Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 3/7/12

For those following the prospects for the upcoming draft, there’s some pretty huge breaking news that just came down from Baseball America:

BREAKING NEWS: RHP Lucas Giolito is out of the season for Harvard-Westlake. Sprained UCL. No surgery needed. 6-10 weeks rehab. #mlbdraft

— Nathan Rode (@BAHighSchool) March 7, 2012

Giolito was the consensus top high school arm in the draft, and his recent performances had created some talk that he might be in the mix for the first overall pick. That’s all out the window now, as a six to ten week rehab program means that scouts likely won’t see him on the mound again before the draft takes place in early June. If the injury isn’t as serious as it sounds, it’s possible he could do some throwing in May, but even that seems like a longshot.

Perhaps the most recent comparable situation involved Minnesota RHP Kyle Gibson, who was rated the #4 prospect in the 2009 draft before a stress fracture in his forearm caused him to miss the end of his junior season. The Twins ended up selecting Gibson 22nd overall, so the injury didn’t cause him to fall out of the first round entirely. After a promising year and a half in the minors, Gibson got hurt again last summer, and required Tommy John surgery last fall. He’s not expected to pitch in 2012.

Giolito’s upside is going to be too hard for teams to pass on, so I’d expect he’ll still go somewhere in the first round, but with stricter rules in place in regards to draft bonuses, it’s going to be harder for him to get a large paycheck from a team at the end of the first round. If Giolito isn’t willing to accept a dramatically reduced bonus from what he would have gotten as a top five pick, this may end up pushing him into the college ranks – he’s committed to UCLA if he does not sign with an MLB team this summer.

This news is a pretty big blow to the teams with early selections. Even if they weren’t planning on taking Giolito, this weakens the top of a draft class that was already a bit underwhelming.

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