In today’s newspaper, we looked at Lucas Giolito, the Nationals’ top prospect, 2012 first-round pick hard-throwing right-hander who is ready for his first full minor league season after Tommy John surgery. Those who know Giolito or have come across him all speak highly of his immense potential and work ethic. Here are some leftover observations that didn’t make the story:
>>> Much will be made of his immense size for a 19-year-old — 6 feet 6, 255 pounds — and it should be. He met with reporters on Tuesday morning and, even though he said he hadn’t grown in height, appeared taller than in the past. Giolito said he added between 10 and 15 pounds of good weight in the offseason. Because he is so tall, Giolito still looked lean at 255 pounds with room to add more. “A prototypical power pitcher’s body,” Nationals farm director Mark Scialabba said.
And, in the 11 months in between the operation and returning to a mound in a game, Giolito echoed the same sentiment as other pitchers who underwent Tommy John surgery: he felt stronger after working out more extensively during rehab.
“The Tommy John process allowed me to strengthen a lot of muscles in my arm and become a stronger pitcher and a stronger player mentally, too,” he said. “So I feel like I came back stronger than before, definitely.”
>>> Here’s is a sampling of what baseball publications had to say about Giolito. Baseball America ranked Giolito as the 21st best prospect in baseball. Baseball Prospectus had him as high as No. 13. MLB.com slotted him at No. 44. Giolito is aware of the attention surrounding his potential but has tried to tune it out.
“That stuff’s always there,” he said. “It’s in the background. You see it here and there. It’s not something you focus on, because you really have to focus on the important things which are your pitching and where you want to be as an athlete. So it’s always there, but it’s not a main focus.”
Baseball America was optimistic about Giolito’s potential: “No one in the minors “just needs innings” more than Giolito, whose pure stuff may be the best on this list but who has just 39 professional innings after being a 2012 first-round pick. A healthy campaign in a full-season rotation is first and foremost.”
MLB wrote this: “Giolito throws his fastball in the mid- to upper-90s, often reaching 100 mph. He throws a hard, 12-to-6 curveball that is almost as good as his fastball. His changeup isn’t as well developed as his other two pitches, but it has the potential to be a third above-average Major League offering. He has good command and an advanced feel for pitching. If he can stay healthy, Giolito has as much potential as any pitcher in the Minor Leagues.”
But Baseball Prospectus, which pointed out some command issues, was the most laudatory of Giolito’s potential: “On paper, Giolito has the highest ceiling of any arm in the minors, and that list includes Taijuan Walker and Archie Bradley. It’s an almost irresponsible combination of size and stuff, a 6’6’’ power righty who can sit in the mid-upper-90s with a lively fastball and back it up with an unhittable hard curveball that can show intense vertical depth.
“He’s not far removed from Tommy John surgery and the command profile needs refinement, but the 19-year-old arm should dominate at the A-ball level in 2014, and when the Nationals take the governor off the semi in 2015, Giolito should erupt into the premier arm in baseball, if he doesn’t already have claim on that distinction after his full-season debut. This is what it looks like, folks. This is a future no. 1 starter at the major-league level.”
>>> Giolito said he spoke often with Taylor Jordan, another hard-throwing right-hander who underwent Tommy John surgery and overlapped with him in the instructional league in 2012. From talking to Jordan, and from charting pitches and pitch sequences while he rehabbed early last season, Giolito said that he made good use of time away from the mound.
>>> Innings are Giolito’s biggest weakness. He has thrown only 38 2/3 in his professional career, and only 36 2/3 since surgery. Even though he will be capped this season per team policy, a full and healthy year in a minor league rotation is a must for Giolito. His first uncapped season would then likely be in 2015. For all his potential, Giolito still needs the repetitions and consistency to fulfill them.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do and he’s got a lot of work to do,” Scialabba said. “And, potential is one thing but going out there and performing and doing it consistently and building the arm strength is going to take some time.”
FROM THE POST
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
MATT WILLIAMS’S QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Humility is an athlete’s greatest attribute.”
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