Not made for TV, hot prospect Lucas Giolito forges own path to White Sox

When Lucas Giolito was in eighth grade, he was picked to perform a Shakespearean sonnet before his entire class.He recalls the reading going fairly well, but his distaste for the nerves he felt told him the family business wasn't for him. While his grandfather,...

Not made for TV, hot prospect Lucas Giolito forges own path to White Sox

When Lucas Giolito was in eighth grade, he was picked to perform a Shakespearean sonnet before his entire class.

He recalls the reading going fairly well, but his distaste for the nerves he felt told him the family business wasn't for him.

While his grandfather, parents and younger brother all have taken their turns at acting, a ballpark always has been Giolito's preferred stage, and MLB.com's No. 11 overall prospect is working this spring to be cast as the newest White Sox star.

"I never really felt comfortable (acting)," Giolito said. "Being on stage and having to remember lines, I was never really interested in it. Whereas in baseball, I could be pitching in front of 40,000 people and feel comfortable just doing what I'm doing."

Giolito is the Sox's top pitching prospect, a 6-foot-6, 255-pound right-hander who joined a group of exciting new arms on the South Side when he arrived from the Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade this winter. His baseball journey began after watching the game as a child with his mom and dad, who were Twins and Mets fans, respectively.

But he doesn't come from a long line of athletes.

His paternal grandfather, Silvio, was a two-time Olympic fencer for Team USA, but Giolito said he believes the farthest any relative advanced in baseball was in Little League.

Instead, his family advanced in Hollywood, where his grandfather, Warren Frost, appeared in numerous television shows, including "Matlock," "Twin Peaks" and "Seinfeld." His mother, Lindsay Frost, is a long-time stage, screen and television actress who broke out when she replaced Meg Ryan on the soap opera "As the World Turns" and is now a painter. His father, Rick, also acted before moving on to the video-game industry. And younger brother, Casey, is auditioning for theater programs.

Lucas Giolito on the new White Sox prospects

Lucas Giolito on the new White Sox prospects. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune)

Lucas Giolito on the new White Sox prospects. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune)

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Growing up, Giolito would read scripts with his mother and go with her as she did voiceover work. He most loved joining his father at the design studio to play video games that hadn't yet come out and imagines he would pursue a similar career if he weren't pitching.

"They instilled in me the work ethic, that you always have to keep working, keep doing the right thing to be able to be successful," Giolito said of his parents' successes.

Giolito, 22, is still in search of his own such success.

The Nationals selected him No. 16 overall in the 2012 draft out of his Los Angeles high school, but he underwent elbow surgery later that summer. After his recovery, he worked his way up in the system before making his major-league debut in 2016.

Giolito pitched four scoreless innings with a hit, two walks and a strikeout in a rain-shortened debut against the Mets, but he didn't have a scoreless outing after that. He posted a 6.75 ERA over six big-league appearances, bouncing between the minors and majors as he was needed.

He said the back-and-forth last year helped him mature and reinforced a need to seize opportunities given to him.

"I experienced a lot of hardship in the big leagues last year," Giolito said. "I took a lot away, about dealing with adversity, being able to make adjustments on the fly, slowing things down when they're speeding up.

"I definitely learned a lot more from that than the success I experienced in the minor leagues."

As Giolito tried to fix the poor results last year, he monkeyed with his mechanics, and that made things worse.

"I would get into bad habits and I would try to correct them, but I wouldn't go about correcting them the right way," Giolito said. "I would try to force things instead of relaxing and trusting."

Photos as the White Sox practice at spring training at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz.

Whether those issues played a part in the Nationals including one of the top-rated pitching prospects in baseball in the Eaton trade is unspoken publicly, but Giolito said he had an "immediate positive reaction" when he heard about the deal on Twitter.

He viewed his arrival at Camelback Ranch for spring training as a clean slate, and he said he did "dry work" in the offseason to fix his mechanics. Giolito said pitching coach Don Cooper has him working on commanding his fastball low and away to right-handed hitters and throwing his offspeed pitches for strikes over the first two weeks of camp.

"He has a lot of talent," Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "There are a couple of pitches he will bury that nobody will be able to hit. … Very good arm. Very good action, live."

The Sox have stressed they will take a deliberate approach to their new prospects' development, so he shouldn't be bounced around like he was with the Nationals. Triple-A Charlotte is the likely starting point.

But if he does arrive at Guaranteed Rate Field soon, a reporter suggested he use as his entrance music the theme to "Seinfeld" to honor his grandfather, who died last week at the age of 91. Giolito said he needs to catch up on the show first.

"It was a little before my time," Giolito said. "I know that's a timeless show, so I should really check it out and see what my grandfather did."

Giolito said his family's acting careers are a good icebreaker to use with new teammates, who are naturally curious about what shows they were in. If they want a tip ahead of the Oscars, Giolito had an opinion on the nominated movie "La La Land."

"I thought it was OK," Giolito said. "I know it has gotten a lot of praise, but I've seen musicals better than that."

Perhaps Giolito's hot take was understandable.

The film is about Hollywood. Baseball always has been more his thing.

ckane@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @ChiTribKane

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