Nationals sign first-round pick Lucas Giolito

It took a while, but the Nationals have signed their 2012 first-round pick, prep right-hander Lucas Giolito.

With just minutes remaining until the league-imposed signing deadline of 5 p.m. this afternoon, the Nationals reached terms with Giolito, the 17-year-old they selected with the No. 16 overall pick in the June draft.

The two sides agreed on a deal which gives Giolito a bonus of $2.925 million, according to reports, an amount which exceeds the Nationals’ bonus pool limit. The Nats will have to pay a tax on the overage, but they didn’t spend the full $3.034 million that they could have offered without needing to forfeit a future draft pick.

Nats officials had said previously that they wouldn’t go over their bonus pool limit to sign Giolito, but they love the righty’s talent and felt he was worth paying the tax.

Giolitothrowingblacksidebar.jpgWith Giolito now on board, the Nats have signed their top 14 picks and 23 of their top 24 selections in this year’s draft.

Giolito went 9-1 with 78 strikeouts and a 1.00 ERA in 70.1 innings as a senior at Harvard-Westlake School (Ca.) last season before being shut down with a sprained ligament in his throwing elbow.

The injury ended his season and caused him to slip down the draft boards. Once considered the potential No. 1 overall pick this year, Giolito fell to the middle of the first round before the Nationals scooped him up.

There is certainly some injury risk with Giolito, and some have talked about him possibly needing Tommy John surgery down the road to repair the ligament injury, but GM Mike Rizzo said immediately after selecting Giolito that “the reward outweighed the risk.” The Nats feel they have a firm grasp on Giolito’s medical situation and believe he’s healthy.

The 6-foot-6 righty has a fastball which sits in the mid-to-high 90s and can reach 100 mph, a power curve, which the Nationals feel is as good as the fastball, and a changeup.

The night of the Giolito selection, Baseball America executive director Jim Callis told MASN the Giolito pick had the potential to be a home run.

“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.”

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