Results tagged ‘ Lucas Giolito ’
The Washington Nationals farm system hasn’t so much met expectations in 2013 as it’s surpassed every one.
Ranked the No. 13 farm system overall in the preseason by Baseball America, the Nationals have surged to the third-best organizational record at 403-322 (.558) overall, trailing only Houston (.572) and San Francisco (.564). Three of Washington’s seven affiliates are playoff-bound, with a fourth in a close division race.
None of this is entirely unexpected either. Under the guidance of President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo, the Nats have gone from the Minor League cellar six years ago to a brief stint at No. 1 in last year’s Baseball America preseason rankings. Not to mention that this farm system has cultivated such talent as Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon. In fact, 11 players on Washington’s active roster have come through its Minor League system.
Perhaps most remarkable has been the Gulf Coast League Nationals, which have notched the most impressive mark in all of professional baseball. Since the season began on June 21, the Rookie-level entry has gone 48-9 (.842), better than even the tremendous run by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who posted a 47-12 (.797) record in the same span. The GCL Nationals lead their division by 24.0 games, have 13 more wins than the next best team in the league, and clinched their playoff spot long ago.
Obviously, such a run requires more than just luck. The GCL Nationals are tops in the league in most meaningful statistical categories. Their 2.49 team ERA and .279 team batting average pace the field, while their 5.52 runs per game is more than six-tenths of a run better than the next closest total. They boast the league’s leader and runner-up in ERA among qualifiers, 21-year-old righty Wander Suero (8-1, 1.65) and 20-year-old southpaw Hector Silvestre (7-0, 1.82). Righty Lucas Giolito, the Nationals’ No. 2 prospect, drafted 16th overall out of high school in 2012, has returned from Tommy John surgery and was recently promoted to Short-Season Auburn in the New York-Penn League after notching a 2.78 ERA and 25 strikeouts over 22.2 innings in the Gulf Coast League.
Like the GCL Nats, the High-A Potomac Nationals have put up ridiculous numbers in the Carolina League. Potomac is 81-51 overall, having already locked up a playoff spot by winning the Northern Division’s first-half championship with a 42-27 record. They’re currently 7.5 games up on Lynchburg in the second half, and will earn home-field advantage in all three Carolina League Division Series contests if they secure the second half title as well.
Cutter Dykstra has helped pace Potomac on its most recent tear. During the P-Nats recent 10-game winning streak (August 10-20), the infielder racked up a .316/.447/.421 line. He also reached base in a league-best 29 games, putting together an 18-game hitting streak in the process. Meanwhile, right-hander Blake Schwartz is 11-4 with a 2.56 ERA and leads the league with a 1.03 WHIP.
The Low-A Hagerstown Suns (77-53) are also headed to the postseason, while the Double-A Harrisburg Senators (72-63) are a half-game up in their Eastern League division, where the top two teams reach the playoffs. The Suns are pacing the South Atlantic League with 5.03 runs per game, benefitting from a fairly balanced lineup. They’ve also recently added 2013 draft pick Jake Johansen, who was 1-1 with a 1.06 ERA and a 9.4 K/9 rate with Auburn. The Senators, meanwhile, boast a pitching staff that leads the league with a 3.46 ERA. Nationals third-rated prospect A.J. Cole — who earned the save in the 2013 Futures Game — is sitting at 3-2 with a 2.58 ERA since being promoted in late July.
Though the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs have posted just a 65-72 record, they have their bright spots as well in prospects like Jeff Kobernus and Zach Walters. Kobernus served a brief stint in the big leagues and earned International League Player of the Week honors for the week of August 12-18. He leads the team and is second among Nationals farmhands with a .324 batting average. Walters, meanwhile, has slugged 29 home runs, 10 more than the next closest total in the organization. The infielder has posted a .531 slugging percentage on the season, especially impressive from the shortstop position.
