Lucas Giolito

Born: 07/14/1994 (Age: 20)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 6" Weight: 255
Ideal pitcher's frame. Long limbed and moved around better than expected given his age and size. Doesn't posses the cleanest set of mechanics ever. Features a big gear change from max leg lift to foot strike and lower body can drift at times rather than drive to home plate. Long arm action with a deliberate backward stab out of his glove. Has some shoulder tilt but it helps him to get the ball well over 7 feet high at release point, creating very tough plane. Actually liked his mechanics better out of the stretch when he was forced to streamline all his actions. Repeats his mechanics in an almost video game like fashion. Only lost mechanics briefly after getting a spike caught in the dirt.
Evaluator Ryan Parker
Report Date 08/19/2014
Affiliate Hagerstown Suns (Low A, Nationals)
Dates Seen 8/1/2014
OFP/Risk 80/High
Realistic 70 future all star
MLB ETA 2016
Video Yes
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
Fastball 70 80 92 94 Context is important in regards to his fastball. Giolito can reach back for much higher velocity, but chose not to on this viewing. Talking to him after the game, he said his arm felt fine but it was late in the year and he didn't want to empty the tank.

Even without breaking 95 his fastball was still a monster. Thrown with extreme downhill plane; hitters had no shot at squaring the pitch up. He counteracts his loss in release distance because of his shoulder tilt with exceptional extension. Righties looked extremely uncomfortable against this pitch, especially when he worked to his arm side.

Lacks movement but the extension and plane more than make up for it.

Command was exceptional. Didn't badly miss a target with his fastball until the sixth inning. When he does miss it's either high to his arm side or yanked low and out of the zone to his glove side.

Curveball 70 80 79-81 83 Movement wise the pitch is currently a 65 but he commands the pitch very well and knows how to use it.

The break itself is like nothing I've seen outside of big-league breaking balls. Very hard vertical drop without much of a hump to give the pitch away. Has extremely fast spin.

Can throw to both sides of the plate but is a real monster when he works to his glove side.

Utility of the pitch is great. He knows how to dump it low in the strike zone early to get strikes. When he wants to hunt strikeouts he breaks the pitch a bit harder and buries it in the dirt.

Even pitchers in his bullpen were wowed by pitch. Strasburg-esque

Changeup 50 60 81-83 84 Was pleasantly surpised by his changeup. Keeps arm speed for the pitch and has control of the offering with an improving feel for command. Will throw it to both righties and lefties.

Doesn't seem to have a consistent release for the pitch. Was really working on this pitch when I saw him and you could see him trying different things as the ball came out of his hand. At times it was a straight changeup, other times he would pronate to try and make the ball fade away. Those were the good ones. He threw a handful of questionable changeups when his hand would supinate at release and it would end up coming out like a slow cutter.

However he ends up throwing it, the pitch will be plus. He never gave away the pitch, he threw it for strikes, and he used it to righties and lefties in a multitude of counts.


As long as he doesn't break, Giolito has the chance the be a monster. His floor is that of a no. 3 starter and he has Cy Young Award ceiling. The fact that he didn't unleash his killer stuff in the start and it still might have been the best start from a minor leaguer I've seen this year speaks volumes. This kid has a chance to be his team's no. 1 starter. For most players that's impressive enough, but when considering who is in the Nationals' current rotation…

Simon Mercedes

Born: 02/17/1992 (Age: 22)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 4" Weight: 200
Big frame; thick body; some room for growth but will need to put on healthy weight; quick arm; higher 3/4 arm slot; average plane; delivery is stiff; lacks efficient drive and uses more upper body on delivery; opens up body; hips are not in unison often; front side really flies at times and it slows his drive toward home; mechanics are fixable but he displays multiple inconsistencies; release points are all over; quick to home; 1.31 – 1.40 delivery times.
Evaluator Tucker Blair
Report Date 08/28/2014
Affiliate Salem Red Sox (High A, Red Sox)
Dates Seen 8/26/2014
OFP/Risk 40/Moderate
Realistic 30; Organizational Player
MLB ETA 2017
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
FB 45 55 88-92 93 Decent offering; average plane; can become flat and straight; shows cut in 88-90 velo band; release points all over; trouble with consistently throwing for strikes; dragged his arm a few times and FB went into ground; command is below average currently; move to bullpen could likely tick velo up.
CB 35 45 76-81 81 Inconsistent; 11-5 offering; shows mild depth but hangs too much; cast many; release points are very inconsistent; ball slips out of his hands and hangs; also will snap into dirt very early; has trouble finding balanced release point; below-average command; release point refinements will go a long way; could be a solid get-me-over pitch if can be refined.
CH 20 30 79-82 84 Poor pitch; replicates his arm speed at times but at the cost of slowing down his body; no fade on the pitch; very mild movement; looks like a FB; left routinely up in the zone; poor command; could slightly improve release points and work on keeping his body and arm speed present; likely does not improve enough to matter.

