Before Lucas Giolito went out to the mound in Pfitzner Stadium on Monday night and struck out ten batters in six innings over which he walked one and gave up three hits and one unearned run, the Washington Nationals' top prospect talked to MLB Network Radio hosts Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette.
Giolito, who will turn 21 next week, said he's not one of those pitchers who has to keep to himself and avoid talking to anyone as he prepares for a start.
"I try to keep things as normal as possible," the Nats' 2012 1st Round pick explained. "I know some guys like to stay to themselves and they're very quiet and very serious, but baseball is fun. For me it's something that I want to do to have some fun as well as compete. So, nothing changes."
After eleven outings with the Class-A Potomac Nationals in his fourth pro season, Giolito is (3-4) with a 2.76 ERA, 15 walks (2.30 BB/9) and 76 Ks (11.66 K/9) in 58 ⅔ innings pitched over which he's held opposing hitters to a .242 AVG.
Asked about his development thus far, and what the biggest change is for him, Giolito said it's his mindset and ability to deal with adversity.
"For sure it's been the pitching mindset," he explained. "This is the first year that I've experienced, I'd say, like a true amount of struggle as far as getting hit around, giving up more runs than I would have liked in certain starts. Giving up soft hits, hard hits, all in the same inning, crazy stuff happening around me. This year has kind of been like the best test of keeping my emotions under control on the mound. Keeping a positive mindset.
"Keeping, I guess you could say like a killer mindset on the mound that no matter what's happening around me I've got to get the next batter out."
Giolito credited his manager and pitching coach with the P-Nats for helping him make some of those adjustments, though he said the changes start with him.
"A little bit of it is on your own," he explained. "You kind of find your own way, but my pitching coach Franklin Bravo and my manager Tripp Keister, I've had pretty extensive conversations with them about that side of the game and I felt like over the past few starts I've really made strides in that area."
In high school, he explained, he expected to dominate hitters, once he hit the professional ranks, however, he realized it's different.
"You hit the pro ranks, and you're facing guys just as good as you so you have to internalize that and understand the level of preparation you need to go out and be successful."
In ranking Giolito as the top pitching prospect in baseball, MLB.com's Pipeline scouts wrote that he has three above-average offerings, with his mid-90s fastball, 12-to-6 curve and changeup, which is, "... turning it into a true weapon against left-handers."
"I'd say it's really coming along," Giolito said of his change. "It's one of my go-to pitches. I throw that for a strike pretty often. I trust that pitch in any count basically nowadays. It's really helpful in hitter's counts like 2-0, 2-1, I love throwing it there, getting back to an even count or ahead in the count.
"Especially in this league, a lot of guys like to cheat to the fastball early on, a lot of early ambush swingers, especially in the one or two-hole.
"So throwing the changeup to them, it's really helpful and I feel like I've made some good strides with it."
Giolito's fastball, curveball and change will be on display when he and the Nationals' top infield prospect, shortstop Trea Turner, appear in the Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game at 3:00 PM EDT on Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park.
Nationals' manager Matt Williams told reporters last week that it was a great opportunity for the two of them.
"I think it's a great opportunity for both of them to get a chance to be on a national stage and show their talent," Williams said.
"I think they're both very talented young players and they're improving quickly and it's good, it's good for the organization, it's good for them to be able to be a part of that and represent."