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Mike Rizzo, Kris Kline & Roy Clark talk about Nationals first-rounder Lucas Giolito

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Courtesy of colleague Tom Schad, here’s what Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, scouting director Kris Kline and assistant GM and vice president of player personnel Roy Clark had to say about the team’s first-round pick, right-hander Lucas Giolito:

Mike Rizzo: “Well you know we weighed the risk against the reward. We felt that to get a 6‘6”, 220-pound right-handed pitcher with a great body and plus-velocity and good stuff, great character and great makeup (it was worth it).

“We’ve been on this guy since Day 1. We just felt that the reward outweighed the risk, and we did our homework and our due dilligence on his health and his makeup and we decided that this is the type of player, the type of stuff and the type of ceiling that we want here in the Washington Nationals organization.”

On the team’s plan for him:

Rizzo: “First of all we’re going to try to get him signed as soon as possible, and we’ll get him out and check him out physically with our doctors, and then we’ll prescribe a course of action and we’ll take it from there.”

“We’re going to make every attempt to sign him, and with the new rules in the collective bargaining, it’s a different ball-game. So we’re going to put our best foot forward and try to sell him on our place here in 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’s pitch in the big leagues.”

On Giolito’s elbow injury, a strain, the Nationals called it, which cost him his senior season of high school:

Rizzo: “The elbow is good. He’s been throwing on flat ground, he’s been long-tossing and doing a throwing program, so we feel confident about it and he feels confident about it and we’ll see once we get our hands on him, in our uniform, we’ll see where he’s at.

“We’ve seen all of his medicals. We’ve talked to the doctors who have handled him, we’ve dealt with those doctors many times with many of our major league players and so we have a familiarity with the medical staff over there at the (Frank Jobe) clinic, and we feel comfortable that we know where he is physically and that was a big reason why we took the player when we did.”

On his talent

Rizzo: “He’s got a great package. He’s a power body and a power arm with three plus-pitches across the board and a real competitive side, and he’s a great person. He’s a great kid with a great character and a great makeup.

“He’s got a power curve, and that’s probably as good as his fastball. He’s got a power 12-6 curve that’s anywhere from 82, 85, 86 mph at times. And he’s got to feel the pitch. He’s not a thrower, he’s got a touch and comes at you with that 6-6 frame, he comes at you downhill and he’s coming hard.”

Roy Clark: “I saw him several times last summer. Up to 98 (mph), with a plus breaking ball and a real good change up. 6-6, again a top of the rotation guy that you can get at 16, and our doctors reports, I mean everything was fine. It’s a no-brainer for us. Hopefully we get him signed and get him out in a Nats uni.

“I think a comparison might be Roy Halladay, when everything’s clicking. So, we’ll take that every year in the draft. And he’s up to 98 last year but when I saw him, and Kris and I both saw him twice early when he first started, he was still 96. But that was early February, so he didn’t lose a whole lot when he’s healthy. And he is throwing 220-feet, long toss, flat ground right now.”

Kris Kline: “(He) was a little down this year. I mean you could tell when he wasn’t himself… But this kid’s been up to 100, he’ll touch 100, he’s got a power curveball that’s 80-85, very good feel for his changeup, tremendous size, excellent leverage to his delivery. (When we saw him) he was probably 93-97, pitching at 94. A little later on you could tell something wasn’t quite right, but we stayed on him and when he’s 100 percent, he goes top-3 in this draft. So it’s kind of a no-brainer.”

On taking a high school pitcher in the first round:

Rizzo: “We go best player available, the most impactful guy that we can find in each and every round, that’s who we try and get. This kind of stood out to us in that vein as this is a guy that can impact a rotation and a guy that is a big physical guy that fits in with the other big physical, hard-throwing guys that we already have.”

Surprised he was available?

Rizzo: “No. We have contingency plans for every occasion and we weren’t shocked that he was there for us, but if he was taken at the top of the draft, we wouldn’t have been shocked by that either. So we had our plans together, we had our strategy together and we felt that it was an ample time to take this opportunity. Like I said, we felt the risk was outweighed by the reward.”

On whether picking Giolito, who is said to come with a high asking price, will impact their future picks with regard to their $4.4 million total allotment for their top 10 picks:

Rizzo: “No, I don’t think it does. We’re going to go after the best player available and we have a strategy and a plan and, like I said, we’ve done our work as far as signabilities and such. So we feel comfortable with the plan that we have.”

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