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BP Top Prospects: Nationals

Minors : : General
Jason Parks        
Published: Monday, February 24, 2014

Listed below are the top 5 prospects in the Washington Nationals organization as ranked by Jason Parks and Baseball Prospectus. To view the full feature, please visit this link.

Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Nationals list

The Top Ten

  1. RHP Lucas Giolito
  2. RHP A.J. Cole
  3. CF Brian Goodwin
  4. CF Michael Taylor
  5. RHP Jake Johansen
  6. RHP Jefry Rodriguez
  7. 1B Matt Skole
  8. Pedro Severino
  9. RF Drew Vettleson
  10. 3B Drew Ward 


1. Lucas Giolito

Position: RHP
DOB: 07/14/1994
Height/Weight: 6’6” 225 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1
st round, 2012 draft, Harvard-Westlake HS (Los Angeles, CA)
Previous Ranking: #2 (Org), #70 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 0.64 ERA (14 IP, 9 H, 14 K, 4 BB) at short-season Auburn, 2.78 ERA (22.2 IP, 19 H, 25 K, 10 BB) at complex level GCL
The Tools: 8 potential FB; 8 potential CB; 7 potential CH

What Happened in 2013: After only appearing in one game before falling victim to Tommy John surgery in 2012, Giolito returned to the hill the following summer, making 11 starts and hitting 100 on the gun.

Strengths: Elite size/strength; creates steep plane to the plate; elite arm strength; easy explosion from the hand; fastball works comfortably in the 94-97 range; can touch 100; big late life; future elite pitch; curveball is true hammer; thrown with slider velocity with big 12-6 shape; second elite future offering; changeup shows late vertical life and will eventually become monster pitch because of the arm action and fastball fear; good pitchability for a power arm.

Weaknesses: Easy release but delivery can show some effort; he has a lot of body to control; can struggle with mechanical consistency; command is fringe at present; changeup underdeveloped at present; good action but struggles to command the pitch.

Overall Future Potential: 8; elite starting pitcher

Realistic Role: 7; no. 1/2 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; TJ on resume; yet to pitch at full-season level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: If everything breaks right, Giolito could end up as the best pitcher in the major leagues one day. On the other hand, acting like that’s a given could get you into serious trouble in dynasty leagues. The fact that he’s a top-20 fantasy prospect while not having thrown a pitch in full-season ball shows you the upside—he could be elite in all four categories. Ignore the uncertainty or time frame at your own risk.

The Year Ahead: On paper, Giolito has the highest ceiling of any arm in the minors, and that list includes Taijuan Walkerand Archie Bradley. It’s an almost irresponsible combination of size and stuff, a 6’6’’ power righty who can sit in the mid-upper-90s with a lively fastball and back it up with an unhittable hard curveball that can show intense vertical depth. He’s not far removed from Tommy John surgery and the command profile needs refinement, but the 19-year-old arm should dominate at the A-ball level in 2014, and when the Nationals take the governor off the semi in 2015, Giolito should erupt into the premier arm in baseball, if he doesn’t already have claim on that distinction after his full-season debut. This is what it looks like, folks. This is a future no. 1 starter at the major-league level.

Major league ETA: 2016

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