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Top prospect Lucas Giolito will join Nats at spring training, per Mike Rizzo

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Top prospect Lucas Giolito will join Nats at spring training, per Mike Rizzo

The Nationals know a thing or two about grooming some of baseball's top prospects. They did so while gearing up for Stephen Strasburg's highly-anticipated debut in 2010, and did it again two years later when they introduced the 2012 National League Rookie of the Year (and current reigning MVP) Bryce Harper to the show. 

Time will tell if the Nats' next big thing, right handed pitcher Lucas Giolito, is poised to make a 'Strasmas'-like splash once he's called up to the majors. For now, the issue is figuring out exactly when he'll get the chance to join the big club. And according to GM Mike Rizzo, Giolito is apparently ready to take the next step in his ascension. 

"He's going to come to the major league camp and be in his first major league spring training," Rizzo said at Nats WinterFest over the weekend. "We're going to obviously be a caretaker to his workload and his innings. " 

The 6-6, 255 pound Giolito was already highly touted coming out of Los Angeles' Harvard-Westlake High School, but has seen his stock steadily rise since the Nats selected him 16th overall in the 2012 MLB Draft. His best season in the minors was at 19 years old in 2014, when he went 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA and 116 strikeouts at Single-A Hagerstown. 

Virtually every major baseball publication has ranked the Giolito, now 21, as the organization's top prospect. Baseball America and MLB.com even had him rated as being among the top seven prospects in all of baseball prior to the 2015 season. Those who have scouted him have raved about the combination of his mid-to-upper 90's fastball to go along with a sharp curveball. 

There's no guarantee that Giolito will make his Nats debut in 2016, but the news that he'll be at major league camp means that his future teammates will get their first chance to see the much-ballyhooed pitcher up close. 

"I haven't seen him pitch live," Strasburg said. "I've seen some stuff in the past. My dad comes out to spring training and his dad's usually there so my dad likes going to the minor league side and talking with his dad. Met him a few times, he seems like a really good kid. Excited to see where he's at."

"Giolito throws a billion miles per hour," added Harper. "Whatever they do with him, I'd like to have him on our staff or even in the bullpen. That'd be something I'd think about." 

While talk of where Giolito might fit in the pitching staff is a bit premature, what's undebatable is that his development is one of the key storylines heading into next season. 

"We expect big things from Lucas Giolito," Rizzo said. "Not only in 2016, but down the road also."

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.