High-SchoolCalifornia: Lucas Giolito

Lance McCullersMike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP ImagesGatorade National Player of the Year Lance McCullers of Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.) slipped to the Astros in the sandwich round likely due to signability concerns.
High school prospects figured heavily into Monday night's MLB draft, with Puerto Rican prep shortstop Carlo Correa going No. 1 overall in a surprise pick by the Houston Astros and Georgia outfielder Byron Buxton going No. 2 to the Minnesota Twins. In all, 35 high schoolers were drafted out of the 60 picks on Day 1.

Correa became the first Puerto Rican player to be picked No. 1 in the MLB draft. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound native of Santa Isabel has a powerful bat and good speed. Given his size and position, some scouts couldn't help but compare him to a young Alex Rodriguez. Buxton also earned some pretty impressive comparisons throughout the draft process, with names like Justin Upton and Andrew McCutchen being thrown around. The 6-1, 175-pound outfielder burst onto the scene with a number of impressive showings last summer and held strong with his performance at Appling County (Baxley, Ga.) this spring.

Correa wasn't the only high schooler from Puerto Rico who heard his name called Monday, as the Twins used the first pick of the sandwich round on lanky right-hander Jose Orlando Berrios and the Los Angeles Dodgers used the 51st pick on Jesmuel Valentin-Diaz, a teammate of Correa's at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.

Many had Lance McCullers Jr. from Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.) pegged as a possible top-10 pick, but his slide into the second round was one of the biggest stories of the evening. McCullers, a 6-2, 205-pound right-handed pitcher, ended up being selected 41st overall by the same team that picked Correa -- the Astros. McCullers, the Gatorade National Player of the Year, may have slipped due to high signing bonus demands, and the $1.25 million assigned to the No. 41 pick surely won't be enough to sway him from his commitment to Florida. The Astros, who have $11.2 million to spend total among their first 11 draft picks, will have to do some creative budgeting if they want to sign both Correa and McCullers Jr.

High school teammates factored prominently into Day 1 of the draft. Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) pitching aces Max Fried and Lucas Giolito were both selected in the first round. Fried, a 6-3, 170-pound left-hander, heard his name called seventh overall by the San Diego Padres. Fried transferred to Harvard-Westlake for his senior year after his old school cut its athletics department, and after a dominant spring it's no surprise he went in the top 10 picks.

Giolito is a different story. Considered the No. 1 prep prospect entering the spring, the 6-6, 230-pound power righty was sidelined a few weeks into the season with a sprained ulnar-collateral ligament in his right elbow. He only recently began throwing again, and draft experts were split as to whether a team would take the risk and select him in Round 1. The answer to that question turned out to be yes, as the Washington Nationals picked him 16th overall. His pick is slotted at $2.1 million, but it may take more than that to sign him away from his commitment to UCLA, especially considering he was at one time projected to earn a signing bonus of at least twice that much.

Olympia (Orlando, Fla.) teammates Jesse Winker and Walker Weickel were both picked in the sandwich round, with Winker going 49th to the Cincinnati Reds and Weickel going 55th to the Padres. Winker, a sweet-swinging outfielder, had seen his stock surge of late. He hit close to .500 in his senior season with an OBP of .649. There was a time earlier this spring when it looked like Weickel was a sure bet to be picked higher than Winker, possibly even in the first half of the first round. But concerns about diminishing velocity pushed Weickel down draft boards.

In addition to Fried and Weickel, the Padres also grabbed prep right-hander Zach Eflin of Hagerty (Oviedo, Fla.) at No. 33. At 6-5 and 205 pounds, Eflin has a frame scouts love to go with a fastball that has been clocked in the mid-90s. A battle with triceps tendinitis earlier this spring may have hurt Eflin's stock slightly, but he could prove to be one of the steals of the draft. It may be a tough task for San Diego to sign all three of these high-upside selections, but inking even two of them would have to be considered a success.

A few other teams also went high school heavy Monday night. The Toronto Blue Jays used four of their five picks on preps, including first-rounder D.J. Davis from Stone County (Wiggins, Miss.) at No. 17. The Rangers grabbed a trio of prep prospects, with Lewis Brinson of Coral Springs (Fla.) leading the way at No. 29. The Chicago White Sox were doing flips over their draft, as they snagged Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas) outfielder/pitcher Courtney Hawkins 13th overall (he celebrated by doing a back flip live on TV). With their only other pick of the evening, they grabbed Keon Barnum of King (Tampa, Fla.) -- arguably the high schooler with the best raw power in the draft.

