What the Lucas Giolito injury means
Lucas Giolito, the top-rated high school pitcher in the 2012 Draft class is now out for his high school season with what has been reported as a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The UCL doesn’t need surgery, but will keep him out for up to 10 weeks. Then there’d be rehab, etc., so he very likely will not throw another pitch for Harvard-Westlake High School.
So, what does this mean? In the short-term, it makes USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational, which Harvard-Westlake is playing in, a little less exciting. In terms of the Draft, it certainly changes things at the top of the board, doesn’t it?
Giolito was thought of as the top prep arm in the class as the season began and when he hit 100 mph early on, it created quite a stir. There were even those who thought perhaps he could become the first high school right-handed pitcher to go No. 1 overall. That, clearly, will not happen now with this injury.
The question remains just where Giolito will go in the June Draft. He’ll have to show his elbow is sound to any teams interested in taking him. In the past, it would be possible for a player like Giolito to slide a bit because of the injury, with a team taking him later in the Draft (either in the first round or much, much later) then going over slot to get him to sign.
With the new rules, however, that might not be possible. Remember, every team has a pool to draw from in the first 10 rounds and they run the risk of penalties if they go too far over that pool. Let’s give an example. I’m sorry for always picking on the Red Sox as a team that picks deep in the first round and/or takes over-slot guys later in the Draft. But they often do and they work as a good example here.
Boston picks No. 24 and No. 31. In the past, that may have been a good spot to take a chance and see if they could get Giolito signed. But it’s more complicated now. If Giolito had gone, say, No. 2 overall (we’ll go with Stanford’s Mark Appel as the No. 1 pick), he could have received $6.2 million, according to the CBA’s guidelines. If he’s able to show teams he’s healthy, it could stand to reason that he could tell a team like the Red Sox he’s worth what he would have received as the No. 2 selection. But the Red Sox’s pool for the first 10 rounds in total is just over $6.8 million. They wouldn’t be able to meet the asking price, unless they only want $600,000 for the rest of their picks, an unlikely scenario.
Obviously, we’ll have to wait and see what happens, both with Giolito’s health and his expectations. Perhaps he’ll be willing to take less because of the injury. Or maybe he’ll end up spending three years at UCLA as a result of all this.
It certainly adds an interesting twist to the Draft now. And it makes his Harvard-Westlake teammate, Max Fried, the guy to watch at USA Baseball’s event and the top prep pitcher in the class.