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.