Washington Nationals (61-64) vs. Chicago Cubs (54-71)
RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 1.85) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (1-0, 0.69)
The Nationals send Ross Ohlendorf to the mound against the Chicago Cubs, his first appearance since going on the 15-day disabled list on August 4 (retroactive to August 1). Washington Manager Davey Johnson said he expects Ohlendorf to throw roughly 90 pitches in this evening’s contest. The Cubs will counter with former Baltimore Oriole Jake Arrieta, acquired on July 2 along with reliever Pedro Strop and cash considerations in exchange for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. Arrieta has never bested the Nationals (0-1, 5.57 ERA in four starts), but has been excellent in his two big league starts since joining the Cubs organization.
1. Denard Span CF
2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B
3. Bryce Harper LF
4. Jayson Werth RF
5. Ian Desmond SS
6. Adam LaRoche 1B
7. Steve Lombardozzi 2B
8. Kurt Suzuki C
9. Ross Ohlendorf RHP
31 FLAVORS OF VICTORY FOR HAREN
Dan Haren continues to make career history, pocketing his first-career win at Wrigley Field – his 31st different park with a W – as the Nationals doubled up the Cubs, 4-2, on Tuesday night. The victory was his first since beating the Philadelphia Phillies on August 9, giving him wins against all 30 franchises. In between, Haren notched his first Major League save in a close-out effort against the Braves Saturday night.
NATS COME THROUGH IN CLUTCH
Despite a rough night in which Washington brought home just four of its 21 base runners, the Nationals made it count when it mattered most. Ian Desmond singled home Bryce Harper with nobody out in the ninth to extend the Nats lead to 3-1, and four batters later Denard Span brought home a two-out insurance run, when he plated Ryan Zimmerman to give the Nationals a 4-1 advantage.
NOT A MINOR ACCOMPLISHMENT
The Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals are a stunning 45-8 (.849) this season, which began June 21. However the GCL Nats did lose 2012 No. 1 pick Lucas Giolito, who was promoted to the Short Season-A Auburn Doubledays – and promptly won his first start, a gem of a performance earlier Wednesday afternoon. Giolito went five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, while striking out four. He did not walk a batter.
When fans of teams other than the Nationals think of Washington’s recent First-Year Player Draft history, they tend to focus on the pair of No. 1 overall picks, Stephen Strasburg from 2009 and Bryce Harper a year later.
However, Nationals fans know as well as anyone how important the second round of the draft can be. They drafted Jordan Zimmermann in the second round in 2007 out of little-known Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and two years later found another big leaguer in the recently promoted Jeff Kobernus. When their first pick came around at No. 68 this year, took the route they traveled six years ago, again daring to dream on a powerful, right-handed arm from a small school in Jake Johansen, a 6-foot-6 hurler out of Dallas Baptist University.
There were differing opinions of Johansen from the draft experts, but ESPN’s resident guru Keith Law had the Allen, Texas native ranked 63rd on his board heading into Thursday night. The Nationals liked what they saw, especially Director of Scouting Kris Kline, who watched Johansen pitch twice in games this year before inviting him to a workout in D.C. earlier this week.
“This is what we seek when we go out to the ballpark every day,” said Kline of finding a player like Johansen among the countless hours of driving around the country scouting amateur players.
Kline does not like to make Major League comparisons when discussing draft selections, but he conceded that Johansen’s arm action and delivery very were similar to that of Josh Beckett, another hard-throwing Texan.
With a fastball that can top out in triple digits, Johansen’s upside is obvious. Kline says he usually sits around 94 with his fastball, which is complemented by a pair of breaking balls – a hard cutter/slider that he throws around 88-90 and a curveball. Kline suggests that the former is already an out pitch, but sees both developing as the Nationals coaching staff gets a chance to work with him.
“There’s no reason why, with a few tweaks from our staff, this guy can’t be a front-line guy,” said Kline, who went on to compare him to Washington’s first selection in last year’s draft. “If you put him next to (Lucas) Giolito, you’ve got some pretty good-looking bookends.”
Of course, the Nationals had the different experience of patiently sitting through more than four hours of proceedings before they could finally make their pick. While that’s a good thing in the larger view of it all – drafting later means you’re performing better on the field at the Major League level – it was nonetheless a relief to finally be able to choose the player they hoped would be available after all that time.
