White Sox: Prospect Profile, #2 Lucas Giolito

As we continue our tour of the top prospects across the Chicago baseball landscape this morning, we take a look at Chicago White Sox #2 prospect, Lucas Giolito.

Without question, Lucas Giolito is the most intriguing pitching prospect the White Sox received in return for either Chris Sale or Adam Eaton. Sure, Reynaldo Lopez found more success last season, but Giolito is the goods from top to bottom and does not have the specter of potential reliever attached the way Michael Kopech does.

Not to discredit Kopech, of course. The guy is beast mode at all times. It’s just from a pure pitching perspective, Giolito has the highest ceiling. Flatly, he’s the best in the organization.

Now the prospects rankings for the right-hander are all over the place. Baseball America, for example, has him at No. 25 while Baseball Prospectus has him at No. 10. Josh Nelson from South Side Sox compiled rankings from four major prospect lists and averaged the individual results. Based on this doc, Giolito is a solid No. 13.

What isn’t in question is his stuff. From MLB.com:

When he’s on, Giolito shows stuff that most pitchers can only dream of. He can sit at 95-98 mph and crack triple digits with his fastball — which also features running life and downhill plane that make it even better — snap off power curveballs that are just as nasty and mix in a third plus pitch with his sinking changeup.

Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen elaborates on the secondary offerings MLB Pipeline touched on:

The secondary stuff, especially the curveball, is impressive. Giolito’s fabled curveball has an incredible amount of depth to it considering its velocity. It comes in around 82-84 mph but still features great downward movement and will sometimes bend horizontally as well, especially when it’s located to Giolito’s glove side.

He has become particularly adept at locating the breaking ball to the back foot of left-handed hitters and he can throw it for strikes in the zone as well, though he does this less often. It’s an easy plus pitch that flashes plus-plus.

There are red flags, of course.

Many scouts cite his athleticism, concerns about repeating his delivery and control issues (3.0 BB/9 across the minor leagues and 5.1 over 21.1 IP with the Washington Nationals last season) as potential flashpoints. Too much stock was placed in his MLB struggles this past season, however, and sentiments like those expressed by Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post are short-sighted.

I think pitching coach Don Cooper gets Giolito to regularly repeat he delivery and adjust his arm angle as Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan touched on toward the end of last year. And from there, the control issues take care of themselves and his lack of athleticism becomes a non-issue. I see a solid No. 2 or No. 1 starter.

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