The consensus top amateur draft choice for 2012, Lucas Giolito, of Harvard-Westlake High School suffered an injury to his UCL and will be out for what looks like the entire 2012 season. The story was first reported by Baseball America columnist Nathan Rode, who has covered Giolito in his work for Baseball America (@BAHighSchool).
Although the injury will not require surgery this is devastating for not only Giolito, but also for teams drafting in the top spots. The only entity who may benefit from all of this may be UCLA, whom had courted Giolito with the hopes of luring him away from pro ball. This seems to be even more likely with the recent changes to draft bonuses and slotting recommendations being extremely strict. I expect Giolito to be drafted still by a team who’s willing to gamble on him changing his mind and going pro regardless, but it’s a risky situation for both the player and the drafting team.
Giolito has been coming on quite strong as of late, and pretty recently was bumped to the top of the draft class after only being in the discussion before. Stanford RHP Mark Appel was the only real competition for the consensus top talent this year, after Appel had some impressive performances in 2011 for both Stanford and the Yarmouth Red Sox in the CCBL last summer. I’m interested in seeing what information leaks about the extent of the injury over the next couple of months. There will be a lot of eyes on Giolito leading up to the draft for teams considering selecting him regardless of the injury. His own ability to bounce back from the injury, and the extent of the damage may in fact be a huge factor in whether or not he signs when some club inevitably drafts him.
Considering how thin this years draft class is, the remaining high end talents (specifically Appel) can thank Giolito for the pay raise.