“I’m glad he fell into our laps at 68,” said Kline. “When I called him up, I said, ‘Are you as excited as I am? I’ve been waiting all night for this.’”
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft continues Friday at 1 p.m. with selection number 74. The Nationals next selection does not come until the 105th pick.
As you may have noticed, MLB.com released its Top 20 prospects for each team earlier this week as part of its MLB Pipeline debut. There should be a number of names familiar to many Nationals fans, as the Top 10 on the list closely parallels that of the Baseball America rankings filed just a few weeks ago. The BA rankings came out prior to Washington’s reacquisition of A.J. Cole, who would have (as we can figure out through deductive reasoning, by his appearance as the fourth and final Nationals prospect on the overall Top 100) ranked in the top five. As such, seven of the same players appear among the 10 on each list.
Here is the full list of MLB.com’s Top 20, complete with links for those to whom we have already showcased one way or another within the last calendar year.
4. A.J. Cole – RHP
7. Eury Perez – OF
8. Destin Hood – OF
9. Matt Purke – LHP
10. Robbie Ray – LHP
11. Matt Skole – INF
12. Chris Marrero – INF
13. Sammy Solis – LHP
16. Taylor Jordan – RHP
17. Brandon Miller – OF
18. Sandy Leon – C
19. Jason Martinson – INF
20. Kylin Turnbull – LHP
Keep your eyes peeled for plenty more prospect coverage as Curly W Live heads to Spring Training in just a couple more weeks!
Earlier today, Baseball America unveiled its annual Top 10 Prospect List for the Washington Nationals heading into the 2013 season. There has been a lot of movement since last season, with only four of last year’s prospects returning to the list. The reason for this is two-fold: some names, like Bryce Harper and Steve Lombardozzi, have become fixtures at the Major League level, while others have been traded in deals for the likes of Gio Gonzalez and Denard Span, making the Nationals imminently more competitive in the present. In both senses, the farm system has done its job. But that hardly means it is now bereft of top-level talent.
The complete list, along with more information on each player, is listed below. We have already covered a good number of the prospects in our Down on the Farm reports this past season, and will pick up the rest during the 2013 campaign.
1. Anthony Rendon – INF | Last Year: 2
Considered by many to be the top bat in the 2011 Draft, the Nats snagged Rendon with the sixth overall pick. After dealing with an early-season injury, the Rice University product rebounded for a strong season, moving quickly through the system and finishing in the Arizona Fall League.
2. Lucas Giolito – RHP | Last Year: N/A
Taken with the 16th overall selection, the Nationals went for upside with Giolito, who showcased some of the best raw talent of any hurler in his draft class. Though he missed the end of his senior year of high school with an injury and has since had offseason surgery, Mike Rizzo and company are very high on the young pitcher, as are industry insiders like ESPN’s Keith Law and MLB Network’s Peter Gammons.
3. Brian Goodwin – OF | Last Year: 5
Another fast riser through the system, Goodwin crushed the South Atlantic League in the first half of his inaugural pro campaign to earn a two-level promotion to Double-A Harrisburg. He joined Rendon in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars game, where he homered as part of a 2-for-5 performance.
4. Matt Skole – INF | Last Year: 21
Skole opened eyes in his first full professional season. The Georgia Tech product clobbered 27 home runs in just 101 games at Low-A Hagerstown to earn South Atlantic League player of the year, even with a late-season promotion to Potomac. He showed tremendous patience, batting a combined .291/.426/.559, collecting 99 walks and 104 RBI. But despite the impressive display of power and run production, the biggest accolades for Skole within the organization came from as a result of his huge strides forward on defense at third base. That earned him Nationals Minor League Player of the Year honors.
5. Nathan Karns – RHP | Last Year: N/A
The highest mover from last year’s list (from being unranked in a group that runs 30 deep), Karns improved upon an encouraging 2011 season by lowering his walk rate and increasing his strikeouts, yielding tremendous results. He fanned 148 batters in just 116.0 innings, winning 11 games over two levels en route to the Nationals Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.
