Young Guns – Lucas Giolito

By Totals 4 U

Hello, Sports Fans! Welcome to a fresh edition of your Young Guns series where we give you a heads-up on baseball’s top pitching prospects making their jumps to the Big Leagues. Today we take a look at a very prominent talent, Lucas Giolito, who is currently ranked by many sites as the very Top-Rated Minor League Player and will get his first start for Washington Tuesday night at Nationals Park…

Lucas was projected to go #1 overall in the 2012 Draft but fell to the Nationals at 16th over elbow injury concerns and, after signing the day before his 18th birthday, underwent Tommy John surgery. A strong and timely recovery made way for 11 appearances in 2013, earning a 2014 promotion and a full season with A-Hagerstown where he dazzled with a 2.20 ERA over 20 starts, pairing 100 strikeouts with 28 walks. The South Atlantic League’s pitching MVP Award and an invite to the All-Stars Futures Game were to follow.

The 21-year-old rightie advanced again in 2015 with time at both high-A Potomac and AA-Harrisburg, posting a 3.15 ERA over those 117 innings, allowing 113 hits and just 3 homers. This season at AA-Harrisburg he’s matched those numbers with a 3.17 ERA over 71 innings, allowing 67 hits but control has been more spotty with 34 walks to go with 72 punch-outs. Lucas is coming off maybe the worst start of his pro career with 5 earned and 7 hits over just 4 2/3.

This is a Big Guy with Big Stuff. Giolito is 6’6″ and 255 pounds, bringing a fastball that has touched 100 MPH. According to Statcast this combination of release point and velocity gave hitters at the 2015 Futures Game just .38 seconds from release to plate, competitive with the very best in the Majors. Add a big-breaking 12-6 power curve plus an improving change and it’s no wonder ONLY 13 HOMERS have been hit off this kid through 324 2/3 minor league innings!

Of course the safe path for me when evaluating these youngsters is to down-play expectations but Lucas Giolito is simply the bluest of chips. The stuff is unquestionably dominating and, as a son of a prominent Hollywood family in Studio City, he’s unlikely to be shaken by the big stage. His downsides are holding runners, fielding, and occasional control problems – common to most his age.

With Stephen Strasburg on the 15-day DL again and Gio Gonzales struggling, Giolito has a legitimate shot to hang around in The Bigs but the Nationals are known as very disciplined when it comes to managing the innings of their pitchers. Expect maybe 20 or 25 more than his 117 of last season and 71 are already in this season’s books. I can’t wait for the show tonight in the Nation’s Capitol, first pitch at 7:05 EST.

Pick up Today’s Free Selection at the Totals 4 You HOMEPAGE

– TD at Totals 4 You

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Young Guns – A. J. Cole

By Totals 4 U

Hello, Sports Fans! Your 2015 edition of our Young Guns series, where we look at rookie pitchers entering the Majors, continues today as the Washington Nationals debut their 4th rookie of April as A.J. Cole gets the start tonight in place of Max Scherzer (thumb injury) in Atlanta…

Originally drafted by the Nationals in the 4th round of the 2010 draft, he was shipped to the Athletics (could my team produce just half the pitching talent of Oakland or Washington?!) in the Gio Gonzales trade before making his way back to the Nation’s capitol in a 3-way deal in 2013. The consensus top-100 prospect has thrived with both organizations and at all levels, proving he was soon ready for a shot at the show especially over the last 3 years at AA and AAA ball where his command of a slurve and breaker can now effectively balance the 95 MPH fastball.

Spanning 2013-2014 at AA Harrisburg, Cole posted a 10-5 mark and a 2.63 ERA over 116 1/3 innings, striking out 110 and walking 25. Over 2014 and this season at AAA Syracuse his mark is perfect at 7-0 over 78 innings with a 3.23 ERA with 60 K versus 18 BB. A real plus for this youngster is a strong attitude and ability to keep his cool working out of a jam but there are issues to keep an eye on.

At 6’5″, A.J. is probably a few pounds short of his listed 200 pounds and is still filling into his frame. A problem many would envy but don’t expect him to go very deep in games at this point. A more important issue is the homers allowed. 11 taters in 78 AAA innings and, during his 7 innings with the Nationals this Spring, all 3 of Cole’s allowed runs were solo shots – probably owed to the still-developing off-speed pitches.

