By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
January 16, 2012
Back when Luc Giolito was a youngster, say about 15, not the wrinkly old man of 17 he is today, I saw him wear No. 34 at the Area Code Games as a sophomore. I wisely cracked he was the “Giolito Express.”
Now, it is a fact that I often wise crack and Giolito often expresses. The truth is that I’ve actually been watching him since 2009, when I first saw him one fine day at Birmingham High warming up on a mound that resembled the city dump before they fixed it up. I think he was probably throwing 89-92 that day and he looked skin and bones.
On Saturday morning here in the year of Giolito’s Draft and the Mayan Apocalypse, I had a fresh look at Giolito at Former Dodger Owner Field. Since there’s no box on the scouting card marked HUMOROUS BUT SAVVY BASEBALL OBSERVATIONS, I’ll just fill it out right here. These days, I’m disposing of the scout cards in favor of the Spider Jorgensen method – gimme a pen and a cocktail napkin and I’ll whip ya’ll.
First things first — the best thing you have to like about Giolito is that he is not what the crusty former big league manager, Waxahachie-bred Paul Richards used to call a “fucking grunter,” one of those big arms who throws hard, max effort, could care less about strikes.
My apologies for the f-bomb, but if we’re going to talk baseball, and how baseball people talk about baseball players behind closed doors, we’re going to use the f-bomb around here now and then. Hey, don’t hate the playah, hate the game.
A good example of a grunter is Gerrit Cole. The guy used to sound like Macho Man Savage (Randy, not John).
In this look, Giolito, I’d estimate was playing catch at probably between 75 to 85 percent and without a grunt, gave us four-seamers at 96, exploding up in the zone. That’s a strikeout pitch at the big league level, but of course has to be set up by something called…pitching.
Yes, pitching and not throwing. If anyone out there remembers the movie, “The Right Stuff,” Pancho Barnes says, “You got your pilots and you got your pud-knockers.” A pitcher is a pilot and a thrower is a pud-knocker. Truth is most of your big arm, draft darlings are a bunch of miserable pud-knockers pro scouts mistake for pilots, but most of them pud-knockers end up on the operating table. In hindsight, that’s a better fate than ending up with your photograph on Pancho’s wall.
As for Giolito, he gave us some piloting. Had two men on with two out and threw three consecutive change-ups, 82-83, mostly straight, sold well, arm speed doesn’t deviate, slot repeats, deception, dive, bla bla bla. All that scouting lingo. I heard some grumbling that he should have grunted — wait five seconds and he’ll give you 96. Impatient much?
The change has improved and he’s not pro-consistent with it yet, but that’s OK. He should be in time. He sat with his two-seamer at 92-94, depending on how the mood struck him. He often gives you late, hard tail and sink, which I like.
The breaking ball is going to be a weapon. I don’t think his curveball was the best it’s ever been or was going to be, but who cares. It’s Saturday morning in January at Former Dodger Owner Field. You got enough snap, shape, life, depth, power and downhill to sell you. Clubs that pick low, don’t even bother. He ain’t gonna be there for you.
Delivery wise, he’s smooth, arm works, nice full circle, high three-quarter, extension, and squared-landings. Hips and trunk look stronger, tummy looks trimmer, upper body will need to fill out in the next few years, which I think will smooth him out even more.
WWSS: What Would Spider Say – “Big arm, big loose body, flashes three plus pitches, Johnny Sain,” which would be big complement in the late 1940s. Then Spider would go dancing. I graded Giolito’s OFP at 66 for this look. Give him to me on a day mid-season when he’s 100 percent and the grade is higher. Thing about Giolito to remember is that he’s far from the finished product. This right stuff is here, but this here is flight school.
Watch Sneak Peak Lucas Giolito Video