Notes on Giolito and Cole, plus final NatsFest reminders

Two Nationals prospects have been named to MLB.com's top 100 prospects list for 2014: right-handers Lucas Giolito and A.J. Cole.

Giolito (the 16th overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft) ranks 44th on the list, one spot behind his former high school teammate and good buddy Max Freed, who was the seventh overall pick by the Padres in 2012.

On the standard 20-80 scouting scale, in which 20 is well below average and 80 is exceptional, MLB.com rates Giolito's fastball an 80, his curveball a 65, his changeup a 50 and his control a 55. Overall, MLB.com gives Giolito a 60 grade, which is pretty impressive.

I talked with MLB.com's Jim Callis about Giolito at the Winter Meetings in December, and Callis raved about the now-19-year-old prospect, saying that it's not out of the realm of possibility to believe that he could be in the majors late in the 2015 season. More likely, the Nats will take a cautious approach with Giolito given his age and the fact that he's coming back from Tommy John surgery, and will target 2016 for his potential major league debut. But if Giolito progresses as fast as many scouts believe he will, he could make an impact at the big league level in the not-too-distant future.

The MLB.com write-up on Giolito says that if he can stay healthy, he "has as much potential as any pitcher in the minor leagues."

Cole's upside isn't as high as Giolito's, but he's still got a promising future, and came in as the 69th-best prospect for 2014 on MLB.com's list.

On the 20-80 scale, MLB.com graded Cole's fastball at a 70, his curveball at a 50, his changeup at a 55 and his control at a 55. Overall, Cole earned a 55 grade.

Cole, taken by the Nats in the fourth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, finished last year at Double-A Harrisburg, which is likely where he'll start the 2014 season. He pitched well for the Senators, posting a 2.18 ERA over seven starts, with 49 strikeouts to 10 walks.

The righty's fastball is his bread and butter, but if he can improve those secondary pitches, he could also make his way to the majors in the coming year or two.

For Baseball America's take on Cole, read more here.

Meanwhile, we're now just a day away from NatsFest, which will be held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. tomorrow (season plan holders can get in an hour early at 10 a.m.) and will feature player appearances, fan forums, various photo stations and plenty of activities for kids.

MASN will have a booth set up, and Gio Gonzalez, Denard Span and Drew Storen will be swinging by to take pictures with fans at various points. Be sure to stop by for that.

I'll be running around interviewing players for most of the day (be sure to check MASNsports.com for plenty of content throughout the afternoon, if you're at home), but if you happen to see me at any point, please feel free to stop me and introduce yourself. Hopefully, I'll have a couple of minutes to chat.

Here's the updated list of players who are scheduled to attend, although this list is subject to change: Jerry Blevins, Tyler Clippard, Ross Detwiler, Danny Espinosa, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez, Scott Hairston, Bryce Harper, Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Moore, Ross Ohlendorf, Anthony Rendon, Tanner Roark, Sammy Solis, Steven Souza Jr., Denard Span, Craig Stammen, Drew Storen, Stephen Strasburg, Zach Walters and Jayson Werth.

New manager Matt Williams will also be in attendance and is scheduled to hold a "Meet Matt" session for fans at 1 p.m.

Tickets can still be purchased online. Here's the link to the NatsFest page for more information on tickets and the event in general.

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