Rizzo on Giolito: “We felt the reward outweighed the risk”

Asked about an hour ago which major leaguer Lucas Giolito compares to, Nationals vice president of player personnel Roy Clark picked Phillies righty Roy Halladay.

Then, Clark chuckled.

“So we’d take that every year of the draft,” he said.

“When he’s 100 percent, he goes top three,” scouting director Kris Kline said. “So it’s kind of a no-brainer.”

The Nationals are thrilled they got Giolito with the 16th overall pick in tonight’s draft, even though concerns over the right-hander’s elbow dropped him from what was once the top prospect in this year’s class to the middle of the first round.

Still, the Nats believe they have a firm grasp on Giolito’s medical situation, which general manager Mike Rizzo called an elbow strain.

“We felt the reward outweighed the risk,” Rizzo said. “We feel comfortable that we know where he is physically, and that was a big part of the reason why we took the player where we did.”

The Nats have seen all of Giolito’s medicals and have spoken with the medical staff at the Jobe Clinic in California to get more information on the 17-year-old’s injury situation.

“The elbow is good,” Rizzo said. “He’s been throwing off flat ground. He’s been long-tossing and doing a throwing program. We feel confident about it, and he feels confident about it. We’ll see once we get our hands on him and in our uniform, we’ll see where he’s at.”

Giolitothrowingblacksidebar.jpgWith the new CBA, the Nats will be allowed $4.4 million to spend on their top 10 picks, and will be penalized if they go over that limit by more than five percent.

Rizzo was asked if he expects there to be signability issues with Giolito, who has a college commitment to UCLA and is advised by CAA, the same agency which represents Ryan Zimmerman, Drew Storen and John Lannan, among other Nationals.

“We’re going to make every attempt to sign him,” Rizzo said. “With the new rules in the collective bargaining (agreement), it’s a different ballgame, so we’ll put our best foot forward and try and sell him on our place here in Washington as a place that will get him the healthiest and get him the best opportunity to do what he wants to do, and that’s to pitch in the big leagues.”

Rizzo said he doesn’t expect the Giolito pick - and his possible high price tag - to affect how the Nats will attack the remainder of the draft.

“I don’t believe it does,” he said. “We’re going to go after the best player available. We have a strategy and a plan ... and we feel comfortable with the plan that we have.”

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