Washington Nationals News: Lucas Giolito Invited To Spring Training

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At Nats Winterfest, Mike Rizzo said that the Nats’ top prospect will be in big league camp this spring.

When the Washington Nationals pitchers and catchers report to Viera, Florida in February, there will be an intriguing name taking part in big league camp. At Nats Winterfest today in DC, president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo told the media that the team’s top prospect, right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito, will be taking part in big league camp:

This past season, Giolito was able to get up to double-A Harrisburg. In 21 games (19 starts) with Harrisburg and low-A Potomac, the 21-year-old right-hander went 7-7 with a 3.15 ERA. Over the course of 117 innings, he struck out 131 batters, walked 37, and only gave up three home runs. This year, he was named to the Futures Game roster that took place in July at the site of the All-Star Game (Cincinnati).

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The Nats’ first round pick in the 2012 draft began his 2015 season in May for Potomac. He went 3-5 with a 2.71 ERA in 13 games (11 starts) and had 86 strikeouts in 69.2 innings. One of his best outings down in low-A occurred on July 1 against the Frederick Keys (Baltimore Orioles) when he threw seven no-hit innings in relief of Aaron Barrett (who was on rehab assignment).

Two months later, Giolito was promoted to Harrisburg and he went 4-2 in eight outings with a 3.80 ERA. Back on August 14 against the Bowie Bay Sox (Orioles), he threw seven innings of one-hit ball and struck out 11 to record his first double-A win. Between the two affiliates, Giolito had five games of nine or more strikeouts (he had 11 in a game twice).

During the season, I spoke with Mick Reinhard, who covers the Senators for The Penn Live/Patriot News. This is what he told me about his impressions of Giolito:

"“I have a hard time believing he just turned 21. He’s really smart, loves poring over scouting reports, and is mature beyond his age. Secondly, as good as his fastball is, it’s the curve that’s a thing of beauty. It is downright nasty.”"

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While it is unlikely that Giolito would break camp with the big league club, that doesn’t mean he won’t be able to help the Nats out in 2016. If he dominates at double-A and triple-A, he could make an emergency start midseason or help the team out as a September call-up, whether it be in the rotation or the bullpen.

Next: Nats Free Agent Profile: Chris Davis

Regardless of whether he makes his big league debut in 2016, Nats fans should be excited about the potential Giolito has and the opportunity to showcase his stuff in Viera when Spring Training games begin in March.

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