Washington fans are probably scratching their heads why Tanner Roark (presently in the bullpen) didn’t get this shot but A.J. Cole is a damn fine prospect we have been anticipating. His fielding has improved to this level (1 error in 57 chances at AAA), he’s worked up his stick work (4 hits in 17 AB at AAA), and his easy velocity on the mound is evident. Good luck tonight, kid!

For tonight’s free selection visit the TOTALS 4 YOU HOMEPAGE

– TD at Totals 4 You

Outright College Underdogs!!

By Totals 4 U

Hello, Sports Fans!

Dynamite weekend coming up in college football marked by our traditional SEC Saturday Super Slate (highlighted by your 2014 SEC Total of the Year for Tennessee @ Georgia on ESPN at 12:00 EST) and great opportunities from sea to shining sea!

Last week we took a look at 5 situations ripe to produce outright underdogs from the campuses with 3 earning the cover including a pair – Utah and Rutgers – taking outright victories!

As you know by now, for 25 years our professional bag has been the Over/Under plays but let’s take a look at which pooches could have some outright bite this Saturday…

– Colorado State +9 1/2 at Boston College, 12:30 EST: A major clash in styles can produce surprising results as 512.7 yards per game of Ram offense meets 272.8 allowed by the Eagle defense.

– Minnesota +13 at Michigan, 3:30 EST: Gopher QB Leidner still ailing but 263.3 yards rushing and strong stoppers (5 forced TOs last week) give them a shot against against a squad that has lost to both quality opponents and gave up 4 TOs last trip.

– Western Kentucky +7 at Navy, 3:30 EST: The Middies wins were over Texas State and Temple while losing their 2 “step-up” games. The Toppers rack 606.7 yards of offense per including 1152 passing against Middle Tenn and Bowling Green. Won by 12 last season.

– Washington +7 vs Stanford, 4:15 EST: The home Huskies are 4-0 so far while the Cardinal’s victories are over Army and UC Davis. Stanford stoppers are always tough but Washington won by 4 in 2012 and lost by 3 last season.

– Southern Mississippi +8 1/2 vs Rice, 7:00 EST: OK, so the Eagles haven’t been consistently Golden since the days of Brett Favre but the Owls are winless for the campaign, shredded for 527.7 yards per contest.

– Duke +7 at Miami-Florida, 7:30 EST: The Devils thumped the ‘Canes by 18 in 2013 and are balanced this year with 6.4 yards per pass and 6.3 per rush. Duke’s yet to be tested while Miami fell to both quality opponents this season against Nebraska and Louisville.

Arf, Arf, ARF! Good luck this week and be sure to pick up your Lines, Matchups, Weather, and Injuries at FREEPLAYS.COM

-TD at Totals 4 You

Rivalry Week!!

By Totals 4 U

Rivalry Week from College Football has arrived!

Thanksgiving week means plenty of dynamite match ups from both pro and college football. The NFL is certainly offering some good ones this year like Packers/Lions, Steelers/Ravens, Broncos/Chiefs, Bears/Vikings, Dolphins/Jets, and Giants/Redskins but what we really love to watch are the grudge matches from the campuses. Let’s take a look…

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What a Night!!

By Totals 4 U

Huge Night from the NFL this evening, sports fans, as ESPN opens its 2013 Monday Night Football lineup with a dynamite Double-Header!

On the early show, the Eagles’ Micheal Vick opens the season healthy after missing 6 of the last 7 games last season to run 1st-year Coach Chip Kelly’s offense while Robert Griffin III is healthy enough start the Redskins’ opener at FEDEX Field, kickoff 7:10 EST.

On the late show, Gary Kubiak’s powerful but banged up Texans head to Qualcomm Stadium to challenge the Chargers who take the field under the youthful 1st-year Coach Mike McCoy, known for getting the very most out of his signal callers, kickoff at 10:20 EST!

For tonight’s complete lines, match ups, injuries plus FREE PICKS from 22 PROFESSIONAL HANDICAPPERS visit freeplays.com