Lucas Giolito: 2014 Year in Review
By Pablo Roa
It’s no secret that the key behind the Nationals’ success in 2014 was the team’s starting rotation. Whether it was Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez or Tanner Roark, the Nationals could always count on an ace-caliber arm taking the mound every fifth day and giving them a chance to win the ballgame.
“I know I have things I need to work on,” Giolito told MLB.com. “So, I’m never satisfied. It’s good that I throw hard and my curveball breaks a lot, but there is more to it than that. I definitely want to improve on the finer aspects of pitching.”
While the Nationals have one of the best rotations in baseball, perhaps their greatest starting pitching talent is lurking in the minor leagues in the form of Lucas Giolito. Giolito, whom the Nationals selected with the 16th overall pick of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, has bounced back from an elbow injury to become the team’s top prospect and one of the game’s rising stars.
Giolito, 20, suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow during his senior year of high school and the right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after the Nationals signed him with a $2.925 million signing bonus. After the surgery, however, Giolito was once again the dominant pitcher that would have been top pick in the draft had it not been for the injury.
In his return to the mound last season, Giolito split time between the Nationals’ Gulf Coast League team and rookie ball in Auburn, posting a 1.96 ERA and striking out 39 batters in 36 2/3 innings.
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Giolito further cemented his place as one of the best prospects in baseball with another dominant season in 2014. The right-hander spent the entire season at Class-A Hagerstown, going 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA in 20 starts. Giolito’s 2014 success earned him a spot in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
As part of their protocol with pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Nationals ended Giolito’s season after just 98 innings. But with his first full season after the surgery behind him, Giolito should be back in full force next year to continue his climb up the Nationals’ farm system.
We probably won’t see him take the mound at Nationals Park until 2016, but after his dominant 2014 season, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about Lucas Giolito.