The Nationals surprised everyone by taking Luc Giolito, a high school pitcher with ace upside. He’s a 6’6″ righty who can hit 100 mph, but he had to shut it down in March due to an elbow injury. Perhaps the Nats history with Strasburg and Zimmermann makes them believe even if he needs a year off for surgery, they’ll still get their money’s worth, although hopefully it won’t come to that.
He impressed everyone until the injury, thanks to has mid to high-90s fastball and a strong curveball. His command is good as well, and as a total package he does project as a potential ace. Keith Law said of Giolito
Had he been healthy all spring, he would probably have been my No. 1 overall player. If the doctors clear him, he could be excellent value in the pick 6-15 range as perhaps the only pitcher in this draft who has true No. 1 starter upside.
Kevin Goldsten felt equally strong about his potential
Among the best high school righties in recent memory, as he has everything scouts look for… much more than just a pure arm, as many teams also saw his power curveball as one of if not the best breaking ball in the draft.
There is, to reiterate, no doubts about his talent. But the elbow injury probably scared quite a few teams away. So did signability, as he did commit to UCLA. If he ends up going there and is healthy (and as good as people think) he’d come out as an overall number one pick. But that couldn’t be for another three years, and Kevin Goldstein is our guide once again
The Nationals don't take Giolito without talking to his camp first to gauge the signability. He'll sign.—
Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) June 05, 2012
Hopefully that will assuage all of our fears, of course, if he signs it’ll probably be 10 minutes to the deadline so we’ll have some time yet to sweat it out. Goldstein didn’t say whether or not he liked the pick over Twitter, but commented that he has insane upside. Keith Law was more direct:
So once again, the people who know about scouting are pretty darn excited about what the Nats did. I personally really like this pick. There is no reason to pick for need ever in baseball, but especially when you are already a contender. It doesn’t make send for the Nats to draft someone who likely won’t be in the lineup for a couple of seasons at minium to fill a need when they’re trying to win it now. So another great pitcher despite the dominance of this staff? Absolutely!
I appreciate what they’re doing here, and they probably felt they couldn’t resist this level of talent when it fell to them. Its another year and another guy who truly has the potential to be the best player in the draft. But don’t take my word for it, here’s what Baseball America’s prospect guru Jim Callis said on MLB Network last night:
If you’re talking about a guy in this draft who has the highest upside of any pitcher… it could be Giolito… Huge upside. What amazes me is you’re talking 4 drafts in a row now, just by circumstances and where they picked and how the draft’s fallen, they got Stephen Strasburg, the best pitching prospect in the history of the draft, next year you got Bryce Harper, the best power prospect in the history of the draft, last year picking 6th they got the best hitter in last year’s draft in Anthony Rendon, and this year picking 16 they may have gotten the highest ceiling in the draft. That’s unbelievable. If he stays healthy, that’s an unbelievable 4 year run for the Nationals.