Pipeline Preview: Young Nats hurlers take the mound
The Nationals have had plenty of success developing their own starting pitching. Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Tanner Roark all worked their way through the club's Minor League system to become members of the big league rotation.
Right-handers Lucas Giolito and A.J. Cole, the Nationals' top two prospects, are still on that journey, and on Saturday, both are scheduled to start in the Minor Leagues.
Giolito will take the ball for Class A Hagerstown at Lexington at 7:05 p.m. ET, while Cole is slated to start for Double-A Harrisburg in its doubleheader against New Britain, which begins at 6 p.m. Fans can watch both pitchers on MiLB.TV.
The Nationals selected Giolito with the 16th overall pick of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. He pitched just once after signing before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He returned to the mound last summer and made 11 starts between the Gulf Coast League and the New York-Penn League.
Now playing in his first full, healthy season as a professional, Giolito has excelled. In 32 1/3 innings, he has a 2.51 ERA, and opponents are hitting .186 against him. He has struck out 36 batters and walked 14. He is ranked No. 37 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list.
Cole, ranked No. 60 on the Top 100, has also started the season well. In 33 innings, he has a 2.73 ERA. He has struck out 26 and walked seven.
In addition to Giolito and Cole, a few other pitchers ranked in the Top 100 are scheduled to start Saturday, including Andrew Heaney (No. 26), Lance McCullers (No. 45) and Lucas Sims (No. 51). Fans can watch Heaney and Double-A Jacksonville take on Pensacola at 7:30 p.m. on MiLB.TV.
Elsewhere in the Minor Leagues, a pair of Cardinals outfield prospects are looking to stay hot. James Ramsey, Top 100 Prospects list, has gone deep in back-to-back games for Double-A Springfield, while Randal Grichuck, their No. 11 prospect, has homered in three straight games for Triple-A Memphis. Fans can watch both on MiLB.TV as Memphis hosts Omaha at 7:05 p.m. and Springfield continues its series against Arkansas at 7:10 p.m.
Top prospect probables:
Miguel Almonte (Royals' No. 5), Wilmington at Lynchburg
Tyler Anderson (Rockies' No. 10), Tulsa at Northwest Arkansas
Ty Blach (Giants' No. 6), Richmond at Altoona
Paul Blackburn (Cubs' No. 14), Kane County vs. Quad Cities
Michael Blazek (Brewers' No. 18), Nashville vs. Oklahoma City
Cole (Nationals' No. 2), Harrisburg vs. New Britain
Dylan Covey (A's No. 13), Beloit at Clinton
Jonathan Crawford (Tigers' No. 4), West Michigan vs. Lake County
Ryan Eades (Twins' No. 20), Cedar Rapids at Burlington
Kendry Flores (Giants' No. 20), San Jose at Visalia
Giolito (Nationals' No. 1), Hagerstown at Lexington
Severino Gonzalez (Phillies' No. 6), Reading vs. Bowie
Heaney (Marlins' No. 1), Jacksonville at Pensacola
David Holmberg (Reds' No. 6), Louisville at Durham
Luke Jackson (Rangers' No. 7), Frisco at San Antonio
Taylor Jungmann (Brewers' No. 8), Huntsville vs. Birmingham
Nate Karns (Rays' No. 7), Durham vs. Louisville
Dace Kime (Indians' No. 14), Lake County at West Michigan
McCullers (Astros' No. 5), Lancaster at Rancho Cucamonga
Jon Moscot (Reds' No. 20), Pensacola vs. Jacksonville
Braulio Ortiz (White Sox No. 17), Winston-Salem vs. Frederick
Victor Payano (Rangers' No. 17), Myrtle Beach vs. Potomac
Chris Reed (Dodgers' No. 6), Chattanooga at Mobile
Joe Ross (Padres' No. 9), Lake Elsinore vs. Modesto
Victor Sanchez (Mariners' No. 6), Jackson vs. Montgomery
Sims (Braves' No. 1), Lynchburg vs. Wilmington
Blake Snell (Rays' No. 9), Bowling Green at Great Lakes
Andrew Thurman (Astros' No. 16), Quad Cities at Kane County
Trevor Williams (Marlins' No. 10), Jupiter vs. Brevard County