Giolito and Taylor Make MLB.Com’s Top 50 Prospects

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On Friday night, MLB Network had a one-hour special to debut the list of the Top 50 prospects in Major League Baseball for 2015, according to MLB Pipeline. Soon after, the top 100 were announced on MLB Pipeline. In total, three Washington Nationals’ prospects cracked the top 100, which is one more than what the organization had a year ago.

The highlights of this list were the two players that cracked the top 50. Those prospects were outfielder Michael Taylor (#42) and right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito (#6).

For Giolito, his ranking rose up 38 spots from where he was at this time last year (#44). The 16th pick in the 2012 MLB Draft had a great season for low-A Hagerstown, going 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA in 20 starts and he recorded 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

Giolito was named as the best right-handed pitcher in the game according to MLB Pipeline as well. With the Nats’ super rotation, Giolito has time to grow in the Nats’ system, allowing the organization to take his progression at a slow pace when you consider he is two years removed from having Tommy John surgery. Still, it seems as though the sky is the limit for the 20-year-old.

Taylor’s number 42 spot was 23 spots higher than where he was a year ago. Earlier this week, Taylor was named as the sixth best outfield prospect in all of baseball on MLB Pipeline. The 29-year old got his chance to play some games with the big league club in September of 2014 when he hit .207 with one home run and drove in five runs in 17 games played.

The bulk of Taylor’s season last year was in double-A Harrisburg. The right-handed hitter played 98 games at Harrisburg and hit .313 with 22 home runs and 61 RBI’s. This caused him to get the call-up to triple-A Syracuse for 12 games before making his Major League debut on August 12 against the New York Mets.

The one thing that is holding Taylor back is the high volume of strikeouts that he puts up. In those 98 games at Harrisburg, he struck out 130 times. With the Nationals depth at the outfield spot, it is possible that the team could let him play the bulk of the season in Syracuse to get him everyday at-bats. That could prepare him for a starting spot in 2016 if the current center field, Denard Span, leaves via free agency next winter.

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As for the Nats’ prospect who just missed the top 50, right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole showed up on the top 100 ranking in the 52nd spot. In 25 games with Harrisburg and Syracuse, Cole went 13-3 with a 3.16 ERA.

The fourth round pick of the Nationals in the 2010 MLB Draft made his triple-A debut on June 28 for the Syracuse Chiefs. In 11 starts at Syracuse, he was 7-0 with a 3.43 ERA. He is more ready for the majors than Giolito at the moment, but one thing that the 23-year old could work on is his walk rate, which was at 2.4 walks per nine innings a year ago.

Technically, shortstop prospect Trea Turner (#62) is not part of the Nationals just yet. Turner, who was traded to Washington from the Padres in December, can’t officially come to the Nats yet because it hasn’t been a full year since he was drafted in June of 2014. He is the number eight shortstop prospect on MLB.com.

Turner hit .369 in 46 games with the Fort Wayne TinCaps down in the Midwest League. One of the things to like about the 21-year-old is his speed. Turner stole 14 bases in 17 attempts last season. The shortstop is still a ways away from the Major Leagues, but he is a player the Nats’ fan should keep an eye on as the future shortstop if Ian Desmond goes elsewhere next offseason.

You can read more about Turner in the interview I did with Fort Wayne Tincaps play-by-play announcer, John Nolan.

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