N.C.—Led by the dynamic duo of righthander Lucas Giolito and
lefthander Max Fried, California’s Harvard-Westlake High was
expected to have a pitching staff of potentially historic proportions
those plans went awry before the 2012 season had hardly begun when
the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Giolito, a leading candidate to be the No.1
overall pick in this year’s draft, was sidelined in his third
start, ostensibly for the season, with a strain of the ulnar
collateral ligament in his right elbow.
Harvard-Westlake’s chances of becoming the first high school to
produce two pitchers both talented enough to be selected in the first
10 picks of the same draft were very much in jeopardy—not to
mention the Los Angeles-based school’s chances of producing a
if the loss of Giolito, whose fastball was clocked in triple digits
before he was sidelined March 6, was perceived as a hardship for the
Wolverines, it hardly showed Wednesday on the opening day of USA
Baseball’s inaugural National High School Invitational—arguably
the strongest gathering of high-school teams ever assembled in a
of the nation’s top 26 teams, as ranked by Perfect Game, are
participating in the 16-team event, and No. 22 Harvard-Westlake
(10-2-1) had little trouble dispensing of traditional Alabama power
Russell County 6-2. Though Russell County is unranked at 24-8 on the
season, it had won 17 in a row entering the tournament.
of 100 scouts in attendance, including scouting directors from a
majority of major-league clubs, had initially counted on seeing
Giolito pitch the opener for Harvard-Westlake, but instead they got
to see another Wolverines prospect with first-round aspirations,
sophomore righthander Jack Flaherty. He went the distance, scattering
eight hits and striking out six—including three in the final
6-foot-3, 190-pound Flaherty is perceived to have a higher upside as
a shortstop than as a pitcher, but he more than held his own on the
mound, throwing mostly fastballs in the 84-86 mph range and
changeups, while mixing in an occasional curveball.
did a tremendous job for us, especially early on in limiting his
pitch count,” said Harvard-Westlake coach Matt LaCour. “Obviously,
without Lucas and with four games in four days, there are limitations
on our pitching staff, and we needed to get the most out of Jack that
we could, and he responded. But this wasn’t entirely new to him as
he threw a complete game earlier in the year for us, so he was in
shape and ready to go as long as he did.”
threw his 100th pitch to get his final out of the game,
and labored only in the final inning when he faced six hitters
(including one batter who reached on a dropped third strike) and gave
up his second run.
started to set in by the seventh inning,” Flaherty admitted, “but
I’ve always prepared myself to throw this much, and I was
definitely prepared to do this.”
who won his fourth straight game this season as a pitcher, recognized
the need to pick up the slack with the loss of Giolito. But he still
envisions himself more as an everyday player and is slated to take
over at shortstop or third base for Harvard-Westlake for the duration
of the tournament.
upside is as an everyday player,” LaCour says, “but he’s
definitely good enough to be a two-way player in college.”
on his performance this season, especially his impressive outing
Wednesday, scouts aren’t ruling out Flaherty eventually becoming a
pitcher down the road as he fills out his tall, lanky frame and
refines his delivery.
love pitching,” Flaherty said, “but playing every day in the
field is what like best and what I see myself doing.”
one victory under their belts in the single-elimination event, the
Wolverines will turn to the 6-foot-4, 175-pound Fried in Game Two on
who transferred to Harvard-Westlake for his senior year when nearby
Montclair Prep abruptly abolished its entire athletic program
following the 2011 season, has solidified his chances of being taken
in the first 10 picks in June with his performance to date. In
Giolito’s absence, he is regarded as the top pitching prospect in
last start was by far his best this season, mainly because of the
superior velocity he showed on his off-speed pitches” LaCour said.
“He really attached hitters with all his pitches.”
fastball has frequently touched 95-96 mph this spring, though he has
worked mostly in the 91-93 range.
Giolito’s return to pitching remains uncertain, LaCour says there’s
a good chance that his dynamic duo will be reunited before the 2012
season is complete.
is no timetable for Lucas, but his rehab is going extremely well,”
LaCour said. “We’re optimistic he’ll be back pitching before
Giolito return and show anything close to the form he demonstrated
before being shelved, the chances of Harvard-Westlake producing two
pitchers in the top half of the draft in June may happen, after all.
That happenstance has occurred only once before in draft history, in
2002 when the tandem of righthander Clint Everts (5th pick/Expos) and lefthander Scott Kazmir (15th pick/Mets)
were selected out of Houston’s Cy Falls High.