MLB.com’s Bill Ladson and Daniel Popper report that the Nationals have shut down top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito for the season, part of the organization’s protocol for handling pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery. Giolito was the Nationals’ first-round pick, 16th overall, in the 2012 draft.
Entering the season, Giolito rated as the #13 prospect in baseball according to Baseball Prospectus, #21 by Baseball America, and #44 by MLB.com. The right-hander, who pitched in the 2014 Futures Game at Target Field in July, pitched 98 innings over 20 starts with Single-A Hagerstown. The 20-year-old posted a 2.20 ERA with a 110/28 K/BB ratio.
Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.
The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.
The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.