6. Christian Garcia – RHP | Last Year: N/A
It seems that on every team, every year, there is a surprise Minor Leaguer who breaks out and makes the big leagues as a September call-up. Garcia was that surprise this year, though his talent was well documented. Fully recovered from a second Tommy John surgery, the righty flashed a high-90s fastball and devastating slider to a 0.86 ERA with 66 strikeouts in just 52.1 innings across Double-A and Triple-A. He impressed enough in his debut to earn a spot on the playoff roster, and will likely have an impact as a member of the Nationals pitching staff.
7. Eury Perez – OF | Last Year: 22
A September call-up like Garcia, Perez was primarily used as a pinch-runner in the Majors in 2012, where the Nationals took advantage of his blazing speed. He actually posted better numbers in Triple-A than at Double-A last season, combining for a .314/.344/.361 line and 51 steals between three stops in the minors. Perez will still be just 22 on Opening Day, and will be in Major League camp come Spring Training.
8. Sammy Solis – LHP | Last Year: 8
Taken by the Nationals in the second round out of the University of San Diego back in 2010, Solis missed the 2012 season due to injury. Washington has high hopes for the lefty, who is on track to be fully healthy by spring after posting an 8-3 mark with a 3.13 ERA in 17 A-ball starts back in 2011.
9. Matt Purke – LHP | Last Year: 7
A third-round selection out of TCU in 2011, Purke made just three starts at Hagerstown this year before being shut down. The 6’4”, 205-pound lefty pitched well in the Arizona Fall League in 2011 and got some time against Major Leaguers in Spring Training this past season. With at least two plus pitches, Purke will be worth keeping an eye on this year.
10. Zach Walters – INF | Last Year: 19
Walters was the return chip from the Jason Marquis trade in 2011 and has proven to be a consistent, heady player as he has moved through the system. With his athletic, strong body and a plus arm, he’s a switch-hitter whose solid defense profiles across the infield. He reached Triple-A by the end of 2012 and, at just 23 years of age, seems to have a bright future ahead.
We are putting our own spin on the traditional “10 Questions” format this season. To mix it up a little, we are asking players, front office members, coaches, prospects and others nine questions we think you’d like to know the answer to, then taking our favorite submission through Facebook and Twitter from the fans for the final question.
The Washington Nationals inked their 2012 first-round pick just 30 seconds before the signing deadline on July 13. Lucas Giolito, a tall, power-pitching right-hander who has touched triple digits on the radar gun as a teenager, was highly regarded by talent evaluators everywhere and when he was still available when the Nationals picked at 16, EVP of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo said it was a “no-brainer” for Washington to draft him. Curly W Live sat down with the youngster as he visited Nationals Park on Tuesday afternoon for the first time as an official member of the organization.
1. It must have been a tough decision turning down an offer to play at a powerhouse program in your own backyard like UCLA. What was the turning point for you in signing with the Nats?
It definitely took a lot of thinking about UCLA. Coach (John) Savage and the whole UCLA baseball program is unbelievable. But, coming to D.C. in that first trip I took out here, being on the field, meeting the guys, seeing the city was really a huge turning point. Being able to be a part of it was unreal.
2. You visited D.C. a month ago when the Yankees were in town. What was your favorite part about that trip?
Probably going out seeing all of the monuments, all the sights. I’d never been to D.C. before. So seeing the city was a great experience.
3. Your mother, father, uncle and grandfather have all worked in the entertainment business in LA. Did you ever have any interest in getting into acting?
Yeah, a lot of my family is in the entertainment industry but I really never got into it. I actually never really watched a lot of the movies or television shows they were in. I was mostly focused on playing baseball.
4. How do you know Samuel L. Jackson, who gave you a shout out on Twitter after you signed?
My dad is friends with Sam, he’s played golf with him in the past. Sam’s actually given me some autographs, an autographed Mace Windu lightsaber and stuff like that. So we go back a little.
