As Mark Appel fell down the draft board it started to look like Scott Boras was trying to steer him to the Nationals at 16, but that wasn’t to be when the Pirates selected him with the 8th overall pick. Instead the Nats still ended up shocking baseball by drafting Lucas Giolito a right handed pitcher out of Havard-Westlake high school. The reason this pick was a shock is because Giolito was thought to have 1/1 potential, but was injured for much of the 2012 season. It isn’t the first time the Nats have taken a risk on a player that fell to them as just last season they took both Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke.
Mike Rizzo said of the pick, “We decided that the reward out weighed the risk.” The Nats believe that when healthy Giolito has top of the rotation potential. Rizzo also complimented his make-up and work ethic, and said the Nats are familiar with his medicals and will prescribe a program when he is in a Nats uniform. Rizzo described him as having three plus pitches and the Nats believe he would have gone top three if healthy. Even with the new draft rules the Nats feel confident they can sign Giolito and will try and sell him on what the Nats are doing here. Rizzo says that the Nats will stick to their plan of taking the best player available despite the new rules and restricted budget for top ten picks.
Giolito is said to have three plus pitches with a mid-90′s fastball, a devastating curve, and a change-up that drops out of a hitters field of vision. It is that arsenal that had many scouts pegging Giolito for the number one overall pick before his injury and why the Nationals took the risk. If Giolito can overcome his arm issues then the Nats have another pitcher with Ace potential to go along with Gio, Strasburg, and Zimmermann. If Giolito doesn’t work out then he joins a long list of draft picks that didn’t make it. Giolito has been compared to Roy Halladay when everything is clicking. Rizzo also said, “This is a guy with a feel for pitching.”
The scouting report on Giolito isn’t all about stuff as he is said to have well above average mound presences and could crank his fastball up to 98 before the injury. He is now throwing from 250 feet and could start throwing off a mound soon after signing with the Nats, but the Nats will let the doctors guide them as far as that goes.
The interesting part now is the waiting game to see if the Nationals can sign Giolito. Their strategy might be to try and sell him on what it would be like to join a rotation that already includes Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmermann. As far as that aforementioned waiting game goes it won’t be as long as the signing deadline has been moved up by a month from August 15 to the middle of July. One interesting fact about Giolito is that is uncle is Mark Frost who was a co-creator for the groundbreaking TV series Twin Peaks. It is also important to remember that while Giolito is thought of as a risk most draft picks are. Even when 100% healthy there is a high probability that a draft pick won’t even make it to the majors let alone stick, and having a player with the ceiling of Roy Halladay can never be seen as a bad thing.