Mercedes has a big frame and looks like he should throw harder than 88-92 mph. His mechanics are not good currently, and he could use more push and drive to maximize his talent. The arm speed is solid, and I think he works best as a RP moving forward. This will allow him to maximize the FB and drop the CH. His CB is decent enough to help him as a secondary pitch in the pen.

Mercedes is a RP all the way for me, who will likely struggle to find a consistent home in the majors.

Brian Gonzalez

Born: 10/25/1995 (Age: 18)
Bats: Right Throws: Left
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 230
Thick frame; very big kid with large thighs and a wide girth; maxed frame and could use some conditioning to get in better shape; currently lacks the necessary torque and turn in his delivery due to excess weight in mid-section; average arm speed; arm action is easy 3/4; does not use his hips enough; opened up near end of outing due to loss of stamina; decent drive and good extension; lacks a large plane; delivery times 1.56 – 1.65; slow to home and telegraphs pickoff move; lumbering delivery but is mostly fluid.
Evaluator Tucker Blair
Report Date 09/01/2014
Affiliate Aberdeen IronBirds (Short Season, Orioles)
Dates Seen 9/1/2014
OFP/Risk 50/Moderate
Realistic 45; Long Reliever/Middle Reliever
MLB ETA 2017
Video Yes
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
FB 40 50 87-90 91 Not an overpowering pitch; straight; lacks horizontal movement; average plane but will become flat at times; has mild deception out of his hand; average command; leaves ball up in zone too much; lacks control currently; works best when peppering the knees and lower; FB has slight deception against LHH; arm slot dipped near end of outing due to stamina running low; dragged his arm a few times and opened up; likely could see a tick in velocity with more conditioning; sat mostly 88-90 throughout this outing.
CH 50 55 72-75 75 Ability to replicate FB arm speed; still mildly inconsistent with this; will slow down body at times in attempt to replicate arm speed; refinements should come; slow CH with big differential from FB; NYPL hitters were completely off balance against it; mild fade; command is currently average; release points were consistent for most part but would throw pitch into dirt on occasion; potential to be average offering with more consistency due to big differential and arm speed replication.
CB 45 50 72-75 77 1-7 offering; slow breaking pitch with mild depth and a tight rotation; works best in upper velo band; inconsistent release points currently; cast quite a few; pitch is left in zone too long at times and will be hit at higher levels; works well against LHH as they struggle to follow the rotation out of hand; below-average command currently; slight refinements with release points will get this pitch to an average offering.

Gonzalez is not your typical HS prospect, as he lacks projection moving forward. His frame is likely one that needs refinement more than growth, which will come with better conditioning and a full year under professional guidance. I believe the FB can tick up in velocity, especially with better conditioning and with less mileage on the arm next season. Gonzalez looked tired near the end of the start, which is understandable considering it was the final game of the year.

Overall, I do not envision an impact prospect, as he lacks a true plus offering and looks to be more average across the board than anything. Gonzalez has a back-end starter ceiling. There is some inherent risk here, and he lacks projection moving forward, and the FB might not play well against higher competition.

Reese McGuire

Born: 03/02/1995 (Age: 19)
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 181
Primary Position: C
Secondary Position:
Compact, six-foot frame; ideal catcher's body; good present strength through his torso; athletic and light on his feet; built to withstand the rigors of the position.
Evaluator Ethan Purser
Report Date 08/07/2014
Dates Seen 7/27-7/29
Affiliate West Virginia Power (Low A, Pirates)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2017 Moderate 55 50; average regular No

Leader behind the plate; displays the intangibles to be a top-tier signal caller and act as a coach on the field; impressive feel for the game on both sides of the ball; situational awareness is a major asset; plus makeup should allow his overall skill set to continually improve as he climbs the ladder.

Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 50 Mechanics: Begins in a slightly open, crouched stance with his hands just off his ear; moderate leg kick to gather weight; consistently gets foot down in time; thrusts hips well with plenty of strength throughout his core; hands remain in a good position near rear shoulder during load; short, compact entry into the zone; bat stays on plane through the zone with a touch of lift at the end; line-drive oriented swing; above-average bat speed; effortless, loose stroke; hands work very well throughout; can get the barrel to pitches in all quadrants of the zone; shows the ability to hit in the .270 range at the highest level.

Approach: Contact-oriented approach; not afraid to attack fastballs early in counts; hard contact to all fields; shows an advanced ability to pepper left field with line drives on pitches on the outer half; stays within himself and knows the situation, catering his approach accordingly; will never be a walk machine but will make plenty of contact.

