Monday, June 4, 2012

Nationals Draft Pitcher

Last night marked day one of the three-day 40-round 2012 MLB Entry Level Draft. The first two rounds (round 1 and 1A) were completed last night. The Nationals selected once throughout the evening with the 16th overall pick.

With that pick, the Nationals selected right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito from Harvard-Westlake High School in California. That's right, he's fresh out of prep school.

A bigger guy standing at 6'6" and weighing 230 pounds, Giolito was anticipated to go first overall following an impressive junior high school season. However, a sprained ulnar collateral ligament (in the elbow) kept him off the field for his senior season.

According to many scouts around the league, Giolito has three very good pitches that he can go to when on the mound.

His fastball has been clocked at 96 MPH on the radar gun, but usually tops out at 93 MPH. His changeup comes out looking like a fastball, breaks like a split-fingered pitch, but is slow enough to get batters to swing way out in front of it. He also throws an excellent curve that one scout said has a very sharp break when it hits the plate.

Another thing that scouts rave when talking about Giolito is his location. He keeps the ball down in the strikezone. Doing so allows him to get a many ground-ball outs which also allows for quick innings.

One thing that worries me about this pick is his injury history. He has already injured a ligament in his throwing elbow. Nationals fans know all too well the dangers when dealing with an elbow ligament injury (see Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann).

It would seriously put a damper on things if Giolito doesn't have the stuff that he used to have. However, if he's anywhere close to it, the Nationals have made a great pick.

The Nationals have certainly figured out what they want to build their team around. Starting pitching was a focus during the offseason and it was certainly one last night.

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