August 11, 2010
In the summer of 2008 Lucas Giolito, a Harvard-Westlake freshman pitcher, played his first game with his new team. The next day he went out to another game, however this time it was for the Varsity team and from there he would never look back. Giolito improved his game from that first day, starting his summer season long and lanky, barely able to control himself as he walked; however as he worked harder and harder he became the player his coach saw him as.
“I’ve always worked hard and I always try to improve my game,” Giolito says. “I know that nothing is ever perfect and that I can always get better.”
Staying dedicated to the idea that he could always improve, Giolito began his freshman year with high aspirations. Having played an entire summer season with the varsity team, he would need to show he had the talent to maintain his post as a varsity pitcher. Giolito spent his entire week dedicated to the game, practicing after school and going to many places to work out with a trainer dedicated to solely baseball players.
“I think that Lucas really trained hard in order to be able to succeed in his career as a baseball player,” Max Fecske said. “Going out of his way may have been hard for him and his family, but in the end it really paid off for them.”
As his freshman year continued, Giolito pitched in some of the biggest games of his life. In the final game of the Crespi series in the 2009 regular season, Giolito came into the game in relief and picked up the Wolverine’s first win versus Crespi for Coach Matt LaCour in his three years of coaching at HW.
“When I found out I got the win versus Crespi, I was just glad that I had helped give the team a win in hopes of getting to the playoffs,” Giolito said. “At the time I didn’t really comprehend it was Crespi, but when I did, it didn’t really mean much to me, it felt like any other game.”
As the season came to a close Giolito got his first of many college questionnaires. Originally he received letters from schools such as UCLA and UC Santa Clara. As he grew older and he became the ace of the staff over the summer of 2009, Giolito received many more. Amongst the schools sending Giolito letters were many top academic as well as top athletic schools. Schools such as Dartmouth, Pepperdine, UCSB, Yale, the University of Arizona and Stanford sent Giolito letters. Knowing what these letters meant, Giolito went out day by day playing baseball the way he always had.
“Receiving letters from colleges was a great honor because they were interested in me and my ability,” Giolito said. “However I didn’t let it affect my game at all.”
As Giolito continued to play, colleges continued to come watch him pitch. In the VIBL All-Star game in the summer prior to his sophomore year Giolito showed the college coaches what they wanted to see. Just hours before he turned 15 years old, he was clocked on a radar gun throwing his fastball at 91 miles per hour. Not many pitchers can reach 91mph in a lifetime, and here was a player, essentially still a kid, that could do it.
“When I learned I had hit 91 while I was still 14 I was astounded,” Giolito said. “There were no words to be said, I was simply in shock. I went out to pitch in the game with no goal of throwing hard, just to be effective, and it was a nice surprise to have hit 91 that day”
His teammates were just as shocked, however some had seen it coming.
“I mean take a look at this kid,” Brandon Deere commented. “I’ll admit it was earlier than I had expected, but I knew it was going to happen.”
“I didn’t think he’d get it when he was 14 years old, but I knew that either that summer or the fall after that year he would reach it,” said Brandon Finkelstein.
The speed only increased from there.
In the summer of 2010, his sophomore year, Giolito was clocked hitting 93 miles per hour on his fastball while playing in a game for his club team, the San Gabriel Valley (SGV) Arsenal, in the Junior Olympics at the USA Baseball Championships West.
“When Gio came onto the team the first thing I thought was, wow this kid is much bigger than me; but as he started playing with us his friendly nature came out and all the guys on the team saw his talent and began to call him an absolute boss,” Vahn Bozoian, Giolito’s SGV teammate commented. “The more I saw him pitch, the more I knew he’d be throwing harder and harder, and in Arizona it was just his time.”
“The day I hit 93 in Arizona was a great day for me, and even though everything that was happening around me was exciting, I helped my team get a win and that is what matters most to me,” said Giolito. “I believe that this day was the day I earned the opportunity to play with the 16U Team USA.
As the summer of 2010 continued on, Giolito was invited to try out for the Milwaukee Brewers Area Codes Baseball team in Santa Barbara, CA. For Giolito to make this team, he would need to be on the top of his game, and in making the team he would have accomplished what very little high school baseball players have ever done as seniors, as a junior.
“I was a little nervous about trying out for the Area Codes at first,” Giolito commented. “However when I stepped on the mound and threw the best I could, I lost all nerves I had built up. In the end I was really glad I pitched well and it was a huge honor to be chosen over some great pitchers even though I was younger than them.”
For Giolito, being selected to the Area Code Games was in some ways the most outstanding part of his young career. While pitching for his Milwaukee Brewers Blue team, Giolito was clocked on the radar gun at a consistent 91 to 94 miles per hour on his fastball, starting off his first inning with a 95mph fastball and finishing off his first inning with a 96mph fastball that blew past the batter. This pitch caught the eyes of many of the college coaches at the game, as well as scouts and agents from the MLB.
“When I heard about the 96mph reading I became very excited,” Giolito said. “I mean c’mon, it’s the Area Codes and there were a lot of coaches, scouts and agents there to watch it. I guess it’s hard to remember that I’m still only 16.”
In Giolito’s case, all he needs to do is stay healthy, his regular high school games are going to feel like he’s playing video games, his SGV games are going to be all about hanging out and having fun, and when the time comes, Giolito will make his decision on what school he’s going to attend and with that he will wait and see where his baseball career goes; whether he will attend college and play baseball there, or whether he’ll get drafted and go immediately to play professional baseball. Unfortunately for Giolito, he’s got a rough few years ahead of him.
By Alex Rand-Lewis
Cali High Sports baseball contributor