As I expected, participation would be robust on this one — 15 ballots — and the top dog was the unanimous choice. A total of 24 pitchers were named, with four of the top five named on every ballot.
Before I continue, here’s the list:
1. Lucas Giolito
2. A.J. Cole
3. Reynaldo Lopez
4. Austin Voth
5. Erick Fedde
6. Matt Grace
7. Taylor Hill
8. Jefry Rodriguez
9. Felipe Rivero
10. Jake Johansen
Others receiving votes: Sammy Soilis, Nick Pivetta, Travis Ott, Rafael Martin, John Simms, Gilberto Mendez, Jake Walsh, Robert Benincasa, Wander Suero, Robbie Dickey, Luis Torres, Matt Spann, Matt Purke, Eric Fornataro
Now, the thoughts…
• This is the third straight year Giolito has been named the #1 pitcher, so no pressure to come to DC in 2015, right?
• Cole was also #2 for the second straight year, but turns 23 next month and we’re already seeing speculation as to when he’ll make his MLB debut. I’ll be the jerk who will note that he’d be an awfully good trade chip (see: Karns, Nathan).
• Lopez went from zero ballots in 2013 to the #3 pitcher in 2014. Saw him twice this past summer and this kid can deal. He got my #2 vote, one of two that Cole did not get.
• The other went to Fedde, who makes the list despite being in recovery from UCL replacement surgery. I’d scoff but Giolito is the knee-jerk “Yeah, but” and being the Nats top draft pick is going to carry some weight no matter what.
• As some of you noted, the list breaks down rather quickly after the first five or so names. The gap between #7 and #12 was just seven points. Until the last three or four ballots came in, there was basically a five-way tie for the last three slots.
• Grace’s addition to the 40-man is being read by quite a few of you as the lefthanded analog to Aaron Barrett from a year ago (OK, fine maybe that’s just me)
• Hill made the list despite getting hammered in two MLB starts and giving up five HR in his last 10 starts at Syracuse. He and Grace will be 26 in 2015, thus continuing the tradition of the old-guy skew
With the close of the winter meetings, which also saw the Nats go Yukon Cornelius on the Rule 5 draft, we’re now at the point where we wait for trades and transactions. In between, and as always, feel free to discuss in the comments.