By Bruce Levine–
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — The next big-time pitcher in the White Sox organization? Pencil in the name Lucas Giolito.
The headlining prospect returned to the White Sox in the December trade that sent outfielder Adam Eaton to the Nationals, the 22-year-old Giolito is being handled carefully by his new coaching staff. The White Sox want to slow roll his ascension to the big leagues, which should come late spring or early summer.
It’s an approach the White Sox are using with a handful of young players as they’ve embarked on a rebuild.
“There is not much more we can put out there for them,” manager Rick Renteria said. “They know they are performing well and gaining confidence. We let them know the effort is not going unnoticed. That would be the carrot for them. Lucas had a nice outing (Thursday). Things are moving well for him. There are still tests. He must continue to go out and repeat deliveries. (On Thursday), he went to more of his secondary pitches. He did a nice job.”
On Thursday, Giolito was the first White Sox pitcher to go four innings this spring, and he had a good outing in allowing one run on three hits while walking one and striking out one against the Diamondbacks.
“I was spiking a lot of fastballs,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Kevan Smith) did a really good job behind the plate.I was trying to work through some things.It was one of those days when you go out there without your best stuff.You try and compete.The defense was fantastic behind me.”
Giolito was working on his command Thursday. Like for many pitchers this time of year, certain pitches are still difficult to master.
“I am continuing to try to throw my curveball for a strike,” Giolito said. “If I can throw that pitch for a glove strike, it becomes a new weapon. That will give me more opportunity to get guys out by expanding the zone. Here and there, I threw some really good ones for strikes. I believe they swung at most of them and put them in play for outs.”
Fastball command is a priority for Giolito, who isn’t worried about his velocity right now. His velocity dropped late last season after he was summoned to the big leagues by the Nationals, which some viewed as a concern.
“I am not paying much attention to it right now,” Giolito said. “The ball is coming out of my hand really well. When I throw the ball inside to guys, they seem to be late on it. I am just working off of that.”
Giolito made 28 starts across four levels in 2016, when he logged 136 2/3 innings. He should work up to around 150 innings of work this season.
For now, he’s trying to soak in as much as he can in big league camp.
“James (Shields) was talking about how the starting pitching staff is the anchor of the team,” Giolito said. “We have to compete and lead the way for the team. We are in control of the game as starters. We want to give the team its best chance every time out. I believe all of the starting pitchers have taken that to heart for sure.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.