Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Lucas Giolito being introduced by the Washington Nationals on July 17, 2012.
In the 2009 MLB Draft, the Nationals began rebuilding their organization with an ace for the front of their rotation when they selected Stephen Strasburg as the first overall pick, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Although they were no longer rebuilding three years later, the Nationals repeated this winning formula during the 2012 MLB Draft when they selected Lucas Giolito straight out of Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles.
The Nationals may have found a near-replica of Strasburg in Giolito who has a few notable qualities in common with the Nationals' ace. And that does not include the two right handers' comparable physical size and shared California roots.
Among all Nationals' prospects, Giolito was rated by Baseball America as having the best fastball and the best curveball in the organization. Strasburg himself earned identical superlatives from the same prospects' website back in 2010.
Another thing Giolito now has in common with Strasburg is that he has torn the Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) in his throwing arm, therefore requiring Tommy John surgery. Giolito's development has been slowed as a result, but not stopped.
This year, Giolito pitched to a 2-1 record and a 1.96 ERA in 36.2 innings over 11 starts split between the Rookie League and Single-A Short Season. Giolito walked 14 and struck out 39 as he gave up only one home run and compiled a .217 batting average against.
Right now, this 19-year-old building block is incomplete. But once Giolito is ready for MLB service, the Nationals will have built themselves a completely dominant rotation, able to systematically deconstruct any lineup.