Power 40 Swing is linear and built for the gaps at present, creating abundant topspin; flashes average raw power in BP; lifted an impressive foul ball to the pull side in game action; gets foot down in time to create proper leverage and generates some torque with the lower half; swing shows good incorporation of hips and hands and should allow player to generate low-teens home run power at maturity with good gap-to-gap pop.
Baserunning/Speed 40 4.3 seconds to first base on a dig; below-average runner; despite 40-grade speed, McGuire displays good instincts on the bases and shouldn't be a major liability; could lose a step as he continues filling out and the rigors of the position take hold, but his solid athleticism should limit the ill effects.
Glove 60 Athletic behind the dish; set position is low and flexible; quiet receiver; strong wrists/hands allow player to receive the ball with little lateral or vertical movement; receiving skills are refined for age; lateral agility is plus; drops down quickly and blocks balls well on both sides; shows ability to square balls up and keep them in front of him; footwork is plus; controls the area around the plate; wants to be a brick wall and instills confidence in his pitchers; has moxie behind the plate; defensive chops will drive him to the highest level; receiving, blocking, and overall game-calling ability should all be plus attributes.
Arm 60 Glove-to-hand transfer is efficient, reducing unnecessary movement; arm action is short/compact; clean, precise, and lightning-fast footwork leads to quick release and plus accuracy; replaces feet exceptionally; plus raw arm strength; throws appear to be on a downhill plane to second base; displays confidence in his arm; 1.87-second pop on a pitch high and to his glove side; will cut down the running game at the highest level.

McGuire will be a big leaguer at the behest of his defensive chops behind the plate, making his overall profile attractive. He has the skills to be a legitimate plus defender behind the plate who can handle a staff and limit the run game with a plus arm. The offensive profile vaults his overall potential into the above-average range. He possesses solid bat-to-ball ability and can barrel balls up to all fields, projecting to have an average hit tool. A contact-heavy approach and a line-drive swing plane limit the future over-the-fence power, though he should still be able to accumulate low double-digit home run totals at his peak.

McGuire presents with a smaller amount of risk than most players in Low-A due to his advanced defensive profile behind the plate. His raw OFP averages to 50, but a half-grade bump is given due to plus makeup and the aforementioned skills at a premium position. This is a player that any organization would love to acquire.

Bubba Starling

Born: 08/03/1992 (Age: 22)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 4" Weight: 180
Primary Position: CF
Secondary Position:
Strong, physical build; broad shoulders with good lower half; could even fill out a bit more but not needed; great body setup; plus athlete.
Evaluator CJ Wittmann
Report Date 08/20/2014
Dates Seen 20 G July-August
Affiliate Wilmington Blue Rocks (High A, Royals)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2017 High 50 40; up-and-down fifth OF No
Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 30 Wide base, open stance setup to start; hands start quiet but has a bad wrist hitch in load; when starting to swing, back elbow pinches to his hip and back shoulder dips; swing path is on upward path through the hitting zone; has very little barrel control and feel for the barrel; has serious pitch recognition issues and little plate discipline; will expand the zone often; do not believe he has the neurological aspect to recognize spin on a consistent basis; has plus bat speed; has trouble with anything down in the zone; big swing and miss; at times, will show good approach then look lost; will use the right side often; will get tied up with velo on the inner half; often makes weak contact in BP and in game; mistake hitter only; will get picked apart by quality major-league arms.
Power 40 Plus raw power; big lift in swing with at speed; can get extended on balls on the outer third; limited barrel skills and hit tool utility will make power play down.
Baserunning/Speed 55 Clocked in 4.3 range now; was faster earlier in season; instinctive baserunner; reads balls in play well.
Glove 60 Reactions and routes to ball off the bat are ideal; tracks ball well to gaps and steals hits from batters; range is plus; has the athleticism to make up for mistakes.
Arm 60 Shows off double-plus arm strength; ball is thrown on a line with carry; has natural tailing action; gathers himself well and uses whole body effecting when throwing; accuracy can vary, making game utility play down.

Bubba Starling was once a heralded prospect. I just don't see it anymore. I don't think he has the ideal barrel skills or pitch recognition to hit enough to reach the major-league level, and all of the rest of his tools have downgraded. Over the course of the season, I've seen his average dig time to first base from home go up by .2, down at least a full grade and a half. Starling's arm is quite strong but his accuracy has diminished and ultimately makes it play down a full grade. He has shown plus raw power but it has yet to transfer to the game and I don't think it ever will. His ultimate hit tool utility will always limit the power and his overall potential. Starling looks lost often and there would need to be a lot of refinements and adjustments before he could become a replacement level player.

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
In the past Mercedes has sat at 91-96 rather than 88-92, and reportedly touched 100. He also lost velocity late last year, presumably due to stamina problems. Clearly he needs to work on both that and his mechanics, but confirming Blair's observation that he ought to be throwing harder than he does probably boosts his projection somewhat.