Tuesday is another exciting day for the Nationals' franchise, as they get set to show off Reynaldo Lopez, the latest in a long line of promising prospects developed by the organization. But by choosing Lopez to start in place of the sidelined Joe Ross, they opted to not go with Lucas Giolito, their top pitching prospect who has already made two big league starts in the past month.
The decision has a lot to do with Lopez and him earning the call-up. But the Nats admit they think Giolito needs some more polish.
"If Giolito had pitched a little bit better this might not have happened," manager Dusty Baker said. "But the fact that Giolito was having trouble with his secondary pitches -- and in the big leagues if you're having trouble with your secondary pitches they'll just sit on that and just sit on your fastball. I don't care what kind of fastball you have. Plus, he wasn't displaying excellent control with his fastball."
Giolito threw four scoreless innings against the Mets in his debut on June 28. But in his second start - also against New York - he allowed four earned runs on seven hits, four walks and two homers in just 3 2/3 innings.
Giolito just turned 22 last week and has a bright future in the organization. But the Nationals need to see some improvement with his command of the strike zone. It has also been an issue for him in the minor leagues this season, as he has 34 walks in 78 innings and a 3.9 BB/9 rate.
"Sometimes what we want, what we all want in the progress of certain players, it doesn't coincide sometimes," Baker said.
Giolito has some work to do, but for Lopez it's a special day. It's also a proud moment for the organization. GM Mike Rizzo had VP of International Operations Johnny DiPuglia travel to D.C. to watch the first Dominican-born homegrown pitcher make his debut in team history.
"He’s come a long way in a short period of time, and we thought we could not only reward him for what he’s done, he gives us a chance to win the game tonight," Rizzo said. "It's a good day not only for the international scouting and player development department, but for the scouting and player development in general. We sign these players at a young age and they mold them in the Nationals way. This is a prime example of what you can do you have good scouts signing good players and good player development guys teaching them how to do it the right way."
[RELATED: What to expect from Reynaldo Lopez]
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