Prospect News, March 8, 2012: Implications of Lucas Giolito Injury
The big news in the world of baseball prospects today: high school phenom Lucas Giolito has a strained elbow ligament. A right-hander at Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City, California, Giolito won't need surgery but will be out of action for at least two months while rehabbing the ligament. The injury is considered very minor, as elbow injuries go. If everything goes perfectly, there is some chance he could return to the mound the last week of May or the first week of June, right before the draft.
This certainly complicates the draft. Giolito was being mentioned as a possible number one overall pick, and before the injury he would most certainly have gone in the top three. He's a 6-6, 230 pound right-hander with a 94-98 MPH fastball (hitting 100 according to some reports) and a wicked curveball. He's also reasonably polished for a high school pitcher and draws praise for his makeup. He has a commitment to UCLA and comes from a wealthy family, but was considered signable for early-first-round slot money.
What happens now? Even if Giolito comes back before the draft and appears healthy, would one of the teams at the top of the first round still pull the trigger, or does the injury increase the risk premium too much? If he doesn't come back in time, or if there are lingering health concerns, how far will he fall?
Under the old draft rules, someone would probably have taken him later in the first round or in the supplemental round, then give him an over-slot bonus once his health status was clear. With severe penalties for teams that go overslot, this isn't likely to happen under the new CBA. However, if Giolito isn't happy with his payday, he could very easily move on to UCLA and try again in the 2015 draft.
In any event, with Giolito's injury and some early erratic performance from Stanford RHP Mark Appel, things are now wide open at the top of the first round.