Lucas Giolito, BA’s #2 GCL Prospect

For the first time since 2009 (Destin Hood), a Nationals player has been named the Baseball America Top 20 prospect list for the Gulf Coast League… 2012 1st Rd. pick, Lucas Giolito.

The 19-year-old entered 2013 with the twin burdens of being the team’s top draft pick and proving himself to be healthy after UCL-replacement surgery. Early on, he exhibited the most common side effect of pitchers coming back from TJ: shaky command, which was so bad he was lifted in the first inning. Twice.

However, after allowing nearly two baserunners per inning in his first five appearances, Giolito hit his stride over the next three, as he earned his first win and began hitting the five-inning mark instead of his pitch limit. He was promoted to the New York-Penn League in mid-August and continued to give out donuts for a total of 20 consecutive scoreless innings before giving up a home run in his final start vs. Mahoning Valley.

Scouts clocked the SoCal native in the mid-90s, with some claims of triple-digit velo, with mid-80s speed on his curve that seems to vary between 12-6 and 11-5 action but late bite that earns the “plus-plus” in scout lingo. had this to say about his mechanics:

Has present stuff, but needs to clean up arm action. His delivery has some effort to it with a long arm circle and pronounced stab. He gets caught with his arm behind his body and arm will drag.

There’s also some disagreement about whether his changeup is back to where it was pre-surgery, but odds are pretty good that it varied from start to start (see above, command).

Of course, the million-dollar question for 2014 is where will Giolito start? The Nats have been careful with healthy HS arms and holding them back from full-season ball until early May, which they did with Robbie Ray in 2011 and 2012. Pitchers coming off surgery or shoulder problems, it’s been more towards Memorial Day (see: Purke, Matthew in 2012 and 2013).

A year ago, I probably would have written — they’ll be conservative and hold him in Viera until the NYPL starts up; he’s only had 14 innings at the level. Now, after a year of semi-aggressive promotions, I’m inclined to think he may actually be challenged to go to Low-A, perhaps even starting up as soon as the third week of April (i.e. the Suns first road trip south of Maryland).

Next possible BA Top 20 mention: Friday, when they rank the NYPL, though I’m not holding my breath…

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

6 thoughts on “Lucas Giolito, BA’s #2 GCL Prospect”

  1. Go lil’ Gio! Everything I’ve read about his PL Starts was that his Change-up has developed into a Plus pitch. I know he had only 4 starts in the PL, but the oppos might as well have been hitting blindfolded. Hope he gets a mention. I’m with you on him starting in Hagerstown next year & hope he finishes in Potomac. Then a 2015 Big League Spring Training invite, AA & a Sept. 2015 call up or break with the Team in 2016. Based on what we saw this year with the revolving door of starters we can’t get him up there soon enough. Hopng LGio stays healthy.

    1. No. Drew Ward and Rafael Bautista were cited as contenders, and it was considered a very deep pool of talent this year — particularly with maturing IFAs, which is why the Yankees (who have two GCL teams) placed six on this list, of which were five were int’l guys.

      1. I guess we should promote the manager and coaches of the GCL Nats, because those guys were GENIUSES. The GCL Nats finished 13 games ahead of the GCL Yankees 2 (the Yankees had two GCL teams, and the other one went 28-32) and finished up by going undefeated in the playoffs – when they had one prospect and the Yankees had six! And hell, the one guy on the GCL Nats that is a prospect only played part of the season there.

        Look, I get that team success and number of prospects don’t precisely correlate. The discrepency just sticks in my craw, that’s all.

  2. I’d like to see Giolito start with Hagerstown April 1st, but cannot argue with your logic. I’m not getting too hung up on where these guys start lately; its all about where they end up. I think its a great sign that both Cole and Ray ended up in Harrisburg this year, and it wouldn’t shock me at all to see them start there again next year. If Giolito earns a promotion to high-A mid-way through the season that’ll be a successful season for me.

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