The Washington Nationals’ first-round selection, right-hander Lucas Giolito, is another in the long line of big power pitchers that general manager Mike Rizzo and his staff covet.
And as it seems every year in early June, Rizzo finds a way to get his man.
“We have been on this guy from day one,” Rizzo said. “The reward outweighs the risk. He is a power body with a power arm with three plus pitches.”
Giolito stands 6-foot-6 and is 230 lb. The 17-year old pitcher is from Santa Monica, Calif., and Harvard-Westlake High School, and has drawn comparisons to a very well-known pitcher in the Nationals’ division.
“He reminds us of a Roy Halladay when everything is clicking,” said Nationals assistant general manager and vice president of player personnel Roy Clark said. “So, we will take that every year in the draft. We saw him hit 98 mph last year, and when we saw him (in early February), it was still 96 mph.”
Giolito comes with an exploding fastball that has been clocked at 93-97 mph, and can touch 100 mph. He also has a plus power 12-to-6 curve that hits 82-85 mph.
“He has a power curve that is as good as his fastball,” Rizzo said. “(Giolito) has got a feel for pitching. He is not a thrower. He has got a touch. He is coming at you downhill and he is coming hard.”
There is some concern with Giolito’s strained right elbow, an injury he is still recovering from and one that derailed his 2012 high school season. But Nationals scouting director Kris Kline said the elbow issue did not diminish their enthusiasm for selecting the young power pitcher.
“When he is 100 percent, he goes top three in this draft, so it was a no-brainer,” Kline said.
Rizzo said this pick fits in with the big power guys the Nationals love, like Stephen Strasburg, Ross Detwiler, Matt Purke, Sammy Solis and Alex Meyer.
“This is a guy that can impact a rotation,” Rizzo said. “He fits in with the other big physical guys that we already have.”
And again, the Nationals have to feel fortunate that this kind of a talent was still available midway through the first round.
Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis told me he believes that the Giolito selection proves the Nationals have continued their hot streak in the first round of the draft the last four years.
“The Nationals may have just done it again,” Callis said. “(Giolito) has to stay healthy and they have to get him signed, but Washington got the highest-upside arm in this draft at 16. That follows on the heels of getting the best pitching prospect in draft history in Stephen Strasburg, the best power prospect in draft history in Bryce Harper and the best bat in last year’s draft in Anthony Rendon. What an unbelievable four-year run of top picks.”
Now, get him signed and maybe the Nationals will be able to see Giolito in their system before the summer ends.