Baseball America's Aaron Fitt published this year's edition of the Washington Nationals' Top 10 prospect rankings today, placing 20-year-old right-hander Lucas Giolito atop the list for the second straight season.
Last winter, Fitt wrote that the Nats' 2012 1st Round pick, in his first year back following Tommy John surgery, "... showed the kind of dazzling stuff that gives him a [Stephen] Strasburg-esque ceiling."
At that point, Giolito was just twelve starts into his professional career, having made one start before he was forced to undergo surgery in 2012 and eleven in a 2013 campaign which saw him go (1-1) with a 2.78 ERA, a 2.32 FIP, 10 BB (3.97 K/9) and 25 Ks (9.93 K/9) in 22 2/3 IP with the Gulf Coast Nationals and (1-0) with a 0.64 ERA, 3.41 FIP, four BB (2.57 BB/9) and 14 Ks (9.00 K/9) in 14 IP for the Auburn Doubledays.
In his first full season this year, Giolito made twenty starts for Class-A Hagerstown, going (10-2) with a 2.20 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 28 BB (2.57 BB/9) and 110 Ks (10.10 K/9) in 98 IP.
"He's fun to watch," Nationals' Director of Player Development Mark Scialabba told MiLB.com's Danny Wild in an article published today:
"[H]e has an above-average fastball down in the zone, a hammer for a curve that drops off the table, hard, tight spin, a swing-and-miss pitch. His change will continue to develop, it has very good late fade action."
This time around, BA's Fitt writes that Giolito, "... ranks atop the team’s prospects list for the second straight year after making a full recovery from Tommy John surgery and dominating low Class A hitters as a 19-year-old."
Outfielder Michael Taylor jumps from no.7 on last year's list to no.3 on this year's rankings following a 2014 season which started at Double-A Harrisburg, where he put up a .313/.396/.539 line with 17 doubles and 22 home runs in 98 games and 441 plate appearances before he was promoted to Triple-A for twelve games and then the majors, where he finished out the season with a 17-game run over which he hit three doubles and a home run in 43 PAs.
UPDATED: After Giolito, and after the three-team trade with the San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays, Baseball America's John Manuel updated the Nationals rankings on Twitter this afternoon:
Forgive me, left out Joe Ross. So revised #Nats 10, w/both #Padres, would be: 1. Giolito. 2. Turner. 3. Taylor. 4. Lopez. 5. Fedde. 6. Ross— John Manuel (@johnmanuelba) December 19, 2014
Rest of list thru 12, since I've mentioned these guys: 7. Cole. 8. Difo. 9. Ward. 10. Goodwin. 11. Pivetta. 12. Voth. Hope we're straight!— John Manuel (@johnmanuelba) December 19, 2014
Shortstop Trea Turner, the PTBNL in the three-team deal, and the Padres' 2014 1st Round pick, is now no.2 in the Nats' organization on BA's list, followed by Taylor (no.3), right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (no.4), righties Erick Fedde (no.5), Joe Ross (no.6) and A.J. Cole (no.7), infielder Wilmer Difo (no.8), third baseman Drew Ward (no.9) and outfielder Brian Goodwin (no.10).
They are followed by right-handed starters Nick Pivetta (no.11) and Austin Voth (no.12) according to Manuel.
2015 Washington Nationals Top 10 Prospects http://t.co/ChoGVQNq6V— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) December 19, 2014