Nats prospects among MLB’s Top 100 Prospects

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Updated: January 24, 2014
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MLB.com released it’s list of the Top 100 prospects in Baseball.  Among the Top 100 are two pitching prospects for the Nationals.

Lucas Giolito is ranked 44th on the list.  Giolito was the Nationals top pick in 2012 draft, 16th overall.  By most rankings of that Draft, Giolito was listed as the one of the top three pitchers overall.  Many of the mock drafts in our MLB Mock Draft Database, but in the 2012 version of the Database, had Giolito listed as a Top 5 pick.  However, he tumbled on Draft day due to linger concerns surrounding his sore elbow.  Those injury concerns were validated when Giolito missed much of the 2013 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.  Still, as has become customary with the Washington Nationals brass, injury concerns don’t scare them.  Given Giolito’s young age (18 when drafted), they could not pass up on Giolito at #16.

Giolito returned from Tommy John surgery late last season and made 11 starts, 8 in the rookie Gulf Coast League and 3 for Auburn (short season A).  With the GCL Nats, Giolito posted 1-1 record with a 2.78 ERA.  In 22.2 innings, Giolito fanned 25 and allowed a .232 batting average against.  After being promoted to Auburn, Gioltio was 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA in three starts.  In 14 innings, he  permitted just 1 run, walked 4, and fanned 14.  The 6’6″ right-hander is a flame thrower with an excellent curve ball.  He is clearly on the fast track to DC and according to most sources will likely start the season at Low A in the Carolina League.

AJ Cole is ranked 69th on the list.  The Nationals drafted Cole in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft.  Cole was the center part of the Nats package of prospects that went to Oakland to acquire starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez.  It was a trade no one wanted to make, but to acquire a starter like Gonzalez, they had to give up a big prospect.  It tuns out the Nats did not want to depart with Cole so bad, they reacquired him in a deal that sent slugger Mike Morse to the A’s in 2013.

Cole returned to the Nats last season and spent time at High A Potomac and AA Harrisburg.  In 18 starts at Potomac, Cole posted a 6-3 record with a 4.25 ERA.  He was among the system leaders in strikeouts.  At Potomac, he tossed 97.1 innings and permitted 23 walks compared to 102 strikeouts.   Those numbers earned him an AA promotion for his final 7 starts.  At Harrisburg, Cole posted a 4-2 record with a 2.18 ERA.  In 45.1 innings, he walked 10 while fanning 49.   Opposing batter batted just .189 off Cole.  That is pretty impressive for AA ball.

Other prospects we will be watching closely in 2014:

Pitchers:  Sammy Solis, Jake Ojhansen, Matt Purke, Blake Schwartz, Austin Voth, Nik Pivetta, Jefery Rodriguez, Hector Silvestrie, Brett Mooneyham

Relief Pitchers:  Aaron Barrett, Robert Benincasa, Neil Holland

Infielders:  1B/3B Matthew Skole, 1B Shawn Pleffner,  3B Drew Ward, 2b Tony Renda, Jose Marmolejos-Diaz

Outfielders:  Brian Goodwin, Rafael Bautista, Brandon Miller, Randy Encarnacion, Issac Ballou