WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are willing to draft pitchers who have undergone Tommy John surgery. They believe they can turn them into quality pitchers, and they have the track record to back it up.
For example, the Nationals were successful with right-hander Lucas Giolito who was the team's first-round pick in 2012 and needed surgery right away. After having elbow reconstruction, Giolito is having a strong season at Double-A Harrisburg and is ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the top prospect in baseball.
Now, the Nationals hope they hit the lottery after drafting left-hander Jesus Luzardo, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. He was considered the 77th-best Draft prospect, according to MLB.com. When healthy, his fastball is clocked in the mid-90s, and he is known to have a good curveball and changeup.
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"He was a highly regarded left-handed starter before he had Tommy John surgery," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He was very carefully scouted. We had seen him for years. He is a guy that has stuff now and still has room to improve.
"The surgery was done by Dr. [James] Andrews, so we trust that it was done well. Our area scout has a great relationship with the family, so we know what kind of worker [Luzardo] is. As we bring him along, he can reach the heights that he had pre-surgery."
Rizzo is confident Luzardo will be signed to a professional contract. After that, Luzardo is expected to work out at the Nationals complex to strengthen the elbow.
The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at noon ET.
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.