Shout out to @LGio27! The real FASTBALLAFAHKKHA!!!!!!—
Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) July 15, 2012
5. Was there a friendly rivalry between you and teammate Max Fried, taken seventh overall by the San Diego Padres?
I know Max really well. I’ve known him for a couple of years now. When he got to Harvard-Westlake for his senior year – he was a senior transfer – we kind of had a friendly rivalry from the start. We’re best friends, but we always like to compete against each other, so competing against each other at the next level will be even cooler.
6. Before the draft, people drew comparisons between you and Roy Halladay. What does it mean to you to have people use your name in the same sentence as a Cy Young Award winner?
That feels unbelievable. Obviously I’m not anywhere close to a Roy Halladay or a (Justin) Verlander or a (Stephen) Strasburg like we have here in D.C. But to be able to work hard and try to get to that kind of point is something I’m really focused on.
7. When you look at the young pitching talent already in this organization, how excited do you get thinking about the possibility of joining them in the big leagues in a few years?
I couldn’t be more excited to maybe pitch in the same place as Strasburg, Gio (Gonzalez), (Jordan) Zimmermann, all those guys. I have so much respect for them and what they’re doing. Being able to start at the bottom to try to work my way up there is unbelievable.
8. At 6’6”, you are a half-foot taller than Gio Gonzalez. How do you feel about the nickname “Little Gio?”
I think it’s kind of funny. I wouldn’t mind that. Obviously I know Gio is a much bigger name than me, so it kind of fits.
9. What’s your first order of business now that you are officially a Washington National?
The first thing I want to do now that I’m part of the team is go to the game tonight and root on, well, I guess I can call them my teammates of the future. I’m really excited.
Fan Question, from @mthardyyy on Twitter: How does it feel to be drafted by such a young organization with such a bright future?
I couldn’t agree more. I think that the Nationals organization is the best organization in baseball and I’m so excited to get started and move my way up.
Washington Nationals (50-34) vs. Miami Marlins (41-45)
LHP Gio Gonzalez (12-3, 2.92) vs. LHP Mark Buerhle (8-8, 3.25)
The Nationals and Marlins meet for the second of a three-game set, with prized offseason left-handed pitching acquisitions Gio Gonzalez and Mark Buehrle going head-to-head. Gonzalez, a native of Hialeah, FL, makes his first start of the year in Miami.
1. Espinosa 2B
2. Harper CF
3. Zimmerman 3B
4. Morse RF
5. LaRoche 1B
6. Desmond SS
7. Moore LF
8. Flores C
9. Gonzalez LHP
Z-MEN LEAD NATIONALS TO 50TH WIN
Jordan Zimmermann (6-6) logged 6.0 scoreless frames, lowering his ERA to 2.48, en route to his 3rd straight winning decision and Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-4 including a 2-run homer, leading the Nationals to a 5-1 win last night at Miami, their first-ever at Marlins Park.
SETTING THE TABLE
Last night’s win marked the 18th time the Nationals have won a series opener this season. Washington has gone on to win the series 14 of the previous 17 times they won the first game of a set, splitting two-game series in the other three instances. With a win tonight, the Nationals would claim their 18th series win, after going 17-7-4 in series play prior to the All-Star break.
NATIONALS ADD ANOTHER GIO TO STABLE
At yesterday’s 5:00 p.m. signing deadline, the Nationals announced they agreed to terms with RHP Lucas Giolito, their first-round (16th overall) selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Harvard-Westlake School in California…the 17-year-old went 9-1 with 78 strikeouts and a 1.00 ERA in 70.1 IP as a senior this year, after being named a Perfect Game All-American as a junior in ‘11. In all, Washington agreed to terms with 29 players selected in the 2012 Draft, including its top 14 picks and 23 of its top 24 selections.
