Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Lucas Giolito was viewed as a potential No. 1 overall draft pick early in the spring of 2012, but he unfortunately tweaked the UCL in his right elbow and missed the rest of the high school season.
Despite the injury, the Nationals gambled on his enormous upside and made the California native the No. 16 overall pick in the 2012 draft.
After rehabbing his elbow with extreme caution, Giolito re-aggravated the injury during his first professional start late in the 2012 summer and subsequently underwent Tommy John surgery.
This past season, the right-hander returned in early July and quickly made up for the lost time.
Assigned to the team’s affiliate in the Gulf Coast League, Giolito posted a 2.78 ERA and 25-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 22.2 innings (eight starts).
Moved up to Short-Season Auburn to finish the year, the 19-year-old was dominating over three starts, posting a 0.64 ERA and .191 opponents’ batting average with a 14-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 14 innings.
At 6’6”, 225 pounds, the right-hander has a smooth and balanced delivery that produces a fastball that ranges anywhere from 94 to 99 mph, and he has the potential to reach triple digits when he regains full arm strength. While he’s understandably been kept on a short leash as a professional, Giolito demonstrated the ability to hold velocity deep into starts as an amateur.
His curveball is flat-out nasty and a potential plus-plus offering; it draws as many jelly-leg reactions as swing-and-misses. Meanwhile, Giolito’s changeup was a borderline plus pitch before the injury and should be excellent as he regains a feel against good competition
At maturity, Giolito should feature above-average command of all three offerings, which is impressive given the overall movement of his full arsenal.
Though it’s not anything more than speculation, the Nationals do possess the minor league depth to pull off a blockbuster trade for impact arms such as David Price or Max Scherzer.
According to Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider, Giolito could be in the mix should the team decide to take that route.
What does that mean in the Nationals’ case? Well, any trade proposal for Price or Scherzer is almost certain to begin with Anthony Rendon, the organization’s top-rated prospect entering 2013 who acquitted himself well during his rookie season.
And then is probably guaranteed to also include Lucas Giolito, the organization’s top-rated prospect entering 2014 who has come back from Tommy John surgery as strong as ever.
And then will most likely include another prospect or two from the upper reaches of the Nationals’ depth chart. Guys like A.J. Cole, Brian Goodwin and Robbie Ray.
As I mentioned, this is merely a rumor. However, depending on the activity this offseason of other National League East teams, it has the potential to gain traction.
Potential Impact: No. 2 starter; one of the best right-handed pitchers in the game