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The Wild CardsWhen you talk about wild cards in this draft, the discussion begins and mostly ends with Lucas Giolito. Three months ago, Giolito was the favorite to be the #1 overall pick. This would have been historic; he would have been the first high school right-hander in the history of the draft to be selected with the first pick.For good reason: more than anyone else in this draft, he has the true ability to be a #1 starter in the majors. His fastball and curveball are elite; his changeup is well above-average; he’s 6-foot-6 and has a great work ethic. He’s not Dylan Bundy, but he was being talked about as just a tick below Bundy in terms of having a combination of tremendous upside and relatively little risk for a high school starter. I’ve also heard Josh Beckett comps, Beckett being the last high school right-hander to go #2 overall.And then he sprained the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow in March. Let’s not beat around the bush: the UCL is the ligament you tear in Tommy John surgery. As my friend Will Carroll repeats incessantly, “A sprain is a tear,” which is to say, Giolito has a partial tear in his UCL.He’s been rehabbing from the injury, and is back to throwing on flat ground, although he hasn’t thrown from a mound, and naturally that makes him an enormous risk. Also, there’s the matter of signability; his father is a Hollywood producer and they don’t need the money, so if he doesn’t get what he thinks he’s worth, he’ll go to UCLA and try again in three years.Despite the risk, I’d rather have him than any other pitcher in this draft with the possible exception of Appel. We know all about UCLs and Tommy John surgery in Kansas City – more than we want to know. We know that Danny Duffy was pitching with a partial tear in his UCL for years before it gave out. We know that Giolito might be a Tommy John waiting to happen – he might need Tommy John right now. But you know what? So what. Give me the #1 starter, and I’ll wait the extra year for him to recover. Strasburg is doing just fine.
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