On the second day of USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars, the game to see was PONY vs. NABF as PONY rolled out three good arms. Righthander Lucas Giolito got the start and did not disappoint.
A physical monster at 6-foot-6, 225 pounds, Giolito attends Harvard-Westlake High in Los Angeles. As a sophomore he was teammates with Austin Wilson, now an outfielder at Stanford. Giolito burst onto the scene before his junior season at the Area Code Games in August of 2010. He was the hardest thrower at the event, touching 96, though he didn't think it was his best outing.
"At Area Codes, I wouldn't say I pitched well," he said. "I threw hard. I guess that's what got a lot of attention. I've grown a lot since then. Now I've become a lot more of a pitcher as opposed to a thrower, mixing up pitches. I got strikeouts with different pitches today—changeup, fastball, curve. As of right now, I have a lot of confidence and I'm feeling pretty good."
Giolito showed his complete repertoire today, throwing his fastball 92-95 mph while mixing in a mid-80s changeup and 80-81 curveball. His fastball comes out easy and he uses his height well, throwing it downhill. His changeup has some sink to it while the curveball has sharp, downward bite.
"This was my first big outing (this summer) with lots of scouts in the stands," he said. "I had a lot of adrenaline going into the first inning. I'll say that much. I felt pretty good. Felt loose. It ended up being a pretty good day, other than the third inning when I had to go into the stretch, but that's fine."
He went four innings, allowing a run on one hit and one walk while striking out five. While his Area Codes outing stands out, Giolito says he's been progressing to where he is currently. He works outs three to four days a week, building lower body strength while keeping his upper body loose with long toss and bands.
"When I was 15 I was throwing around 90 and I got it up throughout the year," Giolito said. "At Area Codes I was 95 or 96 I think. That was kind of sudden, but I had been building up to that. I had a lot of adrenaline in that too. That was by far the biggest event I've ever pitched in. That probably got me over."
Righthander Walker Weickel of Olympia High in Orlando followed Giolito in relief, working four innings of his own. He allowed one hit and one walk while striking out five. Weickel is also imposing on the mound, but a bit skinnier than Giolito, standing at 6-foot-6, 200 pounds. He was 89-91 in his first inning of work before finding another gear and sitting 90-92 while touch 93. His curveball showed sharp break at 72-74, but it was inconsistent at first as he slowed his arm and hung a couple between 74-76. Once he settled in at the lower velocity, it became an out pitch.
Curt Britt, a righthander/first baseman from Scotland High in Laurinburg, N.C., closed the game out, throwing one inning. He walked two and allowed a hit, but struck out one and didn't allow any runs. His fastball was 89-91, touch 92 and he mixed in a solid changeup and curveball.
Giolito's battery mate, catcher Jeremy Martinez from Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif., was equally impressive.
Martinez, a rising junior already committed to Southern California, went 2-for-5 on the day with two home runs.
"I'm feeling good—my feet feel in place, my swing feels good. I'm comfortable with all the pitchers and everything feels good," Martinez said. "I'm seeing the ball and picking up the release point right away and getting my base down—just the simple things you need to do to hit.
"My first at-bat, I got a fastball in, I saw it deep and put a good swing on it. Homers are an accident, you don't try for home runs, but it was a good day, I was seeing the ball good."
Martinez has a strong, 5-foot-11, 195-pound frame and his stance is an exact replica of Albert Pujols. But Martinez says it's not intentional, it's just what feels right for him.
"I love his swing, I love watching hitting, but it's just the way I like to do it," Martinez said.
In addition to his big day at the plate, Martinez also showed nice actions behind the plate, good footwork and a lot of hustle. He handled a group of good pitchers and made things look easy, while also showing a lot of hustle. Catching new pitchers—especially the caliber of arms out here at this event—is no easy feat.
"I was worried about that coming out here, but I like controlling pitchers," Martinez said. "Defense is always my thing and I like controlling the game. I love catching. I try to take it easy on my knees because I'm still young and I play third a little too, but at events like this I like to show off a little bit."
• Outfielder David Dahl from Oak Mountain High in Birmingham and shortstop Gavin Cecchini from Barbe High in Lake Charles, La. led the way for Dixie's 12-7 win over American Legion in the first game today. Dahl went 2-for-4 and Cecchini went 4-for-5 with a double and a triple. With a sweet swing from the left side, Dahl is now 5-for-8 at the event with two triples and Cecchini is 5-for-9.
• Righthanders Lucas Sims (Brookwood High in Snellville, Ga.) and Clate Schmidt (Allatoona High in Acworth, Ga.) got it done on the mound for Dixie. Sims threw three perfect innings, striking out four with a fastball in the 91-94 mph range and a sharp curevball between 73-76 mph. Schmidt was also 91-94, though he has a smaller frame than Sims and a whip-like, low three-quarter arm slot. He also has a sharp slurve between 78-79 mph.
• Outfielder Vahn Bozoian from Ayala High in Chino Hills, Calif. went 2-for-6 with a home run to left field, helping AABC beat RBI, 12-7. The homer was his first extra-base hit of the event and Bozoian is now 5-for-11.
• PONY outfielder Nick Williams from Ball High in Galveston, Texas went 4-for-4 today with four singles and a walk. He's now hitting .750 (6-for-8) over the first two days.
CONTRIBUTING: Conor Glassey
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