On Thursday night, the Washington Nationals had their top prospect, Lucas Giolito, have one of the best games of his professional career. Even though his team, the Potomac Nationals (Washington’s high-A affiliate) took the loss 1-0 against the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the 22-year old right-hander definitely improved after his first start of the season.
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In six innings of work, Giolito gave up one earned run on five hits, walked one batter, but the most impressive stat was the 11 strikeouts that he had. Keep in mind, his career high for strikeouts in a game was nine, which he had twice for low-A Hagerstown last season (June 26 and July 19).
He was commanding the strike zone as 63 of his 84 pitches were called strikes. Between the third and fourth innings, he has a stretch where he struck out five out of six batters, with the only non-strikeout coming on a two-out double by Robert Pehl.
The only mistake that Giolito made last night came in the bottom of the sixth inning. After back-to-back singles by Ramon Torres and Jack Lopez, Giolito would get his 11th strikeout when Mauricio Ramos would strike out via the bunt. The next batter, Frank Schwindel, would single to right field, to score Torres and give the Blue Rocks the lead.
Despite the loss, this was definitely an improvement from Giolito’s first start when he went 4.1 innings, gave up five runs on eight hits., struck out five, and walked two against the Frederick Keys (Baltimore Orioles). One of the things you have to like about this pitcher’s mindset is that he sets the bar high every time he takes the rubber.
“Obviously I wish I didn’t give up a run, but it happens. They were able to manufacture one out of what seemed like nothing that inning so I tip my hat to the Blue Rocks for getting to me. Hopefully next outing, zero runs.” (h/t MILB.com)
It’s been a great start for the Nationals two young pitching prospects in Virginia. Reynaldo Lopez, the Nats number four prospect (according to MLB Pipeline), has yet to give up an earned run in either of his two starts against Wilimington. On Tuesday, Lopez went six innings, gave up no runs on four hits, struck out six batters and walked two. He has faced Wimington in both of his starts this season.The Potomac Nationals are 14-20, but are only 4.5 games behind the Blue Rocks in the Northern Division of the Carolina League.