The Washington Nationals, with the signing of Max Scherzer, have arguably the best rotation in baseball. They have six pitchers for five spots, with two pitchers in Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister becoming free agents at the end of the year. Even if one or both of those guys could walk, Washington has the depth at the minor league level.
One of those pitchers, right-hander Lucas Giolito, continues to rise up the ranks. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com compiled the top 50 MLB prospects for MLB.com. While that list won’t be released until Friday January 30th at 8:00 PM ET on MLB Network, he is releasing a list of the top ten players by position.
On Tuesday, the list of the top ten right-handed prospects was released. On that list, Giolito is the number one right-handed pitcher ahead of the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard and the Pirates’ Tyler Glasnow.
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Giolito, the number one prospect in the Nats’ organization, had a great season with the Low-A Hagerstown Suns last year. The 20-year old went 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA in 20 starts. He had 110 strikeouts in 98 innings of work with opponents hitting only .197 against him.
If you dive into the numbers of the Nats’ first round pick in the 2012 draft more closely, you have to be impressed by the fact that Giolito did not lose one start after June 21, a stretch of nine consecutive starts without being defeated.
After the All-Star Break in the South Atlantic League, Giolito was dialed in. He made ten starts, going 8-1 with a 2.35 ERA in ten starts. He went 2-1 with a 2.03 ERA in the ten starts prior to that. As the season went on, his strikeouts went up to 60 K”s in the second half (50 in the first half) and the walks went down to ten (18 in the first half).
Even though the Nats have prospects like Taylor Jordan and A.J Cole who could be ready for the bigs sooner, Giolito is the prospect that Nats’ fans should continue to keep an eye on, even though he will most likely be starting in high-A for the Potomac Nationals. It will be interesting to see whether this kid can continue to climb up the system if he stays healthy.