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Nationals' top prospect Lucas Giolito impresses in two scoreless vs Mets

Lucas Giolito wasn't out there long, as the Washington Nationals limited him to two frames and twenty-six pitches, but the top pitching prospect in the organization impressed in two scoreless innings of work in Port St. Lucie, Florida's Tradition Field.

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Washington Nationals' prospect Lucas Giolito told MASN's Dan Kolko last weekend that he was making the most of his time in major league camp this Spring, trying to soak up everything he could from his fellow starters.

"It's been really fun," Giolito said.

"I talked to Max [Scherzer] about changeups the other day. Learned a lot. Just having a good time with these guys. It's a tremendous honor to still be here and contribute and hopefully get a chance to contribute later this year."

"The guy has a quick arm, very quick arm. Good body. Good pitching body. Good demeanor. And a very bright young man. Washington is going to love him when he gets there." -Dusty Baker on early impressions of Lucas Giolito

Giolito, the 21-year-old, 2012 1st Round pick, widely considered one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, said earlier this Spring that he wants to make it up to the majors in 2016, but he knows the decision is out of his hands, so all he can do is work hard and wait for the call to come.

Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo, in an MLB Network Radio interview last week, was asked when he thought the Nats' top prospects, Trea Turner among position players, and Giolito, among the pitchers, might make an impact at the major league level.

Both are close, Rizzo said, while declining to offer specifics as to when they might be called up, but Giolito, a prep school draft pick, who injured his elbow the year he was drafted, is not as far along in his development as Turner, a major league-ready, college-age selection, who already got some time in the majors last summer.

"In his developmental curve, he's a little bit farther back just because he missed a season with Tommy John surgery," Rizzo explained.

"But his developmental curve has come quickly. I haven't seen many pitchers at that age with the poise, confidence, not only the repertoire but baseball IQ that this guy has."

"You know, always the litmus test of these guys with the big arms that have three plus pitches... that can command the baseball and that type of thing is: How do you handle the rest of the game in the big leagues?

"And that's why they're in the minor leagues. How do you field your position? Can you handle the running game? Can you take every five days of pitching through an extra month of the season from your minor league season to your big league season and what we feel is another extra month after that in playoff season?

"So that's kind of the things that we have to think about when we're ready to promote Lucas. When healthy, he's a front of the rotation guy and he's not far away."

Through three appearances this Spring before today, Giolito had given up six hits, two walks and three runs, striking out eight in 4 ⅔ innings pitched, over which opposing hitters put up a .286 AVG.

Giolito got an opportunity to make his first start in Grapefruit League action tonight when the Nats took on their NL East rivals from New York in the Mets' Spring Training home, Port St. Lucie, Florida's Tradition Field.

Given a 5-0 lead to work with before he took the mound, Giolito worked around a one-out single by David Wright and a two-out walk to Lucas Duda for a scoreless, 17-pitch bottom of the first.

Giolito's fastball sat 94, got up to 96. He threw a nice, mid-80s, 0-1 curve to get Yoenis Cespedes on a pop to right field and a diving 1-1 change had Lucas Duda way out in front. Nice pitch in under the hands to the hard-hitting Mets' first baseman. He went to a full count against Duda, and missed outside and low with a fastball, but stranded both runners.

A diving, 12-to-6, 2-2 curve to Mets' catcher Kevin Plawecki got a swinging K and out no.3 of a quick, nine-pitch, 1-2-3 second. 26 pitches total, 16 strikes according to reports from Port St. Lucie.

That was it for Giolito. But he managed to impress in two quick, scoreless frames against a number of the Mets' expected everyday players.