Prep right-hander dropped to 16th because of arm woes
The Nationals selected right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito with their first-round pick in Monday's Major League Baseball draft.
The 17-year-old was in the running earlier this year for the No.?1 overall selection, but a sprained right elbow ligament in March during his senior season at Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, Calif., caused him to drop to Washington at No. 16 overall. The 6-foot-6, 230-pounder was 9-1 with a 1.00 ERA in 701?3 innings. But after the injury it wasn't until May that Giolito began throwing off flat ground again. According to team officials, he did not need surgery to repair the ligament and worked with doctors at the Los Angeles-based Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic clinic, where some of the Nats' own pitchers, including ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg, have been treated.
It is also the second draft in a row that general manager Mike Rizzo and his staff have taken a chance on an injured pitcher. Last year they selected left-hander Matt Purke from Texas Christian in the third round despite a sore shoulder that needed rehabilitation. Giolito has committed to playing baseball at UCLA, so Washington again could face a tough contract negotiation after drafting and signing top prospects Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon in each of the last three years.
Giolito has been clocked as high as 100 mph with his fastball, and Nats scouts saw him hit 96 just before the injury. He also features a power curveball that Rizzo said compares favorably to his fastball and has a good feel for a change-up, too.
"Tremendous size. Excellent leverage to his delivery," Washington scouting director Kris Kline said. "Little later on you could tell something wasn't quite right. But we stayed on him. If he's 100 percent, he goes top three in this draft, so it's kind of a no-brainer."
The Nats were drafting outside the top 10 for just the second time since moving to the District from Montreal in 2005. That was when they chose Chris Marrero at No. 15 in 2006. The team does not have another selection until No. 80 in the second round Tuesday.