GLENDALE, Ariz. — Lucas Giolito hopes to find some stability with the White Sox, who acquired the highly touted pitching prospect in their offseason trade with the Washington Nationals for Adam Eaton. When Giolito first heard about the deal on Twitter, he did not “like” the tweet, but he did give the move a thumbs-up.
“It was an immediate positive reaction,” he said. “It was a fresh start for me. I’m excited to be with a new organization, a bunch of new young players coming up.”
Giolito, ranked as the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball last season, encountered tough times when the Nats called him up. In 21„ innings, he gave up 26 hits, walked 12, struck out 11 and posted a 6.75 ERA. Ugh.
“I experienced a lot of hardship in the big leagues last year,’’ said Giolito, now ranked 11th on the MLBPipeline.com prospects list. “I didn’t pitch well at all. I got hit pretty hard, so I learned a lot from that.’’
He coped with the adversity by learning to make adjustments on the fly, “slowing things down when they’re speeding up.’’
“I’m trying to take everything I learned and apply that and be a little bit better this year,’’ he said.
Having pitched at the Class A, AA and AAA levels and in the
majors last season alone, it will be good to have some stability with the Sox. Giolito said pitching coach Don Cooper’s talking points in camp are throwing his big curve for a strike and commanding the fastball down and away to hitters. Manager Rick Renteria said the Sox want Giolito to do more than bury the curve in the dirt as a put-away pitch — but spot it for a strike.
“He’s got a lot of talent,’’ Renteria said. “He has a couple of pitches he will bury that nobody will be able to hit.’’
Giolito said he simplified his mechanics and is letting the ball come out of his hand without forcing it.
“And it’s feeling very good,” he said. “Much better than last year. I developed a few of my own [mechanical issues] last year trying to fix things. I made things worse, so this year I did a lot of dry work in the offseason where I could just feel my mechanics off the mound. For me, it’s about being able to repeat and stay in line. I’m focusing on those two keys, and everything falls in place after that.’’
The Sox say they are in no rush to move along their prospects, and Giolito figures to bring his 6-6 frame, upper-90s fastball and plus curve to AAA Charlotte to begin the season. Success there would give him another shot in the majors this season.
Right-handers Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning also came from the Nationals with Giolito. Lopez is ranked 46th by MLBPipeline.com and 10th among righties. Dunning, a Nats first-round draft choice in 2016, is the Sox’ 10th-ranked prospect.
“We all have the same goal in mind,’’ Giolito said of the Sox’ new, well-regarded stable of young talent. “We want to develop together, put some really good players at the big-league level and win games.’’
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