Nationals first-round pick Lucas Giolito to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Questions about the health of Lucas Giolito’s elbow caused the 18-year-old right-hander to fall from potential No. 1 pick to the Nationals at No. 16 and now after one professional appearance he’s headed for Tommy John surgery.

Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports that Giolito will go under the knife on August 31, with Dr. Lewis Yocum doing the honors.

He’ll miss essentially all of next season, perhaps making it back for a handful of late-season games if everything goes ahead of schedule.

Obviously this is bad news for everyone involved, but the Nationals knew they were taking a risk with Giolito when they drafted him (and gave him an above-slot $3 million signing bonus) and even with 12 months on the sidelines his long-term upside remains higher than anyone else available in the middle of the first round.

Even a fully healthy Giolito was years from potentially getting to the majors, so this simply makes the long road to the big leagues a little longer.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.