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With Stephen Strasburg, one of the most hyped pitching prospects in recent years, headed to the disabled list, the Nationals turned to their next uber-prospect, promoting righthander Lucas Giolito to make a start Tuesday against the Mets.
Giolito comes to the big league with loads of hype. He was considered one of the best high school arms in years when Washington drafted him in 2012. Washington picked him even though it knew Giolito would likely need Tommy John surgery. He did and after a one-year rehab, he showed the same stuff (95-plus mph fastball, hard, big-breaking curveball) as he had before the injury.
But as good as Giolito’s curveball looks to be, it’s his changeup that has proven to be a bigger weapon. Giolito has posted reverse splits in each of the past two years–lefties are hitting .192/.295/.238 against him compared to the .290/.373/.387 righthanded hitters are producing. Giolito is a true power pitcher who on his best nights can be unhittable.
WHAT TO EXPECT
At 6-foot-6, 255 pounds Giolito is bigger than your average frontline ace, but he has that front-of-the-rotation potential.
However, it’s easy to find scouts who believe that Giolito is a little overhyped at this point. He’s supremely talented but his command, control and stuff waver more than most near-big league-ready prospects. And results throughout his pro career have not fully matched expectations.
For a pitcher who has touched 100 mph and boasts a changeup and curveball that both earn plus grades at times, Giolito’s .231 career average against and 9.8 strikeouts per nine are good but not spectacular. They pale in comparison to, say, some of the other contemporary pitching prospects such as Tyler Glasnow (.171 average against and 11.6 K/9) or Alex Reyes (.214 average against and 12.1 K/9).