It seems unanimous amongst the prospect prognosticators – Lucas Giolito is the Nats best prospect. Not quite unaimous but close to it is that he’s also a top 25 prospect in the game. Pretty nice to see this team, with their already ridiculous pitching staff, has a guy waiting in the wings who could be (could be) as good as any of these guys have been.
[button url=’#’ size=’small’ style=’blue’] Jason Parks (Baseball Prospectus) [/button]
Parks ranks Giolito higher than anyone, at #13 on his top 101. The scouting reports for Nats prospects won’t come out for a at least another week or two, but Parks has said some pretty great things about him recently, as well as an impressive evaluation of his pitches. I mentioned this last week, but he lists TWO pitches, Giolito’s fastball and curveball, as 8’s, the highest you can go on a scouting report. The fact that his changeup is a 6 is icing on the cake, as there are prospects ranked higher than Giolito whose best pitches are 6’s. Again, Parks also praised his ceiling over Twitter:
[button url=’#’ size=’small’ style=’blue’] Keith Law (ESPN) [/button]
Law ranks Giolito as #21 overall, and obviously also loves his potential. He noted that Giolito’s fastball was back to hitting as high as 98 mph post-TJ surgery, which is great to see. He also praised his curveball as “plus-plus” and noted that while his changeup could use improvement, it’s as good as it’s ever been
Law noted his great work ethic and fielding, but also said that those things don’t matter that much when you’re 6’6″ with “a chance for two 70-grade pitches with command and feel.” His summation should get you really excited
He might move slowly in 2014, as he’s just 19 years old and will be in his first full year back from the elbow surgery, but he projects as a No. 1 starter not too far down the road.
[button url=’#’ size=’small’ style=’blue’] Baseball America [/button]
Baseball America also came out with a list of their own, top 10 in each organization, and Giolito was at the top of the Nats list. I don’t have access to their scouting report, but Byron Kerr has some great quotes from BA’s Aaron Fitt on Giolito:
I think he has a chance to be a legitimate No. 1 starter in the big leagues. And that is not something we throw around too often. You got a guy with his combination of elite velocity, really a well above-average curveball. (Nationals pitching coordinator) Spin Williams is somebody who has said it is maybe the best curveball he has ever seen
There’s some more interesting stuff from Kerr there so check it out.
[button url=’#’ size=’small’ style=’blue’] MLB.com [/button]
Not as high on their list as everyone else’s, Giolito is “only” #44 on the MLB.com top 100. While they have his fastball as an 80, they aren’t as high on his secondary pitches as Parks, putting his curveball at a 65 and his changeup at 55. Despite this lower evaluation, he still has some pretty great things to say about him:
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.
[button url=’#’ size=’small’ style=’blue’] Implications [/button]
Having a guy like this in the system are very interesting. While the affect that an ace, if he becomes that, has on any pitching staff is a big deal, there’s more to it than just that.
It may be part of the reason they haven’t come to terms yet with Jordan Zimmermann. Heck, if Giolito develops enough this year it may allow them to do the unthinkable, and trade JZimm. But that isn’t a real discussion for today. Today we just get to dream about what Giolito may become.