CINCINNATI -- Nationals top-ranked prospect Lucas Giolito might be the best pitching prospect on earth right now, but he blushes when that's suggested to him. There have been too many challenges, too many criticisms thrown in Giolito's path for the No. 4 overall prospect and top-ranked pitcher overall to grow complacent.
"There will be a lot of doubters when it comes to guys getting hurt," Giolito said Sunday, before firing two shutout innings in his second career SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, helping the U.S. Team to a 10-1 win over the World Team as the starting pitcher.
"There have been so many guys in the big leagues who have had Tommy John surgery, Tommy John surgery multiple times, shoulder surgery. Even though some surgeries are more severe than others, they dedicate themselves to working hard and making it better, and they wind up having great careers. So hopefully I'm going to be one of those guys."
Giolito's particular flavor was a single Tommy John operation, the risk of it bumping him from a consensus top Draft pick to No. 16 overall in 2012. The Nationals scooped him up, waited out his rehab, then watched him develop into the same type of pitcher scouts thought he would be in the first place.
"From a stuff perspective, he has the ability to pitch at a higher level," Nationals assistant general manager and vice president of player development Doug Harris said. "He has some things he has to work on. We have to be mindful of it, like holding runners, fielding his positions -- things that are important as it would relate to a bigger opportunity down the road. Those are the things we are very mindful of as we move forward."
Consider them nitpicks for a prospect who has proven all there is to prove in the lower Minors. Through 11 outings at Class A Advanced Potomac, Giolito owns a 2.76 ERA with 76 strikeouts and just 15 walks in 58 2/3 innings. Sunday, he allowed two hits and struck out one, featuring the mid-90s fastball and power curve that the Nationals have reason to believe will play just as well at the upper levels.
If Giolito's U.S. teammates had not rallied for double-digit runs, his pitching may have been more of a story. As it was, talk inevitably drifted to the lineup, where fellow Nationals prospect Trea Turner entered late and ripped a two-run double down the left-field line, then a triple in his second at-bat.
The Nationals' third-ranked prospect, Turner came to the organization as the player-to-be-named in last November's three-team trade between the Nats, Padres and Rays. Once with the Nationals, the shortstop sped up their Minor League hierarchy, with hopes of being in Washington before much longer.
"You could have asked me a while ago and I never really would have told you this could happen," Turner said. "But I also expect a lot of myself. I'm trying to go out there and do everything I can to get better. I've always been a little bit doubted, and I've tried to go out and prove people wrong."