April 21, 2021

Washington Nationals select Lucas Giolito with No. 16 pick in MLB Draft

“We’ve been on this guy since day one. We just felt the reward outweighed the risk.” Mike Rizzo

The Washington Nationals used the No. 16 overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft on California High School RHP Lucas Giolito. The 6’6″, 230 lb. right-hander was at one point considered to be the best player in this draft until a UCL strain limited him this season. According to reports, his elbow has checked out clean without structural damage. Giolito turns 18 in July.

“We did our homework and our due diligence on his health and his makeup,” Nats GM Mike Rizzo said. “And we decided this is the type of player, the type of stuff and the type of ceiling we want here in the Washington Nationals organization.”

“When he’s 100 percent, he goes top three in this draft,” Nationals scouting director Kris Kline said. “It’s kind of a no-brainer.”

Rizzo added, “He has a power curve that is as good as his fastball. He’s got a feel for pitching. He is not a thrower. He has got a touch. He is coming at you downhill and he is coming hard.”

Giolito went 9-1 with a 1.00 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings this season at Harvard-Westlake High School in Santa Barbara, CA. He threw a no-hitter as a junior.

“A top-of-the-rotation guy that you can get at 16?” assistant general manager Roy Clark said. “Our doctor reports were [that] everything’s fine. It was a no-brainer for us.”

Asked to compare Giolito to a curent player, Clark replied, “A good comparison might be Roy Halladay when everything’s clicking,” Clark said. “So we’d take that.” Then, he chuckled.

According to Rizzo, Giolito is throwing off flat ground since his high school season ended and is currently throwing long-toss from 220 feet. Rizzo said that once they get the player signed he’ll be evaluated by the team doctors and come up with a game plan from there. Since he hasn’t even had his 18th birthday yet, the Nats don’t have to be in any type of rush with a prospect of this quality.

“We feel comfortable we know where he is physically and that was a big part of the reason we took the player when we did,” Rizzo said.

Here is an excerpt of Keith Law of ESPN.com’s pre-draft scouting report on Giolito:

He had hit 100 mph in his last outing before the injury and would sit 93-98 in most outings, showing better late life on the pitch and better command within the zone, losing some of his former tendency to give up hard contact on fastballs in the zone. His curveball is sharp and he changes its shape, throwing some with typical two-plane break and others with shorter more slider-like action, mostly in the 83-86 mph range. He’ll flash a changeup but it’s clearly his third option, probably the main thing he’ll need to work on in pro ball.

He represents a risk with the injury concerns, but Giolito also is a high-end talent that could form with the already impressive stable of starting pitching the Nats have accumulated. Joining Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon, Giolito is the latest draft pick for the Nats who was heralded at one point to be the best player in the draft.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

Comments

  1. I don’t actually think it is even a risk to use a pick as low as #16 this way. Checking the history of #16 overall selections going back to 1965 on Baseball Reference, I noticed that there are currently only 8 out of 47 players with a career WAR of over 10.0, with the top 3 being Lance Berkman, Lance Parrish and Shawn Green. Meanwhile 12 of those drafted #16 in 2007 or earlier have never even made the majors.

    It would have been foolish to risk a Top 5 pick on Giolito, but at #16 it’s a home run.

    • Dave Nichols says:

      Thanks for the comment. I think the risk associated with the injury isn’t as big as some want to make it out to be as well. The kid’s not even 18 yet. Even if he has to have surgery it’s not like the team expects to see him for 3-4 years anyway.

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