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Nationals tab prep pitcher Giolito with first pick

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals were in unfamiliar territory on Monday night, picking 16th in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. They used the pick by selecting right-hander Lucas Giolito of Harvard-Westlake High School in California.

Giolito's fastball has been clocked as high as 100 mph, and he has a power curveball, but he endured right elbow problems earlier this year, spraining his ulnar collateral nerve. Giolito would have been a higher pick if not for the injury. It's unknown if he will be able to play professional ball this year. Giolito is throwing from 220 feet on flat ground.

Giolito, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound righty, went 9-1 with 78 strikeouts and a 1.00 ERA in 70 1/3 innings as a junior at Harvard-Westlake. He also threw three shutouts and tossed four complete games. In 2011, he was named a Perfect Game All-American for his efforts as a junior. The Nationals have compared Giolito to Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay.

"We have been on this guy from Day 1. We just felt that the reward outweighed the risk, and we did our homework and our due diligence on his health and his makeup," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "We decided that this is the type of player, the type of stuff and the type of ceiling that we want here in Washington and in the Nationals organization."

The Nationals last saw Giolito in the Aflac All-American Baseball Classic earlier this year. While he pitched well, his fastball was down to 93 mph.

"You could tell something wasn't quite right, but we stayed on him. When he is 100 percent, he goes Top 3 in this Draft. It's kind of a no-brainer," Nationals scouting director Kris Kline said.

After trading pitchers Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole and Tommy Milone to Oakland for left-hander Gio Gonzalez in the offseason, Washington is looking to add pitching depth to the farm system.

The selection of Giolito marks the fourth time in five years the Nats have drafted a pitcher in the first round. Giolito is the first high school player drafted by the Nationals in the first round since left-hander Colton Willems in 2006.

"We go best player available," Rizzo said. "This is the guy that can impact a rotation. [Giolito] is a big physical guy that fits in with the other physical, hard-throwing guys that we already have."

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

In the case of Giolito, the 16th overall pick's value is worth $2,125,000. Rizzo seems confident that the team will sign the big right-hander.

"We are going to make every attempt to sign him with the new rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement," Rizzo said. "It's a different ballgame. We'll put our best foot forward and try to sell him on our place here. Washington is the place that will get him the healthiest and give him the best opportunity to do what he wants to do, and that is to pitch in the big leagues." will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.