MINNEAPOLIS -- Those in Santa Monica know very well who Washington Nations top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito is. He is the son of two Hollywood actors and the nephew of two screenwriters. Entertainment is in his blood.
[Baseball’s] different, but it’s also similar,” Giolito said. “You’re entertaining people. That’s what you’re doing for a living. You got to take care of the fans because those are ultimately the guys and girls that are writing your checks. I learned that from mom and dad.”
On Sunday, baseball fans around the world got a full glimpse of the next big thing to soon hit the nation’s capital in the MLB All-Star Futures Game. Even though all they’ll remember is him giving up a two-run homer to Chicago Cubs top prospect Javier Beaz – the World team’s only runs in a 3-2 USA victory – people can see that the potential is there considering he was recovering from Tommy John surgery a year ago.
“It’s definitely an honor to be here,” Giolito said, “especially so soon after coming back from the surgery. I wasn’t expecting to get selected this year. I was really hoping next year, I’d be going to the Futures Game.”
When Giolito was selected 16th overall by the Nationals in the 2012 MLB Draft out of Harvard-Westlake High School, He was a big guy with a big arm. Now he has a changeup to go with his 100 MPH caliber fastball, a pitched that in fact spawned from the surgery.
“I threw one in high school but I didn’t throw it very often because I didn’t really need it,” Giolito said. Then after surgery, I just kinda played catch with it a lot and it was a pitch that’s very useful. I actually threw a lot of them throughout the course of the game.”
Giolito alluded that playing in the Futures Game prompt the 20-year-old on high alert. Dominating Class A is fun and all, but the players he faced and the teammates he had in that game are some of the very best that the AAA level has to offer. It’s only a matter of time before he ascends to that level and then the big leagues.
The Futures Game also served as the biggest stage this rising star has ever been in. It’s not Hagerstown, Maryland. Target Field is a fully packed, state of the art, MLB ballpark in the heart of Minnesota.
The good news is that he is advanced for his young age, and already knows the difference between nervousness and adrenalin.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Giolito said. “There’s a difference between nervous and being psyched up and excited. If it was a World Series game or a playoff game, I’d be nervous. In a game like this, you just want to have fun with it so there’s nothing to be nervous about. But when there’s a bunch a people in the stands and cheering, yelling and all that stuff, that’s when you start [take notice].”
Giolito is not too far away from having his own leading role in the show. Playing in the Futures Game serves as a way of getting one’s foot in the door to the major leagues. Eight players from last year’s USA roster currently play in the big leagues while four more made their MLB debut that same season.
Some of the Futures’ participants have already reached some level of stardom, like Cubs third base prospect Kris Bryant, who’s boyish yet brawny appearance has him compared to the likes of Hollywood superstar Zach Efron.
“I saw Kris Bryant in the airport getting escorted out by police because he was being swarmed by fans,” said Seattle Mariners prospect D.J. Peterson.
Giolito is already one of strong mind, strong arm and strong heart. All that’s needed now is a little more time before he can be a part of the Nationals’ five-man executive branch.
This story serves as a tribute to the Managing Editor of the Santa Monica Daily Press, Danny Archuleta, who died on July 17, 2014 of unknown causes. I'm not where I am today without his help. He will be surly missed.