Who’s the Nationals’ top prospect right now?

When the Nationals promoted second baseman Anthony Rendon to the majors, it meant the next edition of their top prospect list will change a bit at the top.

Rendon was the No. 1 prospect, so his promotion elevated right-hander Lucas Giolito and outfielder Brian Goodwin on the list. Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis believed that Giolito and Goodwin were definitely at the top of the list of Nationals prospects, but his new list won’t come out until after the season.

In my opinion, Giolito takes over the No. 1 slot with an impressive mix of stuff, makeup and potential. The No. 16 overall selection in the 2012 draft arrived having to undergo Tommy John surgery in September of last year.

Giolito, who turns 19 on Sunday, has made a couple of starts for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Nationals. Although his first outing this season lasted just five batters, his second start this week was more of what one would expect from a prospect with the caliber of arm Giolito possesses.

He tossed two shutout innings, allowing one hit, no runs and no walks, while striking out three hitters. It was a glimpse of what he could do in a real game and far more indicative than what happened to him in his first outing this season. His ERA is now 3.86.

Nationals director of player development Doug Harris talked about the stuff he has seen first-hand from Giolito during these early stages.

“He has a well-above-average fastball that reaches the upper 90s,” Harris said. “His curveball has very good depth with swing-and-miss capabilities. Giolito is a diligent worker and has good aptitude.”

Of course, when dealing with a prospect like Giolito, many wonder how soon he will be able to make it to the big leagues.

Harris does not want to put that kind of pressure on Giolito right now, saying it is not fair to the prospect - or really any other prospect, for that matter - to place comparisons or projections on him at the beginning of his career. But it is certainly nice to finally get Giolito into the system after successful Tommy John surgery and let his track toward the Nationals begin.

* Double-A Harrisburg Senators left-hander Robbie Ray tossed a complete-game shutout in a 7-0 win over Erie. Ray, making his second start for the Senators since being called up from high Single-A Potomac, gave up only three hits and struck out nine.

Justin Bloxom had three doubles, three runs scored, an RBI and a walk. Jerad Head had three hits, and Jason Martinson went 2-for-3 with two RBIs for the Senators. Harrisburg now has recorded 11 shutouts on the season.

* Triple-A Syracuse infielder Danny Espinosa hit his second homer in as many games, and Tyler Moore crushed a grand slam in the Chiefs’ 7-1 victory over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Caleb Clay has now won three straight games.

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