Stray observations

--Solon (Ohio) lefty Matt Smoral had injury issues his senior year — he missed most of the season with a stress fracture in his foot. When healthy, he was considered a potential top 10 talent. Toronto selected him with the No. 50 pick.

--Joey Gallo seems like a perfect fit for the Texas Rangers at No. 39 with his power. Gallo hit .509 with 21 homers and 80 RBIs in his final season at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas).

--Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.) star Matt Olson played his best ball toward the end of the season in leading the Panthers to their second straight state title. Perhaps that played a role in him landing with Oakland at No. 47.

--Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) third baseman Mitch Nay saw his numbers drop this season as he saw fewer good pitches to hit. But there’s no doubt the Blue Jays got a tremendous talent at No. 58 — Nay still impressed enough to earn Gatorade State Player of the Year honors this season.

Cal-Hi Sports Boys State Stat Stars

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
11:55
PM ET
Archived Cal-Hi Sports content from previous platform

Basketball still reigns with big-time totals from those such as Robert Upshaw of San Joaquin Memorial, Gabe York of Orange Lutheran and Marcus Lee of Antioch Deer Valley. But baseball joins the show as well, led by Lucas Giolito and his 100-mph fastball.

Note: We’re proud once again to collect weekly writeups of the most significant individual high school basketball totals in California. This week, we also are adding baseball for the first time this school year. We use these as the basis for updating the state record book, which has been published seven times, most recently in the spring of 2009. To report a state stat star of your own, please email highlights to Mark.Tennis@espn.com.

(After games of Saturday, Feb. 25 and some games as of Tuesday, Feb. 28; Contributing: Bob Barnett, Mark Tennis)

Leroy Abraham (Natomas, Sacramento)
He scored a game-high 39 points while teammate Marquice Clark added 24 points in a 81-77 road win against El Dorado of Placerville in Sac-Joaquin Section Division III post-season play.

Alex Fertig (Buchanan, Clovis)
The senior standout scored a game-high of 30 points in a 72-54 win over Edison of Fresno in the CIF Central Section Division I playoffs. Before the season-ending loss to Clovis West, Alex had scored scored 2,258 career points, sixth-best in section history.

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Cal-Hi Sports Preseason Baseball Top 20

February, 22, 2012
2/22/12
6:13
PM ET
Lucas Giolito, Area Code Baseball, UCLA, Harvard-Westlake, high school baseball, baseballScott Kurtz/ESPNHSLucas Giolito may be a first round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft.
Important announcement from Cal-Hi Sports | Archived Cal-Hi Sports content

Harvard-Westlake may have one of the best 1-2 pitching duos ever, but against the super-tough competition in Southern California it’s no guarantee for anything. The Wolverines start out the spring No. 2 in the state behind Mater Dei of Santa Ana.

Much of the preseason attention for California baseball this spring has centered on the pitching combination of Lucas Giolito and Max Fried at Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood.

Giolito was one of the top junior hurlers in the nation last season for the Wolverines and became teamed up with Fried when the athletic program at nearby Montclair Prep of Van Nuys, which is where Fried played last season, was discontinued.

Giolito was recently ranked as the No. 1 right-handed pitching prospect by ESPNHS Baseball while Fried was given the same ranking among lefties.

No matter what the two accomplish this spring and where they are picked in the Major League Baseball draft, it still will take many years before they can claim to be the best pair of pitchers any school in California has ever had.

That claim right now would have to go to Fresno High, which had two future 20-game winners in the big leagues leading the way for its famed 1958 team that went 25-1 with its only loss coming to a college freshman team. Those two were Dick Ellsworth (who later won 20 for the Chicago Cubs) and Jim Maloney (who won 20 for the Cincinnati Reds).

There’s more to elite level baseball teams, of course, than pitching. There’s defense, hitting for power, hitting in the clutch, base-running and sound coaching. Even the best and most talented baseball teams in the state we’ve seen in the last 30 years don’t always win in the playoffs. That’s just the nature of the sport itself.

The one team that seems to have the best combination of all of those factors – at least at the start of the season – is Mater Dei of Santa Ana. The Monarchs won the CIF Southern Section Division I title two years ago and should be outstanding this spring.

For the complete preseason top 20 state rankings, click here to go straight to the ESPNHS rankings tool.

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