When the Washington Nationals selected right-hander Lucas Giolito with their first selection in this past June’s Amateur Draft, they did so knowing full well the risks that came along with the selection. It seems as though those concerns may be coming to fruition sooner than expected, however.
Giolito suffered a tear in one of the ligaments in his right elbow in early March, putting an early end to his final season in high school and cutting short any remaining hope that he’d be taken with the #1 overall pick in the June Draft – as many experts had been predicting for him going all the way back to last summer. Despite missing the full season and a full scholarship offer to attend UCLA this fall, Washington took Giolito at #16 overall. The two sides agreed upon a deal worth $2.95 Million just before the signing deadline in mid-July.
Last week Giolito finally made his professional debut to Washington’s Gulf Coast League affiliate. He threw two innings of work, allowing a run on a pair of hits while striking out one. There reportedly was a significant dropoff in velocity from his first inning of work to the second, which immediately concerned some members of the organization’s medical staff and led directly to Giolito exiting the game early. Now, as ESPN’s Keith Law first reported, Giolito is set to have his elbow examined sometime this week by famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum.
While surgery was not deemed necessary when he first suffered the elbow injury last March, it seems entirely possible that he’ll need to undergo Tommy John Surgery after further examinations this week. Washington was aware of that risk when they drafted and signed him but it would still be a shame to see him miss a full year so soon after beginning his professional career. That said, should Giolito miss the entire 2013 season while recovering, he’d enter the 2014 season at just 19 years of age.