Lucas Giolito was drafted with the 16th overall pick by the Washington Nationals in June of 2012 out of Harvard-Westlake High School in Southern California. Standing at 6 feet, 6 inches tall, the hard-throwing righty was well under way for his future in baseball.
After signing, Giolito pitched for the Nationals’ rookie level team. In his first pro start, Giolito notched two innings, giving up one run (earned) on two hits and no walks, and struck out one before he felt a sharp pain in his pitching elbow. The Nats top prospect had to undergo Tommy John Surgery after making just one appearance to begin his professional career.
Giolito began rehabbing in Florida soon afterward, where he shared a hotel room with injured catcher Spencer Kieboom. Both Giolito and Kieboom were not far in their pro careers when they needed Tommy John Surgery. They rehabbed together in Florida and became friends.
Later on, Giolito finally got back to pitching regularly for the Nationals’ rookie team in 2013. He pitched in eight games for the rookie affiliate, going 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA. Shortly afterward, Giolito was promoted to Class-A Short-Season Auburn to play for the Doubledays.
He finished the season with Auburn pitching in three games with a record of 1-0 and an ERA of 0.64 in 14 innings of work.
In 2014, the Nationals announced Giolito would pitch for the Class-A Full-Season Hagerstown Suns. The Suns had been an affiliate with the Nationals since 2007 and has had many prospects and rehabbing big leaguers come to the small historical town.
Giolito made his Suns debut on April 5 against the Rome Braves (Braves affiliate). Giolito pitched three innings giving up six hits, four runs (three earned), two walks and three strikeouts in front of a small crowd of 509 as the Suns lost to the Braves, 9-8.
Giolito rebounded in his first road start for Hagerstown. He pitched on April 10, going six innings giving up one hit, on runs, walking one and striking out six. Giolito got the win as the Suns beat the Lakewood BlueClaws (Phillies), 6-0.
Part of Giolito’s success is from having a familiar face behind the plate. His catcher was his rehabbing partner, Spencer Kieboom. Oddly enough, these two live together once again as they both received the same host family.
Kieboom has been behind the plate for most of Giolito’s starts and the two have done well together this season. Kieboom is hitting .308 with seven home runs and 52 RBIs in 76 games this season as the Suns’ starting catcher. Giolito is 9-2 with a 2.23 ERA, 28 walks and 105 strikeouts in 19 starts.
One of Giolito’s best starts came at home on July 25 against the Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox). Giolito only pitched six innings and gave up one hit as he walked none and struck out seven and was the winning pitcher in a 5-1 Suns win.
Another great start came in Charleston, South Carolina against the Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees) on July 31. Again, Giolito pitched six innings but he gave up only two hits, no runs again, walked one and struck out six. That was back-to-back quality starts from Giolito.
If Giolito pitches on normal four days of rest for the remainder of the season, he’ll will make three more starts for the Suns all on the road as the minor league regular season ends on Labor Day, September 1. Giolito was scheduled to make his next start on tonight at Lakewood.