White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito named International League Pitcher of the Week

White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito named International League Pitcher of the Week

Lucas Giolito was an easy choice to be named the International League Pitcher of the Week.

Though the No. 4 prospect in the White Sox organization only made one appearance, he dazzled. The 22-year-old threw a seven-inning no-hitter on Thursday against the Syracuse Nationals, the organization that dealt him in a deal for Adam Eaton this past offseason. It was the fourth no-hitter in Charlotte Knights history, and the first since 2013.

Giolito has had his struggles in 2017 but feels he's moving past them. After a shaky start he has been stellar in his last three outings, allowing just five earned runs in his last 18 innings.

The Knights are the first team this year to have three different players win Player of the Week awards. Outfielder Willy Garcia and top prospect Yoan Moncada previously won Batter of the Week honors.

White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito: No-hitter 'special' after early struggles

White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito: No-hitter 'special' after early struggles

Lucas Giolito got the “click” he was looking for on Thursday night and it resulted in a seven-inning no-hitter for Triple-A Charlotte.

Currently the No. 2-rated White Sox prospect, Giolito has struggled so far this season at Charlotte. He’s 2-5 with a 5.44 ERA in nine starts in 46 1/3 innings.

While he’s struck out 43 hitters, Giolito has also walked 25. But it all came together for the tall right-hander on Thursday when he threw an 87-pitch no-no against the Syracuse Chiefs.

“It was special,” Giolito said on a conference call on Friday. “Just the way the year has gone, it didn't start the way I wanted it to, the numbers haven't been great. So it's great to have a no-hitter under my belt, my first professional one. Just take that and work from there. I'm just going to keep working on the things I've been working on the past few weeks and hopefully string a few good ones together.”

Rated the No. 3 overall prospect in the majors before the 2016 season, Giolito’s profile has slipped some because of performance. The top name included from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal, Giolito has struggled with command of his offspeed pitches and fastball at times. Earlier this month, Giolito described his performance as “atrocious,” while remaining optimistic that his fortunes could change just like clicking on a light switch.

Giolito said he felt confident on the mound Thursday and it translated.

“I did a lot better job of keeping the fastball down in the zone to both sides of the plate,” Giolito said. “I was able to get the ball inside to lefties pretty well, maybe got a few jam shots some pop outs here and there and then I had my two-seamer working as well. It was just a pretty solid day as far as throwing the fastball.”

Pleased as he is, Giolito is striving to be better. He pointed at his three walks as an area he’d like to improve upon. But he’s also happy with how it all worked on Thursday.

“There's always still work to do,” Giolito said. “I walked three batters and that is not something I want to be doing. The walk numbers are a little too high for my liking. There's still plenty to work on, but everything felt pretty solid last night. I felt like I repeated my delivery well, I executed more pitches. Especially when I'd fall behind in the count I'd execute quality pitches and you can get yourself out of bad situations doing that.”

The Knights made two roster moves on Friday -- Yoan Moncada was activated off the seven-day disabled list and Ryan Raburn was traded to the Washington Nationals for cash or a player to be named later.

Why Jim Callis thinks Luis Robert is going to have a gigantic impact on White Sox

Why Jim Callis thinks Luis Robert is going to have a gigantic impact on White Sox

Jim Callis thinks the Luis Robert signing is going to have a gigantic impact on the organization well beyond adding another elite talent.

When Robert officially joins the White Sox sometime next week, Callis projects the Cuban outfielder will initially be ranked the No. 27 prospect in baseball on MLBPipeline.com. That ranking is one spot ahead of Atlanta Braves shortstop Kevin Maitan, who previously was the No. 1 prospect in the 2016-17 international class.

But Callis likes the deal — reportedly worth between $25-30 million — because of what it could mean for the White Sox under the rules of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement where the playing field is leveled. Whereas teams could spend unlimited sums of money under the old CBA, the new rules include a hard salary cap.

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“It’s not going to be about money any more,” Callis said. “The teams with the most money will have $5.25 million and the teams with the least will have $4.75 million. You can trade and double that, but that’s it. So it’s not going to come down to this team is offering $25 million and this team is offering $10 million. Everyone’s going to be offering the future Luis Robert’s of the world the same money and it’s going to come down as who has relationships, who has done well with Cuban players. You look at how the White Sox recruited him with the video. I think it’s sending a message, ‘Hey, we’re a destination for Cuban players.’ That’s going to be huge going forward, almost as important as getting Luis Robert.”

"I think it was huge."

The Robert acquisition is critical for the rebuilding White Sox, who had acquired a number of talented arms in the initial phase but also need to stockpile as many bats as possible. Yoan Moncada is the biggest offensive piece added since the rebuild began in December. But beyond last year’s draft class, the only other offensive piece added is outfielder Luis Basabe.  

Internally, Robert will be ranked fourth overall in the White Sox top-10 list to start, though he could move ahead of Lucas Giolito when the system rankings are reorganized in July, Callis said.

Said Callis of Robert: “The obvious comparison is kind of a right-handed outfield version of Moncada.”