Lucas Giolito Rumors

Prospect Rumor Roundup: National Improvements

The demise of the Montreal Expos led to years of MLB control for the organization (2001-04), which resulted in limited budgets until the club was officially sold and became the Washington Nationals in 2005. Since that time, it's been an uphill battle to rebuild the system's depth, more or less from scratch.

One of the most difficult areas to create depth is pitching because of the large number of players needed, as well as the natural volatility and fragility of the role. It's taken years but the Nationals organization is finally starting to see the fruits of its labor, thanks to the guidance of General Manager Mike Rizzo and his front office staff, including both the scouting and player development departments. 

The six talented hurlers listed below have seen their values skyrocket during the 2013 season.

A.J. Cole, RHP, Double-A

Cole is an interesting prospect. He was originally drafted by the Nationals in the fourth round of the 2010 draft and was then traded to the Athletics in late 2011. When the two clubs paired up for another swap in January 2013, Cole was returned to his original organization.

Always a talented pitcher, Cole struggled in A-ball and spent parts of three years there. In a piece by Jonathan Raymond of MiLB.com, the young hurler admitted that he was disappointed to begin the 2013 back in A-ball. However, he stayed motivated and worked hard to get better. 

"Going through [Class A Advanced] again, I was there last year, got sent down to [Class A] with the A's, and I just had to bounce back, not be let down about being sent down and then starting at [Class A Advanced] this year," he said. "Basically getting the feel for everything, learning different things and showing that I'm able to play here, pitch here and be successful. I just want that to keep going on… I basically just started pitching like I knew how I could," he said.

Cole was recently promoted to Double-A and has allowed just 11 hits and four walks with a 0.90 ERA in his first 20 innings.

Lucas Giolito, RHP, Rookie ball

Giolito was arguably the most sought after prep arm in the 2012 amateur draft, but he slipped to the Nationals with the 16th selection of the first round after he suffered a serious elbow injury in his senior year of high school. The hard-throwing pitcher — who touched triple digits with his fastball when healthy — underwent Tommy John surgery in September 2012 but officially returned to the mound last month.

Teddy Cahill of MLB.com spoke to Doug Harris, the Nationals director of player development, who said Giolito progressed well in his rehab. "It's gone extremely well. We're pleased with his progression, where he is physically and how he's performing."

Giolito took to the mound in his first official game since 2012 on July 3 and he immediately made an impression on Harris. "I was really, really pleased with [his stuff]… The fastball velocity was good, it had good life and carry and he threw it for strikes. His curveball had above-average depth and finish and he's continuing to develop his changeup."

Taylor Jordan, RHP, Majors

Jordan experienced perhaps the most significant increase in value of any of the six players mentioned in this article. A former ninth-round draft pick, the right-hander showed some potential in 2011 before suffering an elbow injury and undergoing Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow.

He returned in 2012, but his results were inconsistent at best. The 2013 season, though, has been a different story, and he dominated A-ball and Double-A before settling into the Nationals' big league rotation.

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman commented in Florida Today (unattributed staff writer) on how important the increased pitching depth has been for the organization in 2013. "We continually have guys come up from our minor league system and help us out. I think that shows how good of a system we have and what a good job they do getting those guys ready to contribute. Taylor has kind of saved us."

Nate Karns, RHP, Double-A

Karns has experienced a lot of turmoil since turning pro in 2009. The right-hander suffered a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder early in his career, which is one of the most catastrophic injuries to try and return from for a pitcher. It's widely considered a much more difficult surgery to recover from than Tommy John.

His personal life has also been a challenge. As James Wagner of the Washington Post detailed, Karns' biggest supporter — his mother — suffered through both cancer and a major stroke. "My mom has been through a lot and she has done a lot for me," said Karns. "It was really nice that I was able to show that all her sacrifices paid off for me and I didn't waste whatever she gave me and took full advantage of it."

Karns' mother was able to witness her son's Major League debut, and the two shared a special moment together after the game. The young pitcher has made a total of three appearances at the big league level but has since returned to Double-A where he's struck out 121 batters in 100 1/3 innings of work.

