Last night the Nationals drafted right handed pitcher Lucas Giolito from Harvard-Westlake High School in California. After his junior year of high school, Giolito was predicted to go first overall following his senior season. The Nationals got him at 16th overall. You may be asking....why so late?
Giolito sat out his senior season due to a sprained ligament in his throwing elbow. Since he had not seen legitimate game action in over a year, teams were nervous about drafting him. Teams also stayed away from him due to the injury that he sustained to his throwing elbow.
The Nationals and their fans know all too well what can happen when you injure your throwing elbow. Already, the Nationals have seen two of their own starting pitchers go under the knife for Tommy Johns surgery. Jordan Zimmermann had his procedure done three years ago and most recently Stephen Strasburg underwent to the procedure to repair a ligament in his throwing elbow.
While the injury was a sprain and not a tear, the point still remains that Giolito's throwing elbow was injured. With that in mind, the Nationals need to be extra careful when bringing him through the system.
Many experts think that Giolito will move through any teams farm system quickly. However, the Nationals will want to take some time to make sure that everything is A-OK with his elbow. Trying to hustle the kid through the minors and into the majors would be a terrible mistake.
The last thing that Mike Rizzo and Co. want to have happen is stake their claim on this guy only to have him never make it past Class AA due to a reoccurring throwing elbow injury.
One thing that the Nationals do quite well is handle injuries. Strasburg and Zimmermann have both returned from their injuries just as good as, if not better than, before. They made a plan, patiently stuck to that plan, and the results have been fantastic.
Expect much of the same for Lucas Giolito. Don't expect the Nationals to try to quickly move him through the farm system. He is still a teenager and also an investment. He's got great stuff and can really be a big contributor to the Nationals for years to come.
The Nationals took a bit of a risk last night when they drafted Lucas Giolito. If they handle him just as carefully as they do the rest of their injured players, he's going to be a difference maker for this ball club.