Former Washington Nationals' Assistant GM Roy Clark was effusive in his praise of Lucas Giolito after the Nats took the right-hander with the 16th overall pick of the 2012 Draft, describing the selection as a no-brainer in spite of the fact that the then-17-year-old right-hander suffered a strain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow during his final year at the Harvard-Westlake School.
"A good comparison might be Roy Halladay when everything's clicking," Clark told reporters after the Draft that June.
"We'll take that... every year of the draft."
"He's got a power curve that's probably as good as his fastball," Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo said.
"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."
"I really like to throw my fastball inside and bust people in," Giolito explained then, "and maybe come back with my curveball. I've been developing my changeup a lot, so that's obviously a tool I'll have that I'll be able to use. And just a combination of everything to be able to attack hitters and do everything I can to help the team win."
Giolito made one start for the Nats' Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2012 before he suffered a full tear of the UCL and underwent Tommy John surgery.
Through 43 games and 41 starts from the Gulf Coast League Nationals to the New York/Penn League's Auburn Doubledays, the Low-A Hagerstown Suns and this year the Potomac Nationals, the now-20-year-old starter has put up a 2.35 ERA, 57 walks (2.63 BB/9) and 226 Ks (10.41 K/9) in 195 ⅓ innings pitched.
In ranking Giolito as the Nats' top prospect and the top pitching prospect in baseball, MLB.com's Pipeline scouts rated his fastball an 80 on the 20-to-80 scout's scale and his curveball a 70, writing that, "... he throws his 12-to-6 curveball with a lot of power, and it is nearly as good as his fastball."
Giolito's curve was a topic of conversation during an MLB Network Radio interview this past week, when he talked to Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette about the origins of his breaking ball.
"I kind of just taught it to myself over the years," Giolito explained.
"What's funny is -- the pitch, I guess it like moves so much I just had no control over it when I was pitching in my early years of high school, like freshman and sophomore year I couldn't throw that pitch at all and I actually threw a slider which wasn't really as good, but every time I threw the curveball it was usually spiked right in the dirt, but my pitching coach who came aboard my junior year, Ethan Katz, he's actually a professional pitching coach with the Angels right now -- he came aboard and taught me better control over it, how to throw it for a strike vs how to throw it for a strikeout pitch. And it kind of just developed from there."
So what did Katz tell him that helped turn the pitch into the weapon Rizzo and the Nationals saw when they scouted him and the plus pitch it is now?
"Just throwing it with a consistent release point, just like your fastball," he explained. "I can't be thinking curveball out of the glove, you've got to make sure you're maintaining the same arm speed, arm angle as your fastball and you just turn it over at the end."
Giolito will get to show off his curveball, change and fastball this afternoon when he starts for the United States team in the 2015 Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game, making his second straight appearance in the prospect showcase that takes place as part of the All-Star festivities.
Giolito won't be the only Nationals' prospect playing in Great American Ball Park this afternoon. Trea Turner isn't in the starting lineup, but he'll be in Cincinnati playing for the U.S. team as well.
Turner, 22, started the 2015 campaign at Double-A in the San Diego Padres' system, putting up a .322/.385/.471 line in 58 games and 254 plate appearances before he was officially included as the PTBNL in this winter's three-team trade with the Nats and Tampa Bay Rays.
Turner started at Double-A in the Nationals' organization as well, putting up a .359/.366/.513 line in 10 games and 41 plate appearances before he was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse, where he has a .276/.300/.448 line in 16 games and 61 PAs so far.
Both Giolito and Turner will perform in front of a national audience this afternoon.
"I think it's a great opportunity for both of them to get a chance to be on a national stage and show their talent," Nationals' manager Matt Williams said recently.
"I think they're both very talented young players and they're improving quickly and it's good, it's good for the organization, it's good for them to be able to be a part of that and represent."
Giolito is getting the start for the U.S. team as announced on MLB.com's Pipeline Twitter feed:
U.S.: 4 @tonykemp6 6 @jp_crawford 2 @kschwarb12 5 @Rshaff8 9 @K_Wally15 D @TheJudge44 3 @PirateBaseBell 7 @mconforto8 8 @Bzimmer5 P @LGio27— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 11, 2015