Ian Krol, LHP, Majors

Like Cole, Krol was acquired from the Athletics this past January and has rejuvenated his career in the Nationals system. After suffering through injury issues as a starter, the A's moved the lefty to the bullpen in late 2012. Returning to the 'pen in '13, Krol has thrived in his new role and has seen his average fastball velocity jump from 88-91 mph as a starter to as high as 96 mph as a reliever. As Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post explained, that bump in velocity took everyone by surprise, including Krol.

"I was like, 'Whoa. Where'd that come from?'" Krol said. "I didn't even think it was possible to sniff 96. I guess something must have happened. My arm was liking the relieving a lot better than the starting role. It was pretty insane to see 96 up there on the scoreboard. I never thought I would hit 96 in my life."

Krol has since become a stabilizing force in the Nationals' bullpen with a 2.25 ERA in 21 games and is well on his way to becoming one of the top left-handed relievers in the National League.

Sammy Solis, LHP, High-A

A 2010 second-round draft pick, Solis saw a sudden increase in fastball velocity in 2011 but, not long after, he blew out his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery. The southpaw missed all of 2012 but returned in May this year. Since that time, his results have been understandably inconsistent but promising nonetheless. 

As James Wagner of the Washington Post stated, Solis' command hasn't fully returned yet but he's throwing pain free for the first time since 2011, and his velocity is back in the 93-94 mph range. He's also getting more comfortable with all of his pitches. "The feel has been the biggest thing," Solis said. "Change-up and curveball, especially."


Nationals Notes: Strasburg, Andrews, Giolito

Count Chipper Jones among those who wouldn't shut Stephen Strasburg down in the midst of a pennant race. Talking to Yahoo Sports' Les Carpenter, Jones pointed to his own lone World Series title despite the Braves' many postseason appearances as an example of how difficult it is to attain a championship.  "Next year what if [Jordan] Zimmermann gets hurt again?” Jones said. “What if Gio Gonzalez goes down? There is a certain set of circumstances. Sometimes things aren’t the same. As those [pitchers] get older they will lose a little bit of speed on their fastballs. They will be a little more hittable. You have to strike while the iron’s hot.”

Here's the latest from Washington…

  • Dr. James Andrews support the Nationals' decision to limit Strasburg's innings in an interview with ESPN Radio's Scott Van Pelt (Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post has a partial transcript).  Andrews admitted he didn't have direct knowledge of the situation since he didn't perform Strasburg's Tommy John surgery but he "would certainly take up for the decision….I don’t think you can criticize that one bit, to be honest with you."
  • Lucas Giolito will undergo Tommy John surgery on August 31, reports Amanda Comak of the Washington Times.  The Nats took Giolito with the 16th overall pick of the 2012 draft amidst injury concerns due to a UCL sprain that sidelined the right-hander for much of his final high school season.  Giolito has thrown two innings as a professional thus far, pitching for the Nationals' rookie league team.  Giolito's surgery will be performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who also handled Strasburg and Zimmermann's Tommy John procedures.

Quick Hits: Melky, Cruz, Red Sox, Cardinals

Four teams have at least a 98% chance of reaching the postseason this year, according to Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds Report. The Yankees, Rangers, Nationals and Reds look like playoff teams now, but they all saw what happened to the Braves and Red Sox last year, so I doubt any contending teams intend on coasting from this point on. Here are today’s links…

  • The chances that Melky Cabrera will appear in a potential postseason game or re-sign with the Giants this offseason are "close to nil," according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle
  • Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters, including Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, that the team wouldn't attempt to retain Juan Cruz if he clears waivers (Twitter link). The Bucs have younger players who have passed Cruz, according to Hurdle. Cruz was designated for assignment earlier today.
  • The Red Sox "weren't trying very hard" to trade Josh Beckett before the non-waiver trade deadline, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. The Rangers and Braves are believed to be among the teams that spoke to Boston's executives about Beckett, Heyman writes. One unnamed GM said "Boston's first priority has to be to trade Josh Beckett'' this August. Another executive suggested the Rangers could make sense for Beckett, who would have to be placed on waivers to be traded this month.
  • The Cardinals signed 16-year-old right-hander Ronald Medrano, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. Medrano has touched 90-91 mph with his fastball and has shown good feel for his secondary pitches. He had been considered one of the top Nicaraguan prospects available, according to Badler.
  • Nationals first rounder Lucas Giolito re-injured his pitching elbow and will be examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum, ESPN.com's Keith Law reports. Giolito, who was at one point a candidate to be selected first overall, signed for $2.925MM after the Nationals drafted him 16th overall in June.


