A friendly reminder on how this works. I asked three scouts and two front-office members the following question: If you could start your franchise with one player at each position, what player would you take? I then asked those scouts/front-office members to submit and MVP-style ballot at each position, with the first place vote counting for five points, second place for four, etc.
They say save the best for last, so we did: Starting pitching. I’ll spare you the history lesson on how important pitching is, because if you’re on a baseball website, you probably know how important pitching is. And assuming you’ve followed our work all season—or really since this young man was drafted—you shouldn’t be surprised who these gentlemen went with, though once again, it was not unanimous.
AL front-office member: Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals
Why: “I mean, how do you not say Giolito? The kid is a freak, he’s up to 98 (mph) with a ton of movement, and when he’s right, the curveball is unhittable, and I don’t use the word ‘unhittable’ lightly. All he needs to do is show a little more faith in the change and I think you’re looking at a guy who can win Cy Youngs. This all may sound like hyperbole but he’s that good, and Washington should feel really fortunate to have his services.”
His top five: 1. Giolito 2. Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers 3. Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins 4. Alex Reyes, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals 5. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
NL West scout: Urias
Why: “I don’t think people realize just how impressive what [Urias] is doing is. This is a teenager pitching in the Pacific Coast League; for the life of me I cannot remember a kid that young earning a promotion to Triple-A that early. I’ve seen three plus pitches, and the feel for pitching is just so impressive. This kid is going to be a star, and it looks like it’s going to start as a 20-year-old next year. That’s remarkable.”
Why not Giolito: “Look there’s a lot of guys you could go with. Giolito and Berrios and Reyes are all outstanding pitching prospects. I just don’t think there’s a lot of risk with Urias, and I’ve seen what he can do on a consistent basis. There can only be one and I personally feel the most comfortable with him right now.”
His top five: 1. Urias 2. Giolito 3. Berrios 4. Jose De Leon, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers 5. Reyes
AL Central scout: Giolito
Why: “I think he’s the best pitching prospect since Strasburg, and based on some of the reports I’ve seen, he might actually be better. On his best days he’s 80-70-60 and he just repeats the delivery so well, as well as I can remember from a kid who throws as hard as he does. I do love the safety of Urias along with the [impressive] stuff, but Giolito is a borderline generational talent from what I’ve seen and everything I hear from those who get to see him on a more consistent basis.”
His top five: 1.Giolito 2. Reyes 3. Urias 4. Glasnow 5. Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
AL East scout: Giolito
Why: “This is probably closer than everyone thinks it is. I really thought hard about both Berrios and Urias. Berrios is just so nasty and the command has jumped leaps and bounds over this past year, and the poise and stuff for Urias makes him one of the safest pitching prospects out there, if there is such thing as a safe pitching prospect. For me though, it’s just too hard to ignore what Giolito has done and how impressive he looks doing it. If he stays healthy and doesn’t become an ace, then I have no idea how to scout. The stuff and feel for pitching are that good.”
His top five: 1. Giolito 2. Berrios 3. Urias 4. Glasnow 5. Jake Thompson, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
NL front-office member: Giolito
Why: “This is a no-contest, and anyone who has actually seen Giolito pitch in person knows that it’s a no-contest. The 20-80 grades don’t really matter here, whether you think he’s 80-80-70 or 80-70-65 or 70-70-70 or whatever the heck you think he is; the fact of the matter is that this kid knows how to miss bats, he knows how to pitch and he has the size and strength you look for from your ace. It would not shock me at all if he became one of the best pitchers in the National League, and your worst-case-scenario is you get a mid-rotation starter or maybe he becomes a superstar closer. I’d bet on him being a Cy Young contender though. That’s a lot to ask for a young man who hasn’t pitched in Triple-A but the total package is just so [darned] impressive.”
His top five: 1. Giolito 2. Urias 3. Glasnow 4. Reyes 5. Thompson
Points: Giolito 24, Urias 19, Berrios 10, Reyes 9, Glasnow 8, De Leon 2, Thompson 2, Harvey 1
My Choice: Look, there’s a lot of good pitching in minor league baseball right now. A stupidly wonderful good amount. Urias, Glasnow, Berrios, De Leon, etc. all project to be top of the rotation arms, and you should see all three pitching at the big-league level at some point in 2016. It’s a great time to be a fan of baseball, if you like pitching. And you should like pitching, it’s great.
All that being said, Giolito is the easy choice. There are only a handful of guys I can think of that have shown three plus-plus pitches, and one of those guys was Pedro Martinez, and I think it’s fair to say he had a decent little run as a pitcher. Is he the immaculate pitching prospect? No, but if Giolito can stay healthy and show a little more consistency with the off-speed offerings, he has a chance to be one of the best pitchers in baseball in a relatively short time. That makes him the best pitching prospect—and maybe the best prospect altogether—in baseball at this moment in time.
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