BLUF: Top high school arm in the draft, even with injury concerns. Potential number two starter with elite stuff.
The Player: Lucas Giolito (RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS, CA) – Has really stood out on the showcase circuit over the last 18 months. Teammate of Max Fried, another potential 2012 first round pick. Has missed much of the 2012 season with an elbow injury. Committed to UCLA for 2013 college season.
Basis of Report: Industry Contacts
Body (6-6, 230): Premium frame. Big league body right now. Good strength throughout and he continues to work hard to improve his strength, conditioning and flexibility. Broad shoulders, tapering to his waist, with thick, strong legs. Solid athlete. Elite power-pitcher frame that screams durability, projection and big time power. Shut down this spring with an elbow injury and has only recently resumed throwing. Injury potential exists because of current status, but body still bodes well for future durability.
Delivery/Mechanics: Deliberate, slow windup and delivery with easy arm speed and velocity generation. Can be excessively slow to the plate at times and will need to improve tempo in both windup and stretch in the future. Stays in line to the plate well and uses his whole body during delivery. Balanced finish with good extension. Ball comes out of his hand very consistently and easily. Arm works well and there are no major red flags throughout delivery.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 100, Low – 91, Average – 94-95, Grade – 70/70
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 99, Low 91, Average 93-95, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Movement: Good explosive life. FB has deception because of ease of delivery and how quickly the ball gets on the hitter. Can appear to have some hop on it at times. Good downward plane to the plate thanks to size and moderately high-3/4 arm slot. Angle and natural life provide above-average to plus movement projection long term. Grade – 50/60
Overall Fastball: Always hesitant to project a truly elite FB but he has a chance to get there as he arrives at physical maturity and refines his abilities. Should settle in with mid-90s velocity in both the wind-up and stretch, and maintenance of angle/life should give him a true well-above-average FB. Potential for elite velocity and an elite out pitch down the line. Grade – 60/70
Curveball (CB): Shows as a true hammer much of the time. Tight overhand spin and very sharp late break. Thrown consistently at 81-82 mph. Misses bats with ease. Needs to improve location of pitch. Ability to move inside and outside will help long term. Shows ability to throw as a chase pitch at times and should develop more consistent ability to execute this. Potential plus-plus breaker. Consistency keeps it from being a plus pitch right now but should be quickly with repetition and pro instruction, with more projection remaining. Grade – 50/70
Change-up (CH): Hasn’t needed it much in high school. Shows good feel for pitch when he throws it. Same arm slot as FB. Typically maintains FB arm speed well, but has some slowing at times. Pitch flashes occasional good sink w/ similar angle to FB. Potential average pitch at least, and possibly plus with considerable work and development by pro development staff. Grade – 30/50
Control: Improved considerably over the last year and a half. Pre-injury, consistently pounded the strike zone with FB and generally threw CB for strikes as well. Highly repeatable delivery and advanced coordination for his age makes control projection easy. Should throw tons of strikes at maturity; plus-plus control projection. Grade – 60/70
Command: Still learning to locate FB to all four quadrants. Shows improved ability to move ball to both sides of the plate, particularly to the arm side when he wants to. Must learn to elevate when desired and use this ability to set up other pitches. Mechanical consistency, clean arm action, solid athleticism and present control all point to plus command in the future. Grade – 40/60
Summation: If healthy, easily the top high school arm in the draft. One of very few prospects in this draft with even an outside chance to develop into a number one starter. Doesn’t require a lot of projection to see two 70-grade pitches. CH could be a third plus pitch in time, giving his arsenal depth and plenty of ability to keep hitters off balance. Command is still developing but has projection. Excellent body and long term physical projection, despite present injury concerns. Easy projection as a number two starter with some feeling that he could up that if the command and CH come along as hoped. Potential front of the rotation piece with All-Star and Cy Young possibilities.
Relative Risk: High. High school arms are inherently risky, and his present injury elevates his risk profile even more.
Draft Projection: Draft projection is clouded because of injuries. Can completely revive draft stock with strong workouts and throwing full strength before the draft. If health is proven, he’s an easy top five pick. If health remains a question, teams still may gamble in the top 10-15 picks because of the upside.