Draft Notes: Appel, Pirates, Giolito, Twins

The Pirates inability to sign right-hander Mark Appel is a sign of a larger problem with the new draft system, opines Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd).  The previous system with no real penalties for exceeding slot would have allowed Pittsburgh to sign the Stanford standout and in turn allow them to feel more comfortable in parting with Gerrit Cole or Jameson Taillon in a trade.  Even though the Bucs will have the ninth pick in next year's draft as compensation, Law writes that the 2013 crop appears to be weaker than this year's.  Here's the latest draft news..

  • The Pirates‬ offered Appel $3.8MM, the most they could give without losing a first-round pick, a source tells Jim Callis of Baseball America (via Twitter).
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said that the club was‬ "dangerously close" to the 4pm CDT deadline before signing Lucas Giolito.  The 16th overall pick received a $2.925MM bonus from Washington.
  • Andre Martinez signed with the Twins for $80K after originally agreeing to a $260K, bonus, tweets Callis.  A physical exam raised questions about the left-hander's shoulder, leading to a renegotiation.

Nationals To Sign Lucas Giolito

The Nationals have agreed to sign first round selection Lucas Giolito, ESPN.com's Keith Law reports (on Twitter). MLB recommends a $2.1MM bonus for the 16th overall selection, but Giolito obtained a $2.925MM bonus, according to Law.

The high school right-hander entered the year as one of the most talented draft eligible players, but suffered an elbow injury in March. “I’m confident that this issue is behind me,” he said the day after the Nationals selected him.“I’m looking forward to getting on the mound soon.” Giolito's fastball can reach 99 mph and he sits at 94-96 mph, according to Baseball America. He also throw s a plus-plus curveball and a plus change-up.


Draft Notes: Indians, Giolito, Gausman, Mets

We're less than a day away from the draft signing deadline, as teams have until 4 PM CST on Friday to sign their picks.  Here's the latest on the status of some high-round picks who have yet to agree to terms, plus some signings…

  • The Indians have signed fourth-round pick D'vone McClure, reports Jim Callis of Baseball America (via Twitter).  McClure signed for a $750K bonus, more than double the recommended slot price of $314.7K.
  • The Nationals can pay Lucas Giolito just under $2.813MM without going over the draft spending cap, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, citing calculations from Baseball America.  MLB's recommended slot price for the 16th overall pick is $2.125MM.  Kilgore outlines the situation surrounding Giolito, who the Nats say they will not sign to a contract that puts them over the spending cap and causes the team to incur a fine.
  • "We are making progress. We’re waiting to hear their next proposal," Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich tells Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link) about the club's negotiations with first-rounder Kevin Gausman.  The fourth overall pick has a slot price of $4.2MM, which Gausman and his representatives are looking to "slightly" exceed, tweets Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com.
  • The Mets are at a "standstill" with second-round pick Teddy Stankiewicz, reports Jim Callis of Baseball America (via Twitter).  Callis hears that Stankiewicz is willing to sign for the recommended slot price for the 75th overall pick ($680.4K) but the Mets haven't offered that large of a bonus.
  • The Giants have signed third-rounder Mac Williamson, tweets Baseball America's Nathan Robe.  Williamson will receive a $390K bonus, which is under the $412.3K recommended price for the 115th overall pick.
  • MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo outlines the rules of the newly-instituted Competitive Balance Lottery, which takes place on July 18 and will distribute six total bonus picks among low-revenue and small-market teams for the 2013 amateur draft.

Quick Hits: Braves, Pirates, Rockies, Nationals

The Marlins ended their franchise record offensive draught of scoring five runs or less for 25 consecutive games in their 9-0 win over the Blue Jays. And, for good measure, the nine runs were a season-high for the Marlins, who ended their six-game losing streak. Here's the latest news from around baseball.

