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2012 Draft Preview -- Lucas Giolito

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Continuing with our preview of some players that the Texas Rangers could be looking at with their picks at #29, #39, and #52...

As I said last year when doing this drill, this would be a lot easier if the Rangers were picking higher, and neither of the Rangers' first couple picks were guys we'd ever talked about before the draft. Still, we'll take a look at a few of the intriguing names that could be in the mix for the Rangers, and see who might be out there...

This afternoon we look at what is probably the wildest of the wild card options the Rangers might face, a player who, if he's there when the Rangers pick, would be incredibly tempting for Texas, but who also would require the Rangers to completely change the rest of their draft in order to be able to have the funds available under the new rules to sign him.

I am talking about RHP Lucas Giolito, of Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City, California.

Lucas Giolito scouting report -- Lucas Giolito is a 6'6", 230 lb. righthanded pitcher at Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City, California. Keith Law and Baseball America both have Giolito ranked #9 on their boards, and both have had him much higher in the past. Kevin Goldstein has Giolito #2 on his top 30 list.

Giolito, by all accounts, has true #1 starter potential. He has an upper 90s fastball that BA says was as high as 99 in February, and BA also writes that he has a plus-plus curveball and a plus change. ESPN's scouting report has both his fastball and his curveball as presently above-average, and projects his changeup and "feel for pitching" to also be above-average in the future. He gets raves for his work ethic. There's been talk that he could go at #1 overall in the draft.

However, Goldstein doesn't have Giolito going in the top 15 of his updated mock draft (which only goes through 15), and Mayo, Callis, and Piliere don't have him going in the first round of their mock drafts. Law has him going at #17, to the Blue Jays.

Why not?

Well, the problem is that Giolito has a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and hasn't pitched since early March. The new rules put the signing deadline at July 13, and Giolito isn't going to be able to pitch before then. That has teams early in the first round leery of popping him with a top pick.

Last year, that wouldn't have mattered for the Rangers...Giolito would have been grabbed by a team in the teens or early-20s, and that team would give him a bonus in the $5-7 million range, and the Rangers wouldn't have a shot at him. However, under the new rules, teams have a cap on what they can spend in the first ten rounds, which is pegged to the individual draft choices each team has. For example, the Nationals pick at #16, and their history is that they are willing to spend big on amateur talent. Under the old rules, if Giolito were there at #16, the Nationals could (and very possibly would) snatch him up and moneywhip him with a bonus in excess of $5 million. However, the Nationals' entire bonus pool for the first ten rounds this year is $4,436,200...meaning that, even if they drafted college seniors with every other pick in the first ten rounds and signed them for $1000 apiece, they likely couldn't pay Giolito enough to sign.

If Giolito starts sliding, he's likely going to continue to slide, and if he falls out of the first round, he would likely end up in a free fall, since the lower he falls in the draft, the less likely he's going to sign for the money that will be available to be offered to him. And Giolito has a commitment to UCLA, and a father who is a producer (his uncle is Twin Peaks co-producer and David Lynch collaborator Mark Frost).

So why might the Rangers pick Giolito? As mentioned above, Giolito has legitimate #1 starter potential. Under the new amateur signing bonus rules, the Rangers are going to be limited in their ability, going forward, to spend big on Latin American talent, as weaker teams will be allowed to spend more money, and are not likely to be picking at the top of the draft where legit #1s normally lurk anytime soon. They also have two supplemental first round picks and two second round draft picks helping to bolster their bonus pool, which sits at $6,568,200. Law mentions, in his latest mock draft, that he's hearing the Rangers are willing to snag a player who falls because of bonus demands.

A potential scenario for the Rangers would be Giolito falling to #29. If -- and this is a huge if -- the Rangers believe Giolito would sign for, say, $5 million, they could grab Giolito there, and with their remaining 12 selections, pick only players they know they can sign for around $100-150K apiece. A team can also go up to 5% over their bonus pool -- in the Rangers' case, that would be an additional $328,370 -- and not lose a future draft pick (although they would have to pay a financial penalty).

Would the Rangers do that? There's no telling. But the Rangers aren't afraid to take risks, to invest heavily in young arms they think have big upside potential, and have leaned towards a high-risk, high-reward strategy with amateur talent in the past. If Giolito slips out of the top 6-8 picks of the draft, the team most likely to take a chance on him would be a team with multiple high picks, like Toronto or Texas. That team would be, in essence, betting their entire draft on Giolito, but he has the upside that could make it worth it.

Video of Giolito is below:

Lucas Giolito Pitching at the MLSB Showcase at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton (via Fidog91)