The top prospect in the Cubs' organization, who has a .240/.305/.449 line with 19 doubles and 14 HRs in 84 games and 348 plate appearances at Triple-A Iowa this season, went with the breaking ball from the 19-year-old right-hander and sent it around 380 feet to right in Target Field in Minnesota...
The two-run home run Baez hit gave the World team a 2-1 lead over the US squad in the sixth inning of the Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game, a showcase for the game's top young talents.
Giolito, the Washington Nationals' 2012 1st Round pick and no.1 overall prospect, has pitched inside major league ballparks before, but as he told MLB Network Radio "Minors and Majors" host Grant Paulsen this morning, he knew this might be a different experience.
"Last time I pitched in a major league park was Petco for the Aflac game," Giolito said, "and I think it's a little bit of a different atmosphere, because now this is pro ball and there's probably a few more people in the stands."
It was different, he explained after his 13-pitch outing, which saw him give up a line drive single to center by 21-year-old Toronto Blue Jays' prospect Dalton Baez, that hit his glove on the way back up the middle, and the home run by Baez before he retired 20-year-old LA Angels' prospects Jose Rondon on a line drive to left and threw a 2-2 curve by 23-year-old Twins' prospect Kennys Vargas to get a swinging K.
Giolito said breaking ball was fine in pen but ones he threw in @FuturesGame hung. Admitted seeing this many fans got to him a bit.— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) July 13, 2014
In 14 starts with the Low-A Hagerstown Suns this season before today's appearance in Target Field, Giolito is (4-2) with a 2.47 ERA, a 3.82 FIP, 24 walks (3.29 BB/9) and 72 Ks (9.87 K/9) in 65 ⅔ IP.
He split the 2013 season, which started late after he worked his way back from Tommy John surgery, between the Gulf Coast Nationals and the NY/Penn League's Auburn Doubledays.
The process of getting back on the mound and into competitive action was a long one, but as he said today, it also toughened him up.
"Obviously it's never fortunate to have to go down with an injury, have to have surgery or anything like that," Giolito said, "but I really trusted the process. The Nationals have a good way of rehabbing arms back to health and I just committed myself to the physical therapy and got after it every day. It's mentally tough, physically tough, but I got through it and it's made me stronger for it, honestly, a little bit more mentally tough and now my arm is fine."
His goal this season, now that he's back on the mound, is, "... just becoming a better pitcher."
"Learning how to pitch vs throw," he said, "which is what most guys do in high school, just kind of go out there and throw. So I've learned that you don't have to go out there and try to sit 95-98 the entire game. You can work 93-96 and spot it up, mix in the changeup, pitch guys backwards if you need to. I've made strides on all those things, but I'm never satisfied. There's definitely a lot of stuff I need to work on to keep moving up and become a better pitcher."
This afternoon in Minneapolis, he threw a fastball that sat around 94-96 mph, a change that was around 82 mph, and the curve which was around 84 mph. He has another fastball too, but said today he hasn't used the two-seamer since turning pro.
"I haven't thrown the two-seamer and I don't think I will until Double-A," Giolito said.
Asked if it was an organizational decision to stick with the four-seam fastball, Giolito told Paulsen, "I think it's an organization thing. It's just a matter of making sure that I get my four-seam fastball command as [good] as it can be. Because it definitely needs work, I know that."
Other than that one limitation, not much has changed since he turned pro.
"Everything else is pretty much the same," the 16th overall pick of the 2012 Draft said. "Definitely worked a lot off the changeup and trying to make strides on that as well."
He'll get used to big crowds watching him pitch.