  • The Braves could make starting pitching a priority at the trade deadline because of the growing pains of Mike Minor and Randall Delgado and the uncertainty surrounding Jair Jurrjens, tweets Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
  • The Pirates need to create an opening in their starting rotation when Jeff Karstens returns from the disabled list this week and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review thinks a trade could create that opening (via Sulia). Biertempfel reported yesterday the Pirates are shopping Kevin Correia.
  • With the Pirates looking for offensive help, the Denver Post's Troy Renck notes the Rockies have players available, including Marco Scutaro. In the same piece, Renck offers his suggestions on who the Rockies should play the rest of the way in 2012, so as to best prepare for 2013.
  • The Nationals are not willing to pay a fine in order to exceed their draft bonus pool, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. This is a corection to a story Kilgore wrote yesterday. Kilgore writes this stance will lower the amount the Nationals will be able to offer their first round draft pick Lucas Giolito.
  • Condolences to the friends of family of Padres' bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds, who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer today.  He was 50.

Beltway Notes: Giolito, Nationals, Orioles, Moyer

Late last week, the Nationals gave first-round pick Lucas Giolito a grand tour of their ballpark, but things have been quiet since between the two parties.  Here's the latest news on the Nats and Orioles..

  • The Nationals are willing to pay a fine in order to sign Giolito but they are not willing to forfeit a draft pick next year, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  The Nats signed several of their top ten draft picks under the recommended slot in order to give themselves room to ink the hard-throwing right-hander.
  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter expects Jamie Moyer to continue pitching, tweets Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com.  The 49-year-old asked to be released earlier today and the O's obliged.
  • With the trading deadline roughly six weeks away, Orioles GM Dan Duquette insists that he’s looking to improve the club, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.  “We’re in contention. We’re going to do whatever we can to make the playoffs,” he said.

Draft Notes: Diamondbacks, Zimmer, Red Sox, Astros

The latest on the MLB draft, which has reached its conclusion after three busy days… 

  • The Diamondbacks are "close" to agreeing to terms with first-round pick Stryker Trahan, tweets Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic.  The high school catcher was tabbed with the No. 26 pick.
  • The Royals appear to be close to a deal with fifth-overall pick Kyle Zimmer, tweets Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star.  The right-hander will likely start with the club's Arizona League affiliate but may go to Idaho Falls instead.
  • The Red Sox are nearing deals with supplemental first round selection Pat Light and second rounder Jamie Callahan, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter).
  • ESPN.com's Keith Law reviews the draft class of each National League team, noting that he loves what the Astros did. The Padres impressed Law early on, and he liked the Nationals' selection of Lucas Giolito.
  • A legal dispute in Ohio could impact the future use of advisors, as Darren Heitner explains in a piece at Forbes.com. The MLBPA has warned agents that a case involving the former representatives of Andy Oliver “could represent a significant threat” to agents by placing restrictions on who can represent athletes who live or attend school in Ohio.
  • There have been lots of pre-draft agreements between teams and players, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick hears (Twitter link). "It's a bigger joke this year than it's ever been,'' one agent told Crasnick.

Lucas Giolito Talks Elbow, Nationals

The Nationals selected high schooler Lucas Giolito with their top pick in this year’s draft despite uncertainty surrounding his pitching elbow, and the right-hander sounds confident that he’ll justify the team’s decision. Considered one of the most talented players available in this year’s draft, Giolito suffered an elbow injury this March and waited last night as half of baseball’s 30 teams passed on him.

“I had no idea where I was going to go off of the board,” he told reporters on a conference call this afternoon.

Giolito has started throwing long toss — he’s up to 300 feet — and is also throwing “pretty hard” on flat ground. He said he expects rehabilitation, not surgery, to be the answer to his recent ligament injury.

“I’m confident that this issue is behind me,” he said, sounding more poised than most 17-year-old prospects. “I’m looking forward to getting on the mound soon.”

Giolito said he considers the Nationals a “great organization” and that he admires Stephen Strasburg's pitching style. He said he’ll join the Nationals by next month’s signing deadline if the situation is right, but noted that UCLA has an appealing baseball program that remains “a really big option” for him. 

This marks the fourth consecutive season that the Nationals have drafted a player tabbed as a potential first overall talent with their top pick. They selected Anthony Rendon sixth overall last year after selecting Strasburg and Bryce Harper with the first overall selections in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Scouting director Kris Kline and general manager Mike Rizzo made Giolito the 16th overall selection last night. MLB recommends a bonus of $2.1MM for that slot; the sides have until July 13th to work out an agreement.