With 40 rounds and over 1,000 picks, the MLB First-Year Player Draft can be confusing to follow. That was even more the case for the Nationals this season considering first-round pick Lucas Giolito joins current starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez, and second-round selection Tony Renda shares nearly the same name with 2011 first-rounder Anthony Rendon. If that wasn’t enough, third-rounder Brett Mooneyham was selected fresh out of Stanford University, while Brandon Miller, the player the Nats selected next, set numerous records in his time as a power hitter for… wait for it… Samford University.
To help clear it all up here is a more detailed look at those who signed from the Nationals top 10 selections.
Tony Renda: 2B, University of California, Berkeley
Renda, the Nationals second-round selection, was a junior playing second base for the University of California, Berkeley Golden Bears. Where he truly excels, however, is at the plate.
“In our opinion, Tony has the quickest bat in the draft,” Nationals Director of Scouting Kris Kline said of Renda immediately after the organization selected him.
This season, Renda had a .342 batting average, five home runs, and 27 RBI. As a sophomore in 2011, he was named Pac-10 player of the year, and was selected as one of 50 players on USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award Watch list as the nation’s top amateur baseball player. Look out for Renda’s performance with the Short-Season Auburn Doubledays, as he takes his first step on the long ladder of professional baseball.
Brandon Miller: OF, Samford University
The Nationals selected Samford University’s school record-setting alumnus, Brandon Miller, with their fourth-round pick. In the 2008 draft, the Red Sox picked Miller, a high school senior at the time, in the 33rd round. A true power hitter in college, Miller led the nation with 23 home runs this season, and was 15th with 65 RBI.
Miller “has middle of the lineup power,” said Nationals Area Supervisor Eric Robinson. “[He] reminds me of our own Tyler Moore.”
Spencer Kieboom: C, Clemson
Spencer Kieboom (KEE-boom), a duel citizen of the US and the Netherlands, was the Nationals’ fifth-round selection. He struck out only 17 times in 204 at-bats this season. Kieboom was named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List in both 2011 and 2012, and was an All-ACC Academic Team member in 2011. After signing with the Nationals, Kieboom sent the following thank you message to his fans on Twitter:
“These past three years at Clemson have been some of the best years of my life, Clemson baseball is and always will hold a special place in my life. I wouldn’t have traded these past three years for anything.”
Hayden Jennings, OF, Evangel Christian High School (LA)
While Jennings may not have had the same hype as Bryce Harper did going into the draft, he is another left-handed hitting outfielder who just happens to share the exact same birthday as Harper. Jennings hails from Shreveport, LA and the 19 year-old was set to head to LSU this fall until he signed with the team a week ago. Last Thursday, he was sitting at his kitchen table surrounded by his parents and three sisters, when he officially inked his deal with the Nats. Jennings joins the Nationals after leading Evangel Christian High School (LA) to a state championship during his junior season in 2011. He was named the Shreveport Times All-City Player of the Year and Class 2A Most Outstanding Player as a senior this season.
Derek Self: RHP, University of Louisville
Derek Self was the Nationals ninth-round pick out of the University of Louisville, where he pitched for four years. In his first three seasons with the Cardinals, Self had a 14-3 record in 70 appearances (15 starts). Following his junior season, Self was taken in the 27th round by the Oakland A’s, but opted to head back to school for his senior year, where he led the team with seven saves in 26 appearances out of the bullpen. While he started the 2012 season as the Cardinals set-up man, he eventually took over as the closer. In 2009, Self pitched the final three innings in Louisville’s College World Series Regional win over Middle Tennessee State, where he threw 27 of 29 pitches for strikes.
Craig Manuel: C, Rice University
Craig Manuel comes to the Nationals from Rice University, where he was the second of eight Owls selected in the 2012 Draft. This past season he was on the national watch list for the Johnny Bench Award as the best Division I catcher. In his four years with the Owls, Manuel led his team to four straight Conference USA Championships, four NCAA appearances and was error free in 463 attempts. But it wasn’t just behind the plate that Manuel excelled. He finished his collegiate career with a .291 batting average and 100 RBI in 209 career games.
“I think he’s one of the top catchers in Division I, and he may be one of the best situational hitters in college baseball,” Manuel’s Head Coach at Rice, Wayne Graham said.