252/.355/.407 line in his second pro season, hitting 19 doubles, 11 triples and 10 HRs in 122 games and 533 plate appearances for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators. Mr. Law writes what others have about the center fielder possessing five tools, but not really putting them together yet, and says Goodwin might still need significant at bats before he's fully-developed.
In ranking the Nationals' organization 18th overall amongst the 30 teams in baseball yesterday, Law wrote that there was a big drop after the first six of seven prospects. The three who made his Top 100 might not make an impact at the major league level in 2014, but they could be up in the nation's capital in the near future.
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