MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Scouting profile: Lucas Giolito

Scouting profile: Lucas Giolito

Background
Right-handed starter Lucas Giolito is a crucial part of the Washington Nationals pitching future. He has enough upside to ultimately become the "ace" of the team's rotation.

Giolito has long been regarded as a top of the rotation prospect due to his tremendous size, his outstanding pitch repertoire, his mound demeanor and his work ethic.

Giolito suffered a strained ulner collateral ligament while still in high school and underwent Tommy John surgery in Aug. 2012.

Once thought to be the first player to be selected in the 2012 Draft, Giolito's surgery caused some concern. The Nationals selected him with the 16th overall pick that June, just prior to his elbow surgery.

Giolito is No. 3 among the Top 100 Prospects and No. 1 on the Nationals list.

Repertoire
Giolito is a huge physical presence on the mound. At 6-foot-6, 255 pounds, he has the strength, stamina and the well-proportioned frame to dominate a game.

Changing the balance of the hitter is the foundation of Giolito's approach. He primarily uses a three-pitch mix to attack hitters. At the top of his arsenal is a high-velocity four-seam fastball that varies in speed from 93 to 97 mph. Adding and subtracting from the velocity is part of his plan. Even after having surgery, he can hit 100 mph with relative ease. His primary secondary pitch is a wicked, sharp breaking curveball that sits at 80 mph. His final pitch is a changeup that continues to improve. The hitter must be aware that the changeup is available to Giolito and that he is gaining confidence and using the pitch more often. At 81 mph, the changeup really alters the balance of the hitter.

Mechanics
Giolito uses the entire plate and places an emphasis on changing the eye level of the hitter. One of the impressive components of Giolito's pitching is the low number of home runs he has yielded. That's a result of his ability to generally keep the ball down while occasionally throwing a very tempting high velocity fastball in the eyes of the hitter.

Giolito uses a high leg lift to hide the ball and an arm slot that is a tad above the standard three-quarters delivery. His delivery is the true definition of an "over the top" pitcher. Because he is so tall, his stride is extremely long. It must appear to a hitter that he is standing in front of the batter's box at the point of release.

Strengths
Giolito personifies the big, strong power pitcher so prevalent in today's game. He can set up the hitter with a high velocity fastball and then use either the curve or changeup at will. The life on his pitches becomes a constant challenge for the hitter.

I saw Giolito work two solid innings in the SirusXM All Star Futures Game this July in Cincinnati. He yielded two hits, no runs and struck out one.

Giolito has advanced command and control of each of the three pitches in his repertoire. He can get ahead in the count and use any pitch he wishes to induce swings and misses or strikeouts.

Because Giolito uses the entire plate and pitches with such good feel and command, hitters make weak contact with his offerings.

Weaknesses
It isn't a weakness, but more of a caution. His height increases the potential for him to stray from his good mechanics. With long arms and legs, he must work hard to repeat his delivery and keep his mechanics in check.

I find this interesting
Born and raised in the southern California entertainment community, Gioilito comes from an entertainment family. His mom and grandfather are actors. He has uncles who write novels and screenplays.

The future of Giolito
Giolito has the upside of an ace. He continues to progress in the Nationals system. It would not be a reach to think he can be in the team's rotation at some point next season. His final step could be as the team's No. 1 starter.

Giolito in a word
Electric

Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.