Is Lucas Giolito the Future Ace of the White Sox?

Feb 27, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito (27) throws during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs during a spring training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 27, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito (27) throws during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs during a spring training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /
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White Sox number two ranked prospect improved in his second Spring Training start. Can the young hurler become the next ace for the South Siders?

After tossing three shutout innings against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Saturday afternoon, newly acquired Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito is beginning to show signs of why he was a first round draft pick back in 2012.

For someone who possesses a solid fastball, a great overhand curveball, and a massive 6’6 frame, Giolito 22, features some even more impressive qualities. Some of these qualities could be the defining factor whether or not Giolito becomes the ace of the White Sox in the future:

Adversity 

If there is one person in the White Sox clubhouse that knows about adversity, it’s Giolito. During Giolito’s senior year of high school, he was already regionally recognized as one of the top high school players in the country. In the first few weeks of his senior season he sprained his ulnar collateral nerve in his elbow, which brought an abrupt end to his high school career.

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Giolito had a commitment to UCLA for baseball, but he was already so highly regarded as a pitcher that coming out of high school he was projected to go high in the upcoming draft. Many scouts and front office personnel alike believed Giolito was great enough to be selected first overall in the upcoming draft.

He ended up being drafted 16th overall in the first round by the Washington Nationals in 2012 however. Giolito eventually became the number one pitching prospect in the Nationals system and the number three overall in baseball before being traded to the Sox back in December.

After Giolito’s first two innings of professional baseball in the Florida Gulf Coast League the pain reoccurred in his elbow and was diagnosed with the infamous Tommy John surgery.

He stepped back on the mound a year later in 2013 with a world full of confidence in his new elbow. Not every pitcher recovers from Tommy John well, but Giolito did, and left other pitchers in the dust. He has gone 25-15 with a 2.73 ERA and a 9.7 K/9 rate throughout the minors. The ability to overcome not just the surgery at such a young age, but the grueling rehab that goes along with it truly shows the character and work ethic of Giolito.

HARNESSING his stuff 

If it is not already indicative by the large bold letters, Giolito needs to harness his abilities if he’s ever going to become an ace of a major league pitching staff. The stuff is clearly there. Even after a Tommy John surgery four years ago, Giolito is still able to sit between 95-98 MPH with his fastball and drop a nasty 12-6 curveball along with it.

His minor league numbers prove it as well. Giolito’s 369 innings of work over his minor league career leads to 397 strikeouts (9.7 K/9 rate). On the other hand, Giolito also has a career BB/9 rate of 3.0. It is safe to say that Giolito has been effectively wild over the course of his minor league career.

When Giolito came up last season for a brief cup of coffee in the majors, he struggled mightily with a 6.75 ERA over 21.1 innings of work. He is hoping to seek guidance from one of the games top pitching coaches, who happens to reside on the south side of Chicago.

Long time Chicago White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper is entering his 15th season this year. Since 2003, under the watch of Cooper, White Sox pitchers have recorded 1,252 quality starts in that time. Cooper is masterful at helping pitchers regain confidence and incorporating a new pitch into their repertoire.

Hopefully, Giolito can fly under the wing of Cooper and can regain his confidence after a brief and rough stint in the majors last season. Cooper is huge on helping pitchers with their changups, which happens to be Giolito’s third pitch. If Cooper can help Giolito gain command of his primary pitches while creating a third solid pitch in the process, consider things a job well done.

Being in the spotlight runs in the family 

Okay, so this reason might be a little far fetched, but Giolito’s family knows a thing or two about publicity. Giolito’s mother and father; Lindsay Frost and Rick Giolito, have both appeared in multiple telev shows and movies over the years.

His grandfather, the late Warren Frost, appeared in Seinfeld and was a main character on the show Twin Peaks. So who knows? Maybe being surrounded by the bright lights and cameras is something Lucas was born to be around his entire life.

Next: Potential Opening Day Lineup for White Sox

The future on the south side looks bright for Giolito. In 2017, it can be the year he puts it all together, and paves his way to the top of the White Sox rotation.