A Lucas Giolito update

After months of rehabilitation following Tommy John surgery late last summer, Lucas Giolito has started to pick up a baseball again.

Giolito, the Nationals’ first-round pick in the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft, pitched just two professional innings last season (for the Gulf Coast League Nationals) before needing to undergo surgery to repair a small tear in his UCL.

That surgery came in late August, but a little over five months later, the 18-year-old Giolito has begun working his way back toward pitching shape by doing some light tossing.

Giolito tweeted the following yesterday: “Even though it was thirty feet, feels so good to be throwing a baseball again!”

It will still be a little while before we’ll see Giolito on a mound showcasing his upper-90s fastball and hammer of a curve, but he’s clearly making strides in his recovery.

Despite the fact that he underwent major surgery and likely won’t pitch in a minor league game until late this summer at the earliest, Giolito still was ranked among baseball’s top 80 prospects by ESPN’s Keith Law and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo.

Law lists Giolito as the 77th-best prospect in the game, while Mayo ranks the teenager 74th among his list of top prospects.

The fact that Giolito is still ranked that highly following his surgery speaks not only to the right-hander’s immense talent and potential, but also to the recovery rate of pitchers who have undergone Tommy John, including Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.

Giolito will have a clear recovery path that he can follow these next few months, and he can sleep somewhat easily knowing that the Nationals have had success working top prospects back from the same surgery that he required.

It must not be easy for an 18-year-old eager to prove himself to sit and watch other players prepare for the start of the regular season, but should Giolito progress in his recovery as the Nationals hope, he should be fully ready for the start of spring training in 2014.

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