In DC, top pick Giolito says he's ready to go
High school righty will head to Florida to continue rehabbing arm
WASHINGTON -- Lucas Giolito needed to visit Washington just once to make an informed decision that could shape the rest of his baseball career, and much of his life.
The Nationals' first-round pick (No. 16 overall) in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, who signed on the dotted line at the witching hour just before this past Friday's deadline, was back in the nation's capital for the start of Washington's homestand this week before he packs his bags for Viera, Fla.
There, the right-handed pitcher out of Harvard-Westlake High School (Calif.), will continue to rehabilitate his right arm after spraining the ulnar collateral nerve in his elbow this year.
He says the elbow "feels really good right now," and he hopes to pitch again soon. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Giolito will go to Viera this week and meet with Minor League pitching coordinator Spin Williams, and medical and rehab coordinator Steve Gober, to outline a pitching progression plan that coincides with the hurler's rehab plan that's already in place.
"[We'll] create a new plan for him, and a timetable to see his progression go from flat ground and long toss to getting on the mound and hopefully see some competition, if not during the regular season, then during the Instructional League, possibly," Rizzo said.
Giolito made his first trip to Washington recently, and saw all he needed to see in order to decide between going pro and joining the college ranks at UCLA.
"I got a chance to visit out here a couple weeks ago, and meet some of the guys and see the city, and I think D.C. is one of the best cities I've ever been to, and it's unreal," Giolito said. "Being able to see the monuments and meet certain people, it's really cool."
Friday, he was reportedly signed to a $2.95 million signing bonus -- well above the $2.15 million slotted for the 16th overall pick, because the Nats signed their other top-10 selections below the recommended slot value. Because that was the case, Washington could offer Giolito up to $2,812,700 without incurring a fine for exceeding their signing-bonus pool, according to calculations done by Baseball America.
Because the Nationals exceeded their signing-bonus pool by approximately $100,000, the team will have to pay a fine equal to 75 percent of the amount they went over the limit, which will be about $75,000 in this case.
It came down to details, but both Rizzo and Giolito agreed they were relieved when the deal was done.
"It feels really good," Giolito said. "The process went pretty well, obviously, but I had the opportunity to go to UCLA, play there, play for John Savage, so that was something I really heavily considered. But I feel like I made the right decision, and I'm really excited to get started."
The 6-foot-6, 230-pound 18-year-old has a fastball that has been clocked as high as 100 mph, and a power curveball to go with it. He went 9-1 with 78 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.00 as a junior at Harvard-Westlake before he was sidelined for his senior year.
With the injury, it's unlikely that Giolito will be fast-tracked to the big leagues the same way 2009 picks Drew Storen and Stephen Strasburg and 2010 pick Bryce Harper were. But the youngster remains eager to chip in.
"It's an up-and-coming team," Giolito said of the first-place Nats. "It's a really good team, and obviously the way they're playing right now, it's something that's really cool to be a part of."